Up For Debate - Is It Now Cheaper to Buy a Pre-Build Gaming PC Than Build Your Own?

Written by Jon Sutton on Wed, Jan 17, 2018 4:40 PM

If you’ve been keeping a pensive eye on the hardware market, you’ve probably noticed the price of graphics cards has been absolutely skyrocketing in some territories. At the time of writing, the cheapest GeForce GTX 1060 6GB on NewEgg in the US is a frankly insane $529.99. The cheapest GTX 1070 is the MSI GeForce GTX 1070 Gaming X 8G, an absolute snip at $939.89. And don’t even get me started on GeForce GTX 1080 Ti’s or Radeon RX Vega 64’s.

The blame for this lies squarely at the foot of cryptocurrency mining. Which of course isn’t any one entity, but a collective mindset that has transformed nothing into something through sheer willpower alone. The belief in Bitcoin, Ethereum,  Litecoin, Monero, Ripple, etc, is the only thing that keeps them going, and their rising (yet volatile) value is causing anyone and everyone to try mine their own cryptocurrency. In turn, this has driven the costs of graphics cards sky-high. GeForce GTX 1060’s are selling for $500, yet if we saw one for the MSRP of $299 it would look like great value. The GeForce GTX 960 launched at $199. Within the span of a single GPU generation, the prices have nearly tripled due to demand, and a 50% jump actually feels like a bargain.

It's down to coin miners wanting the best graphics cards with the best hash rates, resulting in rising costs for everybody else. Cryptocurrency has got a lot to answer for, and the issue is only inflamed when combined with skyrocketing RAM prices and the steady increase of SSD costs.

It’s left us in a curious position where it can actually be beneficial to your wallet to buy a pre-built PC or gaming laptop thanks to the deals some stores have inked up with hardware suppliers, rather than paying out for the individual components and putting it together yourself.

The market has flipped upside down and there’s arguably never been a worse time to upgrade or do a new build. Try it for yourself. Go on PC Specs, or NewEgg, or PCPartsPicker and try to piece together the same specs as a pre-build. I’ve done it, several times, and depending on what country you’re living in, it’s generally cheaper to buy a machine that someone’s had to spend time putting together for you. In the case of the higher-end Vega and GeForce GTX 1070+ graphics cards, it’s actually feasible to buy a pre-build with the GPU included for less than the cost of buying the graphics card on its own.

Is there any end in sight? I can’t honestly say. Every day there’s a new type of cryptocurrency waiting to be mined, whether that be KodakCoin or the new IRON, a minable currency that can be used to buy games that you’re going to struggle to run because you can’t afford the hardware needed as everyone’s mining. The current price crash of several leading cryptocurrencies is at least a glimmer of light at the end of a very, very dark tunnel.

What are your thoughts on the rising prices of PC gaming hardware? Would you currently recommend someone buy a pre-build rather than build their own? Let us know your thoughts!

Would you recommend a prebuilt PC over a self-build in the current market?

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17:20 Jan-24-2018

Some manufacturers are working on with AMD/Nvidia to counter the current GPU shortage. Proof. But if you can wait, it's expected that the new line of Nvidia cards are going to be released in May 2018.

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03:29 Jan-24-2018

I would buy pre builts if you live in the U.K as gpu and Ram prices make it more expensive to build and equivalent pre built System from Dell.

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11:12 Jan-23-2018

Can my laptop play Fifa 18? dell inspiron 17r - 5737. Core i7 4500u, 8GB Ram, 1Ter HDD

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20:02 Jan-22-2018

I'm encouraging my friend to build his own pc so he can learn the parts, but with the current gpu price's its hard to do it as he has a 500$ budget. I'm hoping nvidia's announcement will help with this.

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04:24 Jan-23-2018

Just like AMD's announcement in both 2014 and 2015... yeah right


Both AMD and Nvidia suggested retailers to basically lower their profits, no company would do that and then there is no way to monitor who is a miner and who isn't...

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06:06 Jan-23-2018

Well if someone buys more than 2 GPU's they would be a miner because the average consumer wouldn't really buy more than 2 GPU's.

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06:12 Jan-23-2018

That's a little bit to general. There are professional work disciplines that require more than 1 GPU. That doesn't mean they're miners.

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07:05 Jan-23-2018

Well i did say mainly 2 and besides for companies the store would notice it was something work related especially since it would be going to a company that store would know.

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07:27 Jan-23-2018

Lets say i open a game club and i got 20 oems and i need 20 gpus for them, or i am a company that has a 3d modeling division and i meed 20+ gpus, but don't have the money for professional gpus like the quadro and firepro... And im sure there are many other scenarios...

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07:28 Jan-23-2018

And nvidia only recommended it, no company with 2 brain cells would listen to that recommendation

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07:40 Jan-22-2018

I find it would be cheaper and better to buy older parts just until they start to lower the prices on newer parts because you could spend like 600$ on an older system rocking something like a i5 4590/4690 or a FX 8350 or even a i7 3770 with a GTX 770/960 (or something similar to that) that would be able to play games on high settings still and would last for a good 6 years give or take.

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07:43 Jan-22-2018

But hey this is just my opinion on the matter of all of this that is going on because while the new i5 8400/8600K might look really good it is just a little too expensive at this point especially with DDR4 memory out there because 16gb DDR4 memory here in Canada is roughly 220$ which is more than double from the DDR3 memory i bought last year for my backup system because the 16gb memory i bought costed me 95$ which right now if i was to buy used generic kingston memory would cost about 110$ which is still a lot less and i find wouldn't be too different.

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07:49 Jan-22-2018

The second hand market is too different from country to country, for example in my country it sucks... It's almost never worth it to go second hand as the prices are always and i mean always too close to first hand much better parts to consider, when you do not have a guarantee that it will work and no warranty for what it's worth if it breaks...

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19:45 Jan-22-2018

Might not be a good thing for you but it might be for others because for other people they might be able to get something good and also buying second hand doesn't always mean to buy online cause people could go to used pc part stores to buy what they need from that.
This is from my local used PC store in Canada and really it is not that expensive https://www.toplaptop.ca/\#memoire-ram-cpu which you can see first gen i7's sells for as most as 60$.

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19:48 Jan-22-2018

Which if the guy wanted to play games like Destiny 2 and Overwatch that processor would still be powerful enough to play the game and if i paired it with a GTX 970 which averages around 200$ Canadian that person would pretty much be able to max out those games and really would last them till they have enough to get something like a i7 7700 used which of course by that time it would be like a 700$ system (cause you are pretty much building a new used system).

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07:31 Jan-23-2018

I was not referring to online only, in my country it's more common to have physical second hand shops than online site stires and it's more commo for certain individuals to sell their hardware second hand, rather than a store

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14:43 Jan-21-2018

The thing is, the most I can fear about when buying prebuilt PCs is a poor PSU that either won't last long or allow greater upgrade capabilities. Besides, if you spend the time learning to build your PC, you'll at least know what needs fix/replacement instead of delivering your WHOLE ENTIRE RIG to some terrible place like Best Buy only for u to wait longer than normal for a simple PSU replacement. (Happened once to me when I had a prebuilt.)

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15:10 Jan-21-2018

and poor motherboard and ram too.

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11:07 Jan-18-2018

At this moment, you are getting screwed either way - if you build urself, you have to pay a very high price for the GPU & RAM. For a pre-built pc, even if its at a reasonable price and includes high-performing components, you risk being screwed by low quality parts (+ the warranties there are quite strict, if you want to add/remove/replace parts).

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10:43 Jan-19-2018

yep the low quality parts are the main reason I would never recommend a pre-built to a heavy task user, games on the other hand, if they are NOT really low quality -> so custom dell, acer, etc, etc sh!t then sure. Warranties are usually worthless when it comes to hardware as they do NOT apply for most instances of hardware death/damage.


And if pre-builts are to have higher quality parts they are overpriced as hell.


But performance-wise now you can find cheaper pre-builts than building it yourself.

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09:22 Jan-18-2018

Hey not all pre-built are not that bad. some may even save some cash for yah.

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15:04 Jan-19-2018

Green rams and motherboard on 2018? Sacrilege!

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17:05 Jan-19-2018

Most non-low budget pre-builts nowadays come with motherboards from the usual manufacturers like gigabyte, asus, asrock, etc, etc, but sadly they are 99% of the time freaking micro-ATXs with terrible VRMs for more powerful CPUs.

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08:09 Jan-18-2018

As much as I like how pre-build PC has made their strong point in the market, I will still recommended and encourage friends to build their own PC themselves. the skill to handling Hardware and Software is always useful in this platform.

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09:47 Jan-18-2018

Well building a pc and installing software are basic skills that kids do... It's just that people are not confident enough

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07:20 Jan-18-2018

Did my build in november around black friday. Good thing too, my gpu has doubled in price!

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02:23 Jan-21-2018

Same!

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07:10 Jan-18-2018

No, built in PCs usually have strong CPU's and relatively weak GPU's. Anyone who has ever built a PC would know that:
1-Your parts shouldn't be bottlenecking each other,
2-Most games are more GPU intensitive,
3-You should never buy a CPU much stronger than your GPU unless you are planning to upgrade GPU. You will just waste your money.
4-People who use built in PCs usually don't upgrade, they just buy a new built in.

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07:14 Jan-18-2018

Wrong, i can get a pc with a gtx 1070ti, i5 8400 and 8gb ram and 2tb hdd for 1050 euro, before the gtx 1070ti went out of stock in my country it costed 700 euro...

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07:16 Jan-18-2018

Of course the psu, mobo and ram quality is not the best, usually they use 30$ psus and cheapest possible ram and mobo.

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08:01 Jan-18-2018

But a psu should be interchangeable. So is the RAM.


Built-in?

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09:46 Jan-18-2018

Nope, but it's extra cost

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06:37 Jan-18-2018

Just checked Amazon Germany and we still got gtx 1080's for about 600€, in which regions did the price got up so much? Jesus

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07:16 Jan-18-2018

The rest of the world apparently

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21:30 Jan-18-2018

Just checked amazon.com and found the MSI gtx 1080 for $780 which is like 620€

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04:42 Jan-19-2018

Yes, because everybody has access to amazon especially the US one without the 20% taxes... -_-

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01:25 Jan-18-2018

Bought my PC used from Craigslist, it is the very system I have listed in my config. Cost me $825 :) Always check the used market, never know what you may find

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01:29 Jan-18-2018

I'm too wary to do so just cause I have terrible luck. xD

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01:34 Jan-18-2018

XD that sucks, so far I havent had any issues with the system. Leagues better than my 860m equipped laptop

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06:38 Jan-18-2018

With used hardware I'm always scared something's broken or shows signs of breaking soon, I prefer to go the safe route there.

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23:28 Jan-17-2018

I would rather buy a gaming laptop than pre-built PC.

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23:16 Jan-17-2018

Actually depends on what it offers and for what price. I would not recommend it in most cases, but with price inflations, I could see some builds looking pretty good to start with and then pimp them up over time. I see no reason why throw good deal away, just because it is pre-built.

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22:54 Jan-17-2018

Usually people who don't know anything about pc harware and want to game buy prebuilt systems and I have done that myself, but I have learned my lesson and now I know something. I tried recommending my firend a good pc to built and one that's prebuilt but actually good for his kinds of games but he didn't listen, now he has a poor pc and can run sad games.

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21:52 Jan-17-2018

I would recommend waiting in the current market. With a prebuilt, you might end up accidentally getting something with a proprietary PSU or motherboard form-factor... or a "gaming" PC with an i7 and a cheap, weak GPU. Build a PC, and over half your budget goes to the GPU if you want something better than a used GTX 960.

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03:32 Jan-24-2018

I spent twice as much on my CPU than i did on my GPU

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20:54 Jan-17-2018

NEVER

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20:57 Jan-17-2018

now if say a previous gen oem workstation and slap a gpu inside, yes thats a cheap reliable build there

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20:35 Jan-17-2018

Suddenly I don't feel dumb buying GeForce cards straight from Nvidia on pre-order. GTX 1080 aren't much cheaper than launch MSRP even now and 1080Ti cards are actually more expensive than I paid in a few places I've looked at (providing they're not out of stock to begin with). Crazy. But I think it's how I'm gonna have to roll. Watch the announcements and pounce on pre-order emails as soon as I see them (when I pre-ordered my GTX 1080s they went out of stock within a few minutes. Luckily I checked my phone right at the same time as Nvidia's email arrived xD)

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08:02 Jan-18-2018

But reference cards are so ugly and cool so bad

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14:09 Jan-18-2018

Says you. I actually prefer the design to all others (I like the GTX logo too!) and my cards go up to 2100MHz (yes, the 1080Tis too) on air. Sure, louder than 3rd party, but very well-binned and don't fail (at least for me).

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14:11 Jan-18-2018

Besides, I'd shoot myself if I had to spend £200 extra for a different shell with "GAMING" name on it, LMAO. Not worth it.

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18:52 Jan-17-2018

there are few major paths, basically depending on question, do I know anything about hardware, and can I afford to spend more?:
no - get prebuilt PC....OR second-hand gaming rig from someone (preferably still covered by warranty)
yes - build custom PC

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Can They Run... |

| 30FPS, Medium, 1080p
Core i5-9300H 4-Core 2.4GHz GeForce GTX 1650 Mobile 8GB
Core i3-2100 3.1GHz Radeon HD 6570 4GB
| 30FPS, Medium, 1080p
Ryzen 5 3600 6-Core 3.6GHz GeForce GTX 1060 MSI Gaming X 6G Edition 16GB
| 30FPS, Medium, 1080p
Ryzen 5 3600 6-Core 3.6GHz GeForce GTX 1060 MSI Gaming X 6G Edition 16GB
Core i7-4770K 4-Core 3.5GHz GeForce RTX 2060 MSI Ventus XS OC 6GB 16GB
100% Yes [1 votes]
| 60FPS, Low, 1080p
Core i7-2600 4-Core 3.40GHz Radeon R9 280X MSI Gaming 3GB Edition 8GB
100% Yes [2 votes]
Ryzen 5 5600X 6-Core 3.7GHz GeForce RTX 3060 Ti Gainward Ghost 8GB 16GB
100% Yes [2 votes]
| 60FPS, High, 1080p
Ryzen 7 3750H 4-Core 2.3 GHz GeForce RTX 2060 Mobile 16GB
| 60FPS, High, 1080p
Ryzen 5 5600H 6-Core 3.3GHz GeForce RTX 3050 Ti Mobile 16GB
0% No [1 votes]
| 60FPS, Ultra, 1080p
FX-6300 Radeon RX 550X 4GB 16GB
| Medium, 1080p
FX-6300 Radeon RX 550X 4GB 16GB
0% No [2 votes]
| 60FPS, High, 1080p
FX-6300 Radeon RX 550X 4GB 16GB
| 60FPS, High, 720p
Core i3-4170 3.7GHz GeForce GTX 750 EVGA 2GB Edition 8GB
100% Yes [2 votes]
| 30FPS, Medium, 1080p
Core i5-10400T 6-Core 2.00GHz GeForce GTX 1650 8GB
75% Yes [4 votes]
| 60FPS,
Ryzen 3 2300X 4-Core 3.5GHz Radeon RX 6500 XT 4GB 16GB
0% No [1 votes]
| 60FPS, Medium, 1080p
Ryzen 5 5600X 6-Core 3.7GHz GeForce GTX 1660 Ti 6GB 16GB
50% Yes [2 votes]
| 60FPS, High, 1080p
Ryzen 5 5600X 6-Core 3.7GHz GeForce GTX 1660 Ti 6GB 16GB
100% Yes [1 votes]
| 60FPS, Low, 720p
Core i3-4170 3.7GHz GeForce GTX 750 EVGA 2GB Edition 8GB
100% Yes [1 votes]
| 60FPS, Ultra, 1080p
Core i7-10700K 8-Core 3.8GHz GeForce RTX 3070 Colorful iGame Advanced OC 8GB 16GB
Core i7-10700K 8-Core 3.8GHz GeForce RTX 3060 Ti Gigabyte Eagle OC 8GB 16GB
100% Yes [1 votes]