Ask any PC nerd how to get the best deal on a gaming desktop, and you’ll get pretty much the same answer: build it yourself. That’s still the best way to get the best deal, but it might not be the right answer for everyone, especially for someone who’s less technically savvy. Just ask YouTuber Braethorn, who’s built an entire channel evaluating pre-built desktops, from budget to benchmark-buster. And as an experienced builder in his own right, he knows what he’s talking about, and we got to pick his brain at the Linux Tech Expo 2023.
So what makes a good pre-built PC, according to Braethorn? It comes down to two things: the configuration, and the experience. A good pre-built has a specific selection of parts for a specific task, be that gaming, video editing, or an all-round budget build. You wouldn’t pair a top-of-the-line CPU with a budget GPU…and neither should a pre-built vendor. The experience part of it is things like the fit and finish, as evidenced by Falcon Northwest‘s custom-made enclosures, customer service, and warranty. You’ll pay extra for it (as you always will for pre-builts), but the peace of mind and time savings might just be worth it for the right buyer.
But even buyers who never want to crack open their PCs need to do a little homework. Make sure you’re getting the parts that actually meet your requirements, no matter what you’re paying. For example, many budget pre-built PCs will start with an option for 512GB of M.2 SSD storage. And 512GB might sound like a lot…but with new PC game installations coming in at 100 gigabytes or more, that drive will get filled up in no time. So the savings aren’t really worth it.
Michael is a former graphic designer who's been building and tweaking desktop computers for longer than he cares to admit. His interests include folk music, football, science fiction, and salsa verde, in no particular order.