Building Your Own Gaming PC vs. Buying a Prebuilt

Updated: August 2nd, 2019BrantonGuides43 Comments

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If you want to play games on PC then building your own custom gaming PC is almost always better than buying one that’s been prebuilt – but not always. There are definitely those rare times when you can get an awesome prebuilt gaming PC, but those are few and far between and you’re usually just going to get ripped off with sub-par hardware instead.

With that in mind, let’s take a look at some of the reasons why it’s often better to build your own custom gaming PC opposed to buying one that’s been prebuilt!

Price vs. Performance

A big part of PC Game Haven revolves around gaming PC builds, so you can bet that price vs. performance is constantly on my mind. This is also a major reason why I don’t see much value in cheaper prebuilt gaming PCs, the price vs. performance can’t be justified when you could get way more power for the same price or cheaper by building it yourself.

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Sure, most companies spice up the deal by tossing in a low-end keyboard & mouse, an operating system, but you’ll still end up dishing out more than you should in most cases – there are definitely exceptions.

Sometimes you’ll even get a guarantee on “parts & labor” which you’ll have to ship your PC away for, but that’s not worth it in my opinion – individual components you buy to build your own PC will have at least a 1-year warranty (up to 10-years for some parts like power supplies) and it’s way faster to have a replacement part shipped to you than it is to ship your whole desktop out for service. If you already put it together once, you can easily take that part out and replace it with a new one.

That all said, there are definitely exceptions and some prebuilt PCs are starting to offer really great value. I recently reviewed the CYBERPOWERPC Gamer Xtreme VR and it ended up offering a great price vs performance ratio – one that’s actually really hard to compete with by building it on your own! It’s not alone either and there are more and more awesome prebuilt desktops popping up all over the place.

On the other hand, you also have tons of prebuilt desktops in the same price range that come with anywhere from 50-100% less power! Always do your research!

Bad Parts or Overpriced

Most cheaper prebuilt gaming PCs don’t use the best hardware and they’ll often do something like give you a really strong CPU while giving you a bad graphics card in comparison; this completely wrecks a potentially decent build, especially when it’s supposed to be for gaming!

Or, they’ll try to sell you obsolete hardware from years ago which isn’t great either.

Sure, you could upgrade later, but wouldn’t you rather get something good the first time, for the same price or cheaper? That’s why it pays to do your research. If you know which hardware configurations to look for, you can often get really good deals on prebuilt desktops. But, if you don’t know what to look for, you’re probably going to end up ripping yourself off.

Something else that’s not uncommon to see when browsing for the best prebuilt gaming PC is a lot of bloated prices. You’ll often find massive increases on prices, which isn’t uncalled for by any means (putting together a PC takes time) but sometimes the premium is a little excessive.

That being said, sometimes you find some that are really good as well. Take this 4K gaming PC build as an example, to build it yourself it’ll be about $2000 before Windows 10, so let’s say $2100 for good measure. Or, there’s this prefab with only a few relatively minor differences for about $100 less at the time of writing.

cybertronpc borg q gm4213a reviewOr, take this CybertronPC Borg-709 as another example, in 2017 it retailed for around $700 but only came with an AMD FX 6300 processor, a 1GB Nvidia GTX 750 graphics card, 1TB of storage, and some throwaway mouse & keyboard combo. This was honestly something that you could build yourself for way less than $500 back as far as 2015. Basically, you would be sorely disappointed if you ended up wasting your money on this desktop.

I mean, if you were to compare that to our $700 gaming PC build, you’ll see what I mean, even my basic $500 build will blow it away when it comes to not only price but power as well.

It’s not all bad though, sometimes you can get some really unique and interesting features when buying a prebuilt desktop. But be careful, because these extra features usually end up doing little (or nothing) to affect the actual ingame performance.

The CYBERPOWERPC Gamer Xtreme GXIVR8020A4 is an example of a prebuilt gaming PC that gives you really great value for the price. It costs around $699 (at the time of writing) and comes with an i5 7400 (not the best, but definitely not the worst) a 4GB RX 580, 8GB of DDR4 RAM, and a 1TB HDD – when you consider that it comes assembled with Windows 10 installed, that’s a lot of value!

But, you’ll always have way more control over what’s going into your PC when you’re the one putting it there yourself! This is why DIY builds are almost always better than buying a prefab!

When to buy a prebuilt desktop vs building your own

There will be times when your best choice isn’t going to be a PC you build yourself. Sometimes, there will be factors at play in the hardware market that either inflate prices or cause shortages of various components. Since the prebuilt desktop companies generally have a lot of stock as well as good sources to buy from, they can often build computers for cheaper than someone who’s buying their parts online during one of these periods of despair.

Check out this article if you want to know more about why you might want to buy a prebuilt gaming PC.

It always pays to shop around and check out the specs of some prebuilt gaming PCs in the price range you were going to spend on your custom desktop (including the price of Windows) just in case.

So, if you can’t find the parts you want to buy due to some kind of market-caused reason, definitely check out the prebuilt side of things as they might have exactly what you’re looking for!

The Bottom Line

Most businesses are usually about one thing, making money. A good portion of the companies who build prefab gaming PCs are often going to mark their prices up and/or use sub-par hardware in an effort to make more money wherever they can because that’s business. You can’t really hate them for it, but you can use that knowledge to save yourself some of that hard earned cash.

That being said, although most prebuilt gaming desktops are usually pretty bad, not all of them are. Some offer a really good price vs performance ratio that’s hard to compete with by building it yourself. But, those builds are few and far between so make sure you’re doing your research on the included components before slamming that buy button!

Most of the time you don’t have to completely destroy your budget to get the PC gaming experience you want, knowing how much you need to spend on your gaming PC and what kind of components you need is paramount. But, that’s why you’re here, right? To learn about what you need.

There are lots of websites like PC Game Haven that provide solid alternatives to buying prebuilt by giving you the absolute best DIY builds possible for whatever price range you need. You’re going to get a way better deal by building your own, and that’s pretty much guaranteed.

Looking to build your own custom gaming PC? I’ve put together over a dozen different DIY builds tailored towards various price points, why not check them out?

Have any questions on building your own gaming PC vs buying a prebuilt? Ask me in the comment section! 

About the Author
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Branton

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Hey there! I'm Branton, the founder and lead editor here at PC Game Haven. Since our launch in 2015, we've helped thousands upon thousands of gamers build their dream desktops, find the perfect peripherals, and more. Thanks for stopping by!

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Anonymous
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Anonymous

i want to get in pc gaming i want to know if i should buy a pre built pc with the money i have or wait and save more and then build one

Anonymous
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Anonymous

Hey I have a price range of 1000-1500 dollar picture rang I am look for a gaming pc to play and stream on mostly fortnite I want to get as mush FPS as possible and have the stream running smoothly. Is there anything that can help I don’t know if I should but it prebuilt or build it because i have never built one before

Anonymous
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Anonymous

I am looking to buy or build a gaming pc to play and stream fortnite. My price range is 1000-1500 dollars I need acc that can give me as mush FPS as possible and does not lagg the stream do u have anything that can help?

coon
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coon

ok

Anonymous
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Anonymous

So… I’m attempting to build a new computer. For once in my life I can afford a budget of about $4,000 and want to make a high end gaming rig including an RTX 2080 EVGA graphics card. However, finding a decent non-MSI motherboard that’s compatible with an i9 processor is proving… taxing. I was wondering if, conclusively, the Intel i9 is better than an AMD Threadripper. Or if the i9 offers anything I couldn’t get with an i7.

Jose Rodriguez
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Jose Rodriguez

What’s your last name? I need it for my bibliography project.

Anonymous
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Anonymous

and I need to know what your first pet’s name was. oh, and your mother’s maiden name. could you give me your ssn while you’re at it? thanks

RICARDO CASTILLO
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RICARDO CASTILLO

Hello, this is Ricardo, fyi i am deaf
i looking for i7 core since i5 probably hard to program cause of fortnite, streaming twitch, etc you name it.
So, our budget 1500-1600 however there does have rent to own cause we are not master buliding,
what best we should buy there completed with i7 core? and what about memory GB? we need know everything before we can buy it

if you asked us about gamers, i would say i play xbox but i want xbox connect pc with eltago but i need new pc gaming, and we have recently new amd pc gaming but that not i7…. we buy from best buy ” cyberpower pc” Gua1600bst you may know about it

So, let me know, we would listen from your advice

thank you!

Jake
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Jake

ummm… I know your question is answered but ill still help if you want another answer. I stream on twitch and if you want to stream and play on the same PC, you most likely want a i7. for the memory, I have a 1T hard drive and a 500gb ssd. The difference between those is the an ssd is new and smaller than an hard drive so wont take up much space and you can have more. At the time when I was building mine, I couldnt find a 1T ssd anywhere so that why I got what I have now. Also, I know I wanted 2 drives so I can put my recording footage on the ssd and then put all my game and streaming hardware on the main hard drive.