Build vs Buy: a first-time PC builder and buyer’s experience

Andrew Epp, Co-Bilingual Editor

So which is better: console or Personal Computer (PC)? For many gaming enthusiasts, the answer is a PC; better parts, customizability and modularity are just a few of the reasons people are moving over to PCs. However, what’s the experience like for a first-time builder compared to a first time buyer? For this experiment, I will be building a PC while my friend and fellow TuHS senior Cesar Puga buys his prebuilt. 


Puga’s experience:

So how was the prebuilt experience? 

“Honestly it was pretty nerve racking. Right out of the box, I ran into my first problem, which was mixing the Random Access Memory (RAM). It made my games crash and just stressed me out at the time.” 

What would you have done differently after you got your PC?

“I would have probably gotten more RAM and maybe not a portable hard drive.”

Did you have trouble getting your PC?

“Not really. Despite the PC arriving with mixed up RAM, I was able to score a solid prebuilt that I can upgrade and stream with for $800.“


Andrew’s experience: 

At the same time Cesar ordered his PC, I had just begun to order my parts. However, I thought I would build my own gaming and personal use PC in the middle of a computer chip shortage, in the middle of a global shipping crisis and in the middle of a global pandemic. With that said, the experience for me hasn’t been the greatest. From getting the parts, to reading installation guides and spec sheets, it’s been a real cluster bomb of challenges and delays that have overall soured the experience for me, personally. 

At the time of writing this article, I am still waiting on a motherboard to arrive so I can get to building and setting up my PC. Not to mention that I had an initial budget of $800, and currently the total cost of my PC parts has risen to $1400. Clearly, that’s a lot of money to set aside for a system in this day and age. With scalpers and inflated prices, I was lucky enough to find a single fan PNY single fan RTX 3060, a very good graphics processing unit (GPU) that allows high quality display output making your games look a whole lot better. With all that considered I’m just luck I found one for $600 at Best Buy. Which is an even bigger value considering that GPUs are in high demand and are being affected by worldwide computer chip shortages.  


So which should you do, go pre-built or build your own? Well, it all comes down to preference. What type of specifications do you want on your PC? What do you want to do with it? How much usage will you get out of it? And how long do you want it to last? 

Personally, I’d strongly advise that most people making the switch over to PC opt for the pre-built route, as it costs less and will arrive with minor issues at most – that is, if you can get one from a reputable builder. Most pre-built PCs do come with some sort of issues and if you’re no expert it can be hard to figure out what’s going wrong with your PC, whereas building your own lets you control what goes on with the parts and have access to resources to help you build the best PC you can. So the decision is yours. As for me, I’ll just have to wait and see.