How to Choose Between Buying or Building a Computer

Building a computer can be a rewarding and fun experience, however, it may not be for everyone. This article will attempt to help you to decide if you would like to build your next computer or if you are better off simply buying one off the shelf.


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    How comfortable are you with working with the electronic components? If you are not comfortable at all with working with electronics or the inside of computers, building a computer may not be for you. However, if you like the prospect of "doing it yourself" then you may want to consider building your next computer.
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    How much time are you willing to spend? Building a computer can be time consuming, not just in the actual building of the machine, but the amount of time it will take to research and pick the components you wish to include in your new machine. Also consider the time it takes for components to arrive if using mail-order or buying off the internet, as well as the time it would take to install and setup all the software, which is usually done for you one fully complete systems. As oppose to buying a computer, you'll have a complete, fully working system that should be ready to go right out of the box.
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    How much money are you willing to spend? Building a computer may not always be less expensive than buying one, especially if you also need to buy an operating system and other software along with the hardware. If you are truly on a tight budget, it may be worth researching what kinds of deals are available on complete systems. Also consider what you may already have available, such as do you already have a nice monitor and keyboard you can use? Could you also reuse your hard drive? Do you already have a copy of the operating system and other necessary software that you can reuse on a new machine? These are factors to take into consideration if you want to build a machine versus just buying a new one.
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    What type of machine are you looking to get? First and foremost, if you are looking to get an Apple Macintosh, the decision to build versus buy is virtually already made. The only way to get a Macintosh is to buy one through Apple or any of their retailers, as the only way to build a Mac from the ground up is very technical, and also illegal. Beyond that, do you just need a machine to surf the web and/or do office productivity type of tasks or do you want to get a fully customized high-end gaming rig? As you move into the higher-end of PCs, building the machine instead of buying one makes more sense, especially as building your own machines affords you the luxury of being able to pick exactly what you want to go in your new machine. Also, are you looking to get a laptop versus a desktop? Although it may be possible, but it is much more difficult to build a laptop and often more expensive, then simply to buy one.


  • Check the local community college to see if they offer any classes on building and repairing computers. This may be a good idea even if you do opt to buy a computer as you can learn how to fix the computer if things do go wrong without relying on expensive repair services.
  • Use any number of forums out there research about building versus buying a computer as well as what types of components are available. It is best to try to search forums specific to kind of computer you are looking to build, i.e., check out the gaming forums if building a machine for gaming. See the external links for some example of places to look.
  • Check out the various websites that sell components such as to get an idea of what is available and the prices involved.


  • If buying a computer, such as from Dell or HP, it will most likely be loaded down with a ton of extra trial software that you may not want or be interested in. It can take some time to clean all that off, whereas with building your own computer, you can load exactly the software that you need or want on your machine.
  • When building a computer it is up to you to make sure you get the "correct" components, such as making sure you get a processor that fits the motherboard, i.e., an AMD processor for an AMD motherboard. Buying a system, this will already be done for you, thus you can be assured that the components in the machine are put together correctly. If you are knowledgeable about the various types and makes of components, this will not be a problem. Fortunately, websites such as do make it easier to ensure that you are buying the correct, matching components.
  • If building a computer, be aware that tech-support could be nonexistent. Any tech-support that may be available will most likely be for the individual components that you bought, i.e., if you can't get your sound card to work, you'll need to call the manufacturer of the sound card.
  • If building a computer, warranties are handled by all sorts of people. Generally the store will only give you a 90-day warranty, but many products like RAM have lifetime warranties, others like hard drives 3-5 years, and varying amounts between 1 year and 5 years generally.

Sources and Citations

  • - One example of a good online merchant for researching parts for building and buying computers
  • ComputerZone - Pakistanis can research and buy parts here.

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Categories: Selecting and Buying a Computer