There are plenty of guides on how to build a computer, but if you’d rather have someone else do the assembly for you, the decision becomes the pre-built outfit you have to go with. This has traditionally meant the likes of Dell or Maingear, or a number of others (Falcon Northwest, iBuyPower, the list goes on). But now you can have Newegg put your system together, for a modest fee, with custom parts selected from its extensive catalog.
This is a major expansion of Newegg’s ‘PC Builder’ tool that was launched in beta last year. The tool is designed to guide DIY builders through the component selection process, by offering compatible parts along the way. For example, if you choose an AMD Ryzen 7 5800X for your processor, the Motherboard section will only display the SKUs you can actually use with it, making it impossible to inadvertently select an incompatible part (like, say, an Intel Z590 motherboard).
Not only is this a boon for new and inexperienced builders, it can also help seasoned vets de-clutter a little easier than navigating Newegg menus the old-fashioned way. And you can still narrow your selections based on brand, price, features, and other sort toggles.
It costs a flat $99 to get Newegg to build your own computer, big or small. This means that the value proposition will vary, depending on the total cost of your system and the complexity of the architecture.
The price seems fair to me, provided Newegg does a good job with the build. Regardless of pricing, the main potential advantage is access to a wide range of parts in each category.
“Our PC assembly line is staffed with skilled technicians,” said Vishal Mani, Newegg’s director of engineering. “With a massive inventory of components on hand and a team of skilled builders at the ready, Newegg is simply the best choice for customers who refuse to compromise on quality and who want their expertly built PCs delivered more quickly than any other BTO. [build-to-order] Services.”
There is a caveat, however. Turning on the new “Need Assembly Service” switch when using the PC Builder tool narrows the parts list to only “Qualified Items” available in the Newegg California repository.
Other than availability (which means a high-end graphics card will still be difficult to install), it’s not clear how Newegg determines if a part qualifies for professional build service. However, there are still plenty of parts to choose from – when I chose the 5800X for the CPU, the motherboard department listed 73 parts compatible across multiple chipsets. If the assembly switch is turned off, that number jumps to 121 motherboard options.
Newegg also promises a fast conversion – it takes “about a week” for a configured PC to be manufactured and shipped. It will be interesting to see if these changes, if this option becomes popular, or if Newegg will hire more builders as necessary.
What is available now is described as an “initial beta”. The custom build service will expand over time, based on “Valuable Ideas and Suggestions” that Newegg receives, with the eventual addition of a second phase of options such as laser engraving and other unspecified perks.
Color me intrigued. I also have a few questions I submitted to Newegg and am waiting for a response. The most important one is how the warranty works. For example, if a computer plugs in and won’t turn on, is Newegg suitable for recharging, provided tech support can’t fix the problem? And let’s say that a component failed after a few months, such as the motherboard. Will Newegg replace it, or does the user have to go through an RMA process with the motherboard maker, and swap it out themselves?
My hunch is the latter, as this is more like buying parts and then paying a friend or a local computer repair shop to put them together. In such a scenario, you usually only pay for construction labor, not extended service or support. But this is a question that Newegg must answer, and I will update this article when I receive a response.
[Update: Newegg referred me to its PC Builder Assembly Service FAQ. In short, tech support will to resolve any issues, and in the “highly unlikely scenario” a PC arrives with a component missing, Newegg will work with you to “find a solution.” If a component fails down the line, you’ll need to contact the manufacturer.]