Should you buy or build a gaming PC?

When it comes to building or buying your gaming PC, there really isn't a wrong answer. Each method has its own list of pros and cons, and in our opinion, it's ultimately a matter of preference, budgets, and urgency. Building your own PC can be cheaper, more rewarding, and offers additional customization. On the other hand, buying a prebuilt gaming PC is quicker, easier, and generally more reliable. 

So how do you decide between the two? In the past, building a PC was much more difficult and buying a prebuilt came with a much higher premium. Nowadays, easier to install components and an accessible prebuilt PC market can make it a little more difficult to decide. Here we'll discuss the advantages and disadvantages of building and buying a gaming PC to help you come to an informed decision.

Building Your PC

The Complete Guide to PC Gaming

PC Gamer is going back to the basics with a series of guides, how-tos, and deep dives into PC gaming's core concepts that we're calling The Complete Guide to PC Gaming. There's much more to come, and it's all being made possible by Razer, which stepped up to support this months-long project. Thanks, Razer!

One of the biggest advantages to building your own PC is the ability to essentially hand-pick every single component in the system. This allows you to really fine tune your build and customize it to fit your exact budget and performance requirements. You also have the added benefit of personalizing it completely to your liking.

Since you're choosing each of the components individually, you have the luxury to take your time shopping around for deals and saving up until you have the perfect combination of parts. Thrifty shoppers can pile on even more savings by purchasing the right used, open-box, or refurbished components from others.

While prebuilt PC manufacturers and system builders have certainly evolved over the years, none of them can offer the same flexibility and freedom as doing it yourself.

PC building guides

Looking for more PC building advice? Check out our build guides: 

Budget gaming PC
(~$750/£750) - A good entry-level system.
Mid-range gaming PC
(~$1,250/£1,250) - Our recommended build for most gamers.
High-end gaming PC
(~$2,000/£2,000) - Everything a gamer could want.
Extreme gaming PC
(>$3,000/£3,000) - You won the lotto and are going all-in on gaming.

Prefer to buy a prebuilt than building it yourself? Check out our guide to the Best Gaming PCs.

Building your own PC opens the door to creating a beautifully unique system that you'll be proud to display at your battlestation. There's a certain amount of satisfaction that comes from building your own gaming PC that you really won't find elsewhere. That being said, saving money and personalization is great, but the DIY route certainly isn't for the faint of heart. 

Building a PC can be exhilarating and rewarding but also stressful, exhausting, and time consuming. Especially so for a first time builder. Luckily, there are a ton of great resources out there for building your first PC. Here's our beginner's guide to building a gaming PC.

Things have also gotten easier over the years thanks to modern manufacturers like NZXT finding ways to simplify and streamline the build process. However, even for a seasoned builder, the entire process can take some time and has the potential to cause quite a headache if something goes wrong. This is where prebuilt gaming PCs really shine.

Buying Your PC

When you pay the premium to configure or purchase a prebuilt PC, you are paying for more than just the parts. You are paying for warranty service, support, and the peace of mind that your system was put together and tested by professionals. These are some of the things we value highly when it comes to prebuilt gaming PCs.

Modern manufacturers can also offer features you might not be able to purchase on your own. For example: warranty-safe overclocking, pre-installed software, and exclusive components. Companies like iBuypower can make prebuilt PCs very tempting with totally unique features like Project Snowblind's transparent LCD side panel. NZXT's BLD program also makes things interesting by utilizing smart data to guarantee game-specific performance for their systems.

Some might consider it vain, but another great reason to purchase a prebuilt is actually the design. Prebuilts like the Alienware Aurora R7 or Corsair One use completely unique in-house chassis you wouldn't be able to purchase when building it yourself. You can take some comfort in knowing that these systems were designed and built specially to house your configuration. 

Best of all, you don't have to worry about cable management with options like these. Some companies will even offer competitive pricing that can actually rival building it yourself in some cases. However, you do tend to lose out on quite a bit of customization from those.

If the thought of building your own PC makes you anxious, the warranty and customer service provided from a prebuilt offers a peace of mind you lose out on when doing it yourself.

So which do we recommend?

At the end of the day, the choice is entirely up to you and our recommendation depends on your own situation. We love building PCs and recommend doing so as much as possible. However, if you aren't comfortable doing it yourself, it'd be easy for us to recommend the perfect prebuilt solution out there for you.

If you're an adventurous do-it-yourself type of person, building your own PC is an easy choice. But if you don't mind spending a little bit more for a decent warranty and direct customer service, prebuilt gaming PCs are the safer bet. Whichever you choose, you can't really go wrong. There will always be a prebuilt option to fit your budget and you'll always be able to build your own PC further down the line.