Should you build or buy a PC in 2022?

This discussion has a more recent version.
edited January 2022 in PC Build Guides

One of the most exciting aspects of the desktop PC scene has always been its mix of off-the-shelf pre-built PCs and custom DIY builds. Whether you’re a hobbyist hardware enthusiast or someone who just wants to get on with their work or play, desktop PCs have something for you, and that’s just as true in 2022.

But is it better to build a PC, or buy one? Is a pre-built or custom DIY machine better for you? Here are a few pros and cons of each, to help you decide.

Pre-built PCs are quicker to get and easier to work with

Lenovo Legion T5 26AMR5

The one major advantage of any prebuilt PC is that it’s ready to play as soon as you get it. The ease-of-use of a prebuilt PC is far and away better than a custom PC, whether it’s a gaming prebuilt or one designed with work in mind. It’ll come with all the hardware installed and fully tested for compatibility, Windows will be installed and ready to use, and you’ll even have a few important applications already loaded for you.

Even as a hardware enthusiast myself, who likes tinkering and building PCs, there have still been times where I needed a new computer and needed it fast. In those cases, there’s no real choice to make: a prebuilt PC wins hands down, every time.

Once you’re up and running too, you can rest assured that your PC will remain working and in good condition for many years to come. The components have been exhaustively tested to work well together and offer excellent performance and reliability. A custom PC might let you eke out a little more performance from your components, but they’re never this easy to set up.

If you are looking for both the customizability of a BYO PC with the ease of a prebuilt, Micro Center does offer Custom PC Build Services. You pick out the parts and we'll put it together for you. The best of both worlds!

Custom gaming PCs are (usually) less expensive

 A lot goes into making a gaming PC. You have to select the components, plug them all in, install the operating system, test it all works; not to mention quality of life or aesthetic improvements like cable management and fan speed tweaking. All of that takes time, effort, and expertise, which is where you can save a lot of money by doing it all yourself.

Major companies that build pre-built gaming PCs have to pay someone to do it and even though they might get the parts at a discount, the cost of the expertise involved in its construction is included in the price. Do all that hard work yourself, and you’ll be able to save a nice bit on high-end builds, meaning even more room in your budget for PC components!

A prebuilt’s cost vs custom build isn’t much of a fight: a custom PC, especially a custom gaming PC, is almost always going to be the more affordable solution (barring an incredible sale). You just have to be willing to put in the time and effort to get it up and running.

Just make sure you also research the best components for the job. There’s little point in saving a bunch of money on the building if you then overspend on a PC that’s more powerful than you need for the kind of games you want to play.

Custom PCs let you choose your own hardware

Cherry Blossom Season by Christina C

There are a wide range of different prebuilt PCs you can choose from at Micro Center, but it would be impossible to offer PCs with every component in every configuration. That’s where a custom DIY PC you build yourself can really come into its own. Are you an NVIDIA and Intel fan? You can make a gaming PC with a super-powered Alder Lake CPU and RTX 3000 GPU. Fancy an all-AMD build? Then you can buy a top-of-the-line Ryzen processor and a Radeon RX 6800 graphics card and build the AMD gaming PC of your dreams.

My current PC has lasted me for years, so it’s soon time for an upgrade. I’ll probably salvage the case and my current SSD, but move it over to act as a secondary game drive. The rest will be recycled and replaced with whatever the best bang for buck parts are at the time – probably a next-generation AMD CPU and an NVIDIA graphics card. I’ll pair them up with 32GB of RAM, a super-fast NVMe SSD, and a high-efficiency power supply.

But none of that makes sense if you’re looking to build a budget machine for doing office work, or need something quiet and compact for school work. You might need something with just 8GB of RAM, be satisfied with a last-gen CPU, and only need a SATA SSD for the main drive.

When you’re building a custom PC, you can select every single component that is both within your budget, and perfect for the build you want to make. Since every gamer and worker has different needs, this can let you maximize both performance and your budget.

Pre-built PCs need less space

Prebuilt PCs and custom PCs come in all manner of shapes and sizes, but one factor that’s often not considered when it comes to building your own is the space it can take up. You need a desk to build it on, space for tools, and somewhere to put all the boxes that the individual components come in. You’ll want to keep a lot of it afterwards too, in case you need to refer to manuals or return something, and if you haven’t built a PC before, it might take you a few hours, leaving a major desk surface occupied and out of action for some time.

Prebuilt PCs, on the other hand, come in one – well-padded and protected – box, with a small box of accessories. That’s it. Once you ditch the cardboard of the box, the desktop PC itself is all you have to worry about. Buy a MicroATX or Mini-ITX design too, and you get a very compact PC that will take up very little space at all.

If you’re looking for a new PC for your house or bedroom and don’t have a ton of space to put it together in, it may well be worth considering a prebuilt PC, just to save on the space alone.

Building a PC is fun and informative

Grindstone by Kunal P

Not everyone likes tinkering with their technology, but if you do, or think you might, then there’s a potential new hobby awaiting you when you crack open that first anti-static bag of PC components.

Building a PC isn’t a complicated process, but like anything, it does take some time to learn how to do it, and more time to actually build it. You’ll also need to take the time to research what components are compatible with one another, and which offer the best performance for your money. Thankfully, the Micro Center Custom PC Builder can handle checking compatibility for you.

Once you have everything in hand, you can put it all together. You’ll need a sizeable surface, ideally a desk, to build it on, a screwdriver, and possibly a pair of needle-nosed pliers to grab any screws you drop inside the case. You’ll also want to have adequate lighting so you can easily see what you’re doing.

It can be a lot of fun building a custom PC because you can set it up exactly how you want it. You can tidy the cables away to make it look neat and minimalist, color code components for the best look, and even add complicated water cooling if you want to.

The fun doesn’t stop when it’s built, either. You can install only the applications that are important to you, overclock the various components, adjust fan speeds for performance and noise output, and a whole lot more. Some of that you can do on prebuilt PCs, but it’s much easier if you buy the right components for the kind of building and tweaking that you want to do. 

The whole experience of building and working with computers involves a lot of learning, and that knowledge stays with you for a long time to come. The more your work with computers, the more you’ll grow comfortable and efficient in doing so. Building your own PC is a great way to be able to help out friends and family when they run into problems with their own computers in the future. You might even be able to build them one as a present or fix a long-standing issue that has made their computer a nightmare to work with.

Just be sure while you’re working with any PC components that you observe proper anti-static protection, by wearing an anti-static wristband, or grounding yourself periodically by touching the PC case or other piece of conductive metal. You should also double-check all the warranties of anything you’re working on so that you stay within those bounds – sometimes making adjustments to coolers, or BIOS settings can invalidate warranties, so make sure you know what you’re doing before proceeding.

Both Prebuilt and Custom PCs have extended support and warranties opportunities

Whether you opt for a prebuilt PC or custom-built rig, both have a lot of support built-in. That includes both a guarantee of parts working once it arrives and an extensive warranty and support for the components through the manufacturer.

If you’re looking for additional reassurance, Micro Center offers two- and three-year warranties on almost every computer and component, so if it fails from general use, you’re covered. We even offer coverage on accidental damage for laptops, including drops, spills, and cracks.

And if you want even more security, bring your PC to any Micro Center Knowledge Bar. Our knowledgeable staff can run diagnostics and offer consultations for any problems you may have, even if you didn’t purchase a single part from Micro Center!

 More from the Micro Center Community:

Looking for more computer buying guides? We’ve got a full section dedicated to reviews and buying guides as well as The Ultimate Guide to Buying a Gaming LaptopHow to Choose Parts for you Custom PC BuildThe Best Laptops for Under $1000, and reviews of the Maingear Vector Pro Series. And if you can’t find what you’re looking for, don’t hesitate to post a new discussion and the Community will be happy to help!



  • PowerSpec_KenJ
    PowerSpec_KenJ PowerSpec Engineer
    5 Likes First Anniversary First Answer First Comment

    When assembling a PC, it is always best to use an antistatic wrist strap connected to an antistatic mat that is connected to your home's ground. Wearing a wrist strap that isn't connected to a ground does not provide any anti-static protection. If you do choose to use the chassis as a ground device, there are a couple considerations:

    1. Paint is an insulator. If your chassis is painted, it will not properly ground from touching it.
    2. The chassis itself must be connected to your home's ground. This could be through connecting it to a grounded antistatic mat or by preinstalling the power supply, plugging it in, and then turning the main power switch off (Never assemble a PC with a live power supply!)

    If you do not use a proper ground, your new PC may work flawlessly... for a while. Static discharges can damage traces in a small way that may not manifest for months or years, but it will certainly shorten the usable life and the reliability of your PC.

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