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I searched around, couldn't find another thread.

Is there any reason you would buy anything but the cheapest commlink if you were intending to upgrade it?

Because I'm not seeing any advantage to buying a Fairlight Caliban for 8000 nuyen.gif and then spending another 11000 nuyen.gif to upgrade it's response and stuff to 6, when I could just as easily get the cheapest commlink and spend the same upgrade cost, and save myself the cost difference of the expensive commlink.

Am I missing something?

Nope. This comes up pretty often. IRL and in game terms, you can build yourself something top-of-the-line for cheaper than you can buy it. The reason is you are using your time, which has an opportunity cost, to substitute for a currency outlay.

I can assemble a PC from parts and install the OS, apps & patches in about 6 hours. (Do you know how many freakin' updates Windows & Office needs these days? Geez.) I'll probably spend about 2 hours shopping for the parts. So 8hrs of my time total.

If I flip burgers for a living, that's about $50 and is a worthwhile effort. If instead I'm a well-paid IT consultant making $75/hr then I've just blown $600 to assemble it myself. Not cost-effective unless I enjoy building it myself, in which case I've spent 8 hours amusing myself and basically did so while spending negative money (the savings over purchasing the machine I already needed).

Very few people require a completely loaded machine so the off-the-shelf models are okay. I have no idea why they didn't go ahead and list one to save time and effort but they didn't. I personally keep a post-it in my SR4 book with the cost & specs of a maxxed out Comm so I don't have to do it for each and every character b/c it isn't (drum-roll) a cost-effective use of my time since I don't enjoy re-inventing the wheel.
also, just for the record, i am not aware of anything that says you need a commlink to modify. you can just start off with the parts for response X and signal Y and turn it into a commlink.

now, certainly that commlink isn't likely to be as pretty as a storebought one, and imo some of the built in toys would probably not be there, or not the same (ie, you might have only a wireless function to earbuds/headphones instead of having built in speakers, and it will probably be held together by some makeshift box rather than a case specifically built for it), but otherwise you can just stick a response chip to a radio and you've got a commlink.
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