In the world of PC gaming, the eternal question for enthusiasts has remained “build or buy.” With rapidly fluctuating hardware prices in the market, an increasing number of boutique PC makers, and the introduction of immensely powerful home gaming consoles, the answer is murkier and grayer than ever before. We are here to break down the pros and cons of all your options to help you make the best and most informed decision possible.
Please note, we said most informed decision. There is no “right” answer here for everyone. Instead we here at Analogy.tech aim to fill your head with the proper knowledge to decide the best option for you.
Let’s dive in!
To make sure you get the full story, we are going to cover a full custom-built PC, a few boutique makers like AVA direct and Origin PC, and we’ll compare all of that to Alienware, the king of mind-share in the pre-built gaming PC market.
AVA Direct is a custom PC builder in Ohio with a legacy that stretches back more than a decade. It offers completely customized builds with options for water cooling and overclocking. AVA Direct also caters to some pretty important clientele with government agencies like NASA and the US Air Force making use of their services and products.
Alienware is one of the oldest and most well-known gaming PC companies in the industry. Now more than 20 years old, the brand is synonymous with high-end gaming hardware and high-end prices to match. Alienware was purchased by Dell in 2006, which gives the company unmatched scale, giving the company a massive budget for marketing and custom hardware designs.
Origin PC is the youngest manufacturer here, starting in 2009. That doesn’t make them any less impressive in scope or quality. This manufacturer was started by former Alienware employees, giving Origin a leg-up in the market. This solid foundation has propelled them to the forefront of the large-boutique maker market.
Now that we have our main points of reference for the pre-built market out of the way, let’s get into the meat of things and talk about how each system falls short of excels in terms of crafting your own machine.
Let’s start with the hardware. With little exception, all the hardware these manufacturers use will be functionally identical to the hardware you can purchase on your own. There are some corners of the internet who believe that thanks to cost cutting measures and back-room deals, companies like Alienware are using sub-par parts to increase profits. Part of this stems from the fact that Alienware is large enough to buy special OEM parts and pieces that don’t look the same as the off-the-shelf parts, and sometimes they even come with slightly altered specifications in order to hit certain power targets.
AVA Direct and Origin on the other hand use the exact same parts that you would buy from your local Best Buy or Microcenter. To our Canadian friends, you have our condolences on the demise of NCIX. Without the massive buying power and presence of Dell over them, companies like AVA and Origin make use of traditional parts to create their machines. In many ways this puts these smaller PC companies in the middle ground between home-built and factory manufactured PCs.
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In short, if there is something you want in your PC, it’s basically a guarantee you can get it inside a pre-built machine. Where the big companies take the advantage here is bespoke case options. Alienware’s PCs all come in custom cases that are unavailable to normal buyers outside of the second-hand market. Origin makes use of a combination of custom cases and modified mass-market cases. AVA Direct uses no custom case hardware that we are currently aware of.