I Will Be Speaking at the Knolls Country Club Today

  • Comments: 4
  • Written on: October 13th, 2006

I have been invited to speak to a rotary club at the Knolls Country Club today. This is the second time I have spoken to this group in the past five years, and they always have excellent questions afterwards.

I will be talking about the importance of considering a Modular PC when it is time to buy a new computer. Rather than heading to the box store and buying a “canned” PC, consumers can get an amazing value by choosing a Modular computer.


The average consumer can save more than $1,000 over the course of 3 years by buying a Modular computer. Most consumers and businesses upgrade or replace ther computers every 2-3 years. By selecting a computer that is designed t be upgraded the costs of maintenance and upgrades can be significantly reduced.

  1. jim
    jim said on October 13th, 2006 at 9:27 am

    I’m not sure if that’s true, I mean I could buy a new emachine every year for three years and it still cost less than a modular pc. Plus, Dell and HP make reliable machines that can be repaired for a reasonable cost elsewhere.

  2. thorschrock said on October 13th, 2006 at 10:04 am

    Thank you for your comment! That is exactly the conventional wisdom response, and it seems to make sense on the surface. But when you start to dig, the true cost of owning a canned PC becomes clear.

    You listed two situations – buying a new E-Machine every 3 years and buying a Dell or HP. I will address each one separately.

    1) Buying an E Machine every 3 years:

    For the sake of discussion, lets set aside the on average higher number of expected trips to the repair shop associated with owning an E-Machine (lower quality components make for a lower price, but more frequent problems).

    Most people upgrade or buy new every 2-3 years. For discussion’s sake lets assume you decide to add memory ( a popular upgrade) and add some sort of new drive (like an HD DVD Drive) in the future.

    E-Machines uses Micro-ATX motherboards in their computers with only 2 RAM slots. In addition, many EMachine models come delivered with both RAM slots occupied. That means that if you have 512 MB or RAM (2 x 256 MB sticks) you will need to throw out all of your current memory and buy new, larger sticks for your slots. That will double the cost of your upgrade.

    As for the drive, depending on the model of E-Machine you buy, you may not be able to add a new drive. While you could replace your current CD drive with the new one, you are still throwing out a perfectly good optical drive for no reason.

    As for Dell and HP, we always tell our customers that if they are not comfortable with a custom-built PC, they should stick to these 2 brands.

    Most motherboards that are shipped in Dell and HP computers are made by major manufacturers but are customized to meet the limitations of the particular case and accessories included with the canned PC.

    In the event you have a motherboard failure, a replacement board from Dell or HP will cost on average $50 more than an open market board like the ones used in our Modular PCs. Depending on the case and accessories included with the computers, may Dell and HP systems have integrated video with no available video card slot for expansion. That means when your favorite game comes out with a new graphics engine that your current video card can’t handle, you will have to replace the entire motherboard (or even the entire computer).

    While there are a lot of places in town that can repair Dell and HP computers, the raw cost of components does not vary much between repair shops. In fact, Dell and HP computers can actually require more time to repair than a Modular computer, meaning more labor expense.

    That should address your 2 original issues, and I will add one thing in addition. One of the major advantages of buying a Modular PC is that the components that are selected in the design phase are selected because of the options they offer for upgrade at a later date.

    That means that your friends will be throwing out the Dell they bought for $1,000 three years ago and spending another $800-$900 on a new system today. But because you bought a a Modular PC, your tower can be upgraded to match the specs of their new Dell for a fraction of the cost.

    Its straight forward math.

  3. jim
    jim said on October 14th, 2006 at 12:08 pm

    That is a good point, but you never mentioned how much it would cost to upgrade your modular pc. Also, isn’t it likely that in three years your motherboard from any manufacturer would be obsolete, forcing you to buy mostly all new components?

  4. Music Boxes said on October 26th, 2006 at 9:25 pm

    I have been using my modular computer for almost 5 years now, and it works great for me!

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