Custom or Pre-Built Computers?

When it comes to home computing, there is one debate which has been dividing users for years: to build or to buy. It may be that you are firmly on one side or other of the argument. Perhaps you imagine building a PC to be on a par with rocket science. Or perhaps the thought of buying an “off the peg” home computer with potentially mediocre components fills your heart with dread.

The fact is that the debate is not so clear cut for the vast majority of us, and there are many pros and cons to weigh up when making a decision. The main advantage of buying a pre-built PC is obvious: ease. Everything is done for you, and you can be pretty sure the thing won’t explode when you turn it on for the first time. The downside is that you can’t always be sure what you’re getting. Hiding inside the machine might be whatever bits and pieces happened to be going cheap at the time, so it pays to do your research.

Building your own computer is one way around this, as you can cherry-pick your dream parts and make sure you finally get that motherboard you’ve been eyeing up for months. Of course, once you’ve got the parts, the next step is building. For most of us lesser mortals, just the thought of taking a PC apart and attempting to put it together again can make our blood run cold, making the custom vs pre-built debate a foregone conclusion.

That said, many retailers of computer components now offer insurance to guard against incorrect assembly. This is of some small comfort, but doesn’t guard against the fear of injury or damage if you have not assembled your new PC correctly.

But if nothing else, we can save money building our own, right? Wrong. And this is the final nail in the coffin for custom home computers. The truth is that unless there is a substantial saving to be made by building your own – which there isn’t – for many of us buying “off the shelf” is likely to remain the best option for some time.