The first thing you need to decide on when getting a new computer is whether to build one from scratch or the one that is plug-and-play compatible. These options may not seem all that different at first, but their end result can be wildly different. Still, this doesn’t mean that one is right, and the other is wrong. There is definitely a target audience for both and the two can very much coexist. The idea here is to give an objective overview of the situations, so by the end of this article, you will be able to see which approach weighs more heavily in your favor. Let’s list the pros and cons of both methods.
Cost and performance
For the majority of people, the cost is the most important fact. Or rather, the cost of the performance ratio that each approach entails. When you build your own computer from scratch you are only really paying for the components. Naturally, companies that sell pre-built PCs are looking to make a profit so they charge extra for labor and testing costs. Companies that sell pre-built computers usually charge 5-10% per component more than its retail price. They also charge around $100 for putting the pieces together. If you are on a budget, you may not get the components you desire if you go with pre-built. If you do it yourself, you should know which are the most expensive computer parts so you can extract the maximum of your budget.
Time and convenience
But of course, costs are not everything. Let’s not forget about the benefits you are getting from buying a pre-built PC. The most important of these must be time and convenience. To put it bluntly, it takes a long time to build your own computer. When building your own PC, you will buy all your parts separately. There is no reason to make all your purchases in one place. Maybe you will find some good discounts on a couple of pieces of hardware at your local retailer. However, you will still want to order other components online. It can take a while before your hardware is actually on your table and you are ready to start building. But pre-built PCs are just a click or a drive away.
Customizability can be very important, especially for PC gamers. Not only in terms of function but form as well. High-end pre-built PCs are rather easy on the eyes. But chances are they will never look exactly the way you want your ideal PC to look like. Buyers have more options today when it comes to pre-built computers than ever before. But these options are mostly concerned with RAM and storage capacities or bumping a CPU and GPU up a notch. The choice of motherboard is however set in stone as is the cooling solution and power supply. If customizability is something you value, then there is no beating the custom-built PC.
Repairs and customer support
You also need to take into account what to do if something goes bad. When building your own PC you are in charge of all the problem-solving. There are loads of online resources at your disposal that can make this much easier for you. But, at the end of the day, you are expected to find and correct the issues yourself. If you bought a pre-built PC you can always count the manufacturer to handle all the repairs and provide customer support. The downside here is that you will have to ship the PC back to the vendor if any hardware issues arise.
Another thing worth noting is the warranty. When you buy a pre-built PC, the whole PC comes with a single warranty. And this warranty is generally unimpressive. In most cases, the warranty will only last one year. In some cases, you will be able to extend this warranty to three years, but it won’t be cheap. On the other hand, with custom builds you are getting a separate warranty for each piece of hardware. Most computer parts like CPUs and GPUs are covered by three-year warranties, but some can last way longer. As far as long-term protection is concerned, custom PCs hold the edge, although you shouldn’t expect failure right away.
A battle between pre-built and custom PCs is not one-sided. It all comes down to you, the buyer. What do you want from your PC? If all you want is to get the best possible performance for your money, then making your own PC from scratch is the way to go. But if you need a PC quickly, you are not really tech-savvy, nor you know which parts are compatible, and you don’t want to worry about it at all for the foreseeable future you can’t go wrong with a pre-built one.