Custom Built vs. Prebuilt Gaming Computers: Which is Right For You?

PC gaming has become increasingly popular in recent years, and for good reason. After all, gaming PCs offer better graphics, higher resolutions and far more impressive frame rates than consoles. Although, like all other good things, there’s a catch: PC gaming can get expensive. Of course, if you play your cards right, it doesn’t have to be. The question is, should you build a custom rig, or buy a prebuilt gaming PC?

Building a gaming computer with your own two hands can be difficult, especially if it is your first time. However, it’s also educational, fun, and rewarding. After researching components, buying the parts, learning how to build a computer, assembling the parts, and pressing the power button, you feel proud when the fans start to spin and you hear the POST beep.

You can customize the PC to your liking, tailored to suit your needs. You can buy a huge ATX case with lights and fans, or a small ATX case with a low profile. You can customize your LED lighting color scheme, and choose the best components for your gaming needs.

For example, you don’t need a GTX 1080 for Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, but you probably shouldn’t try to run Battlefield 5 with a GTX 1050 2GB.

The best part is, building a gaming PC is cheaper than buying a prebuilt model – or is it?

A few years ago, building a custom gaming PC was easily the best choice. Many prebuilt gaming PCs were overpriced and underpowered. You’d have to spend a few hundred extra dollars to get a decent prebuilt PC.

On top of that, many prebuilt gaming computers had flashy cases and cool LED lighting, but the components inside weren’t up to par for any games that were even somewhat demanding.

So, if that’s the case, why is the prebuilt vs custom built even a question in 2018?

Well, over the past year, things have changed. Now, it may be a better idea for some to go the prebuilt route instead.

Let me explain:

Thanks to a significant spike in cryptocurrency mining which began in the summer of 2017, GPU prices went through the roof. Miners wanted to buy out gaming GPUs for use in their cryptocurrency mining rigs.

Although GPUs were designed for gaming, they also happen to be excellent cryptocurrency mining hardware – go figure.

In addition, the mobile cell phone industry began using more RAM for production, which resulted in both faster cell phones and an industry wide RAM shortage. Thanks to the laws of supply and demand, RAM prices, similarly to GPU prices, shot through the roof.

By the way, when I say GPU prices increased, I mean they went up several hundred dollars a pop. A GTX 1060 which could be found around the $200 range increased to nearly $400.

custom built vs prebuilt gaming computers

An 8GB DDR4 2400MHz RAM kit which used to cost around $60-$70 would’ve run you around $100 just a few months ago.

As PC hardware components increased in price, prebuilt gaming PCs remained relatively the same. In some cases, they actually came down in price.

Why?

Cryptocurrency miners only needed GPUs for mining. It wouldn’t make sense for them to buy an entire PC dedicated to gaming.

I found a few prebuilt gaming PCs on Amazon that were incredibly good deals during the height of the price inflation. In some cases, you could’ve made money if you bought the prebuilt PC and sold the parts.

Additionally, prebuilt gaming computers have Windows 10 included and installed, which is an additional $50 saving, not to mention the installation time you save as well.

The best part about buying a prebuilt PC is – just like a custom rig – you can still upgrade and swap parts whenever you want. For example, many prebuilt computers don’t ship with an SSD. That problem is easily remedied: simply buy an SSD and pop it in. It’s that simple!

Over the course of the past few months, the cryptocurrency market has plummeted, and cryptocurrency mining is no longer profitable. With that being said, it’s easy to see why demand for GPUs has decreased. At the same time, GPU manufacturers recently increased production to deal with the sudden spike in demand. Naturally, as supply increases, price decreases.

It’s been several months since the height of the price spike. At this point in time, prices have cooled off, and for the most part, the price of custom building a gaming PC is returning to normal.

So, if you are thinking about building your own PC, you should buy your components now. The cryptocurrency market is bound to bounce back, and when it does, it’s easy to imagine GPU prices skyrocketing once again.

At the end of the day, it’s really up to personal preference. I’m an advocate of building a custom gaming PC, especially if you like to work with your hands, you like having a project, or you want to learn. However, building isn’t for everyone. Currently from a financial standpoint, custom building is probably a bit cheaper than going prebuilt.

What’s the bottom line here?

If you’re going to build a PC, do it now. If you choose to go the prebuilt route, that’s cool too. Just remember you’ll be paying a bit extra for labor, and you can’t customize the PC to fit your needs and your personality.

Whether you build your own PC or buy a prebuilt model, you’ll still become a part of the glorious PC gaming community. Game on!

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