What is a 'White box' Computer?

A white box computer is a custom-built PC using name-brand internal components but lacking a particular brand name on the complete system or "box". Sometimes known as a generic PC, white box computers can often deliver more features and power at a lower hardware cost than name brand systems from Dell, HP, Gateway and others. The cost savings is achieved by eliminating the substantial overhead of marketing, advertising and support required for the big brand manufactures such as HP, Gateway and Dell. The cost difference becomes more apparent with high end, high performance systems. For entry level systems, the big brands can usually beat white box prices but the components used in those system are of lower quality than provided by component suppliers.

White box systems are offered by local computer stores or franchises as a lower cost 'house brand' alternative to big box PC's with the local store providing all the support and typically longer warranties. In many cases this support model results in better customer satisfaction as wait times and quality are completely under the control of the local company rather than outsourced to the lowest cost offshore call center. Examples of retail suppliers of whitebox systems are Ampro Data Service (local) and Vision Computers (national).

In many cases the same vendor that supplies internal PC components will also offer complete systems built to a customer's specifications, fully tested, integrated and with excellent warranties. UW Madison has a purchasing contract with ASI Chicago, a supplier who provides this service and is the vendor currently used by Waisman Computing Services to purchase fully assembled and tested white box systems with complete warranties.

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