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Desktop PCs are often more powerful than laptops and can be easily upgraded or customized to meet specific needs. When it comes to PC, decisions like buying or building a PC shouldn’t be taken lightly.

It’s not as simple as hitting a hardware store because you love DIY. You need to ask questions like, is it the best in my case? Is the price worth it?

It’s tricky; that’s why you need a complete guide.

This guide will give you all the information you need to make an informed decision.

After reading this, you can answer the question, is building a PC cheaper than buying one considering your situation?

Building vs. Buying PCs

When purchasing a new PC, you have two main options: building your own or buying one from a retailer.

Creating your PC involves purchasing all the necessary components and assembling them yourself. On the other hand, buying a pre-built PC means purchasing a fully assembled machine from a retailer.

While making your PC may seem intimidating, it could be meditative. You’ll also enjoy the rare luxury of customizing your machine to your needs and preferences.

Buying a pre-built PC can save you time and effort but may come with a higher price tag.

Factors That Should Guide Your Decisions to Pick Between DIY or Retail

Both options have pros and cons, so assessing your needs and priorities nudges you toward the best choice. Here are some factors to consider when choosing a DIY or retail laptop.


Cost is often a significant factor when it comes to purchasing a PC. However, DIY PCs can be cheaper than retail models, as you can choose the components and build the machine yourself.

However, you may need to purchase specialized tools and have technical skills to complete the build, which can add to the overall cost.

Retail PCs may be expensive due to branding, marketing, and research costs, but they are typically more accessible and user-friendly.

Technical Skill

If you have the technical skills and knowledge required to build your PC, a DIY option may be the right choice.

But a retail model may be a safer and more convenient choice for a newbie unfamiliar with the computer hardware‘s ins and outs.

Assembling a PC requires knowledge of components like processors, motherboards, and RAM. Moreover, you must troubleshoot and repair the issue if something goes wrong.


One of the highlights of a DIY PC is the ability to customize the machine to your specific needs. You can choose the processor, graphics card, and other components based on your usage and budget.

On the flip side, Retail PCs have pre-configured specifications that may not meet your requirements. However, some retail models may have customization options such as storage capacity and display resolution.

Quality and Reliability

Experienced engineers design and test retail PCs to ensure high quality and reliability. These PCs often come with warranties and customer support, which can provide peace of mind and help you troubleshoot any issues.

Contrarily, prebuilt PC may have quality and reliability issues if not built correctly, which can be costly to repair.

Time and Effort

Building a laptop from scratch requires time and effort, especially if you’re not a pro at identifying the components and assembly process. Researching and purchasing the necessary components can be time-consuming, and building the machine can take several hours.

On the flip side, retail PCs can be bought and set up quickly, with little technical expertise required.

Computer desktop on desk next to the window

Cost Breakdown of Building a PC vs. Buying One

Cost is significant when deciding between building your PC or buying a pre-built computer. So let’s take a closer look at the costs involved in each option.

Building Your PC

When building your PC, you’ll purchase all the required components, including a motherboard, CPU, RAM, graphics card, power supply, and storage.

The cost of these components may vary widely depending on the quality and brand you choose. However, on average, building your gaming PC can cost anywhere from $600 to $800, while a high-end gaming PC can cost upwards of $1500 or more.

Recently, chip shortages have led to a hike in computer hardware. So, hardware may cost more than it used to. Factoring this in, building a PC and buying one at the same price is mission impossible.

In addition to the cost of components, you’ll also need to consider the price of DIY tools like screwdrivers and thermal paste. While these costs may seem minimal, they can add up quickly.

Buying a Pre-Built PC

When buying a pre-built PC, you’ll typically pay a higher price upfront but may have the option to finance your purchase.

The cost of a pre-built PC can vary widely depending on the brand, specifications, and retailer. On average, a mid-range gaming PC can cost anywhere from $800 to $1200, while a high-end gaming PC can cost up to $2000 or more.

Pros and Cons of Building a PC

Now what are the benefits and drawbacks of building your computer?


Cost Savings

A DIY PC can be significantly cheaper than a pre-built machine. That’s because you can choose hardware components and shop around for deals. Afterward, you may build a high-quality machine at a fraction of the cost of a pre-built one.


When you assemble your PC, you have complete control over the components and features. This means you can tailor the machine to your specific needs and preferences, whether a high-performance gaming rig or a powerful workstation for video editing.


Another advantage of building your PC is that upgrading individual components is often easier. This means you can extend the lifespan of your machine and keep it up-to-date with the latest technology.

Learning Opportunity

A PC build offers a learning opportunity. You’ll understand how the hardware components work together. It can also be a fun and rewarding challenge for those who enjoy DIY projects and tinkering with technology.


Technical Expertise

Assembling a PC requires some technical expertise, which can be intimidating for those unfamiliar with computer hardware. This means it may not be the best option for everyone, and some people feel more comfortable buying a prebuilt PC.


PC building can be time-consuming, especially if you’re new to it. However, for seasoned builders, a simple build can take 90 minutes or more without issues.

But for amateurs or people dedicated to cable management, it can take longer time. You’ll need to research, shop around for components, and assemble, which can take several hours or even days.

Warranty and Support

When you buy a pre-built machine, you typically get a warranty and support from the manufacturer.

However, when you build your PC, you’ll need to rely on individual warranties for each component, which can be more complicated and time-consuming.

Compatibility Issues

Building your PC can sometimes lead to compatibility issues between components. This means you must research and ensure all your chosen components are compatible.

Pros and Cons of Buying a PC

Buying a pre-built PC is often a convenient and easy option for those who don’t have the time or technical expertise to build their machine. However, there are pros and cons to consider before buying one.



The most significant advantage of buying a pre-built gaming PC is convenience. All you have to do is choose a machine that meets your needs, place an order, and the machine will be delivered to your door.

You don’t have to worry about researching components or assembling the machine.

Warranty and Support

When you buy a pre-built PC, you typically get a warranty from the manufacturer. This makes it easier to deal with any issues.

Time Savings

Buying a pre-built PC saves you time, as you don’t have to spend hours or days researching and assembling components. It’s especially valuable for people with busy schedules. Or those who prefer not to spend their free time tinkering with technology.


Purchasing a new PC is suitable for anyone who doesn’t have the technical expertise to build their computer. It means that you don’t have to worry about compatibility issues or making mistakes during the assembly process.


Limited Customization

When buying a pre-built PC, you’re often limited to the components included in the machine. Unfortunately, this means that you may not be able to get precisely what you want, whether that’s a specific graphics card or more storage space.

Higher Cost

It may be more expensive than building your machine, as you’re paying for the convenience and expertise of the manufacturer. So, you may not get as much value for your money as building your machine.

Less Control

When you buy a PC, you’re at the manufacturer’s mercy regarding the components and overall build quality. You don’t have as much control over the performance and reliability of the machine.

Limited Upgradability

Finally, it’s less upgradeable than custom-built machines. Therefore, you may need to replace the entire machine to upgrade specific components like the graphics card or motherboard.

How to Build a PC: A Step-by-Step Guide

Man assembling computer parts to build a PC

If you’ve decided to build your PC, here’s a step-by-step guide to help you get started.

  1. Determine your budget and choose your components.
  2. Assemble your components on a non-conductive surface.
  3. Install your motherboard in the case.
  4. Install your CPU and heatsink/fan.
  5. Install your RAM.
  6. Install your graphics card.
  7. Install your power supply.
  8. Connect all necessary cables and power cords.
  9. Install your storage devices.
  10. Power on your machine and install your operating system and drivers.

Best Places to Buy Pre-Built PCs

If you’ve decided that buying a pre-built PC is the right option, here are some of the best places to purchase.

  1. Amazon: Amazon offers various pre-built PCs from multiple brands and retailers.
  2. Dell: Dell is a well-known brand that produces various pre-built PCs for personal and business use.
  3. Best Buy: Best Buy provides pre-built PCs from multiple brands and price points.
  4. Newegg: Newegg is a popular retailer specializing in computer hardware and selling incredible pre-built PCs.

How to Choose the Right PC for Your Needs

Whether you’ve decided to assemble your PC or buy a new gaming PC, choosing the suitable machine for your needs is crucial.

Here are some factors to consider.

  1. Budget: Determine your budget and choose a machine that fits within your price range.
  2. Specifications: Consider the specifications of the machine, including the CPU, RAM, graphics card, and storage.
  3. Intended Use: How do you intend to use your machine? Like choosing a laptop for machine learning, the primary use of your computer, whether it be gaming, work, or everyday use, should determine your kind of computer.
  4. Brand and Warranty: Consider the brand of the machine and the warranty that comes with it.

Maintenance and Upgrades: Which Option Is More Cost-Effective?

Regarding PCs, maintenance and upgrades are vital, especially in cost-effectiveness. However, both DIY and prebuilt PCs have pros and cons for maintenance and upgrades.

A custom PC allows you to choose and upgrade individual components as needed. Thus, you can easily replace or upgrade parts like the RAM, hard drive, or battery and extend the lifespan of your laptop.

However, this also requires technical knowledge, experience, and additional expenses for purchasing replacement parts.

On the other hand, prebuilt PCs come with a warranty and support from the manufacturer. So, repairs and upgrades are more accessible and more cost-effective. You can repair or upgrade your PC without spending additional money on parts or hiring a technician. However, this also means you may be limited in customization options, as the manufacturer may have specific guidelines for repairs and upgrades.

When it comes to cost-effectiveness, it ultimately depends on the specific situation. For example, DIY PCs may be more cost-effective in the long run. That’s because you have more control over the components and can easily replace or upgrade them. Nevertheless, this also requires additional expenses for purchasing replacement parts and adequate experience to replace them.

Pre-built machines may be more cost-effective in the short term, as they come with a warranty and support from the manufacturer. This saves you money on repairs and upgrades.

But this may be less cost-effective in the long run. You will have limited customization options and may need to purchase a new PC sooner than you would with a DIY PC.

DIY or Retail? Which One Is the Winner?

Ultimately, deciding to build your PC or buy a pre-built one comes down to your needs, preferences, and budget.

While building your PC can save you money and provide you with a customized machine, it requires more excellent technical expertise and time.

Contrarily, a pre-built PC is a convenient option that may come with a higher price tag. No matter which option you choose, consider all the factors involved. Ultimately, it’s all about making an informed decision that meets your needs.

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