2021 was the year of the pre-built gaming PC

Source: Daniel Rubino / Windows Central

I doubt I’m the only one to say that 2021 has been a blur of renewable health orders, masks and canceled plans. In a year when many people simply chose to quit most face-to-face dating, free space on the personal leisure calendar was at an all time high. And many of us have filled that extra time with video games. More than half of those polled by Ipsos in 2021 – with data compiled by the Entertainment Software Association (ESA) – said they had played more video games during the pandemic, while 90% of those polled said that they would probably continue to play video games as we slow down to normalcy.

Both sides of the gaming community, console and PC, have struggled with persistent stockouts, and many people have yet to get their hands on something like the Xbox Series X | S or a card. NVIDIA RTX graphics despite months of testing. It’s frustrating and it doesn’t seem to get much better as we head into another winter.

Amd Radeon Rx 6800 Asus Tuf RgbSource: Windows Central

Most console gamers are unfortunately held at the mercy of scalpers and stock alerts. I’m in Canada and a friend of mine finally got a PS5 after months of testing. There isn’t much of a fallback option for consoles, unlike the PC market. Pre-built gaming laptops and desktops have always been popular in the more casual sense, ideal for people who don’t have time to build their own computer or for those who want to hit the d button. ‘feed and start having fun.

But as one of the only reliable ways to get your hands on the best graphics cards, prebuilt PCs have also become a fallback for enthusiasts who are normally used to buying everything separately and putting them together. themselves. This new attention has not been positive, with many manufacturers called in for less than stellar practices. But beware, beware, and 2021 has certainly been the year of the prebuilt gaming PC.

The current GPU shortage

NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3080 Review NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3080 ReviewSource: Harish Jonnalagadda / Windows Central

I wrote an article on why you shouldn’t be building a PC in 2021 in July and unfortunately most of the content is still accurate. I wish I could write something like, “Stores are offering discounts on the AMD Radeon RX 6800 XT; make sure you buy one if you have waited. But just like six months ago, I’m here to tell you that GPUs aren’t any easier to find.

The boom in cryptocurrency mining – with around 25% of GPUs going to miners and speculators in Q1 2021 – still affects the market, as do factory closures and shipping issues due to the pandemic. Scalpers who see an opportunity to swindle consumers into buying every available GPU they stumble upon, only to sell them at a huge markup, aren’t helping.

Our list of the best graphics cards is always filled with hardware that, in most cases, you can’t buy without significant effort. At least some other PC parts aren’t that hard to find. AMD’s Ryzen 5000 desktop processors are plentiful, and Intel’s new 12th generation “Alder Lake” desktop processors can usually be found at at least one major online retailer. However, the new DDR5 RAM to combine is almost as hard to find as a GPU.

Discover the advantages and disadvantages of pre-built PCs

Lenovo Legion Tower 5i Gen6 review Legion Tower 5i is a bit of a mess inside, but it’s an affordable option for casual PC gamers.Source: Windows Central

Hardware shortages have led people to investigate pre-built gaming PCs as a way to reliably get their hands on the parts needed for a build. Pre-built ones have always moved a ton of numbers, but the significant increase in playtime has amplified demand. This year’s Black Friday had absolutely no GPU sales worth mentioning, but the savings on pre-built gaming PCs were far more popular than any other year we’ve seen.

Prebuilt PCs got a lot of attention this year, and not everything was good.

Big manufacturers like Dell, HP and Lenovo, as well as boutique PC makers like ABS, CLX, and Maingear, have a direct line to PC parts sources, making it much easier for them to get their hands on everything from processors to graphics processors. PSU. This allows them to continue to offer full gaming PCs even when there are severe shortages everywhere else. You choose the parts you want inside, they are assembled at a factory, and they are shipped to your door ready for use.

But not all pre-built gaming PCs are designed to the same standard, as many discovered in 2021. It’s easy for manufacturers to overdo their pre-built ones, assuming the majority of casual gamers don’t. will never take apart or even look inside. their new PC to see what’s going on. It turns on, it launches games, and that’s it.

Sites like Gamers Nexus have published in-depth prebuilt gaming PC reviews that show just how bad some of these PCs really are, with proprietary parts that take away any hope of future upgrades, the overrated performance capabilities of the OEM hardware and a shady subscription. tactical. While a lot of people still want a PC that runs games without a hitch, it’s great to see this stuff being taken into consideration.

CLX Ra The CLX Ra store has a serious style, much more suited to enthusiasts.Source: Daniel Rubino / Windows Central

It was not all negative. Boutique PC builders – small businesses that use real retail PC parts instead of OEM products – have undoubtedly felt an increase in popularity as enthusiasts who know what to avoid have come knocking on the door. . Editor-in-chief Daniel Rubino got his hands on the CLX Ra in May, noting an overall positive setup, purchase and shipping experience.

And you don’t have to be that fancy. Newegg’s house brand ABS has a ton of options to choose from, assembled with retail parts that make it much more like a personal build. It won’t quite match your own build, but when you can’t find a GPU any other way, it’s a great alternative. Prices also remain fairly competitive with the bigger brands, and any enthusiast who prefers to avoid OEM parts will no doubt find the extra cost to be worth every penny.

What 2022 should bring

12th Generation Intel Corei5 chipSource: Daniel Rubino / Windows Central

I have no idea what 2022 will look like; I stopped trying to predict more than a few weeks to come. New variants of COVID, trade wars and climate change can all impress their influence at any time, and telling someone to “wait a little longer to build a new PC” is no longer good advice. If you’re going to go the pre-built route and care more than just powering on and playing your favorite games, be sure to check the reviews, compare prices, and consider what hardware you already have. You can always buy a pre-built one, remove the GPU, and sell the rest of the parts to get some of your money back.

Our senior editor Robert Carnevale wrote a great article a few weeks ago explaining why, based on expert analysis, the global chip shortage is set to end soon. The TL; DR over there is that 2022 will likely be more of the same, with 2023 potentially tipping into a glut of chips. AMD CEO Lisa Su, speaking at the Code Conference, said essentially the same thing: The start of 2022 would continue to be difficult, although supply stabilizes later in the year. We’ll have to wait and see what the year holds for players around the world.

Robert P. Miller