“What’s a good store to shop at in Pantip Plaza?”  I get this question all the time.  To be honest I have my ‘current’ favorite but I don’t hesitate to vote with my feet if I don’t get the customer service and honesty I expect.  Today it could be one store, and a few months from now another.  However, I build a lot of systems just not for myself, but for clients, and this gives me a chance to get out and see what’s in stock, what kind of prices we can expect, and see how the customer is treated.  Especially regarding returns or exchanges.

 

“What’s a good store to shop at in Pantip Plaza?”  I get this question all the time.  To be honest I have my ‘current’ favorite but I don’t hesitate to vote with my feet if I don’t get the customer service and honesty I expect.  Today it could be one store, and a few months from now another.  However, I build a lot of systems just not for myself, but for clients, and this gives me a chance to get out and see what’s in stock, what kind of prices we can expect, and see how the customer is treated.  Especially regarding returns or exchanges.

 

Pantip Plaza is a huge mall.  I liken it to hell.  It’s crowded, it smells terrible, it’s extremely noisy, and you can’t trust anyone.  Or can you?  We’ll get to that question soon.

 

Pantip Plaza is a huge mall.  I liken it to hell.  It’s crowded, it smells terrible, it’s extremely noisy, and you can’t trust anyone.  Or can you?  We’ll get to that question soon.

Pantip Plaza is one of the places in Bangkok which surprises me when you consider the amount of money people spend there, vs. the quality of the shopping experience.  I suppose in that regard it’s much like Nana Plaza.  The sewer system of computer shopping.  Millions of baht are being taken in each day, yet its physically one of the worst malls around.  It’s also poorly managed and in a terrible location which is guaranteed to eat up a large part of your day just getting there.  When will someone get smart and build a modern high-end electronics mall featuring everything from computer products to televisions and home theater equipment?

 

See this guy?  He’s one of the guards who will try and tell you you’re not allowed to take pictures inside Pantip Plaza.  Why in the world would anyone not want you to take pictures unless they agree with my above paragraph and they don’t want the world knowing?  He followed me up several floors telling me I wasn’t allowed to take pictures.   Each time I smiled knowingly and finally I snapped his picture and I think he gave up and left me alone.  Legal rights mean little in Thailand if they think they can intimidate you with low-rent security guards.   Everyone is trained from the time they’re a child that “authoritah” is king and you must assimilate without question or thought.  It drives them crazy if you dare ask “what authority do you have to ask me not to take pictures?”  I’ve got this wild idea for a “Photograph Pantip Plaza Day” where we get thousands to show up with cameras just to take pictures of the security guards.

 

See this guy?  He’s one of the guards who will try and tell you you’re not allowed to take pictures inside Pantip Plaza.  Why in the world would anyone not want you to take pictures unless they agree with my above paragraph and they don’t want the world knowing?  He followed me up several floors telling me I wasn’t allowed to take pictures.   Each time I smiled knowingly and finally I snapped his picture and I think he gave up and left me alone.  Legal rights mean little in Thailand if they think they can intimidate you with low-rent security guards.   Everyone is trained from the time they’re a child that “authoritah” is king and you must assimilate without question or thought.  It drives them crazy if you dare ask “what authority do you have to ask me not to take pictures?”  I’ve got this wild idea for a “Photograph Pantip Plaza Day” where we get thousands to show up with cameras just to take pictures of the security guards.

 

Ok, so we’ve established you’re in a low-rent mall with the poorest shopping experience for the modern consumer known to mankind, you’re being dogged by shady looking guys shoving porn in your wife’s face, and security isn’t bothering them.. they’re bothering you because you’re taking pictures.  What’s really going on here?  How does it work?  It’s not unlike any other criminal enterprise where they have a total monopoly and unquestioned authority.

 

Ok, so we’ve established you’re in a low-rent mall with the poorest shopping experience for the modern consumer known to mankind, you’re being dogged by shady looking guys shoving porn in your wife’s face, and security isn’t bothering them.. they’re bothering you because you’re taking pictures.  What’s really going on here?  How does it work?  It’s not unlike any other criminal enterprise where they have a total monopoly and unquestioned authority.

 

There are very few truly independent shops, and they’re the big and obvious ones like IT City, A&W Root Beer, and not much else.  Most are owned and ghost ran by less than a handful of people.  Can you say PRICE FIXING?  Any deviation from the standard prices are small amounts of 50-200 baht or so that comes off the top of the margin the store manager rakes in based on sales volume.  They all have the same prices, have the same policies on returns/exchanges, and use the same service exchange centers.

 

There are very few truly independent shops, and they’re the big and obvious ones like IT City, A&W Root Beer, and not much else.  Most are owned and ghost ran by less than a handful of people.  Can you say PRICE FIXING?  Any deviation from the standard prices are small amounts of 50-200 baht or so that comes off the top of the margin the store manager rakes in based on sales volume.  They all have the same prices, have the same policies on returns/exchanges, and use the same service exchange centers.

 

By now it should be obvious any honesty or service you’re going to get will be 100% up to the store manager and his personal business philosophy.  But don’t get me wrong, none of these guys suffers fools easily and you’re going to have to appear at least somewhat competent to get any respect or service at all.  Walk in there knowing little about what you want or need, and you’ll be sold whatever they’re making the most money on that day more quickly than a good used car salesman gets rid of flood damaged cars.

 

By now it should be obvious any honesty or service you’re going to get will be 100% up to the store manager and his personal business philosophy.  But don’t get me wrong, none of these guys suffers fools easily and you’re going to have to appear at least somewhat competent to get any respect or service at all.  Walk in there knowing little about what you want or need, and you’ll be sold whatever they’re making the most money on that day more quickly than a good used car salesman gets rid of flood damaged cars.

 

Do your due diligence.  Use the internet, read reviews, and write down exactly what you want/need, and don’t let anyone talk you into anything else unless you’ve had the opportunity to research it online first.  I’m serious about this, I often ask a vendor to use their PC and internet to read reviews on a product they’re trying to push.  If they’re honest and confident of their product they’ll allow you to do this.

 

Do your due diligence.  Use the internet, read reviews, and write down exactly what you want/need, and don’t let anyone talk you into anything else unless you’ve had the opportunity to research it online first.  I’m serious about this, I often ask a vendor to use their PC and internet to read reviews on a product they’re trying to push.  If they’re honest and confident of their product they’ll allow you to do this. 

 

And one more tiny bit of news.  They’re just not selling counterfeit software at Pantip.  Now you need to be very aware and very concerned about counterfeit HARDWARE knockoff’s as well.  Seriously.  Pantip was raided last week not for software, but for hardware.  I very nearly was cheated out of a high-end video card to the tune of 24,900 baht!  I suppose this answers my question, why create a nice shopping experience in a modern environment conducive to high technology sales.. with modern business policies and product verification.. when you can make more money ripping off the customer base comprised of a high percentage of westerners?  If “BUYER BEWARE” ever was important, then it’s critical at Pantip Plaza

 

And one more tiny bit of news.  They’re just not selling counterfeit software at Pantip.  Now you need to be very aware and very concerned about counterfeit HARDWARE knockoff’s as well.  Seriously.  Pantip was raided last week not for software, but for hardware.  I very nearly was cheated out of a high-end video card to the tune of 24,900 baht!  I suppose this answers my question, why create a nice shopping experience in a modern environment conducive to high technology sales.. with modern business policies and product verification.. when you can make more money ripping off the customer base comprised of a high percentage of westerners?  If “BUYER BEWARE” ever was important, then it’s critical at Pantip Plaza.

 

This is the shop I currently do business with.  It’s on the 3rd floor and I’m showing a picture of the place so you can make sure you have the right place.  The man who manages this shop gives the best customer service experience I’ve ever experienced in Pantip Plaza.  So far he’s kept his word 100% of the time.  He’s honored exchanges, and he’s even sent motorsai riders out with new (expensive) parts based only on my phone call request.  This saves a lot of time.  I call him and say “the video card you sold me last week no longer works, can you send me out a new one” and he asks “is your address still the same?”

 

This is the shop I currently do business with.  It’s on the 3rd floor and I’m showing a picture of the place so you can make sure you have the right place.  The man who manages this shop gives the best customer service experience I’ve ever experienced in Pantip Plaza.  So far he’s kept his word 100% of the time.  He’s honored exchanges, and he’s even sent motorsai riders out with new (expensive) parts based only on my phone call request.  This saves a lot of time.  I call him and say “the video card you sold me last week no longer works, can you send me out a new one” and he asks “is your address still the same?”  Click here for their Website.

 

This pano makes it look like the shop is on a corner, but that’s just perspective distortion created when taking a pano in a very narrow passageway.  This is one long straight passageway and these are the stores next door to him.

 

This pano makes it look like the shop is on a corner, but that’s just perspective distortion created when taking a pano in a very narrow passageway.  This is one long straight passageway and these are the stores next door to him.

 

This might be the only honest guy with a sense of western customer service concepts in the entire Plaza.  Please don’t try to bargain him down.  He won’t be able to bargain more than 50-100 baht on each item and you’ll only annoy him.  He’s not going to cheat you and he’ll give you the going price.

 

This might be the only honest guy with a sense of western customer service concepts in the entire Plaza.  Please don’t try to bargain him down.  He won’t be able to bargain more than 50-100 baht on each item and you’ll only annoy him.  He’s not going to cheat you and he’ll give you the going price.

 

A few weeks ago a client and I walked in his store armed with a foot long shopping list to build a nice imaging workstation.  Just the box not including monitors came to over baht 100,000.  It was a high end building using the best components including a SSD, dual video cards, and WD Black storage drives.  This man looked at the list, told us he’d put everything together, and then immediately dispatched his workers to fetch the parts he didn’t personally have in stock.

 

A few weeks ago a client and I walked in his store armed with a foot long shopping list to build a nice imaging workstation.  Just the box not including monitors came to over baht 100,000.  It was a high end building using the best components including a SSD, dual video cards, and WD Black storage drives.  This man looked at the list, told us he’d put everything together, and then immediately dispatched his workers to fetch the parts he didn’t personally have in stock. 

 

Eventually all the parts are laid out on the counter where we can inspect them, make sure they’re what we asked for, etc.  Once everything is assembled in one place, inspected, and prices agreed upon, he’ll write up the invoice and then send his guys to load it in your car.  A nice experience, much better than going from store to store looking for this part or that part.

 

Eventually all the parts are laid out on the counter where we can inspect them, make sure they’re what we asked for, etc.  Once everything is assembled in one place, inspected, and prices agreed upon, he’ll write up the invoice and then send his guys to load it in your car.  A nice experience, much better than going from store to store looking for this part or that part.

 

He takes cash (baht and dollars), credit cards, debit cards, whatever spends.  If he doesn’t carry the part you asked for, and it’s available somewhere in the Plaza, his guys will go get it and you’re in effect buying it from him and he then assumes responsibility for warranty adjustments.  The value of this service cannot be overstated.

 

He takes cash (baht and dollars), credit cards, debit cards, whatever spends.  If he doesn’t carry the part you asked for, and it’s available somewhere in the Plaza, his guys will go get it and you’re in effect buying it from him and he then assumes responsibility for warranty adjustments.  The value of this service cannot be overstated.

 

Back at my place the client laid out his boxes.  We weren’t done yet.  We’d just spend 2-3 hours driving to and then shopping at Pantip Plaza, fighting traffic, etc.. now we were going to spend the next 3-4 hours carefully assembling and then testing his system.  He’d never done it before, so this time he was going to watch and help.  His first task was laying out the boxes.

 

Back at my place the client laid out his boxes.  We weren’t done yet.  We’d just spend 2-3 hours driving to and then shopping at Pantip Plaza, fighting traffic, etc.. now we were going to spend the next 3-4 hours carefully assembling and then testing his system.  He’d never done it before, so this time he was going to watch and help.  His first task was laying out the boxes.

 

His second task was opening the boxes and laying out the parts keeping the various bits and bobs together with the part.  Keeping track of things can be a challenge.

 

His second task was opening the boxes and laying out the parts keeping the various bits and bobs together with the part.  Keeping track of things can be a challenge.

 

First, we place the power supply in the case and secure it.  We make sure the power connectors match the parts we’re going to install.  Btw -  The power supply is a very important component and we took care to get a very nice one that was “80 Plus Silver” certified.  Check out the 80 Plus website http://www.80plus.org/index.htm   here, they’re a lot like Underwriters Labs but for power supplies

 

First, we place the power supply in the case and secure it.  We make sure the power connectors match the parts we’re going to install.  Btw -  The power supply is a very important component and we took care to get a very nice one that was “80 Plus Silver” certified.  Check out the 80 Plus website   here, they’re a lot like Underwriters Labs but for power supplies

Totally independent.

 

This is the 1366 socket we’ll soon be plugging our new Intel i7-930 CPU into  I use a light to ensure all the pins are 100% clean and perfect.

 

This is the 1366 socket we’ll soon be plugging our new Intel i7-930 CPU into  I use a light to ensure all the pins are 100% clean and perfect.

 

Here the CPU is installed and ready to mount the external cooler.  The blue and white slots to the left are your memory slots, and the mostly blue slots arranged horizontally are your PCIe video card slots.

 

Here the CPU is installed and ready to mount the external cooler.  The blue and white slots to the left are your memory slots, and the mostly blue slots arranged horizontally are your PCIe video card slots.

 

This is the bottom of the Thermaltake Extreme 120 CPU cooler.  It’s the best of the current crop of over 300 different coolers.  I know this because I read tons of reviews on this stuff so you don’t have to.  We’ve applied a high-end thermal compound called “Artic Silver” which transfers heat better than anything else out there.  Your CPU can run a difference of 10c just based on the quality of the heat sink compound alone.  Faulty installation can mean a 20-50c difference as you head into thermal shutdown.  This part must be done correctly

 

This is the bottom of the Thermaltake Extreme 120 CPU cooler.  It’s the best of the current crop of over 300 different coolers.  I know this because I read tons of reviews on this stuff so you don’t have to.  We’ve applied a high-end thermal compound called “Artic Silver” which transfers heat better than anything else out there.  Your CPU can run a difference of 10c just based on the quality of the heat sink compound alone.  Faulty installation can mean a 20-50c difference as you head into thermal shutdown.  This part must be done correctly.

 

Here is our Gigabyte x58-UD7 motherboard with the optional northbridge cooler attached, the Thermaltake CPU cooler/fan attached, and 12gb of the fastest DDR3 2000 memory available, Kingston Hyper-X.  At this point we carefully inspect every detail before mounting it in the case.

 

Here is our Gigabyte x58-UD7 motherboard with the optional northbridge cooler attached, the Thermaltake CPU cooler/fan attached, and 12gb of the fastest DDR3 2000 memory available, Kingston Hyper-X.  At this point we carefully inspect every detail before mounting it in the case.

 

Once mounted in the case we run all the cables from the power supply, the front panel switch wires, mount the drives, mount the video cards, and then test the system.

 

Once mounted in the case we run all the cables from the power supply, the front panel switch wires, mount the drives, mount the video cards, and then test the system.

The point of this article really wasn’t to show you how to build a system, but more where to go to get the pieces to build your system.  My client was snapping images as we went along so I thought it would be fun to include them and you could get a feel for what’s involved.  No, I don’t build computer systems for a living, but if you don’t feel comfortable doing it yourself and you need a high-end imaging workstation (which is what I specialize in), then shoot me an email and we’ll talk.

I hope I’ve provided you with some insight into how Pantip Plaza operates and what to expect during your visit.  It’s reassuring to know there really are some honest and helpful dealers, and even better to know exactly where to find them.  I hope you’ll find these helpful.

I was going to list the exact parts used for the build similar to the way I did my i7-920 build here.  But the reality of the high-tech computer world is that by the time you decide to build your own the latest and greatest list from today, won’t be the same for tomorrow.  New and in many cases less expensive products are coming out all the time and if you don’t carefully follow the industry it’s impossible to know what the best specs and prices should be at any one point in time.  If you’re serious about building such a system and need help, email me.  I’ll be glad to help.  If you need someone to put it together and test it and do it right.. email me.  It’s a job I might have time to take depending on my current obligations and how fast you need it.

You might ask what’s it like using such a system compared to say.. a decent laptop.  I know, I know.. there are many out there swearing they’ll never use anything other than a laptop and I respect that.  It’s reassuring to buy the entire system already spec’d out and put together for you.. and to get it in a single box.  Not to mention it’s small and portable.  But what’s it like?

I’m a car guy, so I’ll liken the best laptop, currently a Lenovo or Dell Precision, to a BMW 3 series.  Nice, somewhat powerful, dependable, and not a bad price.  The kind of workstation I’m talking about in this feature, a Bugatti Veyron Super Sport.  Yes, that’s currently the fastest production car that just set a record of 268mph and yes there is that much difference.  When you process hundreds of images every week, render video, or stack for time lapse.. then you need this kind of power.  The best part, you won’t be getting a ticket with this one.. ;o)