It used to be if you wanted a quality gaming PC for a good price you were best off building one yourself. Recently with the boom of crypto currencies the price of graphics cards sky rocketed and the prices sometimes almost tripled in price over the course of a few months. The prebuilt pc market became entirely more affordable than that of a home build. Now crypto currencies have tanked for now and the price and supply of graphics cards have stabilized. This leaves an interesting question should you build or buy a PC.
Now the cop out answer is it depends, but it is true. Where you are financially and what you want will determine the answer to this question more than some peoples elitist views on things.
PC Gaming Die Hards
Now don’t get me wrong I love PC gaming but I have not built my own computer in a long time. Some die hards believe there is only one way to go and that is to build your own PC and no other option will count. You are not a true gamer if you have not bled and cried over your PC.
Me I am not one of those people. First up until November of 2017 I was still rocking a Windows XP computer with an AMD 64 dual core and a very low end graphics card. I also had a laptop for school that was more up to date but the graphics card was horrible and would burn up the computer if I played anything too intensive. My new computer was a Black Friday special for $500 which was the HP Pavilion Power PC 580-023W. For $500 at the time I could not have dreamt of building a comparable PC even going through Cyberpower PCs or IBuyPower PC which I visited Daily and dreamt. A computer built through them with the same specs was about 700 and if I built it myself it would have been about 650 and with the cheapest of parts.
So a PC elitist I am not. Here is their argument though. You control everything about your computer the color the ram the RGB lighting all of it. The computer is truly yours and yours alone and unique. You get a pride of building it yourself.
For a new PC gamer who is just starting I really do not suggest this. There is a lot to go wrong with building a PC. Even with sites like PC part picker that tries to mitigate hardware conflicts and the like it can be a risky adventure. Now if you have an experienced friend who builds computers all the time then you can have them help you build one.
If you have never done it yourself and you have a lot of time to learn then go for it, but make sure to not half ass it, at all, because one mistake can lead to a very expensive life lesson. Most parts come with very limited warranties and they do not cover screw-ups.
That is how I was stuck with a computer that would randomly reboot whenever I played a game on it. I bought all the components except the case and then I put it all together and the computer would not even do the simplest of tasks before it crashed and hard. Mind you this was around 2004 when the internet did not have all that much in the way of information. I had to rebuild my old computer back and I was stuck with the useless parts because I could not return them. Before I did this I made one of the biggest mistakes of my life not once but twice, but that is another story.
So at that time I decided having a warrenty on the entire computer was worth it. So I bought a Digital Storm computer back when they were a new company and did not charge outlandish prices for their custom built computers. I still have that computer in one form or another with an upgraded CPU and Graphics card that is my Windows XP computer.
So heed my warning proceed with building your own computer armed with lots of knowledge and for thought. Make sure the parts are compatible together and that you have everything before you start.
The Store Bought Model
Now I am rocking a store bought model, some are very good PCs but they do come with many considerations.
You can find a great system at the store especially on certain sale days like Black Friday like I found mine. You have to consider one very big thing and that is do you want to have a PC or a prebuilt Computer Console. The reason I say this is because these computers are not very upgradable at all. Take my computer for 500 dollars I got:
- GTX 1060 3 GB (VR Ready)
- 7th generation I5 7400
- a 1 TB hard drive
- 8 GB of RAM
- 300 Watt power supply
- Windows 10 operating system
Now all of this sounds good on paper except the 300 Watt power supply that is horrible but this computer is only really upgradable in two areas then you are done. You can upgrade the RAM to 16 GB and you can add a solid state drive. That’s about it. The case is too small for anything else and there are no no more slots for anything else if you really wanted to do anything. Now this computer is very good for the money but I know if something failed in it I am stuck looking for a replacement part made specifically for it not some random part I bought off of Newegg or Amazon. Which makes it a little better than a console.
Would I buy it again? Yes for the price and my budget I could not have gotten the same specs for that amount of money. Will I keep it? Yes until I get the money together to build or buy a new and more advanced computer preferably with a 1080 graphics card. I just bought a 29 inch ultrawide monitor and I know that my 1060 is not the best for that many pixels in some games.
Also when you buy a store model of computer they come with tons of bloat-ware that is useless and uses system resources and hard drive space. I have had my computer for months now and I still find the random bloat-ware sometimes. I have experienced some bloat-ware that damages the operating system if you remove it as well but that was years ago and I have not experienced that with this computer.
So in regards to a store bought computer know what you are getting you are getting an as is computer with no frills, but lots of bloat and no customization. When a part fails resign yourself to the fact that your entire computer may need to be replaced instead of just replacing the failed part preferably with a better part.
These are a compromise between the first two options. This used to be the most expensive option but with the recent price hikes for parts these computers were more affordable than building yourself.
The benefits are 2 or more year warranty on the entire build. These come standard and they charge you more for more years. Another benefit is picking what you want and having the company test and guarantee the build. They also have great sales sometimes. These computers can be upgraded, but some companies void the warranty if they do not do it for you so be wary.
The cons are many, first being lack of choice. Now this is not to say you don’t have a choice but if you want a special build like a hot pink case with rainbow lighting these companies are not for you. They have a lot of options but they go with what sells and do not provide any options out of that realm. Another problem is the price can be reasonable until you start altering the build. Oh you want an SSD drive instead of a regular mechanical drive that is going to cost you an extra 200 dollars since it is not a part of the sale. This can add up very quickly and be very taxing because if you want to stay under budget you have to compromise some very good parts to do so. Like RAM most of the time these companies have generic non-branded RAM that works but is not as good as some of the better RAM out there.
Gaming Rig Building Companies
These guys deserve their own category even though they are very similar to the prebuilt PC companies. What separates them is you literally can buy a PC that is the price of a decent car through them. Their cheapest computers normally are worse than their pre-built counterparts but they look cool. They always have RGB lighting and light up fans and the like.
These computers are hand crafted buy computer geeks who love what they do. They offer amazing customer service and they make your computer just exactly how you like it.
Is it worth the price? Well I bought a computer from Digital Storm before they became big and expensive and I was very happy with the build it was amazing and the staff were very helpful. There was no outsourcing to India here. Would I buy from them again? If I were rich and money was not an issue then yes definitely. Their builds are that good and their guarantee is that good as well. On a budget though, no, I can get a better computer elsewhere and not have to sacrifice paying rent for the next couple of months to do it.
One Last Option
In some towns there are still computer stores that are still open. I know amazing right. These stores can either buy and build you the computer of your dreams or you can buy the parts and have them assemble them for you. Now this is not cheap and may be more expensive than some of the other options on this list, but it is an option.
I have used this option when my aging Digital Storm needed parts replaced I took it to one of these stores and it became a game of what can I replace for something better. So they upgraded my CPU and my graphics card and the labor was very reasonable. I also used this option when I did something stupid and ruined my laptop keyboard so I had my local store upgrade my RAM while they fixed my stupidity.
The pros, being local their reputation is on the line, if they care. You have the virtue of internet reviews to help you make a decision. They can be cheaper than having a computer built for you and you can pick the parts and buy them for them. Being local the turn around time can be very fast if they have what you need as well. This beats packing up your computer and sending to the company if you want to upgrade your PC.
The cons are no warranty what you get is what you get and if it starts crashing in a few months it is up to the store whether or not they will stand by their product. If you have an obscure part they can take forever to get that part. They are not always all that cheap and you could always do their job for cheaper.
Given your options there are no perfect solutions to building your PC. Most depend on your budget, your knowledge, your patience, and your risk tolerance. You can build your own PC and it is truly a rewarding experience, but you have to stay up to date with your technology and you are the tech support when things go wrong. You can buy a pre-built computer, but for the most part you will be paying more, but there are some guarantees that come with your computer to balance that. Or you can have a store or private individual build you a computer, but the guarantee is between you and them and may not exist at all. Lastly you can buy a box store computer and know that what you are getting is more of a starter computer to be replaced when it ages out or fails. Any rate good luck and I hope you get one amazing Computer.
Let me know what you are using or looking at in the comments below.