So, it’s time to get a new PC. Maybe you’re starting a new career. Maybe you’re an experienced pro, but your old rig is no longer up to the job.
Either way, it’s time to go shopping. But what are your options? You could build your own PC which really isn’t all that complicated.
Or you could hire someone to build a PC for you, but you still need to know a lot about PCs in order to get the right parts for it.
Finally, you could buy a pre-built unit. And when it comes to the pre-built market, you’ve got a variety of options.
Of course, your exact needs are going to depend on what type of work you’re doing. For most content creators, an inexpensive gaming PC is going to be your best option.
This is because a good gaming PC has a lot in common with a good content creation PC. Both will be built with high-speed rendering in mind.
Gamers are a much larger target group than Content Creators, that is why most of the pre-built PC’s you can find to buy online are marketed at gamers.
This does not mean they are only good for gaming!
This is important to know, and a bit of an insider tip: For most workloads, you can work on PCs marketed at Gamers, just as well, as on Workstations marketed at Content creators – usually for a much more reasonable price.
True, they usually come with a lot of RGB, but you can turn most of that off or hide the pc under the desk if it bothers you too much.
Of course, if you need even better performance than what a gaming PC can offer, you’ll want a more bespoke system that comes with better components, support and reliability.
Regardless of your needs, we’ve got a few recommendations for you.
Let’s take a closer look at available options!
Buy From a Retailer
Your first, easiest option is to buy through a major retailer, such as Amazon or Best Buy. The advantage here is that such retailers typically offer some level of protection.
You’ll typically have a return policy that covers you in case something goes wrong. The downside? You won’t usually get to choose a cream of the crop PC but rather whatever falls in line with a most popular PC configuration (This is usually not in the high-end).
And you can forget about customization. Still, if you want to get the best value for a reasonable price, shopping from a retailer may be your best option. Let’s look at a few brands that sell popular PCs at a major retailers.
Founded in 1999, iBuyPower is one of the biggest names in gaming PCs. Over the years, they’ve built up quite the reputation. They actively collaborate with the eSports community, as well as with major game developers, to produce quality gaming PCs at a reasonable price.
They offer a wide variety of machines, from custom builds to pre-built options.
Currently, iBuyPower’s flagship retail machine is the Element 9260. With a 3GHz, 8-core Intel i7-9700F CPU, it can handle complex operations faster than most retail PCs making your active work nice and smooth in most of your Content Creation Software.
And with its NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1660 Ti 6GB Dedicated Gaming CPU, you’ll be able to fire up some 3D GPU Render Engines to pump out your Frames in reasonable times. If you want to spend less than a grand on a solid pre-built content creation PC, the Element 9260 will get the job done without breaking the bank.
If you need even better performance, consider iBuyPower’s Trace 9240V2. The Trace a faster Intel Core i9-9900k 3.6GHz 8-core CPU, along with an NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2070 Super 8GB Dedicated Gaming CPU.
With this much processing power, you’ll approach the performance you’d get from a custom-built PC. There’s also a liquid cooling system, so you won’t have to worry about your system throttling back too much when it’s under a heavy load.
CyberpowerPC was founded shortly after iBuyPower, in 2003. They have a similar business model, producing both custom and pre-built PCs. Their custom PCs are highly-regarded for their performance.
Their pre-built PCs, meanwhile, are best known for their low pricing. But that doesn’t mean they aren’t worth using. If you don’t have the most demanding needs, they might just be the best choice for you.
CyberpowerPC’s best-selling pre-built machine is the Gamer Xtreme VR. It’s a mid-priced PC that sports a 6-core, 2.9GHz Intel Core i5-9400F processor. It also has an NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1660 6GB Video Card, which offers more than enough power for most content creators unless you do heavy 3D Rendering.
It even comes with a well-engineered gaming keyboard and mouse, so you’ll have the most durable peripherals available. That said, some of your money goes into cosmetic features like a glass case and RGB.
That money would be better-spent on a faster processor or GPU, but that is something we’ll have to live with when going the pre-built route.
For even better performance, check out the CyberpowerPC Gamer Supreme. The Gamer Supreme comes with an 8-core 3.6GHz processor, as well as an 8GB NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2070 GPU. It also has liquid cooling.
This means that even when you’re putting the highest demand on your computer, you won’t experience any throttling due to high temperatures.
Again, keep in mind, that although these are all branded as “Gaming” PCs, they consist of the same components you’ll use in Content Creation PCs. The target market here are the gamers, but we content creators can benefit from such good deals too!
Skytech Gaming is another pre-built PC manufacturer. They design both basic PCs and gaming PCs, as well as offer some configuration options. But their retail offerings are where they really shine. They offer a wide array of computers to meet just about any need.
For instance, check out the Skytech Blaze II. It has a 6-core 3.4GHz Ryzen 5 2600 CPU, as well as a NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1660 6GB GDDR5 Video Card. If you want to maximize your processing power at a low price point, you’re looking at a great choice.
That said, though, it unfortunately only has 8GB of RAM.
In other words, it’s well-suited for starting out in Content Creation such as 3D-Animation, Rendering or Video Editing, but you might want to get some upgrades to really work on those more complex projects.
If that doesn’t quite scratch your itch, consider the enhanced Blaze II. This PC comes with an AMD RYZEN 7 2700 8-core 3.2GHz CPU.
Additionally, it sports a GeForce RTX 2060 6GB GDDR6 GPU and 16GB of RAM, and that’s a great performer for a pre-built PC at that price point.
If you’re buying a PC at retail, you face a few distinct disadvantages. One of these is that you’re limited to what the retailer is offering, so basically what the seller thinks will sell well.
If the specific pre-built PC you need isn’t a top seller, though, it’s going to be hard to find in retail. Not only that, but buying directly from a manufacturer can provide other benefits. For example, you generally get a better warranty making it easier to RMA directly to the manufacturer.
So if you want to buy directly from a manufacturer, who should you choose?
Here are a few options that we like to recommend:
Dell was first founded in 1984 as “PCs Limited”. Michael Dell founded the company while he was a student at the University of Texas at Austin, and ran it out of his dorm for the first year.
At the time, computers were more expensive than they are today, and they were sold by manufacturers who made all of the containing parts. Dell was built upon a novel idea; by using stock parts from various manufacturers, they could produce a good PC at a lower price.
Nowadays, just about every manufacturer sources their parts from a variety of sources, but Dell was the first.
Dell focuses primarily on office PCs, but they do have several well-engineered gaming PCs available. They’ve even acquired Alienware, and now produce the entire Alienware line of gaming machines.
Currently, Dell’s flagship gaming PC is the Dell G5 Gaming Desktop. It sports an 8-core 9th Gen Intel Core i7 9700 processor, with a maximum boost speed of 4.7GHz. With an NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1660 Ti 6GB GPU and 16GB of RAM, you’re looking at a great content creation PC.
If you want to save a few bucks, Dell also manufactures other, pared-down variants of the G5 that use more affordable components. Check out their website for more info and configurations.
HP (formerly Hewlett-Packard) has been manufacturing technology since modern computers were even a thing.
They actually date back to the 1930s, when they manufactured sound and light measurement equipment for the industry, notably providing much of the equipment used in the production of Disney’s Animated Feature Film Fantasia.
Today, of course, they’re known not just for their computers, but also for their many lines of printers.
Most of HP’s computers are designed for business and office use, and their “workstation” line of PCs are quite overprices and fitted with components that are heavily overpriced. The HP Z4 G4 Workstation for example runs on an Intel CPU that is a few generations old and somehow doesn’t even come with a dedicated GPU…?
Some of the other Z4 G4 offers come with Intel XEON CPUs that perform badly in most active work situations. Although these CPUs seem to offer a lot of cores (though at a really high price point) they are no match for the competing AMD Threadripper CPU line-up and should not be used in content creation (where high clock speeds and IPC are of paramount importance for smooth & efficient work).
At the time of writing this article, we can’t in good conscience recommend HP Workstations to content creators.
HP does offers even more advanced machines, such as the HP Z8 G4 Workstation, but again, at that price, you might as well buy a specialized workstation from a premium manufacturer (with parts that you can actually make good use of).
Corsair is an unusual beast. This company was founded in 1994, and their original rise to fame was through their RAM Modules. They’ve also become known for their audio equipment, keyboards, mice, PC lighting, and quite some other components.
In recent years, they’ve also started manufacturing pre-built PCs, some of which are really well done as you can see in this review from Youtube Legend der8auer.
One of these, the VENGEANCE 6180 Gaming PC, is one of the most affordable liquid-cooled PCs on the market. It has an AMD Ryzen 7 3700X CPU, an AMD Radeon RX 5700 XT GPU, and 16GB of Corsair RAM and all of this in a micro-ATX Form-Factor.
It seems, Corsair has done a lot right, and they built the newest PC-Parts into their PCs making the best use of the current generation of releases.
Their newest iteration of “Gaming” PCs (targeted at Gamers but they work just as well for content creators) is the Corsair ONE Series. It sports some really high-end components in a relatively small Form-Factor.
You do have to reach into your pocket a bit deeper than with a custom self-assembled PC, but these are might just be among the best out there in terms of pre-built PC offerings.
Pick and Assemble
Up to this point, we’ve been looking at out-of-the-box PCs. You choose a model, maybe choose between a couple of variants, and the machine ships to your front door.
It’s kind of like buying a car. You might be able to get cloth or leather seats in your Toyota Corolla, but you’re not going to get to choose a totally different engine or transmission.
A pick and assemble PC is sort of like building a custom car. Provided all the parts are compatible, you can do whatever you like.
And by buying from a company that builds PCs professionally, you avoid the pitfalls and headache of building the PC yourself. Here are three big players in the pick and assemble space:
We’ve already talked about iBuyPower’s retail PCs above, but they also provide a variety of options for picking and assembling custom PCs. In fact, they’re one of the most popular manufacturers in this space.
There are a couple of ways to customize a PC on their site. If you’re less tech-savvy, you can use the Easy Builder tool on their site. This gives you a smaller number of options, tailored to your individual needs. If you want to go a little deeper, you can also customize a machine from scratch.
You can choose from any of iBuyPower’s parts, and even add accessories to your bundle. Along with your PC, you get a 3-year warranty on labor and a 1-year warranty on parts.
If you want a longer warranty, you can pay extra for a 2 or 3-year parts warranty and a 4 or 5-year labor warranty.
BLD is a relatively new PC manufacturer, founded in 2017. However, their experience goes back a bit farther than that. They’re actually a subsidiary of NZXT, which was founded in 2004.
NZXT is known primarily for their computer cases and liquid cooling systems, and they started BLD with the goal of expanding into the custom-built PC space.
Similar to iBuyPower, BLD lets you build a PC from scratch, starting with the motherboard and case and moving upward from there. If you’re not incredibly well-versed in computer hardware, you can also choose from several pre-built models and modify them by customizing individual parts.
BLD PCs come with a 2-year parts warranty and a 3-year labor warranty. On the downside, they charge a fee of $99 just for assembling your PC.
On the upside, the PC is shipped to your door within 48 hours of placing your order. When compared to the weeks-long process involved with many PC builders, this is a major benefit, particularly if you need your new computer as soon as possible.
Founded in 2009, Origin specializes in building gaming PCs. They started out by building liquid cooling systems, but now they sell both pre-built desktops and pre-built laptops.
They also allow for plenty of customization. All of their desktop machines are based upon four standard models. First is the Chronos, which uses a Mini ITX case.
Second is the Neuron, which uses a Micro ATX case. Third is the Millennium, which uses a standard ATX case. Last is the Genesis, which uses an eATX case.
The difference between these custom models and most pre-built models is that you can customize literally any component. You’re not limited to one or two processor or GPU options. You can upgrade the power supply, the hard drive, the RAM, and any other part you desire. You can even customize cosmetic features, such as the color and lighting scheme on the case. Every Origin PC comes with a 30-day money back guarantee.
Don’t like your PC? Just send it back, no questions asked. Parts and labor are warrantied for 1 year, which can be extended to 3 years for an additional fee.
Buy a Specialized Workstation
For most people, the previous options should be sufficient to find their dream PC. You’ve got plenty of options to choose from, whether you want a basic word-processing machine or a powerful video-editing machine. But for some applications, you need a truly pro-grade system with all the added support benefits and expertise.
If you think a Gaming PC won’t cut it, you’ll need to buy a specialized workstation. The best way here, again, is to pick parts and assemble yourself (this is easy, too!) but for this specific article we are assuming that building yourself is not an option.
You’ll be spending a lot more money than you would for either a self-built PC & Workstation or a pre-built or custom-pre-built gaming PC, but here are 3 Manufacturers that specialize exclusively on top-of-the-line Workstations.
If you are shopping for your company and can’t be bothered with maintaining your PCs and need the best stability and support possible, the following three options might be the right fit for you:
Based in the Seattle suburb of Auburn, Washington, Puget Systems claims to be the #1 producer of specialized workstations in the US. They were first founded in the year 2000, and remain dedicated to building some of the most powerful PCs in the business.
They have six base models to choose from. From smallest to largest, these are the Echo, the Obsidian, the Spirit, the Serenity, the Deluge, and the Genesis.
With Pugetsystems’ machines, apart from high-clocked RAM or AMD GPU’s, you get access to pretty much all of the most recent PC-Components on the market. While you should stay clear of their XEON CPU offerings (unless you know exactly you need these), the newest Threadripper CPUs and Ryzen CPUs offer great performance at a usually very competitive price.
“Usually”, because when assembling your own PC and buying individual components at market rates, AMD’s CPUs are a steal and they are topping almost every benchmarking chart in the area Productivity and Content Creation.
At Pugetsystems too, you don’t really pay for the individual Parts though, but rather for the expertise, their reliability in assembly, their testing of newly assembled PCs and the support that comes with your purchase. So expect to pay a premium for this.
Like most good business investments, you can pay for Puget Systems workstations in monthly installments, with payments broken down over the course of two years.
All Puget Systems workstations come with a lifetime warranty on labor, and a 1-3 year warranty on parts.
Boxx was first founded in 1996 in Phoenix, Arizona before relocating to Austin, Texas in 1998. They’re a global company with over 40 international resellers.
However, all of their manufacturing and support is still based in their Austin headquarters. In addition to building custom workstations, they also manufacture custom laptops, and even rack-mounted servers. For our purposes, we’ll be focusing on their desktop workstations.
Boxx’s desktop systems are divided into three classes. From least to most powerful, these are the E-Class, the S-Class, and the X-Class. Each workstation has a default build that can be useful for many purposes.
But if you’re going to pay a huge chunk of money for a specialized workstation, it’s important to get things right.
They too have a “Configure and Buy” option. Their configurator will walk you through each individual component, from processor to display and more.
You also get a variety of warranty options, with a standard of 3 years on parts and labor. Depending on how much you want to pay, you can get up to 3 years of extended support.
Titan Computers was founded in 2008 in New York State, and relocated to Hallandale Beach, Florida, in 2013.
They specialize in producing professional-grade workstations, primarily for the film and special effects industries. They’re also a major supplier for the Department of Defense, as well as different militaries throughout the world.
One thing that’s unusual about Titan Computers, when compared to other specialized workstation manufacturers, is that they offer a whopping 28 base models.
These range from more-or-less standard PCs to truly powerful beasts. If you’re not terribly tech-savvy, this means you’ll be likely to find a system that works for you without a whole lot of customization on your end.
That said, you can still customize just about every part of any of these machines if you know exactly what you need. The standard warranty offers lifetime labor coverage and tech support, with 2 years of parts coverage. For a premium you can extend that to 3 or 4 years of parts coverage.
Conclusion – Where to buy your pre-built PC?
Everyone wants a piece of the pie and there’s a lot of competition out there for PC-Sellers.
With all of those options to chose from, here’s our recommendation of where you should get your PC (from top to bottom):
1. Build the PC yourself
We can’t say it often enough 🙂 Build your own PC.
It’s easy, fun, you save a lot of money, and after a short time you will be able to fix and troubleshoot any of your PC’s problems yourself without relying on expensive tech-support.
2. Buy a Pre-Built Gaming PC
If building your own PC is absolutely not an option, go for a Pre-Built Gaming PC that you can get off of Amazon or similar retailers. As I mentioned above, Gaming PC’s essentially consist of the exact same parts as most Content Creation PCs / Workstations.
They are just targeted at the Gaming Market (And therefore often come with much RGB bling). This will most likely be the most cost-effective option for buying a pre-built and you can get away with only paying around 10-15% more VS. assembling the PC yourself.
3. Buy a customized Gaming PC
If you can’t build the PC yourself but do have a bit of knowledge in what components you need, go with a Gaming PC that you can customize yourself bought directly from the Manufacturer.
Have it assembled by the manufacturer and shipped to your doorstep.
4. Get a specialized High-End Workstation
You can’t build yourself and this PC you want to buy will be responsible for earning your livelihood or you need specific high-end components like Threadripper CPUs, a huge amount of RAM or a multi-gpu setups (that custom-built Gaming PCs just won’t offer)?
Then going with a specialized workstation manufacturer will be your best option, although you should expect to pay a heavy premium.
That’s about it from our side – Have some more questions? Let us know in the comments!