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.
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.
Or, 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!
If I buy a pre-built can I change all the parts out piecemeal down to the case? Or better what parts can’t I change?
At the end of the day, a prebuilt desktop is effectively the same as one you’d build yourself in terms of what you can alter/upgrade – that’s absolutely everything. There are no parts you cannot change in a prebuilt desktop.
Hope that helps!
Your crazy! No way am I doubling the effort to build a PC! Get a prebuilt and next day say I have to replace gpu, ram or cpu and spend over 500 dollars on upgrades. Like shooting yourself in the foot twice. The first time didn’t make me limp so I will shoot my self again.
I’m thinking about building a pc, but I have a budget of about $1200. Any tips or parts that you would recommend?
send me a good 600 😉
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
whats your budget?
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
Sure do! I have a whole suite of builds starting at $350 and going up to $2500. You can see them all here.
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?
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.
$4k will build you an insane PC. That said, I’d suggest holding off on your RTX 2080 for another week or so until the RTX 2080 Super releases, it’ll be the same price as the current 2080 while offering performance that’s closer to the 2080 Ti. However, with a budget of $4k, you might want to consider stepping up to a 2080 Ti altogether.
It sounds as though you might be referring to the i9 X CPUs on the X299 socket? If so, I wouldn’t suggest one for a gaming PC. They’re awesome in workstations, but the i9 9900K (LGA 1151 socket) will readily beat even the $2000 i9 9980XE in gaming… For 1/4 the price. The i9 9900K will also beat all TR CPUs in gaming; even the $1800 TR 2990WX will lose to an i9 9900K in gaming.
Long story short, AMD’s TR and Intel’s i9 X CPUs are significantly more suited for work than play. Same goes for a $2500 GPU like the Titan RTX, it’s often matched by the RTX 2080 Ti (for 1/2 the price) as it’s more suited for work than play.
I’d suggest checking out my $2500 build as a foundation for your build. It comes with an i9 9900K, an RTX 2080 Ti, 16GB of RAM, and 1TB of SSD storage. It’s effectively giving you the max level of performance you can achieve with a gaming PC without running a multi-GPU setup… Or spending obscene amounts of $ on parts that’ll give you a 5% boost to average FPS if you’re lucky. From there, you could customize it however you see fit as desktops are very modular. You could swap the CPU cooler to something more aesthetically pleasing, or add more storage, maybe more RAM, different case, the options are practically limitless.
Hope that helps! If you have any other questions, don’t hesitate to ask!
Would you also happen to have a suggestion for a motherboard? Not MSI.
The $2500 build has a Gigabyte X390 Aorus Pro that’s arguably one of the best sub-$200 X390 boards out there.
Well the motherboard is one of the parts I’m willing to spend more on. I just want something reliable for gaming with built-in Wi-Fi if possible.
I’m not going to lie, at $180 you’re already paying more than most people are. Once you’re at the Z390 level of motherboards, all of your options are high-end and very reliable.
But, since you need WiFi, I’d suggest checking out the Gigabyte Z390 Aorus Pro WiFi.
The Asus ROG Maximus XI Hero is another good option, but it’s a fair bit more expensive.
Hope that helps!
It does. Thank you. Now I simply need to find a seller that will build the computer with the parts I want. I’ve read a lot of horror stories about the big names. CyberPowerPC, iBuyPower, Origin PC, etc. about them shipping defective units and offering no assistance.