Building Your Own Gaming PC vs. Buying a Prebuilt

In Blog, Custom Builds, Prebuilt Desktops by Branton14 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.

iBuyPower-AM-FX06BK

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 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.

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 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

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! 

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Branton

Branton

Hi! I'm the founder and lead editor here at PC Game Haven. The first game I ever played on PC was Ultima Online way back in 1999, since then I've been hooked on every facet of PC gaming! Thanks for stopping by!

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Raphael
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Raphael

I’m in a bit of a dilemma here. I haven’t built a PC in my life and am planning to build/buy one sometime this month (or in the next one or two). Now, I am a total noob at PC building and know nothing about it. I’ve watched a few YouTube videos but that’s it. I was originally firm on building one myself but because of this crypto-currency mining incident affecting GPU prices, I considered the option of buying a pre-built one. I found this system by CyberPowerPC on BestBuy for $999.99 (my budget is $1000). It’s the CyberPowerPC – BattleBox Essential Desktop and here are the specs:

-AMD Ryzen 5 1500X processor
-16GB DDR4 memory
-1TB hard drive and 120GB solid state drive (SSD)
-NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1060 (6GB)

Here’s the link if you want to check it out: https://www.bestbuy.com/site/cyberpowerpc-battlebox-essential-desktop-amd-ryzen-5-1500x-16gb-memory-nvidia-geforce-gtx-1060-120gb-ssd-1tb-hard-drive-black/5848614.p?skuId=5848614

From my noob perspective, this sounds like a decent system. I just want someone else’s opinion on whether this is actually good or not. This is my first option (pre-built).

For my second option, which is to build my own, I found a YouTube video of a $500 build (https://youtu.be/BtQih352lac) with the following specs:

-AMD Ryzen 5 2400G
-Ballistix Sport 8GB DDR4 RAM 2400
-1TB Hard Drive

This build is meant to hold you off until GPU prices go back to normal and then just put one in. The problem is, I don’t know what GPUs are compatible with this build. And if it’s gonna be better compared to the pre-built above once a GPU is added.

What is the most powerful GPU that I can put in this build that is compatible with the other parts (500W power supply)? Which one is the better option? Thank you for helping me out!

Jen
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Jen

So I had planned on building a new PC (or rather replacing most of the guts of my current custom build) for the PC release of FFXV, then I quickly ran into the inflated prices of the graphics cards. I’m strongly considering just buying one of these pre-builts that you recommended, but I wonder how easy it is to change out parts later. I’ve not bought a pre-built in over 15 years (yikes, that makes me feel old) so I wanted to ask if you’ve experienced anything weird on the inside of these things like flimsy clasps that break when you try to replace a part, etc.

Let me know!

Peeta
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Peeta

Hello.

When it comes to hardware I am a complete noob. Recently I decided to get a new PC, however since I am not very familiar with current prices-performances I don’t wanna feel cheated by overpaying for a pre-built PC.
Can I have your opinion on a PC that a local store offers with the following components:
Intel Core i7-7700k / ASUS GEFORCE GTX 1080 TI ROG STRIX OC 11GB / Kingston HyperX Fury 32GB (4×8) DDR4 2133 MHz / HyperX Savage 480GB SSD + Seagate Barracuda 1000GB 7200rpm / ASRock Z270 GAMING K4 / Seasonic Platinum 660W / be quiet! SILENT BASE 800 Black

The price is: 2250 € (2800 $).

Is this worth it or should I just ask a Tech friend to build me a custom PC around the same (lower) amount?
The PC would be used just for 2K gaming.

Thank you in advance!

ba7rawy
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ba7rawy

for low end gaming pc is it better to buy it prebuilt or build it (sorry for my english )

William from pornhub
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William from pornhub

I have an i3 processor do you think i should i update it to standards?

Avery
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Avery

When do prebuilt gaming PCs become worthwhile? I mean, if I was going to spend $1500 building my own anyways, are there any prebuilts out there that would offer similar specs?

Anonymous
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Anonymous

How much would I have to spend to get the best balance in a custom build? Thanks.