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Is It Cheaper To Build Your Own PC? Building Vs Buying

Sure, you can head to the store right now or hop online and order a brand new gaming PC that will satisfy all of your gaming needs for years to come. This will also cost an arm and a leg. The other option is to build it yourself, but how much money do you save doing this and is it worth the hassle?

Is It Cheaper To Build Your Own PC?

It’s cheaper, both in the short term and the long term, to build your own PC. Building your own PC allows you to choose parts specifically for your own needs and it lets you avoid paying any overheads or labor costs. It also saves you from cheap components that will break down after a year and need repaired.

If you want a PC just for your home office and nothing else, then buying a pre-built home computer will be fine. If you want a gaming PC, though, you’re going to save a lot of money building it yourself. Companies that make pre-built PCs usually throw in a lot of bells and whistles that appeal to the masses, but aren’t exactly necessary. Things like RGB strips, fans, and insane processors.

The issue is that these pre-builds usually spend a lot on a couple of components, like the processor, but cheap out where it matters. They usually have lackluster power supply units, which can lead to issues after a year or so. They even have pretty lame graphics cards and low RAM, both of which will greatly affect your gaming experience.

By building your own PC you get to spend the same amount of money, but on components that will actually improve your FPS. You can spend more on your graphics card and your RAM, while getting a processor that is just good enough.

You can also get a quality power supply unit that won’t break down after a year and fry your whole PC. You can also opt for used and refurbished parts when you build your own PC, which will drastically decrease the price for how much power you get.

Now, this isn’t a hard set rule. I’ve seen some decent pre-builds out in the wild that have made me wonder how they’re so cheap. The manufacturers get bulk deals on the components, allowing them to create some beasts for cheap.

It’s not common though, so always do your research on the components inside of the prebuild to see if you’re actually getting a good deal or not.

How Much Cheaper Is It To Build Your PC Rather Than Buying It?

Building your own PC will be anywhere from $50 – 300+ cheaper than buying it. For lower to mid range PCs, if you’re buying the exact same components, you’re not going to save a lot of money. The advantage of building your own PC is that you get to put your money into the important hardware.

Let’s take a look at this iBUYPOWER Pro:

This PC costs $850. I searched Amazon for all of the parts, and tallied up the cost. This came up to about $800. Now, a $50 difference isn’t a lot, and if you need to buy a keyboard, a mouse, and get yourself a Windows Key, then that $50 will quickly be eaten up. So, the price for a midrange pre-built will be about the same as buying your own IF you use the exact same parts.

Where this falls apart is when you look at the power of the PC. This iBUYPOWER only has 8 GB of RAM, and who knows what power supply unit is inside of it. 8 GB is not going to be enough for any hardcore gaming, and you’ll definitely need to upgrade it at some point. On top of this, if the PSU is garbage (which most of the time it is in pre-builds), you’ll need to replace it at some point or hope it doesn’t short your precious hardware.

I’ll admit though, the graphics card and processor on the pre-built are pretty good for a mid-range PC. This is one of the better priced pre-builts I’ve seen, I just think you could spend the same amount of money getting a slightly lower-end motherboard and CPU while increasing your RAM.

You can also find all of these parts (or better) for a lot cheaper if you don’t mind using used components. My PC is almost completely made up of used parts, and it’s been running fine for over 3 years. Most of the time websites like Ebay and Amazon also have buyer protection in place, just in case a used part is a little too used.

Is It Hard To Build Your Own PC?

It is not hard to build your own PC as long as you use the vast amount of resources on the internet to help you. There are many Youtube channels and social media groups full of guides and tips. If you try to build your first PC all alone without taking advantage of these resources, it will be difficult.

I bought my PC broken from a friend. When I first got it, I was absolutely petrified of opening it up and poking around. I had no interest at all in learning how to build a PC or even replace parts. However, as I looked up videos and guides and had friends help me, everything began to fall into place and I realized how easy and fun it actually is.

Since then, I’ve taken apart and put together my computer a couple of times, and have helped friends build their first computers as well. Once you get it down, the hardest part of building a PC is managing the cables and making the inside look presentable.

Youtube Channels I highly recommend for building your first PC:

These guys are absolute pros. Simply search up “Austin Evans build PC” on Youtube, and you’ll see countless videos and all of them are chock full of information. Linus Tech Tips is also a guru in the PC building community, and is probably the best resource you’ll find for any of your questions.

Pros Of Building Your Own PC?

Here’s what I love about building my own PCs:

You Choose What’s In It

The number one pro of building your own PC is that you pick every single part that’s in it. This gives you a lot of freedom with your build, and allows you to make it do exactly what you want. Do you just want to game hard? Spend more on a powerful GPU and RAM, and a little less on your CPU and motherboard. The power is all yours from the beginning, so you won’t spend money on anything you don’t want or need.

No Unnecessary Costs

Pre-builds almost always have some overhead. Even if it’s as little as $50, that’s still money you’re spending for someone else to build your PC for you. On top of this, sometimes pre-builts will have extra flair, like RGB strips and fans, which you just don’t need. You can save money building your own PC that is all power and no shine.

Used Parts

If you build your own PC, you also have the advantage of buying used and refurbished parts. I know not everyone trusts used parts, but from my experience they almost always work perfectly fine. This is especially true if you know the person you’re getting used parts from. If you have a gamer friend, offer to buy their old GPU, CPU, whatever, and you’ll save even more money.

Learning Experience

Can you really put a price on learning? Sure you can. But in this instance, you’re saving money by building your own PC and learning quite a bit of useful skills. Even if you buy a pre-build, there will come a time when you need to replace something. That’s just how PCs work. So, if you build your own, you’ll already be prepared for the day you have to open that case up.

Cons Of Building Your Own PC?

Here’s what I don’t like about building my own PCs:

Time And Energy

Building your own PC will take a lot of time and energy, especially if you’ve never done it before. You’re going to spend a lot of time watching Youtube videos and reading guides. If you’re extra anxious about breaking something, like I am, you’re probably going to read 20 guides saying the same thing. With that being said, building a new PC, or even replacing a part for the first time is one of the most rewarding experiences I’ve had with computers.

Might Not Be As Pretty

Pre-builds usually have pretty good cable management. The people that make them know presentation is a huge factor in selling their PCs, so they take the time to make things look good. Now, if you don’t have experience with cable management, it could be a little rough. That’s okay though, you have to learn somehow and you can always try again later down the line (or get a case that isn’t see through…)

Pros Of Buying A PC?

Here’s the best part of buying a pre-built rig:

Works Out Of The Box

The number one pro of buying a pre-built PC is that you can just plug it in and play it. You don’t need to install every part and hope it works when you press the power button. This convenience is absolutely worth the price to many people, and if you choose to do so, you can always upgrade a pre-built PC down the line.

Good Enough

Pre-built PCs usually do not have the most optimal components, especially the cheaper pre-builds. However, they’re usually good enough to last you a year or more, after which you can think about upgrades. I’m not a fan of the power supply units that pre-builds usually have, but those are fairly simple to replace and in all honesty will last a year or so before you experience issues (if you do).

Organized (Good Cable Management)

Pre-built PCs are made and sold based on presentation. That’s why they usually very eye catching lights, and see through cases. This also means that a lot of time and care was put into cable management. Having organized cables isn’t just good for aesthetics, it also prevents overheating and makes it easier to get to parts you need. You can practice good cable management with your own builds, but it is a skill that takes practice to master.

Cons Of Buying A PC?

This is what I don’t like about buying a pre-built setup:

Overhead Costs

When it comes to pre-built PCs, there are almost always overhead costs. Someone had to pay for the labor that went into picking the parts and building the computer, and those costs are relayed to you after the fact. Manufacturers get around this a little by ordering parts in bulk.

This usually covers the costs of cheaper pre-builds, but for more expensive ones, you’re still going to pay an extra couple hundred bucks for the convenience of having the PC built. Now, this price is worth it to some, but for others you may just want to order the parts yourself.

Shortcuts Were Taken

It’s very common practice for pre-built PCs to have a really good processor that the manufacturer can advertise, along with cool looking lights and a beautiful case. This is all great, but then they skip out on the RAM, GPU, and power supply unit. For gaming, RAM and GPU are crucial, so you end up with a PC that is so close to being a beast, yet so far. A poor power supply unit can also be rather dangerous, and may have some issues after a year or so of consistent usage.

Is Building Your Own PC Worth It?

Building your own PC is worth it. You get to choose which parts go inside, which will not only save you money, but improve the performance of the build overall since you can ensure every part is quality. Knowing how to build your own PC also allows you to make your own replacements in the future.

There’s a huge advantage to knowing every single part in your PC. If you buy a pre-built PC, you can’t really be sure which parts are quality and which aren’t. Manufacturers have a bad habit of cheaping out on the power supply unit, which leads to issues down the line. If you build your own, you know which parts you had to cheap out on, and can make sure those parts aren’t very dangerous.

In the end, if you build your own PC, you’re either going to spend about the same amount of money if not less as you would with a pre-built PC. However, you’re going to get a lot more bang for your buck when it comes to gaming, and you’ll learn quite a bit about how your PC works.

This knowledge will help down the line when you inevitably need to upgrade your PC or replace a part, which will happen whether you build your own PC or buy a pre-built computer.

👋 Hey There, I'm Eric!

Since 2018, I've been making streams come true.

I like gaming, streaming and watching other people stream. I created this website to help streamers and viewers of streams answer some of the questions they may have regarding live streaming. I am a Twitch affiliate and currently stream on Twitch 3 days a week. I hope you find my content helpful. Feel free to stop by one of my streams to say hi.