Explore the pros and cons between choosing a custom designed and built PC vs a Prebuilt PC from a big box store
Technology solutions for a business can be a very intimidating topic that tends to be nuanced and complex – especially when it comes to the technology and equipment needed to run on a daily basis. Often there is a lot of confusion with the difference and benefits between custom computers and off-the-shelf computers from stores like Amazon or Best Buy. When assumptions are made, mistakes can be made costing thousands of dollars and causing undue stress. Knowing key differences, what to ask, and understanding bigger picture effects will keep you on track to make the right, informed choice.
What are the key differences between Professional grade PCs and off-the-shelf PCs?
What is a Custom/Professional Grade PC?
Unlike the prebuilt computer, professional grade computers are built and customized based on specific user requirements or needs. This means essential items like a graphics card, processor, hard drive, and more are selected based on the anticipated workload. These computers can be built by local computer technicians, or they can be ordered through professional brands like Dell or Intel. These companies create your order at their facilities, often with their warranties, then ship the finished product directly to you.
What is a Prebuilt PC (a.k.a off-the-shelf PC)?
A prebuilt computer is already configured, built, and kept in stock ready for a quick sell. These computers are created and developed based on general activity expected for personal or average professional use. Marked differences between product models will include operating capacity, RAM, hard drive space, and preloaded applications. When selecting these computers, there are little to no options to add, remove, or customize needed or unneeded items. They are sold at many retail stores and online and are typically what people think of when they need to purchase a new computer for personal or professional use.
Merits of Prebuilt PCs
With pre-built computers, setting up for use is easy and quick. You don’t need in-depth technical knowledge, nor do you have to understand the system architecture or how the components work. Step-by-step directions will guide the user through a basic startup. Within a matter of minutes, you’ll generally be able to start using the device.
Reduced Chances of Error During Manufacturing
Due to thousands upon thousands of the same model, the construction and configuration of these devices are dialed in and consistent. These devices are sent through a uniformed quality control process before they go to retail. Ttherefore, these computers are expected to work exactly as produced. If there is an error, exchange is easy and warranties are available for unexpected technical issues.
Due to product testing and troubleshooting, issues related to compatibility of components and applications within the system are almost non-existent. However, this upside only applies to the preloaded items and general-use software or applications. Industry-specific items are excluded and may or may not conflict with preloaded items.
Challenges of Prebuilt PCs
While many would assume a custom-built solution will always be more expensive, that is not always the case. When configuring a store-bought PC for professional use, the process can often include removal of unneeded apps and software that cause slowness or take up precious RAM or hard drive space. These apps and software are built into the original cost, and can be wasted money through purchase and follow up IT support. Additionally, computers that are running software and functions over and above their intended regular use can cause immediate frustrations of slow functionality, and wears down the equipment quicker due to being overworked. You’ll be replacing equipment more frequently than the typical operational life these computers are intended to have.
When a ready-made computer is just a click away, the immediate instinct is to purchase what you need from a store, and the off-the-shelf option can carry a lot of upsides. However, the quick solution could cost more and cause a bigger headache.
Mass produced also means cost and profit margins will always be considered in product development and construction. The room for error increases when items are made for mass distribution. While the low-quality parts highest affected tend to be items like power supply, cables, screens, and keyboards, these items still are vital to the operation of the equipment. Replacing these items can be expensive and the breakdown process is often incredibly annoying and impactful to productivity.
Merits of a Custom PC
When building a custom computer, you can choose components, software, apps, and display needs that are essential to your daily tasks. This convenience means you will experience less frustration with slowness or errors, better functionality, and peace of mind that your required tasks can be executed without technological barriers. It also greatly helps to work with an IT expert familiar with your industry. These professionals know what programs and software and can advise you on configuration and OS versions best compatible with the software you’ll be running.
Possibly a Less Costly Option
When working with an expert that knows how to pick out the right tools for the job, you’ll build a solution without spending money needlessly on higher-priced items. These include a bigger graphics card, a hard drive capacity that’s not necessary because your operation is cloud-based, or paying for- the wrong option like Microsoft for Home when you need Microsoft for Business. You’ll know what premiums you’ll be paying for and benefit directly from the addition.
Ease of Accessibility
Because computers built as a product typically carry a defined functionality, brands don’t like to make the internal pieces and parts readily accessible. This creates a challenge if a repair needs to be made or a part upgraded. However, when your computer was built with individual components to start, upgrading and repair can be a much easier and accessible option.
Challenges of a Custom PC
Building a computer takes time. Often, parts need to be ordered on top of the time needed to build, test, and ship the equipment. Manufacturing computer chips and overseas shipping has exacerbated this downside. With brands that are mass producing products, their ability to order ahead, buying power, and storage capabilities reduce this squeeze that the entire technology industry has felt. Generally speaking, this is often the greatest downside to a custom solution.
As with a lot of solutions, the immediate answer to the question “what is better for my office” is…it depends. Not all computers in an office need to be the same – you can have both custom built and store bought on the same network. Consulting an industry-informed IT professional will ensure money and time are not wasted by advising you on the right tools for the job. In the end, running your office frustration-free with reliable equipment will make for happier employees, happier customers, and a reduced-stress environment for all.