Steve

I really enjoy reading your photography column and though to me the good camera equipment is beyond my means (I have a secondhand Nikon D70 and a couple of lenses that I get by with) it is the computer hardware and software that are really useful to read.  I have always had computers that came off a shelf ready built - mostly by Dell but your articles have raised my interest to try and put one together myself.  My question then is where do buy the components - I live in Laos where supplies are limited but access to Thailand is not that difficult.  But it seems to me that you get really high quality and up to date components - can these be bought in Thailand at the average superstore?

 

Thanks again for the column.

Tony 

 

Tony -

Thank you for the feedback, it's always great to hear when a reader enjoys the column, especially if it encourages photography.  A Nikon D70 IS a good camera and properly used you can make excellent images with it.  Do you know many wedding and portrait photographers use D70's?  They're high quality, reliable, and inexpensive.

I'm happy you're considering building your own computer.  Did you catch my Intel Core i7-920 build a few months back?  Lots of good information in that feature.  Its a lot easier than it might appear to build your own system.  Its important to follow a few basic precautions you can read about in the feature, but overall it's easier than putting together tinkertoys.

The answer to your question is yes and no.  Yes, high end components can easily be purchased in Thailand, but not at your average superstore.  Panthip Plaza and the other IT malls will have tons of part stores and they'll all carry the basic cases, power supplies, drives, motherboards, CPU's, video cards, and RAM.  However, the really high end stuff is limited to just a handful of enthusiast stores which are located close together on the ground floor of Panthip Plaza.  These stores will have most of the high end (read expensive) components most Thai consumers aren't willing to pay for.  They'll also carry high end air and water cooling equipment, the best cases available (Lian-li), great power supplies (PC Power and Cooling), and most all you need.

There is one caveat.  If it's brand new on the market it probably won't be carried in Thailand.  You'll need to source it in America (cheapest prices in the world on such things) instead.  It generally takes 3-6 months for products to be released in Thailand after they're released in the west.

A solution to getting these parts is to become part of a group of expats who sometimes travel back to the west (US, UK, etc) and are willing to hand carry things back in their luggage for you.  When you go you'll do the same for them.  Small groups of 5-6 work out well depending on how frequently you travel.  It seems I know someone coming in from the states a few times a month.  We simply place our orders and ship to the current travelers US residence (usually a family home) and he brings our toys back in his luggage.  Of course size/weight/and available luggage room all come into play.. but generally most computer parts are small and weigh very little.  Fortunately the heavier items like cases and power supplies can be purchased here locally.

In some cases when no one seems to carry what you want, and for some reason (no one is going, you want a warranty, price, etc) you can't source it from the west, then consider contacting the home companies customer service and request help.  Most will be happy to put you in touch with their closest distributor of if there isn't one, they might import directly to you.  Recently I ordered two very high end imaging  monitors from NEC and I wanted a local warranty.  These monitors weren't carried locally because I was told "Thai people won't pay that much", but NEC was happy to prompt their distributor to order them in for me.  The price was reasonable (about 20% more than online discounters in the states), I get a full four year warranty, but I must wait up to 45 days for them to come in.

I hope this helps.  I really encourage you to build your own PC because not only can you build the system you really want, but you can save money doing it and learn to work on your own computer in the process.

Take care

Steve

Please submit your questions to QandA@Bkkimages.com  All questions will be answered and most will show up in the weekly column.