You Don’t Get a Say On Individual Components
One of the most frustrating things about trying to shop for a computer that’s already been assembled for you is that you might not be able to find the right hardware combination you want. You might spy one model that has the monitor size and the hard drive capacity that you want, but the processor is just a little slower. Two models over, you find one that has the right processor, but the video card isn’t so good and the case looks ugly. You could spend all day walking up and down the aisle trying to compare the specs on each machine without ever finding the one that’s just right for you. This is a consequence of buying a new computer this way: you don’t get a say over what goes into the machine, so you might end up settling for something that doesn’t actually suit your needs.
Proprietary Hardware Means No Upgrades For YouIn order to keep the costs of these machines low, manufacturers often team up with hardware companies like Intel or nVidia in order to design units that are inexpensive and which save on space inside the computer case. This can be anything from a machine whose motherboard uses only one bank of RAM and shares it between the system and the video card, as opposed to dedicated video memory; or a machine whose video card is simply an integrated chip on the board that can’t be removed. Either way, these proprietary hardware combos usually mean you can’t ever upgrade the machine. If a unit is integrated directly onto the motherboard, you would have to replace the board to change it out; in essence, it’d be like buying a whole new computer anyway.
Shouldn’t You Get a Say on Software?
Perhaps the worst consequence of buying a pre-built computer is the fact that they always come pre-loaded with software from the manufacturer and sometimes even the retailer. This "bloatware" as it is often called can slow down your machine right out of the box. Not only that, but a lot of the time this software is actually a limited "trial" version, such as pre-installed antivirus software, which will expire a month or two after your purchase the computer, and then hound you about paying for a renewal. This software can even be difficult to uninstall. Shouldn’t you have a right to a clean, fresh computer that doesn’t have anything installed on it but the operating system? Beware the software that many retailers will try to sell you.