Are Prebuilt PCs Worth It? Don’t Fall for These Sneaky Pricing Tricks!

So you’re looking to buy a new PC but you’re not sure which parts to choose, so you’re considering buying a prebuilt PC. But are prebuilt PCs worth it? We’ll find out in a second.

There are lots of prebuilt PCs out there with a wide range of prices, from the suspiciously cheap to ridiculously expensive. How do you know if you’re getting a good deal or not? I decided to write this article to help beginners navigate the tricky world of PC hardware and get the most bang for their buck. These tips will save you money!

Before we continue, it’s important to clarify one point. When I mention “Prebuilt PCs” I’m talking about PCs that are assembled and sold commercially, such as the PCs you would find in commercial stores like Costco, Best Buy, and others.

Custom PCs are built from scratch, usually with the customer hand-picking the parts and paying an assembly fee for a store to put it all together. It’s important to understand the difference between prebuilt and custom-built.

Are Prebuilt PCs Worth It?

Most prebuilt PCs are not worth it because they’re sold at a markup and the hardware is usually subpar. Most prebuilt PCs are not optimized for performance, they don’t have SSDs, dual-channel RAM, and other tweaks. The prebuilt PCs that you see in stores are very rarely worth it.

Now look, it depends on the reason you’re buying a PC. For the most part, a prebuilt PC can work fine for office work or as a media station. Even in that case, prebuilt PCs designed for those purposes are often much more expensive than custom builds.

Note: Naturally, the quality of the build will vary depending on the manufacturer; some manufacturers actually design pretty good prebuilt PCs, but they’re still overpriced.


Due to the global shortage and inflated prices of PC parts, until the market settles down, some prebuilt PCs are worth it. Yes, you will still have to pay the markup, but it’s usually a bit better than the ridiculously overpriced hardware today.

Take a look at these prebuilt PCs on Amazon.

Where Do You Buy PC Parts?

You can actually find most of the hardware you need on Amazon. Here are links to some of the best-selling PC hardware categories:

Also you’ll need other stuff like monitors and keyboards.

Why are Prebuilt PCs so Expensive?

Prebuilt PCs are expensive because they’re designed primarily to make the store as much profit as possible. For that reason, corners are cut on hardware, and markups are added. I’ll mention some of the usual corners prebuilt PC manufacturers cut in a second.

Having said that, buying a prebuilt PC is a very easy way to get a computer without having to think too much about it. In most cases, everything works out of the box, Windows is installed, and all you have to do is sign-in. Regardless, I still think it’s better to custom build.

How Prebuilt PCs Cut Corners:

Here’s what you need to pay attention to. Most prebuilt PCs use the exact same cost-saving formula.

1 – They Use a Single HDD Instead of an SSD

HDDs (Hard Drives) are good for bulk storage, but not great for system files or operating system installations. SSDs are much better because they’re not only many times faster (10x – 20x) than HDDs but they’re also more compact and durable.

Most prebuilt PCs will have one HDD (usually 1TB) for the Windows installation and everything else, with no SSDs at all. In some of the worst prebuilt PCs I’ve seen (that are still being sold) the single HDD is 5400 RPMs. Those are very old and slow hard drives!

To summarize, when buying a PC, make sure to at least get one that has an SSD for the Windows installation. An NVME drive would be even better, as those are even faster than SSDs. If you’re going to custom build, either get an SSD or NVME, depending on your budget. Only buy an HDD for bulk storage like videos, pictures, and whatnot.

2 – They Only Add One Stick of RAM

RAM can be a little tricky for beginners because most people assume the more RAM your computer has the faster it will operate. That’s not necessarily true. Prebuilt PC manufacturers know that most people don’t know that, so they only add a single stick of RAM into their builds, usually one stick of 8 GB.

What’s wrong with that? The problem with one stick of RAM is while it does give your computer enough bulk RAM to operate, the dual-channel mode is not enabled, which severely limits performance. To enable dual-channel, you need to add two sticks of RAM. Dual-channel RAM essentially doubles the RAM bandwidth, so CPU-heavy programs run a lot faster, and your computer will feel much more responsive.

When I bought my first PC it only had 1 stick of 8 GB, and I thought that was fine for a while, and it was for most games. Then I decided to buy and install another chip of 8 GB bringing the total to 16 GB (2×8) and the performance dramatically improved, I got 10 – 20 more FPS on PUBG and everything felt much smoother.

If your budget allows, opt for at least 2 chips of 8 GB of RAM. If you’re on a tighter budget, you can go with two chips of 4 GB, and it will actually be faster than 1 chip of 8 GB, even though the total amount of RAM is the same. The more you know!

3 – Add a Very Generic Graphics Card

Choosing the right graphics card for your computer can be a bit tricky. If you’re planning to play games, the graphics card is the most important part of your computer. Nowadays getting your hands on a good and new graphics card is a nightmare because everything is sold out in seconds.

When it comes to prebuilt gaming PCs, most of them are very overpriced. The builds will include a very generic and outdated graphics card while charging the price you would expect for a computer with all current-gen components.

For example, most prebuilt gaming PCs have either a GTX 1060, GTX 1650, or GTX 1660. These aren’t bad graphics cards by any means, but they are pretty old. The GTX 1060 came out in 2016, the GTX 1650 in 2019, and the GTX 1660 also in 2019. Considering most prebuilt PCs that include these parts cost over $1,000, it’s not the best deal. Also, the GTX 1650 is actually worse than the GTX 1060, even though the 1650 is newer.

Also, you might be tempted to buy a gaming laptop but their GPUs can’t be upgraded later, so it’s best to go with a PC. Remember, the graphics card will be responsible for the performance of your games. I suggest you try to cut corners on other PC hardware so you have more room in your budget for the graphics card. And then you can choose the absolute best one for your budget, assuming any parts are available.

Hint: the recent RTX cards are pretty good. (if they’re not sold out)

4 – Overly Fancy Case with RGB

Another trick prebuilt PCs use is they add a lot of generic hardware into a fancy PC case. While a fancy case can be pretty cool and offers good airflow, it’s kind of pointless if the hardware is really generic. I mean, the case doesn’t make the PC run any better. I would prefer to have a budget-looking case with good hardware than a fancy case with garbage hardware.

5 – Unnecessarily Powerful CPU

Another way prebuilt PCs try to make money from you is by combining a really new CPU with a lot of generic hardware. For example, you’ll get a fancy I9 or I7 with a potato graphics card. Don’t get me wrong a good CPU is important, but when it comes to computer performance, it’s not the most important.

Most CPUs can perform pretty well and handle most office tasks and even games with no issues. You don’t need an I9 for basic office work. Hell, I’m still using an I5 from five years ago and I haven’t run into any issues. Of course, if you need extra power for certain CPU-heavy tasks like video rendering it makes sense to go with a more powerful CPU but make sure your other components are on the same level too.

There are also some other features to keep an eye out for, like the motherboard. A lot of prebuilt PCs use a fancy motherboard that has a lot of cool features… that you’ll never use. And then there are all the up-sells PC manufacturers throw in to sweeten the deal, like an anti-virus, warranties, and whatnot. It’s all kind of useless.

What You Can Do Instead:

I know, buying a prebuilt is easy and doesn’t require much effort. It’s an easy decision to buy a prebuilt PC for a child or someone else. But if you want to get the most optimized build possible, it’s best to custom build your own PC.

Now you probably have the mental image of dealing with piles of hardware, wires, and screws, with no idea where things are supposed to go. Or you have no idea what hardware to choose. If you’re confused, I recommend taking a look at PC Part Picker, it lets you choose custom parts to get an idea about pricing and other details. They also have sections for all kinds of builds that you can use for reference. You can also look at the Build a PC Reddit.

You can actually find most of the hardware you need on Amazon. Here are links to some of the best-selling PC hardware categories:

Just make sure to thoroughly research the products before you buy them. Make sure they’re compatible too! Building a PC is actually pretty easy nowadays, especially when you can find hundreds of instructional videos online.

Not to mention forums and other boards where you can ask for advice. Now if building your own PC seems like too much, the second-best option would be to hire someone to assemble it for you. You choose the parts, buy them, and hire someone to put it all together. In some cases, you can buy the parts from the same store. Yeah, there’s an assembly fee, but it’s usually not much, and worth the price.

While you’re looking at PCs to buy, check out out these wireless gaming mice!

In other words, I suggest doing a custom-PC build, instead of going with a prebuilt. It takes a bit longer to choose the parts and assemble them (or have someone assemble them) but you’ll get a lot more bang for your buck.

Long story short, prebuilt PCs are rarely worth it. The price markups and builds are not the best. I recommend custom-building a PC because you’ll not only save money but also get a more optimized PC build.

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