Close to the Metal Ep. 49: Build your own gaming desktop, or let someone else do it?

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We spend a lot of time testing, working on, and reviewing gaming desktops. As lightweight laptops and 2-in-1s become increasingly capable of handling day-to-day tasks, more users who need extra power are sitting down at a desk to achieve it. But there’s more than one way to cook an egg, and that’s doubly true when it comes to gaming desktops.

The first option, and our personal favorite, is building the system by hand. Modern systems assemble so easily, that most of the work is in the planning. You have to find parts that work together, fill your power needs, and often aesthetic appeal comes into play. There’s also troubleshooting, which can be incredibly frustrating, or returns for products that didn’t work properly out of the box, which can take a week or more to come back. On the bright side, it’s the cheapest option, and you get a system tailor made for your needs.

If you don’t have the time, or expertise, to put something together, you can always pay someone else to do it. Boutique custom PC builders will help you select off-the-shelf parts, and then assemble, test, and often overclock them in their workshop before boxing them up and shipping them off to you ready to go. They run a premium, but range from modest builds to flashy showpieces with tempered glass and liquid cooling.

Finally, there’s the option right in the middle. Manufactures like Asus, Alienware, or Zotac will put together different gaming desktop models, with one or two options for price point. They tend to be slightly more expensive than building yourself, but as we’ve seen time and time again, there are often issues with these machines. We’ll talk your preference, our experience, and more on this week’s Close to the Metal.

Close to the Metal is a podcast from Digital Trends that takes a deep dive into computing and PC gaming topics. Each show, we’ll focus in on one topic, and leave no stone unturned as we show off the latest in hardware and software. Whether it’s the latest GPU, supercomputers, or which 2-in-1 you should buy, we break down the complicated jargon and talk about how user experience is affected in the real world. Please subscribe, share, and send your questions to podcast@digitaltrends.com. We broadcast the show live on YouTube every Tuesday at 1pm EST/10am PST.

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