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Prebuilt vs. Custom PC: Which One is Right for You?

By: Henz Llarves | Date Posted: July 6, 2022

Prebuilt vs. Custom PC: Which One is Right for You?

Computers have changed a lot in recent years. If you aren’t up to date on what’s new, you might be missing out on the next big thing. There are two sorts of computers for sale: prebuilt and custom-built. But, which one is right for you?

A prebuilt computer will come with all the parts already installed and ready to go- no assembly required. A custom-built PC will allow you to build your own machine from scratch and enjoy more control over its specifications and performance than a prebuilt model would offer. The choice between these two options depends on your needs as well as budget considerations; one may be better suited than the other depending on what type of work you do or how much money you have to spend. This article will discuss the differences between a prebuilt and custom-built PC, as well as give you some good ideas on which choice might be best for you.


Custom Built PC Overview

Custom built PC using NZXT components

Custom-built PCs are created by assembling parts together to build the computer that fits your needs. You decide what exactly you want in your PC and then purchase each part individually. This allows for more freedom, as well as the ability to pick parts that fit with each other exactly how you want them to. If you enjoy having complete control over everything about your system, this is the best choice for you since it provides the most options of customization available. More importantly than any of that, however, it allows you to put together a system with components specifically chosen because they complement each other perfectly; performance will not be bottlenecked by any piece of hardware within your machine.


Prebuilt PC Overview

A prebuilt computer system is an alternative to having the DIY experience of creating your own PC. Prebuilts are complete systems ready for you to use as soon as they arrive, with each part chosen and installed by a professional.

Alienware prebuilt PC

The benefit of purchasing this type of system is that it comes with everything installed on the computer, so all you need to do is power on and start working- no assembly or long hours researching components required. Also, since these computers are made by professionals, installing the parts yourself means not knowing what will work well together or if anything was done incorrectly during construction- so being able to walk into a store, buy a prebuilt, and use it immediately is a convenience for those who don’t feel like putting their own system together.


Advantages of Building a PC

Putting up all components in the motherboard

The pros to building a custom PC are freedom, cost savings, experience, and upgrade options.

Freedom

Freedom is the biggest pro since it allows you to truly make your system exactly what you want it to be. In addition, because there are no limitations on what components you choose to use, the possibilities for customization are endless.

Cost Savings

Building a PC is usually cheaper than purchasing a prebuilt system for several reasons. First, you can choose the parts yourself and buy each one at its cheapest price point. By doing your own research and shopping around to find the best deal, you will end up saving money in the long run by avoiding paying extra for brand name or unnecessary components that are often packed into prebuilts- such as an expensive WIFI card when it’s not really necessary for what you plan on using your computer for. The other part of the savings comes from installing all the parts yourself since you don’t have to pay someone else to do it for you.

Upgrade Options

If one piece of hardware does become outdated in your custom-built computer, you know exactly which part needs to be upgraded instead of having to buy an entirely new system. This allows for future upgradeability and freedom, if necessary, down the road.

Experience

Your experience with PC building will depend on how much you value your time and how often you think you might upgrade your system. If you enjoy tinkering to the point where it’s your favorite thing to do – building a computer is perfect for you. But if assembling components and installing software sounds like a hassle, then purchasing a prebuilt PC is probably better suited for your needs.


Disadvantages of Building a PC

A potential issue is you have limitd knowledge of building a PC

The cons to building a custom PC are the time investment required, technical knowledge needed, no warranty, and potential issues that may arise.

Time Investment

This is probably the biggest disadvantage, as building a PC does take some time. Even if you are experienced with computer components and putting systems together, it can still be an inconvenience to have to shop around for all of your parts, research what each part does, make sure everything works well together, and then finally put it all together yourself.

Technical Knowledge Needed

Building a PC is not always straightforward since every part will perform differently depending on how they are set up in the system which requires some level of knowledge. Some people do not feel comfortable setting up their own machine because they fear something could go wrong along the way or that they might even break something without knowing it. Also, having experience with computer hardware can be helpful as some issues can arise during the building process which you will need to troubleshoot.

Potential Issues

Since you are putting all of your hardware together yourself, there is a chance that something could go wrong somewhere along the way- from forgetting to plug in a cable to installing a part incorrectly. In addition, if one piece of hardware does not function properly by itself or with another component, it would hinder your entire system and force you to build it again from scratch. This is why it’s important to have experience with computer components so minor mishaps don’t become more serious problems later on down the road.

No Warranty

The biggest disadvantage is that because you are building your own PC, you have no warranty if anything should go wrong. While this might not be a problem for most people, it could present an issue if something goes wrong during the building process or after putting the system altogether.


Advantages of Buying Prebuilt PCs

The advantages of purchasing a prebuilt PC are convenience, comes with a warranty, is free of compatibility concerns, and requires no technical knowledge.

Convenience

Overall, building a PC can be a lot of work due to all the research and time invested. Thus, buying a prebuilt system is more convenient as you don’t have to put anything together or install any software- that task has already been done for you.

Warranty

When purchasing from an online store such as Amazon.com, most prebuilts come with a warranty where if something is wrong with your computer within a certain amount of time, you can return it for a free replacement. This protection allows you peace of mind knowing that the company will back up their product in case something goes wrong so there are no problems down the road.

No Compatibility Issues

Since most prebuilts are created by the manufacturer to be compatible with a wide range of components, there is no need for compatibility issues or problems that may arise when building your own PC.

No Technical Knowledge Required

If you don’t have much subject knowledge in computer hardware, then buying a prebuilt PC does not require much technical knowledge either. If something goes wrong, the store from which you purchase will likely help you troubleshoot your problem without any experience knowing how to assemble a system properly.


Disadvantages of Buying Prebuilt PCs

The major disadvantages of purchasing prebuilt PCs are their greater price, compromised components and low performance, no customization (for some), and components that are already used sometimes.

Higher Price Tag

An expensive Alienware PC that cost more than $2000

Compared to putting together a PC yourself or building a custom one, prebuilts cost a lot more in general because the company will charge you for all the work it takes to ensure compatibility with other components and to make sure everything works well together. This ultimately raises the price which makes them much more costly than the other two options when comparing systems at similar performance levels.

Compromised Components and Low Performance

In order for prebuilts to sustain their high price tag without being too complicated, they often contain lower-end parts compared to what you would get if you built your own system or purchased a custom computer. On the other end, buying a custom PC will cost less in price and allow you to use higher-quality components.

No Customization (For Some)

Since prebuilts are already built for you, there is no need to personalize your system. This can be seen as both an advantage and disadvantage since it means less work on your part but also means that your computer will not reflect your personality or preference in appearance.

Components Used

In some cases, prebuilts may come with used parts that have been refurbished or repaired. While this isn’t a problem for most people, it is something you should be aware of when buying a system from a store.


Final Take: Which Should You Choose?

Since there are pros and cons to both types of systems, the right choice will ultimately depend on your particular needs as well as budget. If you need a computer right away and can’t wait to build one yourself or want something that has already been tested by professionals and guaranteed to work, then the prebuilt PC is best suited for you. On the other hand, if you want complete control over everything about your system and enjoy getting your hands dirty assembling parts together yourself, building a computer from scratch may be more up your alley. Either way, make sure you understand your needs and choose the method that best fulfills them.

Henz Llarves

Henz Llarves

I'm Henz Llarves and I'm passionate about writing and gaming. I've been building gaming PCs for a long time, and I've been writing about them as well.

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