Is Building a PC Cheaper than Buying One?

Does a build really save you money?

RebatesMe 04/27/20 (PDT)

How much is it to build a PC? Is building a PC worth it? If you’re someone who is looking to get into gaming, edit videos, or simply need an upgrade, then these are probably some of the questions that you’ve asked yourself. There are many different costs involved when getting a PC, but what is the best option that suits you?

The truth is, there is a long list of pros and cons for each side of things. Yes, building a PC might work out cheaper, but does it give you the same sense of satisfaction? One might say that once you’ve built a few PCs, you’ve built enough for a lifetime, while others find it cathartic as an experience and could do it forever.

Ultimately price of builds depends on your performance requirements, part preference, and patience. You may have a certain brand in mind which might cost more, or you may just want to get everything as soon as possible, in which case the time cost isn’t worth it and buying is easier.

In the end the decision is yours to make. If you do your research, then it’s hard to go wrong either way.

When is Building a PC Cheaper than Buying One?

Such a complicated question as this deserves a complicated answer but in order to keep it as straight-forward as possible, the most accurate answer is, most of the time. Every now and then, major PC retailers and stores will have big specials on pre-built computers. These will usually happen at the end of a bunch of product lines, when they need to shift stock, or if some sort of global pandemic happens. Yeah, right…

The chances are also good that when this happens, certain components become cheaper too. So, while you may actually save a big of money buying an older PC with certain older generation components, you’ll still be marginally above the price of building the PC yourself. People also sometimes forget to include labor that is usually charged in the building and testing of the PC. You could also have to pay extra for delivery due to the size of the entire PC.

Why Price is More Complicated Than This

Building a PC will often come out slightly cheaper than buying one pre-made, but the difference here is that you can change certain specs to give yourself more of a boost for your particular need. You could skimp on an SSD and have longer restart times on your PC but push that money into a higher-tier graphics card, giving you better frames per second.

You may also have noticed that building a high-end PC can sometimes be a little pricier. This could be where you move into SLI territory for dual graphics card setups, or perhaps multiple monitors and hard drives set up in RAID.

When You Should Build a PC

You should build a PC when you have the spare time to dedicate to researching the parts you need and know how to build the PC. Having a PC built can also lower the amount you spend on a rig, giving you more to save, or perhaps more to spend on peripherals or games.

You should BUILD a PC if...

1. You have a tight budget that you can’t exceed.

2. You have built PCs before or have at least some experience in the matter.

3. You have specific performance requirements.

4. You need some time to dedicate to exploring the options in building a PC, buying and waiting for all the parts, and putting the machine together.

Building a PC can take time and patience. You should also have some form of experience doing what you’re doing. These days, putting a PC together is very much like building LEGO where you plug the pieces into the right slots, but it can get very confusing very quickly. If someone has to tell you the difference between thermal paste and tomato paste, you’re going to run into a few problems.

Pros of Building a PC

- Sense of satisfaction after completion.

- Completely tailored to your desired specifications.

- Oftentimes will be cheaper.

- You can build parts from manufacturers you prefer.

- Could be quicker if you have all the parts.

Cons of Building a PC

- If something goes wrong, there’s a big delay.

- Can take time waiting for components from different stores.

- Will require you to test it yourself.

- Can be confusing at times.

When You Should Buy a PC

Buying a PC can be a lot easier and less stressful. It will allow you to have peace of mind in knowing that when it arrives, it’s all working and your operating system has been pre-installed, it’s likely been tested and is good to go out the box.

You should BUY a PC if...

1. You have a range in your budget and can spend a little more.

2. Don’t have the time to spend on putting a machine together.

3. Happy to take the responsibility out of your hands to enjoy the gaming more than the building.

Pros of Buying a PC

- The computer will arrive pre-built and ready to play.

- Cable management inside the case has likely been professionally done.

- It will have been stress tested to avoid any faulty parts.

Cons of Buying a PC

- You don’t feel the sense of accomplishment you get from building a PC.

- May have spent a little extra on the machine.

- You’ll likely need to stick to certain frameworks or manufacturers in buying a PC.

Major Cost Considerations when Building a PC

It’s another important thing to realize that price can fluctuate depending on what you’re looking for. You can easily spend $1,000 on a monitor if you’re looking for something specific, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that you should. The same can be true for so many of the parts that we’ve listed below, so it’s important that you understand this is where the best money should often be spent when on a tight budget.

Most Expensive Parts

CPU: This is the main chip in your PC that’s responsible for carrying out all the tasks. It tells all the other components what they are supposed to do based on what the programs need them to do.

Avg Price: $150-$350

Motherboard: The motherboard is the bread to your peanut butter and jelly. It holds many crucial components of the computer, connecting them to power and combining them all together.

Avg Price: $150-$250

Graphics Card: This piece of equipment puts the images onto the monitor. It takes instructions and creates a rendering from data, converting it into a signal for the screen.

Avg Price: $200 - $500

Monitor: This lets you see what is being outputted from your gaming machine. They range from base monitors at small resolutions to high-resolution monitors, costing thousands of dollars.

Avg Price: $100-$300

Moderate Costs

Operating system: The operating system, like Windows, allows everything to function on a user interface level, letting you schedule tasks, perform functions and control devices.

Avg Price: $100

Cooling system: This cools down your CPU or your PC when things run a little hot. The more a component is used, the hotter it gets, and they’ll run more optimally at a cooler temperature.

Avg Price: $50-$100

Storage: For all the programs and games that you want to have on your PC, the storage space will hold the files for the games that will allow you to play them locally on your machine.

Avg Price: $50-$100

RAM: The ram is the computer’s memory that runs applications in the background without slowing down the rest of the machine.

Avg Price: $100-$180

Cheapest Parts

Power Supply: This powers everything, giving it the correct amount of power needed in order to let it run efficiently.

Avg Price: $50-$150

Case: This will house all of the components in the machine. Avg Price: $20-$100

Keyboard and Mouse: Pointing on your operating system and aiming in games, the mouse lets you click around the screen while the keyboard is for typing and entering commands.

Avg Price: $10-$50 each

Headphones: An essential part of any gamer’s equipment, headphones let you hear what’s around you better than how speakers usually would.

Avg Price: $20-$80

Final Thoughts

To sum up, there’s no correct answer to whether you should be building a new gaming PC or buying one. You should always do what’s best for you in your particular circumstances. Having the ability to skip all the hassle and buy one straight away can sometimes be more preferable to spending a few hours to build one yourself.

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