Prebuilt vs Custom PC – Is a Pre Built Gaming PC Worth It?

Are prebuilt gaming PCs good? Should you buy a prebuilt gaming PC? Let's find out.

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Here at WePC we always recommend you to build your own gaming PC, it brings a sense of accomplishment, adds additional value, and, of course, a new skill to your repertoire. That being said, not every new member of the PC master race wants to deal with the added stress that can come from selecting components or the physical building process, whether that’s due to time restraints or otherwise, and this is where the prebuilt gaming PC starts to make a lot of sense.

We are going to pit prebuilt Vs custom PC, not to find the best option but to go in-depth about each of their pros and cons. We want to definitively answer questions like “are prebuilt PCs worth it?” and ” Should I buy a prebuilt gaming PC?” to put you at ease when the time comes to buying a new system.

VIDEO: Which Should You Choose? Prebuilt vs Custom PC

Prebuilt PC vs Custom PC

The main reason we try and get our readers to build a custom PC over buying one is simple – value.  It is no secret that you can squeeze in better hardware for your cash with a custom-built PC, with the markup on prebuilt computers usually costing the same amount as an entire component ($100-$300+).

Performance

While the performance of the prebuilt gaming PC is rarely in doubt, when building your own you could in theory include a better CPU or GPU into your computer for less. This means you could get even better performance for your hard-earned cash, get better in-game results, and future-proof your investment for longer.

Convenience

The main selling point behind a prebuilt gaming PC is it saves you the hassle. We understand that not everyone knows how to build a computer and may not even have the time to learn this new skill, so the convenience of a prebuilt makes a lot of sense. Of course, there are many more benefits to buying a prebuilt gaming PC from manufacturers, obviously, it takes the stress away from finding all the compatible components, while also preventing damage to said components when the time comes to build it.

With a prebuilt gaming PC, you are going to be able to send it back to the manufacturer if anything goes wrong. Furthermore, if you feel you need an upgrade, suppliers will often do this for you or at least insist you send it to them for an upgrade. Manufacturers will also dish out a warranty, usually covering parts and labor for around a year but some companies offer impressive warranties and you can always spend extra on insurance, giving you a lengthy/ lifetime warranty.

These prebuilt computers are from the biggest manufacturers around the world and aren’t just packaged nicely for you either, they normally stress test the system to ensure the components are working before shipping and that it performs as it should. You will also receive your system with software, usually with Windows and drivers pre-installed, so you can simply plug it in and start downloading games.

Why You Should Buy a Prebuilt PC?

  • You don’t have to worry about compatibility between components, systems are spec’d, tested, and guaranteed to work from prebuilt PC manufacturers
  • Current stock issues plaguing the market make it harder than ever before to get some crucial components
  • If you haven’t got the time to learn the building process, a prebuilt PC takes the stresses away, arriving ready to go straight out of the box
  • If you face any hardware issues, you have the option to send them back to the manufacturer to fix
  • Prebuilt gaming PCs come with warranties, protecting your investment for at least a year
  • Some of the best gaming PCs will often come with additional items, such as a keyboard and mouse, however, these are often entry-level peripherals that you will need to upgrade at some point
  • Prebuilt PCs almost always come with Windows 10 pre-installed

 

All the points above show there are plenty of positives for buying a prebuilt, as long as you understand there is a labor cost added on to these systems. Prebuilt manufacturers are a business after all, so a mark-up on the build is to be expected. The only real negative to a prebuilt PC is value, you are always going to be able to build a gaming PC of the same spec for less. It is down to you, there is nothing wrong with buying a prebuilt but building a PC is not that hard thanks to all the available written and video content out there, so give it a try!

GPU Price Increase

A major factor in the argument as to why you should buy a pre built gaming PC at the moment is the current market. Thanks to some of the highest demand ever for the current generation of graphics cards, a global pandemic interfering with production and distribution, and the continued popularity of Crypto mining, we have never seen stock shortages quite like it. The GPU is a highly sought-after component, it is obviously vitally important for your gaming PC, and with this demand, we have seen prices hit an all-time high.

It has been a real struggle to get hold of the GPU you want, especially for the advertised MSRP but it seems as though prebuilt PC manufacturers are still managing to get hold of some. With this increase in demand, prebuilt PCs are now also increasing in price, making them a little less desirable but there are still some good deals out there.

A Prebuilt Gaming PC Is Plug And Play

Sure, you are going to have to download your games before jumping in the server but you can power a pre-built gaming PC and start as soon as it arrives. Manufacturers almost always pre-install Windows 10 onto the PC, along with any necessary drivers and BIOS updates. The PC will also have the RAM speeds match the full potential that is advertised, you won’t have to go into the BIOS and XMP (overclock) the RAM yourself.

Don’t forget, a few PC building companies also include a free mouse and keyboard, so nothing is stopping you from enjoying the PC from day one.

Beware Of Entry-Level Prebuilts

While mid-range to high-end prebuilt gaming PCs offer excellent performance, there are some entry-level prebuilts that are simply not worth your money. Entry-level systems that feature integrated graphics or very old, weak graphics cards are a huge waste of money. While you can game on them, your experience will not be very enjoyable as you will be forced to play games in low settings and resolutions.

Sure, these prebuilts will suit some but if you have a small budget then you should reconsider building your own gaming PC and getting some value from your hard-earned cash.

400 Build VS 600 Build

The graphic above was made to show you what an extra few hundred dollars in your budget can do for your performance when building a custom PC. You are probably wondering what this has to do with a prebuilt PC, well because of the mark-up we discussed earlier, you could find yourself having the performance of the $400 build above when spending as much as $500 or $600! This example gets less extreme the higher up the budget categories we go but it gives you an insight into value.

Related Custom PC Guides

Related Prebuilt Gaming PC Guides

Final Word

So, are prebuilt PCs worth it? Should you buy a prebuilt gaming PC? This is now down to you. We say it time and time again but you should always take the plunge and start building your own, it is very rewarding for a beginner, and with so much help online these days, it is hard to mess up. When it comes to a prebuilt Vs custom PC, a custom PC is always going to win, as they give you much more for your money and you are in control of every aspect of the build.

We don’t want to dissuade you from purchasing a prebuilt PC but if you think you are up the task, learn the building process and start saving yourself some money. Of course, with the current stock issues, no one would blame you for picking up a pre built gaming PC, after all, there are a lot of benefits when going down this path, it is just that none of them are financial.

It’s always great to build our own gaming PC. The feeling of accomplishment with every build you piece together is just incomparable. But with how hardware prices (I’m looking at you, Nvidia) have become so expensive, to as much as 300% over the past 6 months…

..is it best to get a prebuilt gaming PC now?

It breaks my heart to say this, but it will be better to get a prebuilt PC today.


Why You Should Buy a Prebuilt Gaming PC this 2018--01 (3)

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Comparing Prebuilt PC vs Custom PC

Performance

To start the comparison, prebuilt gaming PCs today are designed to run even the most demanding triple-A games with at least 60FPS at 1080p resolution. You just need to know what to look for when choosing the best prebuilt gaming PC. We have here our list of the best prebuilt gaming PC under $1000 as proof.

A custom built PC may deliver serious gaming performance. But you can find a prebuilt gaming PC today that can fairly beat its performance.

Convenience

You don’t need to worry about part compatibilities. A prebuilt gaming PC is paired with components compatible with each other. If the package arrives, set everything up and you can start playing games.

Building a gaming PC yourself requires more in-depth knowledge. The CPU should be compatible with the motherboard you pair it with. Furthermore, the power supply should provide the right amount of electricity.

Even the slightest of miscalculation could blow your unit to crisp. Refer to our how to build a gaming PC here if you want to learn how to correctly build a PC.

Repairs

If you have problems with your prebuilt gaming PC, all you need is to return the system unit for repairs.

Basic troubleshooting can be made from your end but if the problem seems larger than you think, you can always send the system unit back. This saves you from having to do complicated troubleshooting procedures and risks of damaging other components in the process.

A custom built PC is rather complicated. You need to understand error and troubleshooting codes before you can identify the problem and start the repair.

Warranty

A prebuilt gaming PC’s warranty includes every single part of the system. The parts are also on standby and ready for replacement.

A custom built gaming PC may have individual warranties, but this does not guarantee that parts are on standby and ready for replacement. In most cases, consumers have to wait for at least 2 weeks to a month for replacement parts to arrive.

Price

Prebuilt gaming PCs are obviously cheaper in price and practical today since parts are purchased in bundles directly from manufacturers. As a proof, we have compiled the best prebuilt gaming PC under $500 that can play a number of newer games today.

Going for a custom built PC requires you to get each of the components at SRP. This leaves builders to deal with the expensive GPU and RAM prices.

To have a better comparison, we’ll use Amazon’s $779.99 prebuilt gaming PC. This is among the popular prebuilt PCs you could find.

1. Amazon’s $779.99 prebuilt gaming PC

To start the comparison, we’ll go ahead and use PCPARTPICKER.com to see how much it’ll cost us if we go and get the parts individually.

2. To start the comparison, we’ll go ahead and use PCPARTPICKER.com to see how much it’ll cost us if we go and get the parts individually.

These system specs are according to a consumer who has actually bought the system. According to PCPARTPICKER.com, the build costs over $1000 ($1018.05 to be exact). Keep in mind that this excludes the unbranded power supply and the Apevia branded case fans, which, should cost you to spend at least $50 more.

With a difference of over $288.06 (including a $50 450W PSU), without a doubt, going with a prebuilt gaming PC surely is a smart investment to make today. You just can’t build the same PC for the price.

Why You Should Buy a Prebuilt PC?

GPU Price Increase

As per Nvidia’s CEO:

“We’re not anywhere near meeting the GPU demand…”

This clearly means GPU prices could still rise over the top in the next couple of months.

The rise of bitcoin mining and other cryptocurrency mining is solidly linked to needing fast processing capabilities. Graphics card performance is able to outperform a CPU in terms of processing multiple data at once.

Simply put, the more power the graphics card, the more coins can be “mined” per second.

Current and aspiring miners from all over the world have jumped on the bandwagon in hopes to get rich without doing anything. This ideology has led to a significant shortage of graphics card production in the market.

The demand is so high that the rate of production just can’t keep up. In the just 6 months, prices are seen to have doubled, hitting its peak during the first quarter of 2019.

We have a screenshot from CamelCamelCamel.com below as proof of how expensive graphics cards have become within the said timeframe.

3. Price history of EVGA GeForce GTX 1050 Ti.
3. Price history of EVGA GeForce GTX 1050 Ti.
4. Price history of ASUS GeForce GTX 1060 6GB Dual-fan OC Edition
4. Price history of ASUS GeForce GTX 1060 6GB Dual-fan OC Edition
5. Price history of ASUS ROG Strix Radeon RX 570 O4G Gaming OC Edition
5. Price history of ASUS ROG Strix Radeon RX 570 O4G Gaming OC Edition

Looking at the graphs above, AMD or Nvidia graphics card prices have skyrocketed.

UPDATE: Though prices of GPUs have toned down, there are still prebuilt gaming PCs you can find that still offers similar – or even more performance per dollar, especially in the $1000 price range

RAM Price Increase

Lenovo IdeaCentre 720

Lenovo IdeaCentre 720 (90H10005US)

CPU

AMD Ryzen 5 1400

GPU

AMD RX 560

RAM

8GB DDR4

Storage

1TB HDD

RAM also contributes to the already-worsening-problem of GPU price increase.

Mobile phones are now using the DDR4 memory technology. Samsung Galaxy S6, Lenovo Z2 Plus, as well as the HTC One M9, are just among the major consumers of DDR4 memory technology. Not to mention Google Pixel and even Sony Xperia Z4, a tablet, are powered with DDR4 memory.

We also have a screenshot of RAM price history below.

6. Price history of Ballistix Sport LT 8GB Single DDR4
6. Price history of Ballistix Sport LT 8GB Single DDR4
7. Price history of Corsair Vengeance LPX 16GB
7. Price history of Corsair Vengeance LPX 16GB
8. Price history of G.SKILL TridentZ RGB Series 16GB
8. Price history of G.SKILL TridentZ RGB Series 16GB

It breaks my heart seeing how prices have jumped to as much as 300% in just 6 months.

This data alone shows strong proofs how unfortunate it is for PC builders to resort to prebuilt gaming PCs instead.

A System that You Can Use Right Away

A prebuilt gaming PC allows you to use the system the soonest you get it out of the box. Everything is installed with updated drivers. Our list on the best prebuilt gaming PC under $800 and any other prebuilt is plug and play.

This is perfect for gamers who isn’t really up for building systems themselves since prebuilt gaming PCs today are carefully pieced together.

Comes with a Hardware Tech Support with Hardware Warranty

Most prebuilt gaming PCs comes with a tech support. If you have problems with the computer system that was sent to you, you can conveniently call the tech support and have the problem sorted out.

Rest assured all the parts come with at least 1-year warranty and 7-days replacement for defective components.

For people who are into gaming but aren’t knowledgeable enough to piece a computer together, getting a prebuilt gaming PC today will be a smart investment.

Pre-installed with Windows 10 and a Keyboard/Mouse

Most of the time, builders tend to forget about including these on the budget list.

What’s great about buying a prebuilt gaming PC is the fact that you get a gaming keyboard and mouse along with a pre-installed Windows 10 OS.

A System that Meets Your Gaming Standards

Today’s prebuilt gaming PCs are paired with the right CPU-and-GPU-combo to deliver serious gaming performance.

With a variety of pre-built gaming PCs in the market, it should be easy to choose one that delivers performance for your preferred budget.

Our Recommendation

Building your own custom gaming PC may be great in a variety of angles. But with the consistent increase of GPU and RAM prices, going with a prebuilt gaming PC is becoming more and more practical. This goes true today if you look at the cost per dollar.

If you plan on building your own custom PC today, you might want to think twice and look at the overpriced GPU and RAMs in the market. It’s practical to pay less for a prebuilt gaming PC as opposed to building a custom PC that will cost you at least a $100 or more for the same performance.

Lenovo IdeaCentre 720

Lenovo IdeaCentre 720 (90H10005US)

CPU

AMD Ryzen 5 1400

GPU

AMD RX 560

RAM

8GB DDR4

Storage

1TB HDD

What is better prebuilt or custom PC?

You should always take the plunge and start building your own PC, it is very rewarding for a beginner, and with so much help online these days, it is hard to mess up. When it comes to a prebuilt Vs custom PC, a custom PC is always going to win, as they give you much more for your money and you are in control of every aspect of the build.

Are prebuilt PCs worth it?

There are a lot of benefits to a prebuilt PC:

  • You don’t have to worry about compatibility between components, systems are spec’d, tested, and guaranteed to work from prebuilt PC manufacturers
  • Current stock issues plaguing the market make it harder than ever before to get some crucial components
  • If you haven’t got the time to learn the building process, a prebuilt PC takes the stresses away, arriving ready to go straight out of the box
  • If you face any hardware issues, you have the option to send them back to the manufacturer to fix
  • Prebuilt gaming PCs come with warranties, protecting your investment for at least a year
  • Some of the best gaming PCs will often come with additional items, such as a keyboard and mouse, however, these are often entry-level peripherals that you will need to upgrade at some point
  • Prebuilt PCs almost always come with Windows 10 pre-installed

Are prebuilt PCs good?

Prebuilt PCs from the biggest manufacturers around the world perform as you would expect, with companies normally stress testing the systems to ensure the components are working before shipping and that it performs as it should. You will also receive your system with software, usually with Windows and drivers pre-installed, so you can simply plug it in and start downloading games.

Should I buy a prebuilt gaming PC

We don’t want to dissuade you from purchasing a prebuilt PC but if you think you are up the task, learn the building process and start saving yourself some money. Of course, with the current stock issues, no one would blame you for picking up a pre built gaming PC, after all, there are a lot of benefits when going down this path, it is just that none of them are financial.