I haven’t purchased an “off the shelf” computer system since the early 90’s. It was a Compaq Pentium I 200Mhz with a 4GB hard drive running Windows 95.

The next system was a Micron Pentium III at 733Mhz. Ordered online, so I spec’d out all the options I wanted. This one ran Windows 98. This is where I started upgrading the computers myself. I eventually replaced the sound card, video card (twice), hard drive, and power supply.

My current system was originally built in the same (roomy) case of the Micron. I essentially only kept the case. I got a new motherboard and CPU (Pentium 4, 2.4GHz with HT), memory, a second hard drive (so I now had 2 80GB drives), new CD burner, new video card, new power supply. I also got Windows XP at this point.
This was then eventually upgraded with new DVD burner (in addition to the CD burner), an additional 1GB of RAM (bringing total to 2GB), completely new set of hard drives (now there are 3. 2 250GB SATA drives and 1 160GB IDE drive), a new case with better airflow (to keep it from overheating), and a TV capture card (hence my Ghetto Tivo was born). This system still cooks almost 2 years later running heavy apps like Photoshop, Illustrator, etc. The only time it bogs down is when doing really CPU intensive things like converting video which I just let run overnight.

Well, what brings me to discuss all of this?

Reading around on my daily trip through forums, I came across this thread over on Storage Review [storagereview.com]. Long story short, those machines you buy off-the-shelf come LOADED with all kinds of junk that you don’t need. So you’re brand new super duper, high-performance, high-priced machine runs just as slow as that old machine you just replaced. And not everybody has the knowledge or conjones to wipe out the system and do a clean-install (if that will even work with some proprietary hardware). And if you go through the Add/Remove Programs in the Control Panel to remove all this unnecessary junk then you get stuff that doesn’t work and further a really clogged registry that still kills your load times.

To me, its just not worth it. Give me a system I built myself and I know exactly whats in it so i can squeeze the most out of it, than a more high-powered, possibly less expensive system with a bunch of stuff (hardware or software) that I dont want on it.