Whether you're after a new gaming rig or something a little simpler, when it's time to get a new PC the toughest decision is not which bells to include and which whistles to exclude but whether you should build it yourself or just buy a pre-built computer.
Building your own computer is easy enough. Slotting the pieces together is about as difficult as following the instructions for IKEA furniture. You can find guides on Reddit and Whirlpool to walk you through the process and help you find the right components for your price range.
That means the question isn't whether you can build your own PC but whether you should. Here are some things to consider when making that decision.
Getting The Best Price
It's a widespread belief that building your own computer is cheaper than buying a pre-built one. That's not always the case.
The more specific your needs are, the more you save by putting the pieces together yourself. High-end gaming rigs often come with a lot of bells and whistles that retailers will charge a premium amount for. Building a similar machine yourself means you can shop around for the best prices on the pieces you need. Down at the mid-range and lower end there are computers that are much better value thanks to retailers ability to move a lot of units and include peripherals or Windows licenses that would otherwise add to the cost.
Finding the right balance is a matter of doing the research. If you find a pre-built computer that suits your needs you should look up the components individually to see what's the better deal.
Is It Worth Your Time?
Any DIY solution has you investing some - or a lot - of your own time instead of simply paying a professional. You should consider the value of your labour against the satisfaction of doing something yourself.
A first time PC build can take up anything from a few hours to a whole weekend depending on your proficiency, how well you can troubleshoot the mistakes and the complexity of the rig. Even someone that knows what they're doing can get caught up on a tricky bit of troubleshooting.
Whereas buying a pre-built computer only takes as long as the trip to the store or waiting for the delivery, something you'd also be doing when you buy the components separately.
PCs come in all shapes and sizes. there's the bog standard beige tower, a unit that fits inside the palm of your hand, a rig that looks just like a console, and then mecha-inspired creations like the one above.
Building a PC doesn't have to be daunting, though. And while there are tons of reasons to build a PC, ranging from better graphics to cheaper games to greater versatility, there's also some things you should know before you start.
The greatest benefit of building your own computer is deciding exactly what goes into it. When you have exact needs for gaming or streaming, the only way to make sure things are done right is to do it yourself. You can take downgrades on components you don't care about to save on the overall cost.
Throwing in a copy of Windows or a monitor can be great value if you need them but they're an extra cost that you don't need if you're upgrading from an existing computer that already has them. You can even use your new build as an excuse to pick up a mechanical keyboard.
I'm in the process of upgrading my antique PC from six years ago. Progress is slow but I've started to dismantle parts for replacement. It's at this time that I'm forced to reassess the way I've approached cable management — something that is easily neglected — inside my PC. Armed with more insight than my inexperienced past self, here are some tips you may find useful in keeping your PC cables neat and tidy.
Practically everyone that has built their own computer has horror stories about dealing with stores that don't honour warranties on parts. Sometimes you just want the piece of mind of knowing that when things go haywire, its someone else's problem.