Creative Biz Note #26

Should You Build Your Own Computer?

“Build it and they will come…” I had to put that line in there. For the past 10 years I have always built my own computer. On the other hand, I will gleefully purchase a brand-new  Mac and watch it achingly chug next to my one-year old PC–wondering why the heck I needed the Mac in the first place. Of course, the answer is because our industry thrives on Macs, the color is more precise, they’re user-friendly and most of us grew up on them. But an off-the-shelf Mac doesn’t cut it in the 3D world (in our opinion). Though Mac’s are slowly changing in that direction–the forums are always full of Mac-users complaining about 3D software not working correctly.

Switching to PC when I was an avid Mac user seemed wrong in so many ways. Overall, Adobe has made it very seamless and it merely takes getting used to the slight keyboard change. The ‘Command’ key switches to the ‘Control’ key and the keys are in different positions. After a few months, I was able to jump back and forth between the two operating systems with no problem. Sometimes I still slip up though.

On your first attempt, building a PC is somewhat scary but it becomes much easier thereafter. I had no true knowledge of how computers even worked. There was a lot of trial and error. The cost for a “homemade” machine is usually half the price tag–sometimes even more so. Additionally, you’ll have a stronger machine that works better with 3D software. Researching forums on and reading magazine articles on the subject is a good starting point. NewEgg even has instructional videos on how to build your own machine. Finding the correct working formula for all the parts to function as a whole is the trick.

Where to Buy?
I typically purchase most of my hardware on They’re quick and very reliable.

A Quick Story:
I was building my third PC (which usually takes about a full day to actually build). I finally got it upright, plugged in and I started it up. It began to hum it’s way to life and then I blew a circuit in the house. My PSU (power supply) on the PC was too strong for the wiring in the house. This ended up frying my motherboard. I had to exchange it for a new PSU with less output and a new motherboard. Even after this incident I was still saving money. My brother fried his motherboard by building his computer on a carpeted area (which is obviously full of electricity). You live and learn. Grounding yourself before touching any PC innards is really important. LOL.

To Sum It Up:
Keeping the software updated on both machines can be expensive–one machine is usually more current. Overall, I use the “old” Mac to do any color correcting and to work on typography. Otherwise, I’m on the PC. Save some cash and learn to do it yourself! 

Next Creative Biz Note #27—Negotiating Price–What We’ve Learned So Far
Next Creative Biz Note #28—Accounting Software For the Guy Who Hates Numbers

See full post here: PixelBoy Studio2011-08-17.