Gaming / Gaming Hardware / How To / Tech

Buy or build: When is buying a mid-range gaming PC a better choice?

The HP OMEN 30L gaming desktop with OMEN 27i gaming monitor and peripherals

If building or buying a mid-range gaming PC was the question you’ve been debating, hopefully, this sheds some light on what will work for you.

It’s become more common than ever for gamers to build a new mid-range gaming PC at home. The parts are widely available, and there are an almost endless amount of instructional resources online. Plus, few things are quite as satisfying as booting up a home-built machine for the first time.

But building a gaming PC at home isn’t the only option out there. Perhaps a gamer doesn’t have the skills, the tools, or the time, or they simply want a professional to do the job. It’s incredibly simple to order a custom-built rig that’s put together to spec and delivered a few days later.

Let’s look at some of the other benefits of ordering a pre-built mid-range gaming PC over building one at home.

The parts are all working

All PC hobbyist builders know the sinking feeling that quickly turns to dread when they switch their rig on, but it either doesn’t POST at all, or it turns on, but there’s no display. A few inspections and tests later, they realize that one of the parts is not functioning as it should. It may be the GPU, a stick of RAM, or the SSD, but having even just one part that isn’t in working order means that the PC is pretty much a paperweight. It’s not always easy to isolate what the issue is either.

mid-range gaming desktop PC CPU, video card, and fan
Buying a pre-built mid-range gaming PC typically means the parts are all working.

Having a PC pre-built means that a technician will turn on and test all the parts on-site. If they find any faults, they can replace the potentially damaged components and ship the built machine off to its new owner without any more hassle. This is definitely the preferred option for anyone who doesn’t have the time to spend on building a PC from scratch and then working out all the kinks to ensure that it’s working as it’s meant to.

Let the professionals build it, test it, and have it ready to plug-and-play.

Another common problem among home-builders is purchasing two components that simply don’t work together. For example, having a motherboard that features a different CPU socket to what the CPU can actually work with. Obviously, a pre-built computer won’t have any problems like this. A professional will have assembled and tested all the correct components before sending the machine to the customer.

Almost always the cheaper option

As with everything, price plays a major role. The cost of building a mid-range gaming PC at home can quickly become overwhelming, especially when we consider the price of GPUs. Because of the tremendous growth of the cryptocurrency mining market, GPU demand has soared and left manufacturers such as Nvidia scrambling to meet the ever-increasing demand.

The lower the availability of an item, the higher the price will be. A gamer can expect to shell out plenty of cash to cover the costs of a new graphics card. In the last couple of years, these cards have become the most expensive components on the market.

While we tend to think that buying and building ourselves would make the entire process cost that much less, it’s not always the case. Many of the larger PC distributors will be able to buy components at wholesale prices. Meaning that, while there may be an extra surcharge for the labor, it can cost the buyer less than if they were to buy it all on their own.

Finding a good PC hardware store that offers great prices may trump having one pre-built, but it can be pretty difficult to beat the wholesale prices that PC shops have when ordering in parts. It’s important to calculate the SRP of individual components versus how much a pre-built would cost in order to build a comparison of the two.

Buying a pre-built gaming PC bundle is almost always a cheaper option
Buying a pre-built gaming PC bundle is almost always a cheaper option.

Preloaded software bundles

Not everyone knows how to load up an operating system successfully, and not everyone wants to download an OS that will use up an enormous amount of bandwidth. For example, Windows 10 is now sitting at around 10 GB in size.

A serious advantage to having a gaming computer built in-store is knowing that technicians can preload the software if requested. Many shops will also offer other software services, allowing gamers to pick and choose the software they’re interested in, such as Steam or Discord. They may also offer antivirus installation or software packages too. This reinforces the plug-and-play advantage, as the PC is ready to go as soon as it’s switched on.

Access to tech support

The internet can be a powerful way of finding solutions to common problems, but sometimes, it’s simply impossible to find the right answer—even after searching hundreds of forums or threads. If you don’t have the technical know-how, you also run the risk of taking advice that isn’t correct and causing more damage to your rig.

When buying a pre-built machine, many PC shops will include tech support as part of the deal. This support will cover the warranty for the parts and any support the buyer may require.

Sometimes, the RAM may become unseated from its slot and cause booting issues, which is a problem that a quick phone call to tech support can fix. Having on-demand tech support can be a massive boon when things go wrong. While it may cost a little extra to have that support available when buying the PC, it’s almost always worth it.

Dealing with warranty claims

When building a computer from the ground up, the buyer will need to save every receipt in case they need to invoke the warranty. On top of this admin hassle, warranties can be an endless headache for anyone trying to get a hold of a manufacturer in order to get a replacement.

Often enough, due to the pace at which parts can deprecate, it might mean having to wait up to a full month for the manufacturer to play ball and find the needed component. Pre-built desktop computers don’t have this problem. The deal includes the full coverage of the warranty, meaning that the buyer only has to worry about dealing with a single warranty form. This one point of contact streamlines the process, and there’s generally a pre-specified turnaround time that applies to all claims.

A case for prebuilt

There will always be gamers who prefer to build their computers piece-by-piece. But for those who want to spend less money and time on a new mid-range gaming computer, getting a pre-built one is undeniably the smartest move.

Mid-range machines can generally run all the latest games, and it only takes a few minutes to get them up and running and ready for action.

If build or buy was the question you’ve been debating, hopefully, this sheds some light on what will work for you.

What do you think about buying versus building a mid-range gaming PC? Let us know in the comments below or on Twitter, Facebook, or MeWe.

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