RPS Asks: Do You Build Your Own PC?

Questions, questions, always questions. This week we want to know about your PC-building habits. Don’t build PCs? Tell us! Just use a laptop? We need to know. There are few questions below, so please do us a favour and fill them in. It’ll take mere seconds, and you’ll probably be reward in PC gaming heaven. Probably.






  1. teo says:

    I select components individually but have them assembled for me (for warranty reasons)

  2. Psychopomp says:

    Why would you not, at the very least, pay for the components individually?

    Even in paying someone else to put them together, you save loads, and loads of money in doing so.

  3. Howard says:

    The thought of someone else even TOUCHING the insides of my PC makes me queasy….

  4. neems says:

    I have purchased a graphic card in the last six months, but I had to return it to the shop and get my money back. Does that count?

  5. Joji says:

    I can’t bother making my own computer really…
    Bought a Dell and i just configured it the way I wanted.
    It obviously isn’t the best but I’m just a little too lazy!

  6. ourdreamsoffreedom says:

    Er, I tell the store which components I want and they cobble it together for free.

  7. Joji says:

    I can’t bother making my own computer really…
    Bought a Dell and i just configured it the way I wanted on the website.
    It obviously isn’t the best but I’m just a little too lazy!

  8. Tweakd says:

    Apart from the obvious money saving advantages one of the biggest advantages is troubleshooting. If you built it you have a massive advantage of fixing it if something goes wrong with the hardware.

    Not to mention it’s fun!

  9. LewieP says:

    My current PC I got from my Uni (they give dyslexics free computers!), and stuck a graphics card in it myself. Would have probably built it myself otherwise.

  10. Rob S. says:

    I’ve built the last 3 desktops I’ve had, but the last one was probably 2 or 3 years ago. Using my MBP with a keyboard and mouse at the moment. Not perfect, but good enough.

  11. Freudian Trip says:

    I recently built my first PC. I was terrified about breaking it, frying it, touching it in the wrong place etc. and then you realise that it’s just Lego for adults. I remember wincing when having to push the pins in on my processor as the motherboard made evil noises. Then I realised that this thing was more likely to hurt me then I was to hurt it.

    I’ll never buy a stock PC again.

  12. suibhne says:

    If you extended this back in time, you’d probably find that a lot of folks used to upgrade pretty regularly, maybe even build a new rig every 18 months or so, but now haven’t budged in 2 years or more. The market has nearly ground to a halt due to the stability current console cycle. This is a great time to build a PC from a price/performance standpoint, but the flip side is that a top-end PC from nearly 3 years ago (Core2 Duo, 8800 GTX) can still handle new games at top settings without skipping a beat. I can’t remember any other time in the last decade where mainstream games’ performance demands have changed so little over so long a period of time.

  13. CogDissident says:

    I built most of my (3) gaming computers, but my most recent one I decided to get the motherboard/cpu/case pre-assembled from portatech. Its actually much easier than screwing the motherboard into the case, and at about a 20$ markup from the bare cost of the components. They actually assemble the computer with/without any number of parts you want.

  14. jalf says:

    The last one seems to be missing something like “I have a non-gaming laptop”

  15. Jerricho says:

    I’m with Howard on this. I build all my own PCs. I also insist that my office does not buy pre-built systems, the same goes for my friends or family. I got my first PC in 1995, this was a pre-built machine and the only one I’ve ever had. I subsequently upgraded it until it appeared fully rebuilt next to a new custom machine.

    My job bought me a laptop last year so that I could play games while working overseas so long as I also did work at some point.
    It just about manages to play Dawn of War II (albeit on low settings and without all the shinys) so that fills the void nicely while I’m travelling. I didn’t build that one myself. I’m perfectly happy to buy a pre-built laptop :P

  16. Smee says:

    Not really an old neglected laptop, since it’s an Asus EEE 1000H. A lot of my old games and a fair amount of new indie games are installed on it, and I tend to use it more than my handbuilt Monstro Desktop because, frankly, I feel guilty activating the beast for anything other than scheduled TF2 matches. The EEE is power light, so I try to use it more.

  17. SuperNashwan says:

    The only way I can guarantee quality in all the components is to choose them and assemble them myself, so I do. I’ve never seen a retail pc anywhere close to as quiet as my PCs; my 360 is approximately, without exaggeration, five times as loud as my media PC, to give you an idea.

  18. Tei says:

    I have only one PC, I just upgrade it. Theres always “parts” (you can say the ghost in the shell) that make for a continuity, but often I need to change the motherboard, and wen you change the motherboard, theres very litte that say, maybe the hard disk, the box, not much else.
    I upgrade the graphic card has often as make sense. If theres a cheap graphic card that will improve dramatically my FPS, I just buy it. Having a very good graphic card really helps have the better experience on most games.

  19. kuddles says:

    There should be an option for people who own a laptop but just don’t use it for gaming.

    Also, I build my own PCs. I guess it’s because I get the best selection and price that way.

    I admit every time I think of doing the ole upgrade/rebuild I seriously consider buying a pre-made machine. Yes, they’re significantly more expensive, but there is some peace of mind knowing that when it arrives you know it already had the bejeezus tested out of it and all the recent drivers installed. Whenever I build a PC for either myself or someone else, something invariably goes wrong so it takes way longer to finally put together then I had anticipated, and then there’s the 20% chance that one of the many parts will be defective in some way. Plus, if something goes wrong you have one 24/7 place to contact instead of some weird Taiwanese hotline for your ram or something.

    I guess secretly I love building them, though, even with that frustration.

  20. Paul Moloney says:

    The best way for beginners to learn how to upgrade PCs is to start off with a retail one, and upgrade that as go along. Before you know it, there’ll be nothing left of the original PC and you’ll realise “OMFG I’ve built a PC!”.


  21. Tei says:

    I play Dwarf Fortress in my eepc 701

  22. Rinox says:

    Like teo (first post) I select the components myself but let someone else put them together for me. The labour cost is minimal and if something gets fooked in the process you can rely on the warranty.

    But I do know how to it myself, and frequently change parts around once the warranties end.

  23. Petrushka says:

    I’m a bit puzzled by some of the above comments. Surely the whole point of a package PC is that you get a discount on what the individual parts cost? Sure I suppose you can get individual parts for cheaper elsewhere.

    Maybe it’s a which-part-of-the-world-you-happen-to-be-in thing. In my part of the world, package deals cost less than the sum of the individual parts. Surely that’s the only way it makes sense. How would sellers stay in business otherwise?

  24. Jerricho says:

    suibhne says:
    “the flip side is that a top-end PC from nearly 3 years ago (Core2 Duo, 8800 GTX) can still handle new games at top settings without skipping a beat.”

    I maxed out my motherboard early last year with 8gigs of RAM, still using the 5.2GHz AM2 chip from the year before on the same M2N2 Deluxe mobo from a few months before that again and with the 8800GTX from the same year. I put an extra soundcard in this year (that I won in that RPS GalCivII compo) because Vista doesn’t support the soundmax independent front panel audio on my onboard card. I’ve not needed to upgrade any component to suit game requirements since I got the 8800GTX.

    I contemplated upgrading again this year out of boredom but decided to invest in some SCUBA gear instead.

  25. Down Rodeo says:

    I had been going to build my own PC roughly now but unfortunately due to cashflow problems, and me needing money to eat, this has not happened. Maybe next year, if I get the money. Being a student when jobs are thin on the ground means saving up for the coming semester…

  26. airtekh says:

    What a coincidental poll.

    I am currently waiting on a set of components to be posted to me so I can build my first ever PC. I’m up for it but the only thing is that I am terrified of ESD frying one of my components.

    Hopefully it will go smoothly.

  27. Cooper says:

    My old PC I got back in 2002, and was a couple of years out of date then. I kept it until last September, with only tiny upgrades, when I treated myself to a completely whizz bang new one. I was gonna go ’boutique retail’ with one of those customisation shops, largely for warranty reasons and laziness.

    But I then got an email from a lrage, online PC parts company for 10% my next order, which made the savings by buying the parts myself and putting it ogether myself too good to ignore. I now have a very nice PC which I’m very happy with.

    Now I have a better cash flow, I’ll likely be upgrading more often. Though I have an aversion to spending vast amounts of money on GPUs, memory etc. (especially, as is normally the case, there are games I still want to play which will play perfectly on my current specs, and I could just spend my money on a few of those rather than a new card…) I may get another card to go Crossfire with sometime next year if I feel it’s worth it.

  28. dartt says:

    I’ve only bought one PC of my own and I’m ashamed to admit that I had it made by pcspecialist. Perhaps it was the suppliers that I browsed at the time but I found it was cheaper to have it made than buy the parts myself and doing so had the added advantage of a warranty and eliminated the possibility of me screwing it all up.

    I’ve installed RAM, graphics cards, sound cards, network cards with no problem but I’ve always had a slight concern about installing CPUs (delicate pins, the analogue art of thermal paste application) as going wrong would be costly. I hope to have sufficiently manned up by the time I come to replace my current desktop as I do feel I’m letting the side down.

  29. Down Rodeo says:

    Oh yes, I was going to say. I have upgraded the house PC and would have continued but the motherboard is so shockingly awful that it’s holding the system back now (I can’t even upgrade the processor). So that’s the next step, but that involves a new case and everything because it’s a Dell “motherboard size standards? what motherboard size standards?” home use thing.

  30. Pidesco says:

    I bought my last PC in 1999. After that , I’ve essentially been upgrading the same machine until today. The keyboard is the only piece from that PC that is still part of my setup.

  31. Chris says:

    I built my own pc and have a netbook for when I’m away to play all the games from the 90’s I feel I should have played

  32. Colthor says:

    The laptop question needs a simple “I don’t have a laptop or my laptop’s not primarily for gaming” option; a work laptop or netbook won’t cope with “new, 3D” games, but that doesn’t make them “rubbish”; just designed to do different things.

  33. Talorc says:

    I do the same as Tei. Various less time sensitive parts last longer, whilst other bits get upgraded quicker. I’ve had the same Antec p-150 case for a while now, with the same power supply that came with it.

    A DVD drive held out the longest, even longer than the case. At least 5+ years, maybe hitting 8-10 years. It finally died about 12 months ago

    My video card I upgraded recently (christmas), after an out of warranty failure. For first time however, instead of getting the bleeding edge of performance, I purchased at the “good value for performance” area – a Geforce 9800GT

    Next parts that will need doing are the CPU (Still a Athlon 64 X2 3800+) and a new hard drive, only a 200GB drive which is not cutting it any more with 15+ GB installs.

    As is usually the case, probably the new CPU will need a a new motherboard as whatever chipset/socket type I have now will be out of date. I have no idea though, I wont bother researching that until I get to upgrade time.

    The other main thing I can do when building it myself, is select parts with a bias for low noise components. I’ve been using the same Zalman radial cooler for the last two CPUs, and usually a new GPU cooler as well. In this case the 9800GT isnt actually too bad, still using the stock fan and not too loud. (Louder than a proper cool fan, but tolerable)

  34. Duoae says:

    Those things you buy in retail stores…. i have nothing but contempt for their ‘maximised profit per unit’ asses. Either the CPU is weak or the GPU is weak…. or they both are and any ‘gaming’ PC is ridiculously over-priced when you can put together a better rig from components (with specific, “brand” parts) and off-the-shelf software.

    Seriously though, i don’t really mind store-bought PCs (and i certainly understand them for laptops) but i wouldn’t buy one myself. I just don’t rate them. It’s the difference between buying a car or being able to build your own kit-car for racing….. to get the same performance it’s probably cheaper and ultimately quicker to start from scratch yourself.

  35. zak canard says:

    I’ve built and upgraded computers in the past, but depending on the spec the savings are minimal to non-existent. My last PC was a spec yourself pre-build and worked out a good £100 less than it would to spec and build myself.

  36. Schmung says:

    Always built me own. Don’t see the point the pre-built if you’re capable of doing it yourself. Forced into building the most recent one on a shoestring budget when the previous machine suffered compound failure of various components. Was quite chuffed with what I managed for £200.

  37. Koopa says:

    I used to buy compononents separately and compile them myself, but now I just select what I want and have the store put the parts together.

  38. GibletHead2000 says:

    My main gaming rig has been part of a rolling upgrade since about 1993. Of course, there’s not a single piece in there that has been there since the start, but as it always gets upgraded piecemeal, it’s always been the “same” PC as far as I’m concerned.

  39. Kits says:

    Maybe a bit arrogant to think so, but even the thought of someone else building, or poking around inside, my computer makes me wince. Built my first computer about 8 years ago now, it’s been almost completely gutted for upgrades several times over the year. Rather behind at the moment though. Would really like to pretty much start from scratch and build myself something shiny and up to date, but I dont see it happening unless this one goes boom or something.

    I always get roped into building and repairing computers for my parents, grandparents and brother too, though; the joys of being a techy, I guess..

  40. Pidesco says:

    Stupid no edit function:

    My graphics card is a 9800GT which I bought last September for 112€.

    I hate laptops.

  41. cliffski says:

    I used to work in computer hardware, and then worked as a network engineer, so I’m very savvy with computers.
    I buy them pre-built, and often never even open them up.
    Because my experience is that a VAST number of problems people have with PC’s is badly matched components, badly installed hardware, or conflicts between the installed hardware.
    I buy a pre-built machine because I know that at the very least, on the day it ships, everything is working as it should, and can always be reverted to an image of it all working as it should.
    I’ve owned this machine since vista was released and it has crashed precisely twice, and I think that was a bug in company of heroes (both times were during on-line games).

    For a developer like me, having a stable system is more important than having a good value one, so this makes sense. It might make less sense to a relatively penniless student though :D

  42. BigJonno says:

    I used to build my own PCs, but when my wife and I had the opportunity to buy new ones last year, we decided to go with pre-built ones with a lengthy warranty simply because we knew we wouldn’t be able to afford to replace parts that went wrong.

    However they were from an online specialist and not from a brick and mortar store.

  43. Richard Clayton says:

    I bought a PC from a dodgy retailer in Doncaster in 1998! I should have known better but it was cheap (at the time £720 I seem to recall). However it was all cheap parts and so I replaced many of the components to get it stable.

    Since then I’ve always built systems and have a wide number of “children” that have cascaded out to a lot of friends and family members over the years.

    A question for the UK chaps: What do you do with older components and kit. I can’t bring myself to chuck decent stuff and can’t be arsed (yet) to put it on eBay. Are there charities that will take old boards, CPUs, GPUs etc??

  44. MrBejeebus says:

    I bought a “gaming laptop” a couple of years ago, and aside from put an extra gig of ram in its been the same, it was terrible when I bought it, its still terrible now, I’ve been saying I’ll buy a proper pc for the past year.

  45. Howard says:

    There is simply no way a pre-built can ever be cheaper than the parts. The only time pre-built PCs may look cheaper is because they are using shockingly poor/integrated parts. A PC you build yourself will ALWAYS be the cheaper option.

  46. Howard says:

    @Richard Clayton
    Pretty much no one will accept second hand electrical goods for insurance reasons. Best thing to do is just store up the parts as spares or to build systems with if a friend wants a very cheap, basic PC.

  47. CrazedPenguin says:

    Didn’t like the choices on that last one (gaming laptops).
    How about a choice like “No, but I’m not opposed to the idea”, instead of either “Yes” or “No, their rubbish”?

  48. mickiscoole says:

    I have a gaming laptop, although seeing as I now have a job, I may have to buy a PC, because my faithful lappy barely survived last holiday season.

    I’ve upgraded what I can though, RAM, HDD etc.

  49. Danzeru says:

    I could use a laptop for work related stuff, coding, etc.

    But never for gaming. I <3 my custom rig too much! ^^

  50. no says:

    Of course I build my own machine. Why would I want to spend just as much (or a little more) for a lot lower quality and usually with proprietary upgrade restrictions?

    I built my first machine when I was twelve years old in 1989 and have built everything ever since (except for Apple machines, of course).

    The price advantage isn’t really there anymore, directly, but the quality of a built machine instead of bought is much greater.

    As for ugprading? No. I upgraded my machines here and there when I was a kid, but I just build a whole new machine now. No sense just upgrading RAM or CPU or a video card when I can just rebuild something entirely from scratch. And with the quick cycle on new technology, the RAM for your board today may not even exist in a year. So…