Chris Pirillo: Build Your Own PC vs A Pre-Built PC?

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About Chris:

Chris Pirillo is the founder of the tech blogging network, Lockergnome and previously served as host of TechTV’s Call for Help show. Chris’s insightful and entertaining how to videos will now be featured in the PC Pitstop newsletters and highlighted at and

You can follow Chris on Twitter and subscribe to his Youtube video channel here

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14 thoughts on “Chris Pirillo: Build Your Own PC vs A Pre-Built PC?”

  1. I have compared side-by-side the breakdown of HP,Gateway,Dell PCs with the equivalent parts I can purchase at Newegg. I have come to the conclusion that if you want a low to mid end desktop for everyday computing, you may as well go with a name brand. The difference in price is made up for in the motherboard, OS, and occasionally, power supply. If you have these items on hand, then you can save by building, but otherwise you may lose. However, if you are building a high-end PC for gaming and graphics work, it is almost invariably better to build your own. You will save hundreds of dollars that can go toward a second monitor, and other things.

  2. Drivers for computer components probably will have changed in four years. There is software out there for identifying your computer parts and directing you to driver updates.

  3. Years ago when a pre-build system was purchased, you received the complete operating system. Now you receive a canned system with junk and limitations. Are there manufactures that provide the necessary hardware drivers and a clean operating system?

  4. There is one thing said for the larger manufacturers – you can just type in what computer you are working on, and if you had to reinstall windows, you can find the drivers for the hardware. They also put that lovely recovery partition on the hard drive these days! It’s a pain in the rear trying to troubleshoot a one-off computer built four years ago by a guy – not knowing what components he used and the owner not being able to provide driver disks. I’ve spent hours searching for drivers for computers. I like just going to HP or Dell’s site and downloading them. This isn’t in favor of big companies necessarily – it’s just easier to get support for those computers.

  5. I Build my own PCs because it get the best parts for my budget and are cheaper than bought ones.I’m not a computer wizard by any means but i do my home work and i always get a great machine.Building a PC is not for every one but i get a buzz out of it as i feel i have accomplished some thing.Once and awhile you will pick up a faulty part from a manufacturer and they are replaced under warranty. AS long as you have fun in what you do either build or buy a PC that is cool. Have a great day every one.

  6. I’m not sure if I’m correct here, but Chris; don’t you use Mac’s? I’d have swore a closeup of your machine said Mac on it. I might be wrong, but if I’m right, obviously you buy off the shelf, as you can’t build a Mac in the first place; besides, who’d want to?

  7. As a system builder, its hard for me to understand Chris’s view. But then I can’t remember the last time I built a system and it didn’t “just work” either. As other’s have pointed out, retail support isn’t what Chris makes it out to be. If the PC doesn’t start, most are pretty good. But its a little misleading to insinuate that they’ll help with software and driver problems. You’re on your own there, no matter who built it.
    And from one geek to a wannabe geek: dude, you’re kidding yourself if you think that not building – and being darned good at it – doesn’t make you less of a geek. 🙂

  8. I do a lot of custom builds, but, as mentioned, store bought for casual users is usually fine.
    I have to disagree with the HP Support being ‘almost non-existent’. My almost one year old HP laptop began acting up (battery). I googled for it and tried a few things to no avail. I contacted HP support through email and their response was prompt (under one hour) and right on the money.

    We went back and forth trying a few different things, then it was determined the machine had to come on for service. They sent me a shipping box overnight, prepaid. I dropped it off to UPS 5:00 pm Wednesday, and got it back to my door Friday afternoon, all fixed and happy.

    I thought it was awesome. They did a lot of followup to make sure I was being take care of etc……..

  9. Interesting commentary. Even now I am not quite sure what to read from it. I cannot tell if you are being disparaging to system builders – or just trying to emphasize your dislike of building PC’s yourself. As for me, I have been building my own PC’s for years – and even a few for friends and family. The cost and educational aspect of building a PC oneself is priceless. And in my personal experience, a manufacturer built system carries with it the horror’s of dealing with customer service, proprietary hardware, limited upgrade possibilities (the exception being adding ram) etc., etc. I just met with an elderly woman with a laptop that she had sent back to the manufacturer because of a hard drive failure. When she received it back from the company, the laptop would no longer connect to her network wirelessly. She spent 2 hours on the phone with them to get connected again. Her patience was drained and her frustration elevated.

    I am of the belief that a pilot should fly planes, an architect should design buildings, a surgeon should heal people, a reporter should report the news… and someone who comments on computer technology, software and hardware to any degree should throw together the occasional desktop every now and again. I gotta believe that a pilot, architect, surgeon or reporter on a bad day would much rather go to the store and buy someone else to do one of their jobs, because; hell… it would just be easier. In the end however, I trust what these people tell me because they inform me, educate me, and assist me with things that they know about from continued hands on work in the field. But for someone who’s commentary on occasion revolves around computers, technology, software and hardware who wants the masses to read or watch his commentary because they seek experienced wisdom, how is that possible from someone who has abandoned hands on experience, and defaulted to just buying…… ?

  10. I’m not surprised that you would rather just buy a pre-built system but your comments about support are ridiculous. The biggest complaint people have is about support and that’s from almost any vendor. Dell has become horrible, HP almost non existent and I’ve heard enough about others to not want to deal with it. If you purchase in a retail store here too support is so so. Most places hire guys that are “geeks” and hope for the best. I whole heartedly believe you’ll spend a lot more time trying to get support from any company or retail store than troubleshooting it yourself.

    There’s a lot to be said for understanding your system and how it works. Most parts you buy have 1 year to 5 years to lifetime warranties so if something fails there’s a good chance you can get a free replacement or discounted. If you take your time and research the parts, building your own system can be very rewarding and in the long run will last you a lot longer. Buying a cheap PC will get you a cheap PC and before you know it you’ll be looking for another one. If you don’t mind spending $400 or $500 every 2 years then by all means buy off the shelf.

  11. I have learned a lot by building my own PCs. I build them for others too. The computers I build last longer than the store bought computers. I install larger HD and more memory and current system disks. If something goes wrong I don’t need to contact anyone for advice and in the rare occasions I do need help I google it. I have had my share of problems in the past but fewer now. I use AMD processors, Western Digital hard drives and ASUS motherboards and one Gateway motherboard. I haven’t learned my lesson yet about power supplies. I enjoy the problem solving with computers. The store bought computer lasts about four years unless it was expensive to begin with.

  12. Built my first after buying two different prebuilds (CTX and HP)over a decade ago-I wouldn’t even consider buying a prebuilt now. Tis not for everyone however, I love the hands on tech and knowledge gained through each build. Price wise these days you can’t go wrong with a prebuild if tou’re a casual user. For a hardcore enthusiast, that isn’t an option. Just like Mac or PC, Ati or Nvidia,AMD or Intel, etal…to each their own. Having the choice is truly the important factor

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