Should You Build or Buy Your Next Computer?

Should You Build or Buy Your Next Computer?

While we live in a portable society, desktop computers still have their places. They’re certainly a dying breed — manufacturers will ship more laptops and even tablets than desktops this year — but they’re still necessary for many people. There are just some things you can do on a desktop that you can’t accomplish as easily on a laptop.

Who still needs a desktop PC?

  • Families. Kids break things. It’s best to have a durable desktop than a fragile laptop to share.
  • Companies. While some companies issue laptops, office-based companies are usually better off sticking with desktops for employees.
  • Media producers. Laptops designed for media creation are far, far more expensive than desktop media machines.
  • Gamers. Ditto. There’s just so much more you can do when gaming on a PC, including the use of multiple monitors.

The list goes on and on. There’s a good chance you fall among the people who benefit greatly from owning a desktop PC. The only question that remains is whether you will build it or buy it.

Why Build?

Building a PC might seem like too great a hassle. Years ago it might have made more sense, since PC components were typically cheaper than the branded PCs that companies like Dell and HP offered. But those big companies have lowered prices considerably in the last few years. You can go to a site like Newegg.com and get desktop PCs for cheap. So why would you take the effort to build a PC?

There are a few reasons that someone might choose to build rather than buy.

1. Customization. When you buy a PC from a big manufacturer, you’re buying what they put in the shell. Some allow a level of customization, but it’s going to be with their parts. Building your own PC allows you to put in the exact parts you want. For media producers, companies, and gamers this can be a huge consideration.

2. Parts replacement. When you build your own PC, you put things where you want them. This makes it easier to go back and remove components and replace them with newer, better ones. When you buy a pre-made PC, you have to deal with however the manufacturer assembled it. That might prove to be a bigger pain that worth dealing with.

3. Repair. This goes along with the first two. When you create your own computer, you make it easier to repair. With your knowledge of your own machine, combined with simple computer repair tutorials at Answers.com, you can troubleshoot any issue with ease — much easier than with a pre-built PC.

Why Buy?

Just because there are a number of strong points in favor of building a PC doesn’t mean it’s the answer for everybody. Many of the users listed above will do better to simply purchase a cheap, but powerful, PC from a big-name manufacturer such as Dell, HP, or Toshiba.

1. Simplicity. It’s hard to overstate the simplicity of modern PCs. Once you buy, all you have to do is plug in the appropriate wires and you’re set. You can boot right up, create a Windows account, and get started. Families in particular will enjoy this simplicity. You don’t need an in-house tech guru to use a modern PC.

2. Software. When you build a PC you have to buy your own software. That means buying a Windows license, which can cost over $300. It might also mean buying Microsoft Office, which costs another few hundred dollars. Big name PCs, on the other hand, always come with Windows. They also often come with software packages. Chances are you can get a new PC for just slightly more than the Windows license alone.

3. Support. If you’re not technically inclined, you’ll probably need someone’s help when your PC has trouble. Big manufacturers offer online troubleshooting tools, as well as phone support. Most importantly, they come with warranties. If something goes wrong, you have a reputable company’s guarantee behind you.

Each PC user has different needs. There are some users who will benefit greatly from assembling a PC from scratch. The flexibility and customization means everything to this kind of user. Others, on the other hand, might find it easier just to buy a PC from HP or Dell, since you can use it right after unboxing it. There is no right or wrong answer in this case. It’s just a matter of your needs.

Joe Pawlikowski

Joe Pawlikowski edits MobileMoo, a site that covers the mobile technology industry.

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  • http://youronline.biz Darnell Jackson

    If you are a big gamer ie time waster then I would recommend you build a computer because you’ll want the most hard core power supply to run up your light bill and video card to keep you mesmerized for hours.

    If you’re not a child in a grown up persons body then get an off the shelf el cheapo computer because they are basically as disposable as cell phones you’ll be replacing them before you know.