There are plenty of guides out there on how to build a PC, but if you'd rather someone else handle the assembly for you, the decision becomes which prebuilt outfit to go with. That has traditionally meant the likes of Dell or Maingear, or any number of others (Falcon Northwest, iBuyPower, and the list goes on). But now you can have Newegg put your system together itself, for a modest fee, with custom parts selected from its vast catalog.
This is a major expansion to Newegg's 'PC Builder' tool that launched in beta last year. The tool is designed to guide DIY builders through the component selection process, by presenting compatible parts along the way. For example, if you choose an AMD Ryzen 7 5800X for the processor, the motherboard section will only display SKUs you can actually use it with, making it impossible to inadvertently select an incompatible part (like, say, an Intel Z590 motherboard).
That's not only a boon for new and inexperienced builders, it can also help seasoned DIY vets to cut through the clutter a little easier than navigating Newegg's menus the old fashioned way. And you can still narrow down the selections based on brand, price, features, and other sorting toggles.
It costs a flat $99 to have Newegg build your PC, big or small. That means the value proposition will vary, depending on the overall cost of your system and the complexity of the build.
The pricing seems fair to me, provided Newegg does a good job with the build. And aside from pricing, a potential key advantage is having access to a wide range of parts in every category.
"Our purpose-built PC assembly line is staffed with skilled technicians," said Vishal Mane, director of engineering at Newegg. "With a massive component inventory on hand and a team of skilled builders standing by, Newegg is simply the best option for customers who refuse to compromise on quality and who want their expertly built computers delivered more quickly than any other BTO [build-to-order] service."
There is a caveat, however. Turning on the new 'Need Assembly Service' toggle when utilizing the PC Builder tool cuts down the list of parts to only 'qualified items' that are available in Newegg's California warehouse.
Other than availability (which means it will still be difficult to nail down a cutting edge graphics card), it's not clear how Newegg determines if a part qualifies for its professional build service. That said, there are still a lot of parts to choose from—when I selected a 5800X for the CPU, the motherboard section listed 73 compatible parts across multiple chipsets. If turning the assembly toggle off, that number jumps to 121 motherboard options.
Newegg is also promising a quick turnaround—it takes "about a week" for a custom configured PC to be built and shipped. It will be interesting to see if that changes, if this option becomes popular, or if Newegg will hire more builders as necessary.
What's available now is described as an "initial beta phase." The custom build service will expand over time, based on "valuable insight and suggestions" Newegg receives, with an eventual second phase adding options like laser engraving and other unspecified perks.
Color me intrigued. I also have some questions, which I've presented to Newegg and am awaiting a response. Chief among them is how the warranty works. For example, if a PC arrives and does not boot up, will Newegg fit the return shipping build, provided tech support is not able to resolve the issue? And let's say a component fails a few months later, like the motherboard. Will Newegg replace it, or does the user have to through the RMA process with the motherboard maker, and swap it out themselves?
My hunch is the latter, with this being akin to buying parts and then paying a friend or a local computer repair shop to piece it all together. In such a scenario, you're typically paying for just the build labor, and not extended service or support. But that's a question for Newegg to answer, and I'll update this article when I hear back.
[Update: Newegg referred me to its PC Builder Assembly Service FAQ. In short, tech support will to resolve any issues, and in the "highly unlikely scenario" a PC arrives with a component missing, Newegg will work with you to "find a solution." If a component fails down the line, you'll need to contact the manufacturer.]