Gaming Rig Tinkering Factor – Parts or Pre-assembled?

My gaming rig is 10 years old, and I'm in dire need of a replacement. But what level of gaming rig tinkering do I want to expose myself to?

Every time I buy a new computer, I have to learn everything about hardware and the state of various operating systems all over again. In a series of posts, I’ll got through some of the important things to consider when buying a gaming rig:

  1. Operating system: Windows or Linux?
  2. CPU: Intel or AMD?
  3. Graphics Card: Nvidia or AMD?
  4. Form factor: Laptop or desktop?
  5. Tinkering factor: Parts or pre-assembled?
  6. Sustainability: New or second-hand?
  7. Conclusion: So what’s the ultimate gaming rig setup, then!?

I’ve decided on this specific order of things because decisions taken on the top of the list might limit the available choices later.

This fifth post is about how much gaming rig tinkering I want to do. Should I build the gaming rig myself, or should I buy a pre-assembled computer?

Convenience (At a Price)

In the previous post in this gaming rig series, I discussed whether I should get a laptop or a desktop computer. Ultimately, the choice fell on a desktop. Had I preferred a laptop, there would have been no need to write the post you’re reading now. Laptops come pre-assembled from the manufacturer, and with a limited range of hardware options.

For the lazy and unadventurous, it’s possible to purchase a pre-assembled desktop gaming rig as well. Lenovo, MSI, Acer, Asus, Origin, and similar manufactures all sell pre-assembled desktop gaming computers. If I purchased a pre-assembled computer from one of these manufacturers, it would save me from having to solve the puzzle it is to find compatible hardware components. Purchasing a pre-assembled computer, however, is more expensive than buying the hardware and assembling it myself. One of the reasons they are more expensive is the labor cost, another is that pre-assembled computers usually come with a Windows license. Since I’ve decided to use Linux as my main operating system, a Windows license will just be a waste of money.

If you’re a little less lazy and a bit more adventurous, there is also a middle road that can be traveled. It’s possible to purchase hardware packages. These packages contain the hardware you need to build a gaming rig, but you have to assembled everything yourself. The kits are put together by professionals, and you can be sure that everything works together. But you don’t have to pay for the labor. Another very convenient thing about purchasing a hardware kit is that it usually comes without that Windows license I don’t really need.

Full CTRL!

I’m a nerd to the core, and buying a pre-assembled computer gives me the chills. It goes against every nerdy fiber in my body. I wouldn’t want to be caught dead with a Lenovo or Acer gaming rig. Unless I got one for free, of course. Every man has his price, and mine is roughly the cost of a gaming rig, it seems.

Purchasing a hardware package is a more acceptable option. But we all know that I won’t do that either. The only right thing - from the nerd’s perspective - is to lay the damn hardware puzzle, and purchase the parts individually.

It will be a considerable effort compared to purchasing a pre-assembled computer or a hardware package. But doing all the work myself has several important advantages:

  • Intimate1 knowledge of the hardware in the gaming rig is valuable.
  • If a part malfunctions it can be fixed without having to return the entire computer.
  • The hardware setup can be future proofed, for instance by using a state-of-the-art motherboard.
  • I can potentially save a lot of money by purchasing individual parts on sale or from second-hand websites.
  • Upgrading the hardware, for instance adding more RAM or replacing the graphics card is easy.

So there you have it. I’ll shun pre-assembled computers like the plague. Instead, I’ll take the time and effort to find the best hardware for my needs, purchase the parts individually, and assemble everything myself.

Who’s surprised? No one.

  1. Not literary, you creeps. ↩︎


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