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Why Building a Custom Gaming PC Yourself is Not Worth the Hassle

In the age of belt-tightening, it makes sense to be smart about your gaming obsession and save some cash wherever you can: switch to a free-to-play MMO, try out that homemade Mountain Dew recipe you found online, and start looking for other ways to trim the fat from your budget.

One piece of cost-cutting wisdom I really think we ought to question is whether or not crafting a DIY gaming machine is really worth the time, money and effort you put into it. We put together this infographic (featuring our new VANQUISH gaming PC line) to help illustrate some of the problems that a lot of our customers complain of when trying to do a custom build.

It’s pretty simple, right? When you’re comparing apples to apples, this discussion really comes down to what value you’re getting when you buy a custom gaming computer versus the savings of building it yourself. And anyone who’s tried to compare multiple builds knows how those savings in dollars comes at a cost in time and frustration. The same points keep appearing in these discussions, and I wanted to explore them a little.

The Real Cost of a Custom PC

Are you really saving money buying components piecemeal, one at a time? Digital Storm has all sorts of deals set up with our suppliers because we buy in bulk; you’re simply not getting the same hardware for the prices we do, and we pass that savings on.

Sure, you could assemble a bunch of bargain-bin components for really cheap. But the whole point of building your own machine in the first place is to have a rig with enough muscle to play the games you want without lag, judder and performance issues, right? And if you have to upgrade your video card or add memory another year from now, have you really saved any money in the long run? I’d rather future-proof my rig for the next 3-4 years by buying a powerful machine now with room to really upgrade later.

There are hidden costs with custom builds, too. The first thing on my mind is your time. How much is your time worth? If you were working or taking that build-time as vacation, how much would it be worth? Probably more than you’re saving doing a custom PC build, right?

Wouldn’t you rather be playing Heart of the Swarm than chasing down a compatibility issue in the forums? Don’t answer that; it’s rhetorical. Of course you’d rather be gaming!

The Hassle

Aside from the economics, there’s the pulling-your-hair-out factor at work here. Anyone who’s ever collected components and put together a custom gaming machine knows that the devil is in the details. You can’t get the machine to recognize your video card, or not all of your newly installed memory shows up in system properties. You change settings … reboot … search forums for troubleshooting tips … repeat.

Upgrades are a constant hassle this way, too. I just tried installing an old Radeon graphics card on a friend’s PC, and the drivers simply won’t work with Windows 7; I had to partition the drive and install XP for him to get it to work just so he can play some old games.

Professional’s Take Care of the Troubleshooting

When a professional technician assembles your gaming computer for you, you get to bypass all the hassle. And we have guys who specialize in every part of the process, from assembly to testing. All you have to do is roll through all the customization options for each of our gaming PCs; then a tech crafts it for you, runs it through stress-testing and configuration checks before shipping it to your door.

Then there’s the complicated stuff that not every builder feels confident tackling themselves. I’m thinking of installing a CPU heat-sink or a liquid-cooling system, maybe overclocking your processor, all of which can be rather intimidating since more than one gamer has fried expensive hardware trying to do it themselves.

It just keeps going on. This debate isn’t going to be over tomorrow, and there are good points on both sides. Where do you land? Is it really worth it to build it yourself, or do you feel like you’ll get a better value for your time and money just buying pre-built?

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