Deciding which form of computers to go for has always been one of the biggest questions for a PC user, and is also a question I’d like to give my opinion on as fast as possible. Thus, today I decided to write this blog post to discuss the pros and cons of each form, in my point of view.
Custom PCs – Personal Powerhouses
Custom PCs are the top choice for any serious computer user, since it’s very personal, often offers you better specs for lower prices, and it also has a lot of room for customization and upgrade. However, there are certain things that will still drive users away from custom PCs.
- It’s unique and personal: Once you build a custom PC, it’s entirely yours and there’s nothing like it. You’ll know it in and out, and you can name it, decorate it, etc. however you want. Most importantly, it will be optimized to fit your particular needs.
- Highest specs: For a certain price range, custom PCs normally offer the highest possible specs, because all of the other options still have parts that cost around the same amount by themselves, yet they would add all kinds of fees to have those PCs pre-built for you.
- Access to exotic parts: Only when you build a custom PC will you have certain “special” parts in your computer, such as LED RAMs, graphics cards with nice backplates, and breathtaking CPU coolers. These parts will often make your PCs much more stable, cooler (both as in “less hot” and as in “more catchy to the eyes”), and just a bit more powerful than pre-built solutions with the same “basic” specs. Pre-builts (and AIOs and laptops, by extension) usually only use the cheapest parts available with the given specs (for example, the cheapest 256 GB SSD).
- Highly customizable and upgradable: Custom PCs are very easy to upgrade and customize. You just open up the case, and replace the thing you needed, all with your bare hands if you want to (many components, in particular cases, offer tool-less solutions nowadays if you don’t want to use screwdrivers). You’ll know what to replace, how, and where, since you built the PC yourself, and custom PCs’ motherboards and cases are often built to put more things into them, unlike pre-builts which usually use cheap cases and unlabeled motherboards.
- Requires a lot of effort and experience to set things up: Most of the cons of using a custom PC actually comes in the first days of use, and even the time before you even get your parts. In order to build a custom PC, you have to know what you are doing, and you have to have some basic knowledge about computer hardware in order to pick, purchase, and assemble the parts. And then, the act of building the PC itself also costs a lot of time. Plus, even when you’ve got the PC running, it still comes with absolutely no operating systems or programs, so you’ll have to find and install them yourself, which also can take a few days or more. Custom PCs are definitely not for beginners and people who don’t really care about computers.
- Takes up a lot of space: This is not really a problem with custom PCs as it is a problem with desktops in general. As far as personal computers go, a desktop takes up decisively more space than all the other forms, and for custom PCs, there are cases that are humongous, much larger than any pre-built case out there, which makes the problem even worse if you decide to go for them. Then again, you most probably would’ve already had this sorted out if you decide to go for this path.
- A screw-up will break everything: If you screw up while building or when choosing the parts, the PC may come up seriously underpowered for your needs, or it may not even work at all. You really need to be careful and thoughtful for the custom path!
Pre-built PCs – Mainstream Workstations
Pre-built PCs are for users who don’t want to spend their time researching, building, and setting up a custom PC, or offices which buy their computers en masse for their employees.. This is understandable, as they often say time is money, or even, time is more valuable than money. However, skipping all that work does come with drawbacks. (Note: I also count mini PCs as pre-builts)
- Ready to go: When you buy a pre-built, you only need to boot it up and start using it. You don’t need to research computer hardware, you don’t need to pick parts, you don’t need to build, and you don’t need to install your OS. Everything has been done for you.
- Guaranteed to run: When you buy a pre-built PC, it’s pretty much guaranteed to run somewhat stably, because, you know, it’d be super embarrassing for a company to sell something that doesn’t even work, so they must have tested it beforehand, in one way or another.
- They are getting cheaper: Pre-built PCs are often regarded as much more expensive than a custom one with the same specs, but there’s a breed that can give you near-custom performance: STORE-SPECIFIC pre-builts! If you buy pre-built PCs that a certain store assembled themselves instead of a globally distributed brand PC, chances are you’ll get a PC that’s almost as cheap as a custom equivalent. I’ve even seen a pre-built PC with a GTX 960 that’s cheaper than the sum of its parts!
- Weaker than Custom PCs: As said above, pre-built PCs are often more expensive than custom ones with the same performance, so naturally for the same price range, pre-built PCs are generally weaker.
- Hotter and less stable: Pre-built PCs love basic specs, such as RAM, hard drive size, or graphics cards’ VRAM size. That being said, they often ignore the parts that less savvy users often overlook, like temperature, durability, power cleanness and, you know, actual graphics card quality. Thus, they often have cheap cases, cheap CPU coolers and fans (if they have any at all, that’s it), nameless PSUs, and terrible motherboards. All that leads to a hotter and much less stable PC.
- Focused on all the wrong parts: Here’s what a typical pre-built “gaming PC” looks like: overclocking chipset, absurdly strong multi-core locked CPU (not overclockable), and a very weak graphics card with an overkill amount of VRAM (that the card can’t really use up). Thing is, for an actual gaming PC you need a VERY STRONG graphics card (and a graphics card’s power is not measured solely by VRAM), and a decent unlocked (overclockable) CPU with strong single-core processing power (no need for very strong hyper-threaded CPUs). And that’s just for the gaming PCs. Pre-built PCs are often off-focus for other purposes too. They are just too CPU-centric with a high tendency to use overclocking chipsets with an unoverclockable CPU for some reasons. Plus, like I said, they often ignore the parts not much people care about (but are actually needed) altogether.
All-in-One PCs – Space Savers
To be honest, I could never really understand the point of all-in-one PCs. They have both the weakness of a laptop and the immovability of a desktop, and they are expensive, too. However, they do have one thing going for them: space (compared to desktops).
- Requires much less space compared to a normal desktop
- Doesn’t require an external monitor
- Often have laptop performance: Surprise surprise! Most All-in-One PCs actually use laptop-class components, which are naturally MUCH weaker than desktop components of the same price range. Some AIOs actually do have desktop-class parts, but expect their prices to soar off the skies!
- Unupgradable: Look, even with pre-built PCs, you can mess with the computer later if you want to. However, for an AIO, it’s pretty much uncustomizable. You must use what is given to you without much of a choice at all. Pretty much the only thing that’s somewhat “easily” upgradable is the RAM and the HDD, and even for those you need to mess up the AIO MUCH more than you would if you upgraded the RAM on a PC.
- Way too prone to failure: AIOs are PHYSICALLY fragile (I mean, just look at that image!), and because of their thin form, they are often very hot and therefore, also very unstable. Laptop-class components are often built to survive in high heat environments, but that doesn’t mean they are error-proof.
- Not portable
Laptops – The Portable Solution
- Portability: Laptops are the only PCs you can bring with you to your work, school, party, or wherever you’d like to work with a computer on!
- No need for peripherals: The monitor, speakers, microphone, webcam, keyboard, and mouse, all the essential peripherals you’ll need (heck, the microphone and webcam are not even “essential”! I don’t have them. ;w;) are already embedded in the laptop. Thus, you can just bring the machine and start working without the need to bring anything else!
- Awful Performance: Laptops’ performance are not even comparable to desktops at the same price range (note: AIOs don’t count as desktops for me. They are just… their own thing).
- The more powerful it is, the more erroneous it becomes: They have all the stability and heat problems of the AIOs! However, they are not necessarily hotter or less stable than the AIOs, since for the laptop most of the hardware are actually under the keyboard, instead of being squished all behind the display. Still, this is mostly true for powerful laptops, but weak laptops usually don’t suffer from this, since there are not many things that gather heat to begin with.
- Not customizable: Same thing with the AIOs. You can’t really upgrade anything save for the RAM and HDD. And even then, they are really hard to upgrade.
That’s all for my comments on the four different PC forms. Have you found any other pro or con of any of the forms? Which form is your favorite? Anyway, thank you very much for reading and supporting me! ^^