Customization is an integral part of the beauty of PC building. With a wide array of components to choose from and with numerous ways to make your gaming PC feel unique, building one is like putting together a very satisfying puzzle.
Yet, not every PC gamer is necessarily tech-savvy, so pre-built gaming PCs are actually quite popular. If you’re on the fence and unsure as to whether you should build your own gaming machine or just order one pre-built, here are the main pros and cons of both!
When building a custom PC, you’re free to pick out specific parts that suit your needs best, thus ensuring that you don’t end up with any components that aren’t a good fit for you. With prebuilt PCs, there are always tweaks that can be made to make the configuration more efficient and more cost-effective, such as increasing or decreasing the amount of RAM, switching HDD storage for SSD storage, or just finding a better balance between the CPU and the GPU.
For example, a prebuilt PC might come with an i7 CPU, 32 GB of RAM, and a GTX 1060 graphics card. Now, if you were looking for a gaming PC, it would be way better to go with an i5 CPU, 16 GB of RAM, and a newer/more powerful GPU such as the GTX 1660 Ti or even the RTX 2060.
Furthermore, another issue to keep in mind is future-proofing. Some prebuilt PCs out there might be using older CPUs and chipsets that would severely limit the upgradeability of your PC.
If, for example, you were looking for a prebuilt budget gaming PC, it could be using an AMD FX or an older-generation Intel Core CPU. These CPUs use outdated chipsets and obsolete sockets, meaning that if you needed to upgrade the CPU in the future, you would have to replace the motherboard, too.
Of course, many prebuilt gaming PCs leave plenty of room for tweaking and upgrades, but if you’re thinking about buying one, then you should definitely make sure that the configuration isn’t using any overly dated components. This way, you’d ensure that you’d be getting your money’s worth and that you wouldn’t need to spend more money than necessary on future upgrades.
Building a custom PC ensures that you can put together a very cost-effective configuration, without overspending on overpowered components that don’t make much difference when it comes to gaming. So, how could prebuilt PCs possibly compete in terms of pricing?
Well, as it turns out, off-the-shelf components can be expensive. Remember when they made a supercomputer out of networked PS3 consoles? Just look at how the cryptocurrency mining craze affected GPU prices a while back, or how expensive DDR4 RAM can be. Fortunately, prebuilt PCs could actually present better value for your money sometimes.
True, companies that deal with PC building have to cover the base cost of the components, and then some. They have to actually make a profit and they have to cover the expenses that come with running such a business, but they can also get their components from OEMs at lower prices.
Ultimately, a prebuilt PC will usually end up being cheaper than if you were to build that very same configuration from scratch yourself. Furthermore, if you were to catch such a PC at a discount, it could end up being very good for your wallet.
And finally, we have the main selling point of prebuilt PCs convenience.
If you’re the kind of person who’s actually not very familiar with PC components or just don’t want to deal with the hassle of cable management, a prebuilt PC is definitely the most convenient route to go.
Not only that, but there are companies out there that build custom PCs on order. This blends the best of both worlds, to a degree – you get a PC that’s prebuilt, but one that you can customize, albeit to varying degrees. On the downside, getting a customized PC this way is also not the most cost-efficient route to go, as these companies usually charge a fee for their services.
Conclusion – Should You Choose a Prebuilt PC or a Custom PC?
At the end of the day, it all comes down to you.
As mentioned before, putting together a PC with each component bought separately can help you get the best value for your money and a PC that is fine-tuned to your needs. Meanwhile, a prebuilt PC can potentially end up saving you a few bucks and a lot of time, and you’re unlikely to go wrong with them if you’re making an informed decision.
For the most part, we’d recommend a prebuilt PC as the first choice mainly for those who are either completely unfamiliar with tech or are simply unfamiliar with the process of PC building and have nobody who can lend a hand in that regard. Even so, it’s best to read up and get an opinion of someone more knowledgeable if you want to avoid getting stuck with outdated components or inadequate builds.
You can find several buying guides on our site where we detail the best builds that you can put together without going over a certain price point, including $600, $800, $1000, $1500, and $2000 gaming PCs. Naturally, we also put together a couple of selections of the very best prebuilt gaming PCs under $500, $800, and $1000, so you might want to take a look at those, too.