Up For Debate - Is it now cheaper to buy a pre-built gaming PC than build your own in 2021?

Written by Chad Norton on Sun, May 2, 2021 5:00 PM

At first, this may sound like a rehash of our “should gamers upgrade their PC in 2021” Up For Debate earlier this year, but there’s one significant detail here that sets it apart: pre-built gaming PCs. With the global chip shortage affecting every electronics industry including PC hardware, prices for GPUs have skyrocketed, but pre-builts have largely remained the same. So the question now is: is it now cheaper to buy a pre-built gaming PC than build your own in 2021?

We asked this same question back in 2018, but it is all the more relevant now in the wake of the global chip crisis that has significantly affected the price of graphics cards and made it nearly impossible to even buy one if you could. Because of that, pre-built PCs are now pretty much the only place you’ll be able to find an affordable PC.

In fact, some companies are even leveraging the short supply of GPUs by actually selling GPU-less gaming PCs that come with all the components you’ll need apart from a fancy new graphics card. The idea being that you’ve already got one but want to upgrade everything else.

For that range (brought to you by UK boutique builder, Fierce PC) the cheapest model comes in at around £560 (roughly $775), and the most expensive at £900 (around $1,245). That’s pretty average for a gaming PC ranging from low-end to high-end that has all the basics needed apart from a GPU. Slap a decent graphics card in there and you have an average priced gaming PC.

In fact, because of the rising prices for individual PC components, as well as the difficulty even finding any in stock, there are a number of other benefits that come from buying a pre-built PC in 2021…

For instance, buying a pre-built PC comes with all the parts already together, whereas buying them separately means you could be waiting months in between certain components because you can’t find a specific part in stock. They’re also not as affected by rising prices in certain components. Buying everything individually could cost you upwards of $1000, whereas buying the same PC as a pre-built could cost around $750 instead.

But maybe the actual act of building your own PC is worth more than having a new gaming PC that you could get tomorrow. That’s why we’re having this debate today, to see if it really is worth it considering the ridiculous prices of some individual PC hardware components. Or maybe we should all just wait until next year before upgrading our PC.

What do you think? Is it now cheaper to buy a pre-built gaming PC than build your own in 2021? Is it worth it? Or would you still recommend to build your own when you can, even if you have to wait at least a year? Let’s debate!

Is it cheaper to buy a prebuilt than build your own in 2021?

How much can gamers save on average by buying a prebuilt in 2021? In USD

Is your PC prebuilt or did you build it yourself?

Would you buy a prebuilt PC instead of building your own in 2021?

Our favourite comments:

When the only way to even get a graphics card is buy a prebuilt, it by default becomes the cheapest way.

Otak313

It depends, if you already updated whole system and are just waiting for graphic card, you are basically screwed, since pre-built is waste of money for you. They do cost bit more than overpriced graphic cards. But if you also could use upgrade on other components, like CPU, it starts becoming way better value. Since it can easily be 300USD/EUR+ cheaper than custom build.

Seth22087

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03:30 May-03-2021

It depends, if you already updated whole system and are just waiting for graphic card, you are basically screwed, since pre-built is waste of money for you. They do cost bit more than overpriced graphic cards. But if you also could use upgrade on other components, like CPU, it starts becoming way better value. Since it can easily be 300USD/EUR+ cheaper than custom build.

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03:33 May-03-2021

Since as you start adding other components to the mix, difference starts to quickly go in favor of pre-built. So yeah, if you need full build upgrade, pre-built is great investment. And you can always upgrade any flaws, if necessary anyway. At least if you want new graphic cards. Because graphic cards alone are close to pre-built prices.

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22:52 May-02-2021

i was able to put together a very decent machone with a ryzen 5 3600, 32 gb of ram, b550 mobo with a case and psu for around $500, and had to settle on a gtx 980 ti. still a very decent gpu, but that cost nearly the entire builds other parts combined. But still a better value than the idiots trying to sell gtx 1060's for $400.

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23:38 May-02-2021

If you're still on 1080p, the 980ti should still be sufficient.

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00:46 May-03-2021

oh yea, more than enough for nearly anything i play. most games run smoothly at very high settings

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22:25 May-02-2021

Took you long enough to figure this out but yeah it's a bit cheaper, but still nor worth it since you have no idea what gpu variant you will get, like mini version of a gpu or higher clock version where you can overclock it to the other tier card basically, not to mention other components they cheap out at, like psu's

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22:37 May-02-2021

Or custom motherboards that can be only used in 1 brand of cases.

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03:35 May-03-2021

Yeah, but this is moot point at the time where you don't choose graphic card for your custom build either, you just buy whatever happens to be in stock. Or you don't. Like locally for quite a while, I have only seen one model of 3090, 3070 and 3060 in stock at the time, having choice between two of 3070s for example is extremely rare luxury. So you might as well take the risk.

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20:06 May-02-2021

Custom built mine for 1500 usd

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19:34 May-02-2021

When the only way to even get a graphics card is buy a prebuilt, it by default becomes the cheapest way.

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18:31 May-02-2021

I think it still remains cheapest way to buy used computers, or parts, even with risk of them suddenly dying

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23:03 May-02-2021

but price of used components also incressed so even if it is cheeper its still not as cheep as it used to be

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10:05 May-03-2021

that's true for sure,
but some office/enterprise prebuilt computers and workstations still remain relatively same, and offer very decent value

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14:02 May-03-2021

true, like dell optiflex with thir 2,3,4gen i5 are still decent for entry level gaming, tho thos office pc usually dont come with dedicated gpu

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17:37 May-02-2021

A friend of mine bought a pre built with an i5 10600K, a 3060, a 1 Tb SSD and 16Gb of ram for 1189€. That was a seriously amazing deal.

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17:56 May-02-2021

That's a sane price for the hardware.
Glad your friend got that deal.

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