PC GAMING 101 Part 7: Do-It-Yourself versus Pre-Built – Build or Buy?

When it comes to PCs, you can either build one yourself, or get a pre-built PC from a manufacturer, or a specialized PC assembling “boutique”. Let’s have a look at all the options available, and the pros and cons of each of them:

Pre-Built PCs

Pre Built PCs are the ones that manufacturers like Dell or Acer make. If you’re inexperienced and don’t know how to build your own PC, and do not want to take any risks, a pre-built PC is what you should look into.

Advantages of a Pre-Built PC:

 

1. An all encompassing warranty

A preassembled workstation from a company will have a warranty that covers all parts. That means if your computer fails, the company will work with you until the offending part is found. Individual components always come with a warranty, but some people just do not want the additional hassle involved in diagnosing the problem and dealing with it.

2. Simplicity and Support

Some people are not tech savvy and simply want their system to work right away, with little or no setup time. If something doesn’t work, they want someone they can call for help, like customer service.

Boutique System Builders

 

This is the option that lies in between a Pre-Built and a DIY system, and is for the kinds of people that want a higher level of customization on their system, like water cooling or hot-swap capabilities that big system vendors generally don’t provide. They provide a higher level of customization and you have more of a say in what components go into your system. You can choose this option if you want a higher level of customization, but can’t be bothered with building the system by yourself. Do remember, these boutique builders do have their profit margins.

Another option is buying components from vendors, either online or from stores, and having them assemble the PC for you at an additional cost. The difference between this and a boutique is that you need to know exactly which components you want, and you know exactly how much the assembly costs. Remember to factor in costs of logistics and getting the assembled PC shipped/delivered to your place once it’s done.

 

Do It Yourself

 

Ever since the early days, users have had the option of assembling their own PCs. Building a PC yourself has its share of advantages and disadvantages, and although there are many people out there who prefer building their own PCs so that they can customize the specs according to their requirements, you really need to know what you’re doing.

 

Advantages of Building a PC:

 

1. It’s Cheaper to Build

If you do things on your own, you will certainly cut down the cost of middleman, which in turn will help you save money on assembling as well as testing. The more powerful your intended desktop computer will be, the more likely you will be able to save money by building your own. This becomes significant when you consider higher-end PCs or Workstations, as Manufacturers or Boutiques will have a considerable markup.

2.  You get exactly what you want

Pre-Built PCs come in a pre-determined configuration, which is because the manufacturer selects it based on what’s the easiest to assemble on a large scale. This means that you either pay for things that you don’t want, or you don’t get the things that you want despite paying for it. Also, there’s no guarantee that the components used in all the machines are the same.  The manufacturer may switch suppliers due to availability, costs, etc which means that two of the exact same models of computers can have very different parts.

3. No Bloat Ware 

Computer manufacturers often install software on their machines in an effort to differentiate themselves from their competition. What really happens is that there is extra junk on your desktop that you can ignore, deal with, or uninstall. This takes time and effort. When you create your own machine, the only software installed is what you install.

4. Upgrade as and when you want

When it comes to upgrading your PC, if you’ve built it yourself it means you know which part or parts to swap out for new ones, and how to do it.

5. Experience

Building a computer gives you a lot of experience. The physical putting-together-of-everything phase, while also educational, doesn’t compare to the research you’ll do when building a computer. If you care about what’s going into your CPU, you’ll learn all the terminology and what does what in a computer. It’s pretty useful. And of course, the actual building is fun too. And even if you fry your motherboard, you’ll get to learn what NOT to do afterwards!

 

Disadvantages of Building a PC:

 

1. It’s more difficult

There is of course a fair share of difficulty involved in building your own computer. You may have to face your share of challenges, especially if you are not familiar with setting up computers. Picking out the parts to build a computer system from can be an extremely frustrating process. This is particularly true if you are not familiar with the technology and are building your first computer.

2. No All-Encompassing Warranty

All computer parts have the risk of failing. It doesn’t matter which company made them or which company installed them. Parts will fail. A preassembled workstation from a company will have a warranty that covers all parts. That means if your computer fails, the company will work with you until the offending part is found. Individual hardware vendors will not work with your computer as a whole unit.

3. Incompatibility Issues

You have to worry about sizes, compatible components, wattages, etc. If you don’t research things properly, you could end up with parts that don’t work well together or maybe won’t even fit into the case that you have selected.

The Bottom-line

It all depends what the computer is for. Usually, if you are spending less than Rs. 50,000 on a computer, or just want a simple desktop system, then I recommend a prebuilt, simply because you get a copy of windows already packaged with it and also the hassle of building it yourself if you are a first time builder may not be worth the slightly better overall quality of the components. Manufacturers are able to get discounts because they buy things in bulk. In addition to this, the budget market is extremely competitive which means it is often cheaper to buy a basic computer for just browsing the web and doing productivity software than it is to build one yourself.

However, when it comes to building a High-end system, a workstation or a gaming PC, building one yourself is the way to go.  All it takes is research and the willingness to put the things together, and it offers immense satisfaction and also experience and know-how. You can build one tailored to suit your exact needs, right down to the aesthetics.

It comes down to what you need, how much it will cost, and if you are willing to put in the time. If you are willing, then you can get exactly what you need and potentially save money in the long term. But don’t overlook the potential hassle and time you might have to put into building it.

In the next part of PC Gaming 101, I’ll talk about some valuable resources that you should use while researching and building your PC.

 

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