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Buying A PC: Full Sys vs. Building

I live in Toronto Canada and am thinking about buying a new PC (AMD Thunderbird 900 Mhz, CDRW, 16 Bit Soundcard, 20 Gig HD, 128 Megs Ram).  Over the years I've come to accept the fact that building your own PC is much cheaper than purchasing a full system from the retailer.   Even during my quest for an ideal PC people have consistently made the request to build my own.  I've obtained the decent book 'PC Hardware in a Nutshell' (Copyright 2000) to give me an idea of putting together a PC and the meanings behind the endless terminologies.

I went looking through the local papers (Computer Paper, Toronto Compute -- they have many local ads for full systems) and gathered prices for full systems and the prices for each item to construct a full system.  The full system being sold by a retailer  that has caught my eye:
AMD Thunderbird 900
Asus A7v-e Motherboard
128 Megs Ram PC133
20 Gig ATA100
ATI Xpert 2000 32Meg AGP
50xCDROM/1.44 FDD
16-bit Soundcard
56K Modem
104 Keyboard, Mouse
ATX Case
$549 Canadian (before taxes)
The motherboard concerns me though because I'm still a bit confused by FSB and PC133 Ram running @ 133 Mhz -- People have told me to get a 200 MHZ FSB but if the ram runs at 133 Mhz what is the point?

For the full system above I intend on dropping the 50xCDROM, 56K Modem, Mouse (because I already have those) and using it to pay for a decent CDRW.  I am not sure if the retailer will allow this but they all seem quite eager to sell.

Now when I calculate the price for the individual parts so as to build my own system I get the following:
(All prices are in Canadian before taxes.  Each price represents the cheapest within Toronto according to the ads in the paper)
AMD Thunderbird 900 MHZ (OEM): $139
Asus A7V-E Motherboard: $134     (Asus A7A266: $200)
128 Megs PC133 Ram: $30
20 Gig ATA100 HD: $102
ATI Xpert 2000 32 Meg AGP: $60  (I may get a GeForce2 MX: $79)
50xCDROM: $30 (but I intend on purchasing a CDRW: $79)
1.44 FDD: $10
16-Bit Soundcard: $15
ATX Case: $60
Total Cost for building: $629 (w/ CDRW and Asus A7v-e Mobo), $695 (w/CDRW and AsusA7A266)

As you can see the price for building a system are more expensive then purchasing the full system from the retailer.  What the hell!  Did I do something wrong?  I have been to www.PriceWatch.com and have seen some acceptable deals but to purchase all of my parts from across the U.S (incurring shipping charges for each part, a weak Canadian dollar, and duty tax) the savings would be nill.

Can someone help explain to me how building your PC is cheaper?  Where would I shop within Canada to find these affordable deals?

Thanks for any information.
1 Solution
I can build PCs all day long and decided long ago that I could not beat the price of my local clone builder since they buy in bulk and support the entire system.
Since they buy in bulk they are able to get better prices than I can as an individual.  Therefore they can make money on the PC and still charge less than Dell, Gateway, etc.
Since I bought the system from them they provide the warranty on the entire system.  If you buy the processor from company a and the mobo from company b and the case from company c you have separate warranties on each piece.  Even if you buy everything from one company you still have separate warranty periods to deal with along with the wait (and shipping costs) of getting the good part to replace the defective one.
Buy it already assembled is my suggestion.
Building a PC from scratch using retail parts has never been cheaper than a complete system.  Retailers are prepared to make $100-$150 on a complete system, where they are going to try and make a set percentage on each item bought separately.  The price difference normally related to the price of the individual parts being dearer than than those included in a system.

There is a great price difference in OEM (Original Equipment Manufacturer) parts - those installed in complete systems from those of their retail counterparts

.. For Example..a soundblaster 'Live' OEM is approx $90AUD and the retail version is $195AUD.  The difference equates to no packaging in the OEM version, no accompanied software (other than drivers) and must be bundled with other hardware.

The cheapest option is to approach your computer retailer and offer to build the system yourself, and just collect the parts of the complete system deal using OEM parts - NOT retail (for a reduction off the system price)..most retailers will agree to this.

edward57, that is not a definitive answer.  Please follow the suggested comment versus answer information below.
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Hello edward57, the Question:  Comments vs. Answers can be seen below, also click on the More Info link.  

I will auto reject the proposed answer and return this question to the Acive Questions area.

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Are you mixing Canadian and US dollars in your price quotes?  I hope that isn't $102US for a 20GB drive...  The first Maxtor listed on Pricewatch is $65.  More than enough difference to justify paying shipping charges.
The motherboard concerns me though because I'm still a bit confused by FSB and PC133 Ram running @ 133
Mhz -- People have told me to get a 200 MHZ FSB but if the ram runs at 133 Mhz what is the point?

You can get RAM that supports the 200Mhz FSB.  NOt all retail stores will sell this.  Also for prices you should not be going retail anyway you are trying to save money.  ONe thing to consider is the total cost of the parts you wish to use in your system and the shipping costs to get it to you.  You actually save on shipping by sticking to one vendor.  Those shipping charges can add up if you are buying from several sources.  

"OEM version, no accompanied software (other than drivers) and must be bundled with other hardware." WRONG WRONG WRONG
You can buy OEM hardware PIECE BY PIECE.  It's obtaining a copy of Microsofts OEM Operating Systems that have had the requirements.

"Even if you buy everything from one company you still have separate warranty periods
to deal with along with the wait (and shipping costs) of getting the good part to replace the defective
one."  This is true, if your local shop will take your system from you and hold it until they get the parts that is a pitfall.  Depending on what part goes out you may be better to handle the warranty yourself.  I just had Maxtor replace a defective drive for me and they had my new drive here in 2 working days!  I have had to get a motherboard replaced once and that took 6 Months from a vendor I was dealing with when I was in the Chicago area.  Since the board had since been replaced by a newer model they had difficulties and it was an ABIT.  They had to replace my EEPROM chip as I was one of the unfortunate people to download a copy of their BIOS which had issues.  Good thing is I had to pay nothing, bad thing is I was without the use of that motherboard for so long.

Here is how I would obtain the parts and costs:
Start with a Combo kit(some have discounts on this purchase) ALL FROM ONE PLACE
Asus A7V133 (No Audio) w/ Thunderbird 1.13Ghz ( 1133Mhz ) 266FSB CPU and Fan $271.99/ $229.00 On Sale
Sound Blaster Ensoniq PCI Sound card
Ensoniq Sound Blaster Ensoniq PCI 16Bit Sound card 34.88
128MB DDR PC2100 266MHz Certified ECC $54.95 $49.97 On Sale
Maxtor 30GB EIDE UDMA 100 3.5LP 7200RPM $138.49 $127.95 On Sale MX53073U/H6 30GB EIDE UDMA 100 3.5LP 7200RPM
TOSHIBA SD-M1502 16X/40X IDE DVD Drive$87.35 $79.49 On Sale
Enlight Case AMD Approved EN-7237OM3 CHASSIS ATX MID 300PS 4 5.25 3 3.5 $104.49 $84.74 On Sale
Still needs floppy Keyboard and mouse But have added extra stuff price 606.03


And that could come from www.tigersoftware.com.  Although I have been told here that they are higher than everyone else I don't believe that.
I left out the CD burner as I am seeing a lot of Office supply/electronics retail shops offering a Sony for 60.00US.  Perhaps there is some similar offer your way.
Besides you would have had a hell of a computer for $666.00!
slink9 http://www.tigersoftware.com./is a site under construction.  DO you mean tiger direct?  I went to BZBOYZ.com as they used to be in Wisconsin but something leads me to believe they are in California now.  
SOmething else seems to have occured, they used to deal with US and Canada.

This was for reference only.
Q. Do you accept international orders?
A. Unfortunately, at this time we do not accept international orders. We apologize for any inconvenience. Also we cannot accept international Credit Cards

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