Getting a new pc is always a complicated task. You want your dream setup to be the best in all aspects. But you are confused about whether you should build a pc on your own or go and buy a pre-built one? Don’t worry anymore, as I’m here to shed some light on this topic.
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Building PC Vs. Buying Pre-Built PC: Intro
Getting a new computer excites everyone, and a pc is also a must-have in this era. According to Statista, the UK (my place of residence) will have more than 26 million household PCs by 2025. The real question is which method is best for you to get a computer.
Each method has its pros and cons. It all depends on your requirements and preferences. That is why there are some things that you should consider before working on any type. They will help you decide should you assemble parts or don’t even get into this hassle.
Things To Consider
For any method, many factors affect your PC’s performance. Ignoring a particular area may not give you the desired results. Here I listed five things that you must take care of whether you’re buying or building a desktop computer:
The CPU is an essential component for your computer. Consider it the brain of a PC. It controls every operation that you do in the system. So, before you get a computer, make sure you get a suitable processor according to your needs.
There are only two manufacturers in the market: Intel and AMD. AMD tends to be cheaper and more powerful, but Intel is a reputable brand and has set a benchmark due to quality processors. While selecting the processor for your pc, make sure it is compatible with your motherboard.
This wouldn’t be a problem if you buy a pre-built PC, as the manufacturer has taken care of it already. But if you are assembling one yourself, you should know the difference. For more details check out this article that we wrote on this subject.
The next important component is the GPU (aka graphics card). It controls the visual data for hardcore gaming or photo/video editing. Although the CPUs have integrated graphics cores, they have limited functionality and can’t hold intense visuals. So, if you want better visualisations, keep the graphics card in mind.
The best manufacturers of graphic cards are Nvidia and AMD. Both have powerful GPUs like Nvidia Titan V and AMD Radeon RX 6900 XT. Also, they have budget-friendly GPUs like Nvidia GeForce GTX 1660 and AMD Radeon RX 5700. Choose these cards according to your required graphic needs, as they are among the costly parts and are hardly available (more on that later). If you would like more details on how to select a good graphics card, check out our guide on it.
The RAM, also known as memory, drives your computer. It is also among the very few things that you can upgrade whether you build your pc or purchase an already assembled one. So, if you are unsatisfied with the RAM’s capacity, you can increase it (as long as your motherboard can support it).
RAM is also one of those components that is quite easy to install, but you have to check for clearance against the cooler that you are planning on using. If the cooler is too wide, then it will cover up RAM slots and stop you from being able to install them, so you have to be careful.
Another thing you need to think of is the storage. A larger storage capacity is great to save loads of apps. You get two main options in the secondary storage department. One is Hard Disk Drive (HDD) which is cheaper and more common. While the other is Solid State Drive (SDD) which is faster, compact, and durable. However, they are costlier than HDDs. There is also faster devices like M.2 drives but they are very expensive
The last thing is not a component; it’s your budget. You must keep an eye on your wallet when purchasing parts or a whole pc itself. The best practice is to note down the prices by doing online searching, then analyse where you can save money and where you can’t compromise on quality. It will help to get a pc of your required specs. There are constant price drops on PC parts and you can use software like honey to help you identify when those price drops occur. Meanwhile, this isn’t as common for fully built PCs, you’re probably going to have to wait until an occasion like Black Friday or christmas for the seller to give out discounts.
Pros and cons of Building A PC
- Fully Customizable
Since you handpick every component yourself, you have full control over the specs and aesthetics. You can select the case you like and choose the RGB as opposed to the plain and boring ones. In short, your pc is what you like it to be.
You can even add extra lighting, additional hard drives, or any other peripheral to enhance the looks. So, building a personal computer is usually for those who want it to reflect their taste.
- Control Over The Prices
Another benefit of separately purchasing each part is saving money on less required components. If you want a PC for business work, you can invest in the drive but save the money on a graphics card.
Likewise, to build a budget gaming computer, you can spend extra cash on the graphics card and save on the case and power supply unit. It helps you to get maximum performance remaining within your budget.
- Desired Performance
And the previous advantage leads to another plus point of building a PC. Spending money on the required specification brings up the desired performance. For example, if you spend more on RAM than storage, you won't face any lag in the game. So building up a computer helps you better in the purpose you want a PC for. It provides more power in a specific department than having average specs overall.
- Highly Upgradable
Building a PC also allows you to upgrade any part of the system later. Since you have assembled the PC, you know the specifications and limitations of each component. So, when needed, you can replace any part with a more powerful model.
For instance, if you want to upscale the performance of your GPU, you can easily replace it with a better model. Pre-built computers don't give you much upgrading facility because you are unfamiliar with the components. So you may run into compatibility issues while replacing a part.
- Less Repairing
When you assemble your PC, you don't need to perform much troubleshooting. This method also builds a durable system because you won't put a low-grade part in your computer while purchasing them. So, the PC doesn’t demand repair more often. However, it has some disadvantages too.
- Requires Technical Knowledge
Building a PC is not everyone's task. You need the technical knowledge to assemble the system unit correctly. Although there are many guidance videos on YouTube, you deal with the delicate parts, and there is always a chance of mishap.
But, there is more, you need to install all the required software and drivers yourself. When you successfully assemble and start your pc, you need to upload the OS (Windows or Linux, as per your choice), along with all other drivers.
- Expensive At First
Building a PC proves to be cheaper in the long run, as you don't spend much on maintenance and repairing. But you spend a lot while buying the parts because each one has its shipping cost. Second, if you get help from a technician (presuming you don't know how to build it), you need to pay his label cost. So initially, this method could potentially be more expensive.
- Compatibility Issue
You also can't just buy an Intel CPU for an AMD motherboard. Compatibility is another problem that you will face. Every part should be designed to work together. If you don’t check the required conditions of parts, they won’t fit in the slots and prove a waste of money.
- Mistake Chances
Humans make mistakes. Even the professionals do assembling damage sometimes. When assembling a PC yourself, you may break a pin or make the wrong installations. Again, if you are doing it for the first time, the stakes are higher.
Another possible situation is that even if you correctly set up the whole system, it could potentially not even start. So, building a PC is advantageous on the one hand; it has some limitations on the other hand.
Pros and cons of Buying A Pre-Built PC
- Plug & Play
The best thing about them is that you can take the computer home and start using it straight away. There is no need to connect the wires or open the case. Also, the pre-built PCs arrive with all the necessary software installed. The first setup after boot is comparatively easier than after assembling a PC yourself.
The buying process is easier as you only need to factor in a few specs rather than every component’s details. You are almost ready to buy your favourite desktop computer if you know the desired CPU, GPU, RAM, and storage.
Moreover, you don’t need to brainstorm on the compatibility of the components. The manufacturers are knowledgeable enough to solve this issue. They select the components that will work in harmony and fit perfectly.
This might sound contradictory as, after all, you are also paying for the labour costs of assembling the PC parts together. But still, it is less expensive than building one. Many pre-built computers are also offered with a free mouse and keyboard, saving a few bucks.
Besides, you can even get discounts from companies on marketplaces like Amazon, Ali Express, or Flipkart. Even a gaming pc under $700 can pack decent but satisfactory performance.
- Software Support
As I’ve mentioned before, when you buy a pre-built PC, you automatically get the OS along with the required drivers. The fun fact is that individual software costs are rather high, but you are getting them at a reduced price by this method.
Additionally, you also get some side programs already installed in the system. The pre-built computers arrive with preloaded antivirus protection, firewalls, and drivers for optional peripherals. Sometimes, you also get software like Steam or Chrome.
These systems also have a warranty, depending on the company. So, if it got an issue in the said time, you can easily get your computer repaired or replaced. This facility is unavailable while building one because you get a warranty for individual parts. So, if any part damages the other, you don’t get a free repair. These advantages may ease your mind, but there are also some drawbacks.
- No Customizations
You don’t have control over the aesthetics and looks of your machine. You can upgrade the RAM or storage, but you need to accept the assembled parts. So, improving the aesthetics need extra work and money. In addition, if you choose to upgrade the other parts, get ready to research their compatibility.
- Low-Quality Parts
Though professionals built these computers, you don’t see the assembling. They must have put the vital parts to match the performance, but they could save money on non-essential parts. So, you could get low-quality components in that department.
- Cheaper PCs Are a Waste
Cheaper pre-built PCs are nothing but a waste of money. The manufacturers put low-end CPUs and cheap other vital components to match the price so you don’t get the desired results from the computer. Their warranties are also not so flexible sometimes.
- Repair Costs
Lastly, you are unfamiliar with the parts inside. So, it is hard to identify the problem in case of any damage. The situation worsens if you don’t have the technical knowledge to repair it. As a result, you’re forced to spend more money on the repair side of things if your PC isn’t covered by warranties. The best option is to take it to a trusted guy, as people may take parts from a good build or charge you extra.
Head To Head Comparison
In this section we have summarised and broken down how each method of acquiring a PC compares to the other:
The Current GPU Market
Last year, there was a shortage of GPUs worldwide. Their demand is increasing each year due to advancements in crypto mining and demands can’t be met due to the pandemic. As well as this, factored with many other reasons, the demand for graphics cards has increased by many folds, whilst the capability to meet that demand has decreased.
Before buying a GPU separately or a complete computer, factor in their increased prices. Make sure you check the availability of the graphics card that you want to buy in the market.
Frequently Asked Questions
- Is buying a pc cheaper than building one?
Purchasing an already built pc is usually more expensive because of assembling costs but in recent times it has become a bit cheaper because of how expensive graphics cards are. However, if you research well and find each component for less, you can build a more powerful machine for the same price.
- How long does it take to build a pc?
It depends on the experience of the builder. The professionals could take no more than half an hour to build a fully functional computer whilst the beginners may not even assemble it in two hours.
If you’ve built a pc before, it won’t take much of your time, hardly an hour. But if you are building it for the first time, consider the time margin more than that. Make sure you follow every step carefully. Otherwise, hurrying may damage any part.
- What is the average cost of a pre-built pc?
The price relies on the requirement of a computer. A budget gaming pc ranges from $500-$700. You can get a useful pc for office work for less than $500. But, planning for a gaming beast could be costly. Many streamers, hardcore gamers, and professional graphic designers use computers worth more than $4,000. However, a $1,000 PC is suitable and powerful enough to fulfil your many requirements. Check this out to find more details.
- What is best for gaming: Building a pc or buying one?
Although pre-built PCs will save your time and are beasty too, gamers usually prefer building their computers. The reason is that it gives them full control over the specifications and power. They can craft it how they like it. So, it is better to build your gaming pc rather than buy an already built one for a smooth experience.
- Is building a gaming pc expensive?
The term gaming pc is a behemoth itself. The games require top tier performance that you can’t obtain through a rig below $700. It will mostly lag and support the games on the lowest settings. So, in short, if you want to build your gaming pc, you need to spend some more bucks. Otherwise, every computer has solitaire.
Which Option is Best For You?
So, summing up our comparison: building a PC vs buying a pre-built one, you can’t say one is better than the other. Each type is suitable for different usage, based on various factors. If you want a pc for office work, internet browsing, watching movies, and some other light stuff, buying a pre-built computer will be a great option for you.
But if you want to design your computer according to your taste, and are ready for some serious hardcore gaming or other functions, then building it on your own is the best option. Look at your requirements and budget before selecting a method, then do what suits you best. Good Luck!
If you have any questions feel free to contact me, you can use the comments section below or a contact form.
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