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The task of building or buying a gaming PC is a subject of interest for many people around the world. It can also be one of the most daunting tasks for the inexperienced PC users out there. While the appeal of assembling a computer is truly in the eye of the beholder, there are many pros and cons to building your own PC over buying a prebuilt model. In this article, we are going to explore whether it’s better to build your own gaming computer or to buy it pre-assembled.
Is it cheaper to build or buy a gaming PC?
Generally speaking, it is cheaper to build a gaming PC rather than buying a pre-built gaming PC. This is because you are not paying extra for the cost of assembly and profit margin associated with Prebuilt PCs. In most cases, the more expensive a prebuilt PC is, the more the cost of assembly and profit margin of the seller will be. Therefore, it is indeed cheaper to build a PC. However, you forfeit the time and less risk of damaging the PC components if you decide to build a PC from scratch rather than buy a Prebuilt version.
Should you build or buy a gaming PC?
This question is better answered by examining your budget—and your needs.
As a PC gamer, you’ll want a computer that will give you the most bang for your buck. However, when it comes to building vs buying a PC, the market prices can fluctuate depending on many factors. The demand for certain PC components, in contrast with the supply, can cause their prices to fluctuate.
For instance, during the crypto mining craze or crisis for some, cryptocurrency miners used massive amounts of video cards for their operations due to their processing power. As a result, the prices of GPUs skyrocketed make buying a PC the much more cost efficient choice than Building one at the time.
Furthermore, other devices such as cell phones use the same materials for their RAM as the ones used to create modules for PCs. Factors such as these, while temporary, can affect your bottom line when purchasing your own components.
Therefore, when looking to acquire a new gaming PC, it’s recommended to check the current market prices. In this manner, the user can get a better idea of whether it’s more feasible or cost effective to build or buy a computer.
Is buying a gaming pc worth it?
While buying a prebuilt PC is easier on the wallet nowadays, the ultimate deciding factor is the user’s expectations. Specifically, what they seek to achieve with a gaming PC will determine how to proceed when looking to acquire one. If the user expects the best cost-to-performance ratio, then it’s possible to find many pre-built machines for this purpose. However, if seeking the absolute best performance, then it’s usually better to build a gaming PC from scratch.
Nevertheless, each method of acquiring a gaming PC comes with its own pros and cons. We will discuss each of these aspects in the following section.
Pros and Cons of Building a PC
Customizability: Choosing your own components
The best part about building a PC is, undoubtedly, the possibility to choose your own components. The idea of building a computer is to tailor the components specifically to your needs in both performance and visual design. When building a PC, you can design it to perform well in specific games and tasks as to your needs and based on your budget.
Aside from the performance and budget aspects, you also get to choose the visual design of your PC. In short, you can fine-tune your choice of components to your exact needs, and save or splurge some money on RGB lighting, flashy cases, or other cosmetic accessories.
Cheaper due to no overhead
Aside from picking the components, the user also gets to take charge of assembling his own PC. For many people, this task may present itself as impossible or exceedingly complicated. However, the users with a bit of know-how—or with the know-how to use Google or YouTube—can save a lot of money in assembly expenses. While it may take some time to get the setup up and running, it’s usually worth the effort to build a computer. If not for the savings, some users prefer to do this for the personal satisfaction of assembling their own gaming PC.
Feeling more connected and accomplished with your PC
For many people, the thrill of building a PC and booting it up for the first time is unparalleled. This process is almost ritualistic for some users: The act of mounting the motherboard inside the case, inserting the CPU in the socket and securing it in place, and introducing the RAM into the memory slots, and so on, is very satisfying and fulfilling. Finally, if after a long day of putting everything together the PC runs with no issues, then the time spent was well worth it, indeed.
Time spent building the PC
As we mentioned above, assembling a PC can take some time, especially if learning on the spot. Furthermore, there are some tasks that might be out of reach at first. This may happen either due to not having the necessary tools, or simply when the user doesn’t know how to perform certain tasks. Regarding the latter, exercising proper cable management, and mounting water-cooled rigs, to name a few, come to mind. In short, building a computer can take lots of time; time that not everyone will want to invest.
Risk of damaging the PC’s components
Even though it’s difficult to achieve unless the user is wholly unfamiliar with the process, there is always a risk of damaging the components when building a PC. Even the most innocuous things like static electricity have been known to damage certain components. In this case, if anything goes wrong, the user won’t be able to contact official support. Furthermore, if a part is damaged on assembly, the warranty is voided with no exceptions.
The compatibility and assembly errors
As technology moves forward, and more advanced components are made available, compatibility issues surface in equal measure. Buying pieces that are incompatible with each other is an inherent risk of building a PC. To prevent this, the user must conduct ample research to ensure compatibility.
Furthermore, even if all the parts are compatible, there is still a risk of improper assembly. In this aspect, tasks like hooking the front panel pins to the proper slots on the motherboard come to mind. While an error in this part is not significant, it can cause certain features of the case to work improperly—or to not work at all.
Pros and Cons of Buying a Prebuilt PC
No time spent on assembly
Purchasing a pre-built computer is as easy and convenient as browsing for the desired model, and placing the order. The manufacturers handles everything from assembly and testing, to shipping and handling. Once the prebuilt computer arrives at the doorstep, it’s essentially plug-and-play: It comes ready out of the box, with an operating system and all related software installed, and is usable as soon as it’s hooked up.
Parts are already compatible
Similarly, the user will never have to worry about component compatibility when buying a prebuilt PC. It’s not even possible to make a mistake in this aspect as these computers come already assembled and properly tested.
Warranty if something goes wrong
Unlike when building your own gaming PC, you have full support from the manufacturer when you buy a prebuilt computer. If something goes wrong, or if a component gets damaged in shipping, you may contact the manufacturer for a replacement.
Prebuilt gaming PCs, while prohibitively expensive in the past, currently come in a wide variety of configurations. Gone are the days when the user had to invest thousands of dollars on a gaming PC, or settle for a cheap prebuilt work computer. The vast repertoire of components available makes it so that there are many models to choose from on the market. However, when it comes to prebuilt computers, what you see is what you get. In many cases, it’s not possible to tailor the components to your exact requirements.
More expensive because of manufacturer overhead
Building a computer takes time and knowledge. Not everyone can sit down, parts scattered on the table, and get to building. Depending on your setup, it might take several hours—if not more than a day—to get your setup up and running. Need an aftermarket water cooling solution for your powerful CPU? That takes time to assemble as well. Additionally, cable management is a tricky task that can lead to more harm than good in inexperienced hands.
All of these assembly tasks come in the form of a premium in prebuilt PCs. The manufacturer does all the dirty work so you don’t have to. However, they also add assembly expenses to the bill, which can sometimes significantly increase the final price of the PC.
Could void the warranty by altering or upgrading the prebuilt PC
Tampering with the hardware of a prebuilt computer in any way will usually result in voiding its warranty. In this regard, there is no freedom to customize, disassemble, or otherwise manipulate the components without potentially forfeiting manufacturer support.
Furthermore, it’s impossible to perform upgrades on the computer without sacrificing the warranty. However, depending on the build, it may take years for the PC to require an upgrade, by which point the warranty will be expired, anyway. When it comes to prebuilt computers, everything short of opening it up to clean the components might result in voiding the warranty
Deciding whether to buy or build your gaming PC ultimately comes down to preference and budget.
It’s possible to save a few dollars by building your own midrange computer. Unfortunately, these savings are marginal, at best. However, you can save hundreds of dollars when building your own high-end gaming PC. By creating your own combination of components specifically suited to your needs, it’s possible to save some money.
On the flipside, there are many affordable prebuilt computers currently on the market. Most of these rigs can run many games at mid to ultra settings and run well above 60FPS. Nevertheless, this convenience and price tag comes at the expense of customization options and flexibility—and sometimes performance. Furthermore, for many users, the experience of building their own computer is second to none.
Regardless there are many pros and cons to each approach, as well as many options for most budgets and purposes. Ultimately, the choice comes down to preference, and whether or not the user is willing to dirty their hands building their computer, so to speak.