When buying a new computer, there comes a time when you must decide if you’re going to buy a pre-built PC or build your own. Each has its own pros and cons so if you’re on the fence and need a little help, this article will help you decide.
If you’ve ever built a PC, chances are that you will continue to do so and scoff at buying a pre-built. Over at PC Battlestations we love building custom PCs and have been doing so for years. You learn so much by building your own PC and enjoy the process.
The knowledge of knowing what each component’s job is and how they all work together is priceless. Researching the latest components and it’s specs is one of the many skills you gain when building your own.
But that doesn’t mean building your own PC is for everyone. Buying a prebuilt PC has a lot of benefits too. I’m here to lay out the pros and cons of each and let you make your own decision.
Let’s dive in!
I’ve been on both sides of the fence on this one. I’ve seen where building your own PC is cheaper than a pre-built with comparable components, and visa versa. If you have time, you can watch for deals on individual components or buy refurbished parts.
Some pre-builds have sub par components but still have a hefty price tag. Because of the sub par or outdated components, you are left with having to possibly upgrade them sooner so the future value isn’t there. You might also need to update multiple components. For example, you want to upgrade your CPU but your Motherboard doesn’t support it. So you’ll have to purchase a new CPU and Motherboard! Oh my!
But as GPU and DDR4 RAM prices have increased recently, I’ve also seen comparable pre-builds that are cheaper as the retailer probably kept the price down due to buying bulk components straight from manufacturer themselves. They might also make their money by up-selling extended warranties and support.
Pre-builds come with Windows installed already so you don’t have to factor in an Operating System (OS) purchase. Some also come with a keyboard and mouse so that might also drive the total cost of your setup down.
Another pro for pre-builds is that you might be able to finance your PC and pay for it in monthly payments. The negative side of this though is that there will probably be interest charges that you will have to pay to finance your purchase driving the total cost of the PC up.
Building your own PC wins big time with the ability to customise. Obviously you’re choosing your own components to meet your exact requirements. Looking to game? You’ll probably spend more of your money on a more powerful GPU to render the graphics.
Most prebuilds come with standard configurations that might not be right for what you’ll be using it for. Some prebuilds allow you to customise a couple of components but you don’t have the full control of picking out every specific part.
I use a website called PCPartPicker to customize my full PC build. It allows me to shop specific parts for my whole PC while warning me of potential issues.
Pre-built computers obviously win this category as they are already built and tested to work right out of the box. If you’re pressed for time, don’t have the knowledge of building a PC yet or the knowledge to troubleshoot a problem, you’ll probably want to buy a pre-built.
In order to build your PC, you’ll want to have the knowledge of what to do. Building your own PC isn’t too difficult, but like most things there is a learning curve. It’s kind of like Legos, parts are meant to fit together. There is a lot of information online on how to build a computer. You can even watch YT videos and ask for help on Reddit’s r/buildapc/ subreddit. If you have the luxury of having someone knowledgeable physically helping you, even better. Nothing beats some hands on learning!
If you have no knowledge of building a PC and don’t want to learn right now, then prebuilt is the way to go. Most come with Tech Support too so that helps.
Warranties are also a big consideration. With a prebuilt, the whole PC is under warranty for a certain time from the place you bought it and/or the manufacturer. You have one warranty and it covers the whole PC.
When you build your own PC, each component has a different warranty and can be a pain if you run into issues and have to troubleshoot which component may be faulty.
Depending on where you live, buying individual parts and getting them shipped to you might be too expensive making buying a prebuilt the only feasible option.
As you can see, there are many factors in building your own PC vs buying a prebuilt and it all comes down to you.
Buying a prebuilt will save you a ton of time and hassle if something goes wrong.
On the other hand, building your own PC will be fined tuned to your specific needs and you’ll understand more about what each component’s job is. Not to mention the pride you’ll feel when finishing it and turning it on for the first time!
About the Author: Ryan is the founder of PC Battlestations, a website focused on high-end computer setups, aka battlestations. He has been building PC’s and computer setups for 10+ years and has been playing video games for as long as he can remember. He’s also highly distracted with tech toys and loves being a nerd with his wife and daughter.