Is it Better to Build or Buy a Computer?

Is it Better to Build or Buy a Computer?

I have built many computers over my lifetime. I do it mainly because I like doing it. But, like most things, building or fixing something yourself is often cheaper. So, is it better to build or buy a computer?

There was a period of time that I mainly used store bought computers. I have built computers on and off for most of my life, but found it convenient to just buy computers off the shelf. The replacement period for an off the shelf computer was about 3 years for me. Over a ten year stretch of buying decently appointed computers, I estimate that I spent close to $9,000 for three computers.

But, when I started to get back into PC gaming, I knew I needed a computer that could keep up with the demands of the games and could grow with my needs. So, I decided to build again.

I have had my current computer for over 9 years now. Obviously it looks nothing like it did when I first built it due to upgrades. And, I’m not sure you could call it one computer anymore. So for transparency, I’ll call it two computers.

Here is the breakdown of both machines.

Computer 1

HardwareDescriptionPrice
Total$824.89
MotherboardGigabyte AM3 AMD 790GX ATX Motherboard$114.99
CPUAMD Phenom II X4 965 Quad-Core 3.4 GHz AM3 CPU$94.99
RAM2 x G.Skill 4GB DDR3 SDRAM 1333 (8GB Total)$169.98
Video CardVisionTek AMD Radeon 7850 2GB Video Card$195.99
Hard DriveWestern Digital Black 500GB 7200 RPM Hard Drive$59.99
DVD DriveASUS DVD Burner$19.99
Power SupplyRosewill 700W Power Supply$79.99
CaseRosewill ATX Mid Tower Computer Case$54.99
CPU CoolerARCTIC Freezer 7 CPU Cooler$33.98

Computer 2

HardwareDescriptionPrice
Total$1,756.56
MotherboardMSI Gaming Z97 Gaming 5 Motherboard$129.99
CPUIntel Core i5-4690K Quad-Core 3.5 GHz CPU$229.99
RAM2 x G.Skill 16 GB DDR3 SDRAM 1600 (32 GB Total)$236.98
Video CardMSI GeForce GTX 1080 8GB Video Card$569.99
Hard DriveSamsung 860 EVO 1TB M.2 SSD$167.99
Blu-ray DriveAsus 12X BD-ROM$52.25
Power SupplyEVGA G2 1000W Modular Power Supply$159.99
CaseCooler Master HAF X Full Tower Computer Case$174.39
CPU CoolerCooler Master Hyper 212 EVO CPU Cooler$34.99

As you can see, both computers cost me $2,581.45. This doesn’t include monitors, keyboard/mouse or operating systems. The monitors and input devices have lasted me long beyond what any one computer will and Windows 10 is about $100 each.

Both of these computers are still in operation today. Computer 1 was relegated to word processing and internet browsing. Computer 2 took its place and is used for gaming.

So, is it better to build or buy a computer? I would say a home built computer is a win!

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About Chris

Chris Pounds is a software engineer, entrepreneur, and tech junky. He holds a Bachelor of Science in Information Technology from Western Governors University.

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