One of the questions that I get quite a lot from other people, usually friends and family, when they want to buy a computer is, “Should I buy a computer that’s bundled or in a package? Or should I buy the parts separately and build the computer from the ground up?” For PC hardware/gaming enthusiasts, such as me, I would choose the latter as I could target specific parts that would make my PC gaming experience better. It could buy a more powerful graphics card, faster processor, more RAM and sacrifice other components to fund those parts that I need more. However, the techie and regular consumer in me tells me that I should weigh things first. Let’s get into some more details.
Packaged or bundled computers are those that are already built by the supplier or the shop you’re buying it from. What you usually have to do is to pay for the PC and then, as soon as you bring it home or wherever you need the computer to be, you could just turn it on and you’re good to go. As for custom-built PCs, you need to buy every single component separately, although you do have the option to buy several parts from just one shop or supplier.
The thing is that for custom-built PCs, you need to check if the parts are compatible with one another. Is the motherboard’s socket compatible with your processor? Do you have enough memory slots and the correct slot type for your RAM or RAMs? Will your motherboard be able to handle SATA3 drives, whether it’s mechanical or SSD? Does your motherboard have Crossfire or SLI capabilities if you plan on using 2 or more video cards? Is your power supply powerful enough to provide electricity to your PC’s components efficiently?
As you can see, packaged computers are usually configured to run immediately. You need not worry about the complexities of the PC hardware. If you just want your PC to run and do the things you need such as using the internet, typing documents, simple graphics design, music, playing videos on YouTube and the likes, pre-built PCs are pretty much okay.
But is that always the case? Well, not really. When someone asks me about a pre-built PC they are eyeing on, I would ask them to stop for a minute and do some research. What if I could build a PC at the same price but with better performance as I will be choosing which parts or components I would include? We could tone down on some of the other parts and shift the extra funding towards more important components such as the processor, motherboard or video card?
For example, let’s say your pre-built PC has a 24-inch LED display. What if I found a much cheaper 23-inch LED display? I could use the extra cash to buy a more powerful video card. What if the package comes with an ultra-expensive mouse and keyboard? Why not buy regular or cheap branded ones instead? And again, shift the budget towards a faster video card or even better processor. If it has a 3-terabyte hard drive, but you don’t need it, why not buy a 1-terabyte hard drive and instead use the extra cash for better-performing parts? As you can see it will also depend on what your preferences are and the availability of the parts.
What I usually do then is gather up updated price lists from PC shops that I know of and compare the specifications of the pre-built PC and try to find if there’s a better-performing PC set-up that I can build for the same budget or cheaper. Sometimes, I do give the option to, let’s say for an extra $20 or so, get more powerful hardware. As you all know, when it comes to buying PCs, hardware isn’t the main concern and its purpose isn’t really the first priority, it’s your budget. It’s usually how much you can and how much you are willing spare to buy a PC.
So in a nutshell, it does pay to see whether a packaged or pre-built PC is viable for the budget you are allotting to buy the PC. In my experience, a lot of pre-built PCs I see out there are sub-standard for their price when I review the specifications. There is a chance that you could get a better-performing, sleeker-looking, awe-inspiring PC at the same price, at a lower price, or even for just a few extra bucks.