We get this question every day because we build custom computers and we service both ready-made and custom-built machines.
The answer to the question is, it depends on what you want to do with it.
If you want a home computer for email, browsing the web, and running off-the-shelf software, you should buy a ready-made computer. They cost a bit less and if you buy a decent brand, you should have little to no trouble with it.
Be aware that you won’t be able to do much upgrading because in the ready-made computers, there’s not a lot of room inside for extra parts. And, if one component breaks down, they’ll have to disable it and try to tuck another one in beside the broken part; (usually) they can’t pull out a component and replace it because the components are integrated.
And, be prepared to purchase a new ready-made computer every two to three years—closer to two years—because, as we all know, technology evolves at speeds that make our heads spin. The ready-made computers can’t be adapted enough to keep up.
If you’re doing anything more with a computer, you should look into purchasing a custom-built machine. Think about how you want to use a computer now, and what you hope to be doing in the future, and share that with your computer architect.
When a computer is custom-built, each component is chosen for its strength and its ability to work with the other components.
Upgrading is much easier because the workings are not integrated, and you can change out components as needed. This is a primary reason that custom-built computers stay useful longer than those that are ready-made. Another reason is that when you’re building a computer, you can choose quality components that will last longer than what’s found in many ready-made computers.
You want to make sure that your computer architect provides a warranty for all the hardware—typically that’s a one-year warranty, although you can sometimes get up to three years. You don’t want to have to deal with each manufacturer of each component for service.
There is a time factor to consider when purchasing a custom-built computer vs. one ready-made. You can’t get a custom-built in the 30 minutes it would take you to buy an off-the-shelf computer.
Those are the big issues to consider when looking at ready-made vs. custom-built!
If you have questions, we hope to see them in the comments section and we’ll get answers to you ASAP.
By Danny Tehrani
Image courtesy of T. McCracken