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Pre-Built Versus Custom PC: Which Is Best For Gaming?

If you want the best possible PC for gaming and at the best possible price (who doesn't?!), then should you buy a pre-built gaming PC or build a custom one from scratch? It's a question that we receive a lot here at CCL, and there are many different answers depending on what you want.



Ways to buy a gaming PC

When it comes to buying a gaming PC, it’s important to note that you don’t just have the binary option of pre-built versus custom. In fact, you have three options:


Pre-built gaming PCs

If you decide to buy a pre-built gaming PC, then you’ll effectively be buying ‘off-the-shelf’. Pre-built gaming PCs are manufactured by well-known big names such as MSI, Dell (or their Alienware subsidiary), HP, Corsair as well as specialists such as CCL. You won’t be able to customise these types of gaming PCs (or only to a very limited extent - unless you choose to have a custom gaming PC built on your behalf (see below)), but you will have the benefit of being able to use it straight out of the box.


Custom gaming PCs built on your behalf

If you want a gaming PC that’s tailored exactly to your needs, but don’t want the hassle of buying all of the individual components and building it, you can pay someone to do this for you.

The beauty of buying a custom gaming PC built by a reputable company, is that you get many of the benefits of a pre-built gaming PC such as a warranty, built by experienced professionals, customer support, but you get to create a rig (if you’re unfamiliar with the term ‘rig’, it’s simply another word many gamers use to refer to their computer) that’s unique to you.

Custom gaming PCs are often competitively priced too - so you can get a custom PC at a similar price to a pre-built one.


Build it yourself

The final option is to build your gaming PC entirely yourself.

If you think you are up to the challenge, then building your own gaming PC from the ground up can be a really rewarding experience. You’ll have selected all of the components individually and will have the enjoyable experience of seeing it all come together.

Naturally, building a custom gaming PC from scratch is a significant time investment, but for some people, that’s part of the fun!

So, those are the three routes you can take if you’re looking to buy a new gaming PC. But which route is best? Below we’ll take a look at the key factors you should consider when buying a gaming PC and how each option performs against these factors.


Pre-Built Gaming PCs versus Custom Gaming PCs

In the past pre-built PCs were not necessarily viewed as the go-to choice - especially if you wanted to use it for gaming. However, these days the situation has completely changed. Many of today’s pre-built gaming PCs can handle even the most demanding AAA titles, with at least 60FPS at 1080p resolution.

On the other hand, custom gaming PCs offer you the chance to build the ultimate gaming rig, safe in the knowledge that you’ve selected and installed every component yourself. A custom gaming PC is the ultimate no-compromise route.

And then there’s the route of getting a company to build a custom gaming PC on your behalf.



Do you want to start gaming straight away, or are you happy to wait? Which build route you choose will impact when you can start gaming.


The Convenience of Pre-Built Gaming PCs

This has to be the biggest advantage of pre-built PCs over custom PCs. If you want to get gaming as soon as possible, then a pre-built PC is definitely the route to take. Simply pull it out the box, connect everything up and you can be gaming within the hour.

Pre-built gaming PCs come pre-installed with an operating system, so there’s not a huge amount of work involved in getting everything up and running. As we say, it’s pretty much plug and play!

Aside from the rapidity with which you can begin gaming, pre-built gaming PCs also offer another form of convenience - you don’t have to worry about part compatibility. The manufacturer will have worked all of those things out for you.


The Convenience of Custom Gaming PCs

If you make even the slightest miscalculation when buying parts for a custom PC, you can end up frying your rig - something you definitely don’t want to happen! So, building a custom PC is not exactly convenient, but for many people who go down this route, that’s not the point. The build itself is part of the enjoyment.


The Convenience of a Custom Gaming PC Built for You

Of course, here comes the wildcard - a custom PC built on your behalf. Why not handpick all of your components, but have an experienced professional build it for you? If you go for this option, your PC will turn up ready to plug and play - so it’s an option that certainly offers convenience. You may have to wait a few days for it to be built, but it arrives, it’s gaming time!


Hardware Configuration

How much importance do you place on what components are inside your gaming PC? That’s the question you ultimately need to ask yourself when choosing between a pre-built or a custom gaming PC.


Configuring Pre-Built Gaming PCs

Pre-Built Gaming PCs are ideal for people who are not as concerned with every minute detail of their system.

Having said that, you should still think about the general hardware configuration you want such as the amount of RAM, and what CPU and GPU you’d like. This will help you choose the right pre-built model, however you’ll have to trust the manufacturer to select the rest of the hardware for you.


Configuring a Custom Gaming PCs Built for You

Should you be looking for a higher level of customisation, along with the ability to upgrade your rig further down the road, then having someone build a custom model for you is a great option.

This option provides you with many of the advantages of building your own PC, in that you choose all of the parts you want, however an experienced PC builder will assemble it for you.

However, it’s not always as simple as just selecting a load of components. You need to make sure that your hardware configurations actually work in balance with each other. A balanced PC is one that is equipped for the workloads it’ll be handling, without any one component being over or under-utilised. If in doubt, your PC builder should be able to advise you on the right mix of components to create a balanced gaming PC.


Configuring Custom Gaming PCs

Going the DIY route is the best option for gamers who want complete control over every aspect of the build.

And, because you’ll have selected every single component and assembled your gaming PC, you’ll know exactly what you need to do to upgrade it in future. You’ll know that you put in a higher wattage PSU, you avoided single channel slow 2133mhz RAM, you used a higher RPM HDD etc, etc. With that level of knowledge you’ll be able to confidently modify your rig. Whilst the task of building your own PC may seem intimidating, it can be simpler than many people realise.



Are you on a budget? Or is money no option? Depending on how you answered those questions will influence which type of gaming PC build is best for you.


The Price of Pre-Built Gaming PCs

Since the advent of cryptocurrency mining, as well as global supply shortages caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, the price of certain computer components has increased massively. Components such as GPUs and DDR4 RAM have been especially hard hit by these price rises.

The result of this is that pre-built gaming PCs now offer better value for money. This is because PC builders are able to buy large volumes of components in one go directly from manufacturers, receiving significant bulk discounts. This means that you can buy a gaming PC with top-level components at a better price than if you were to buy all of the components individually yourself.


The Price of Custom Gaming PCs

A single individual cannot command the same level of buying power and has to buy components at the RRP and as a result is subject to these recent price spikes. Even if you use budget parts, the cost can still build up.

However, we realise that for many people building a custom gaming PCs themselves is a labour of love and cost isn’t really a major consideration - they’d rather have exactly the PC they want with no compromises on quality or cost.

Nevertheless, it’s possible to bag discounts on individual components. Look out for site-wide deals, and pay particular attention to time-sensitive sales too, such as Black Friday. Another price benefit of custom gaming PCs is that if you’re upgrading from an older PC, then you may be able to reuse certain parts (provided they are still functioning properly and compatible with your new hardware).


The Price of a Custom Gaming PC Built for You

Of course, if you choose to have a custom gaming PC built on your behalf, you will still get value for money, as custom PC builders usually buy large stocks of CPUs, GPUs etc and as such are able to create a PC package that includes premium components at competitive prices.

So, if you’re conscious of price, then you’ll certainly be better off with a pre-built PC or PC built on your behalf for gaming.



Having a warranty on your gaming PC provides many people with peace of mind. But, for others, a warranty will prevent them from making the upgrades they want. Which option is right for you? Find out below.


Warranties on Pre-Built Gaming PCs

The majority of pre-built gaming PCs come with warranties, meaning that if something goes wrong, you can simply return it and have it repaired. At CCL all of our pre-built gaming PCs come complete with a 3 year collect and return warranty (so you don’t even need to leave your house - we’ll come and collect your PC for you and return it once the repairs have been completed).


Warranties on Custom Gaming PC Built for You

Choose to have a custom PC built on your behalf and you can still benefit from a warranty (depending on where you buy it from). At CCL all of our custom PCs come with the same 3 year collect and return warranty you get with our pre-built gaming PCs. So, you can spec up your ideal rig safe in the knowledge that you’ve got back-up should anything happen. If you want to go down the custom route, but are worried about doing it yourself, this is a great option.


Warranties on Custom Gaming PCs

Finally, there’s the build-it-yourself custom PC route. Well, there’s no warranties in this world (aside from the warranties you may get on certain individual components). But, as with many aspects of building custom PCs, this is part of the allure. You don't have to worry about voiding a warranty if you want to make changes or upgrades at a later date.



This is a factor which doesn’t matter to everyone, but the type of look you can achieve for your PC will be impacted by whether you go down the pre-built or custom route.


The Design of Pre-Built Gaming PCs

For example, many pre-built gaming PCs feature fantastic chassis and cases complete with bold colours, viewing windows, integrated RGB lighting systems and more. In many instances, pre-built systems such as the Alienware Aurora R12 or the Corsair ONE a200 feature unique in-house cases that you wouldn’t be able to buy if you are building a PC yourself.

In addition, pre-built gaming PCs take care of annoying and time consuming tasks such as cable routing.

On the other hand, if you choose a pre-built gaming PC the design may be awesome, but you’ll have limited options to differentiate the look of your PC (at best you may have two or three different colourways to choose from).


The Design of Custom Gaming PCs

This is where the custom route shines - the choice of cases is almost limitless and you’ll be able to create a gaming rig that’s unique to you - but be prepared to put the hard work in to figure out if your case will fit all of your components, offers sufficient cooling etc.


The Design of Custom Gaming PCs Built for You

If you want the convenience of a pre-built gaming PC, but want the option of adding an awesome chassis, then it makes sense to go down the route of having someone build your custom PC for you. You can add more aesthetic flavour to your rig this way and you could another level of customisation by having your PC case laser etched or custom UV printed.



If you’re investing in a new gaming PC, then you’ll want to make sure you get years of top gaming out of it - and should the need arise, be able to upgrade it.

Well, how well do custom PCs and pre-built PCs compare when it comes to being futureproof and upgradeable?


Futureproofing Pre-Built Gaming PCs

With a pre-built gaming PC you should make sure you buy the most up-to-date spec you can afford. For example you may be able to buy cheap pre-built PCs that feature an older AMD FX or Intel Core CPU, however be aware that these CPUs use outdated chipsets and feature obsolete sockets, making it very difficult to upgrade your CPU in the future (you would have to replace your motherboard to do so).

So, if you make the wrong choice, futureproofing your pre-built gaming PC could prove difficult. Nonetheless, make the right choice and a pre-built gaming PC can offer plenty of scope for future upgrades.


Futureproofing Custom Gaming PCs

Whereas with a custom PC, provided you know what you’re doing and you’ve chosen your components wisely, it should be fairly straightforward to upgrade it in the future so you can continue playing the latest titles.


Futureproofing a Custom Gaming PC Built for You

A good custom PC builder will help you create a custom PC that can be upgraded with relative ease in the future. Naturally, there’s a bit of give and take depending on what spec you opt for, but generally a custom PC builder will be able to advise you on which CPUs, GPUs etc will have a decent lifespan.

If you’re thinking about buying a custom PC that’s built for you, but have questions about choosing the correct specification, feel free to contact the CCL team on or 01274 471 210.


How the different gaming PC options compare

Now that we’ve taken a look at the major advantages and disadvantages of each type of gaming PC build option, let’s take a side-by-side look at each one:

  Pre-Built Gaming PC Custom Built Gaming PC Build Your Own
Convenience Plug and play Plug and play
(build time can vary)
Requires knowledge of components compatibility and assembly
Hardware configuration System level selection Component level selection Fully customisable
Price (and discounts) System level discounts Component level discounts Limited discounts on individual components
Warranty Warranty and customer service Warranty and customer service Each component may have a different warranty and RMA process
Design Limited design options A wider selection of cases, RGB lighting and other design options Completely customisable
Futureproofing Limited ability to upgrade your PC in the future More options to upgrade in the future
(depending on your choice of components)
Very flexible for future upgrades
Software and Testing Fully tested with OS pre-installed Fully tested and choose to have OS pre-installed or without OS Manual OS installation


It's up to you...

Ultimately, there’s no hard and fast answer to this question. Whether a pre-built or a custom gaming PC is best for you depends on a whole host of factors.

If you’re looking for convenience and want to just start gaming, go for a pre-built PC (or a custom PC built on your behalf). If you see your PC as a ‘project’ and you want to create the ultimate rig that’s tailored to you down to the very last detail, build a custom PC yourself.

Whichever option you choose, we’ve got something for you at CCL. We have a range of high-performance, great value, pre-built gaming PCs as well as the option to create the custom gaming PC of your dreams that we’ll build for you.