This week, Avram Piltch discusses the ups and downs between buying a pre-made PC from a vendor or building your own from components. It's the age-old question in computing - do you save the time and buy a PC, or save the money and build it yourself? As it turns out, the price differential between a pre-made and a custom-made PC is not as great today as it once was. In fact, in Avram's research, there is only about $100 between the two options.
However, there is more to consider than just the price. On the side of buying a PC, there is definitely the time savings. Under a lot of circumstances, you have the ability to customize some of the components of your PC, without having to physically touch the machine. That can save a lot of time and effort in the process, not to mention frustration. But, you do not usually get the ability to choose every option, such as the brand and model of RAM or storage. Those components can make a huge difference to performance, but they are usually out of your hands.
On the other hand, building your own PC comes with the ability to handpick everything, from the make and model of components to the specific batch number, if you feel so inclined. This level of customization comes with the ability to fine-tune your machine to the exact specification you want, but it also means a lot of time investment, both in researching the components and the actual build process.
So, since cost is not the factor that it used to be, the real differentiator is your purpose. If you are looking for a PC for standard usage, buying a standard PC is probably the right way to go. However, if you are a creative, a gamer, or in another field that requires tuned hardware, building might be the way to do.
Scott is a developer who has worked on projects of varying sizes, including all of the PLuGHiTz Corporation properties. He is also known in the gaming world for his time supporting the DDR community, through DDRLover and hosting tournaments throughout the Tampa Bar Area. Currently, when he is not working on software projects or hosting F5 Live: Refreshing Technology, Scott can often be found returning to his high school days working with the Foundation for Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology (FIRST), mentoring teams and judging engineering notebooks at competitions. He has also helped found a student software learning group, the ASCII Warriors.
Avram's been in love with PCs since he played original Castle Wolfenstein on an Apple II+. Before joining Tom's Hardware, for 10 years, he served as Online Editorial Director for sister sites Tom's Guide and Laptop Mag, where he programmed the CMS and many of the benchmarks. When he's not editing, writing or stumbling around trade show halls, you'll find him building Arduino robots with his son and watching every single superhero show on the CW.