Branded computer vs Assembled or DIY desktops – Which is Best For You?

Back in 2003-4, I had a training firm that also sold and repaired computers. Computers, at that time, were mostly desktops – easy to open and do whatever you like. Of course, branded computers too were there – with a warning: Opening the seal will void the warranty. For passionate technical people, it was a No. Anyway, we will not do a comparison of DIY Computers with Branded Computers here. Rather, since the scenario is much different today from what it was in 2003, we’ll list benefits of branded computers side by side to benefits of DIY desktop computers. That way, you will be able to judge on your own, which option suits you better – a branded computer or assembled or DIY desktop.

Branded computer vs Assembled
Before beginning, let’s categorize them as DIY desktops, assembled computers and branded computers. DIY may fall under the category of assembled computers but in this article, we’ll use the phrase “assembled computers” to refer to computers assembled by professional firms for their customers. Most of the article talks about desktops but stands good for laptops and other forms of computers as well.

Branded Computers, Assembled or DIY Desktop Computers
Back in 2003-4, people were of the mindset that branded computers mean much more money compared to local assembled computers. We gave them estimates of an assembled computer while showing them the prices of branded computers. The customers knew that we know more about computers, and they believed us. I don’t think we lied but sure got orders – though not from bigger institutions like banks etc. that purchased in bulk. Our firm was not that big to instill confidence in them that we’ll stay another five years to offer them on the spot troubleshooting. But we sure got to look at the computers they were using. Looking at their CPUs (rather, the CPU cabinets), we could tell they were all assembled.

Times changed since then. Back then, people preferred a cost-effective computer that can do what they want – office work or personal. Gaming etc graphic intensive computers too were there but the demand was pretty low compared to other needs. The current period sees a combination of different needs. People want office computers that can also play games and let them watch movies. Naturally, the configuration changes and becomes a combination of two or more types of computers.

Branded Computers Save Time, Assembled Computers Are…Messy?
Coming to advantages of branded computers over assembled computers, you save plenty of time in acquiring one. Building a cost efficient ‘assembled’ gaming computer – for example – could take a good deal of research for parts whereas going for a cost efficient ‘branded’ computer would mean research only for configurations. Thus, you save much time.

Just in case the above is not clear, to have a DIY computer, you will first have to know what all parts are required, who all are selling those parts and capacities of those parts – not to mention costs and warranty etc. That in contrast to comparing branded computers online is pretty time-consuming. Some companies do provide DIY kits but then, they are not much different from branded as the configuration is pre-determined.

That, in turn, means papers and papers of material where you note down costs, warranty, address, phone number of service providers in your area and other details for almost every part  you’d use in an assembled DIY computer of *your* favored configuration. Organized mess?!

Cost & Warranty For Branded Computers vs Assembled Computers

Costs may be a little higher for branded computers. You may have to settle down for a little different configuration than what you exactly have in your mind but then, the warranty comes into play – offering you peace of mind when it comes to technical problems. Branded computers carry warranty on the entire computer, meaning if any part goes down, you can simply ask the local service center of the computer brand (and not the part brand) to check it out.

Costs for DIY and assembled computers vary, and more than often, you get to bargain. At least from what I know from my experience – if a customer needs a card below XYZ dollars, we’ll present them with two or more alternatives. But then, cost vs performance is also an issue that you need to explore. Any other graphics card is not just as good as Nvidia. Would you agree on that? If I need a gaming computer, I will insist on the best available graphic card with plenty of own memory!

Warranty Problems in Case of DIY Computers
If you are building your own computer, you may get all the parts that you want. In other words, computer configuration may be exactly what you want. But then, instead of the warranty being on entire computer, it is on parts and components. That in turn, means that you have to keep the information about more than one servicing center – one for each part. For example, service center of the motherboard,, service center for processor, service center for SMPS, video cards, monitors and all the other things. You sure can save some trouble by going for spares from a single brand. Not possible to buy  every part from a single brand but you can group them – Intel motherboard, Intel chips, Intel graphics!

Anyway, you get to save on the trouble if you divide the parts into groups so that you have to note down fewer numbers of service centers. Also, make sure you have the service center for these parts in your area, else it will be a trouble.

Warranty for Assembled Computers – Same as Branded Computers
A compromise could be to get an assembled computer. In this case, the vendors try their best to provide you with the closest they can come up with the configuration you want. More than often, these vendors will try to convince you for alternate configurations – the ones they know are easily available and serviceable. But since these types of vendors are the ones who wouldn’t like to lose a single customer, you can make them understand you HAVE to have that configuration!

Despite that, the warranty will always be on the entire computer (monitors may be an exception). In this case, if a part goes wrong, it is the headache of the vendor to get the part corrected or replaced. This could be a middle path – if you are not sure if a branded computer suits your needs and if you are not willing to risk broken computers lying idle for ages due to damaged parts!


Does the above mean I am saying you should go for branded computers? Not exactly! It depends on what you want to do and more importantly – how much time do you have to spend on building the computer(s). Your budget also comes into the picture.

If you need a good number of computers, would you be willing to sit down and assemble each one on own? You can check out branded desktops in this case. If you are cost-conscious, you can also check out vendors offering assembled computers and if you are lucky, you might get a good bargain.

But if you want exactly the thing you have in your mind and you can spend the time required, DIY computers are the best for you as they will have the configuration you want. Over that, you also get the satisfaction of building your own machine. Many people still do it, especially the ones into online gaming – just for the sake of tuning it to own satisfaction. An unrelated example here: After buying three sets of 3.1 speakers from renowned companies, I trashed them all to build my sound system. It took a little time, but I get the sound I want, without having to compromise on 16Khz and 32.5 Hz frequencies. Most branded sound systems kill these frequencies!

Thus, it is up to you to decide which one is better for you. The need varies; urgency varies; budget varies; quantity varies. Based on all these factors, only you can decide whether to go for branded computers, DIY desktops or assembled computers.


Which one do YOU prefer, and why?

[A] Branded Computers

[B] Assembled Computers by Vendors

[C] DIY Computers – Assembled By You

We’d love to hear ‘Why” in the comments!

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