There are two schools of thought when it comes to equipping yourself with a killer new PC. The first is the more risk-averse, recommending you pay someone else to do all the hard work for you.
That way you're delivered a machine that simply works, the moment you ease it from the box. The second school considers such behaviour sacrilegious. Instead, it's forever faithful to its central belief – thou shalt always build, no matter what.
We tend to advocate for the second camp, but we're big enough and ugly enough to understand that the market has changed a lot in recent years, and working out whether you should build or buy isn't quite as straightforward as it once was.
Traditionally, self-builds had the advantage of being the cheaper option. The difference may have been slight in some cases, but it was generally always there. Even if a system builder had exactly the components you wanted to build your own machine with, you could generally shop around and pick up the exact same parts for less and save a pretty penny by putting it together yourself.
Many of the more expensive systems do still have the potential for decent savings, but that margin has disappeared in some of the machines we've looked at recently, especially at the cheaper end. This leaves the main reason to build as making sure you don't waste money on components you don't really need. You get to spend the money where it matters most to you.
Say, for example, you wanted to build a machine that will deftly play GTA V, but also have enough raw grunt to handle this year's other big PC gaming release, The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, then you could set out to build a rig that really pushes graphics performance above all else.
Which is what we're focusing on over the next few pages. A pure gaming machine. But you can follow the general gist of this guide to build whatever it is you want – focusing on whichever area you need your machine to excel in.