Every Freelancer Should Build Their Own Computer (Even If You Don’t Code)

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Seven years ago, I decided to build a computer. I was an avid gamer (I still am) and I wanted a machine that could handle all the new graphically intensive games that were coming out. I’ll say here that I’m not a technical person (I’m in journalism school and don’t know how to code). I built my machine from tutorials online. Little did I know, the same computer I built for gaming became invaluable for my freelance work.

Although I intended for my computer to be a glorified gaming console, I didn’t realize until afterward how effective it was at handling the stresses of audio processing. I really can’t do any work without it, and now I recommend building your own computer to any freelancer that will listen.

Major cost efficiency

One of the biggest draws to building your own computer is the money you can save in the mid to high price ranges ($500+). To show this, let’s compare building your own computer to other options available on the market.

Prebuilt Computers

Prebuilt computers have the added convenience of already being built and set up for you – but that usually means they’re significantly more expensive. If you just need a cheap and convenient option for browsing and office work, then prebuilts have their advantages. But if you’re looking for something with a little more power, that’s when they become more costly. 

If you’re willing to spend more than $500 on a new computer, you might as well buy each part and build the computer yourself. You would save money, and more than likely end up with something much more powerful than any prebuilt computer in that price range.

Laptops

Laptops, they tend to be more expensive because they have the advantage of being portable. They still remain a great option for basic browsing and office work. But if you need something with more juice, you could almost always build a more powerful desktop computer for less than half the price of an expensive production laptop. A MacBook Pro with strong laptop parts, for instance, will set you back around $3,000. Meanwhile, building a computer with similar or better parts would cost less than half of that. But obviously, you can’t take a desktop computer everywhere you go, so it all depends on your needs.

Additionally, there are helpful resources like PCPartPicker, where you can build a computer from parts available on the web. The website automatically gathers every store selling a part, and sorts listings by the best deal. You can even see a part’s price history and reviews from the platform’s user base. And if you don’t mind buying second-hand, there are plenty of savings to be found on forums like Reddit Hardware Swap, or your local classifieds. 

You can build based on your specific needs

Another great advantage to building your own computer is that you can build towards specific requirements. If you’re a graphic designer who uses a lot of programs such as Illustrator or Photoshop, you’ll need a computer with a strong graphics card. However, If you’re a sound designer, you’ll need a computer with more processing power (and less emphasis on the graphics). If you’re not sure exactly what you might need, this guide offers a good breakdown of the kind of parts you’ll need to prioritize based on your job. 

As an added bonus, if you’re a Mac person, you could actually build a ‘Hackintosh,’ or a PC that runs on Mac OS. It takes a little bit of time and familiarity with computers to pull off, but there are helpful tutorials like this one all across the web.

Parts age well (and you can upgrade whenever you want)

Remember when I told you I built my first computer seven years ago? That might seem like a long time in regards to tech, but I still use the same computer case, monitor and power supply that I bought in 2014. I upgraded most of my parts in 2020, but my old computer could still get the job done even today.

Tech companies are always building stronger computer parts every year, and it can be overwhelming to keep track of everything. But a good thing about these parts is that they can hold up for a long time. If you can afford it, investing in a medium to high end computer part will have you set for at least five years.  

One thing you can’t do with some laptops is upgrade most of its internal parts later on. Sure, you can probably bring it to a technician, but that could be really costly. Most laptops only allow you to upgrade hard drive capabilities. With your own computer, you can easily replace or upgrade all of its parts when you decide it’s time for a change. 

It teaches you helpful skills

Another benefit to building your own computer is that it can teach you some helpful skills. Outside of teaching you how to actually put a computer together, you’ll also learn how to install operating systems (OS) like Windows 10, and become more familiar with the parts that make up a computer. You could also potentially save on future repairs if you familiarize yourself with how things work (here’s a helpful article on dealing with 40 common PC issues).

It’s easier than you think

When I made the decision to build my first PC, I was definitely overwhelmed. I had nearly $1,000 in parts in front of me, and I had to somehow build something that could actually turn on. I immediately thought it was way too technical for me.  It turns out, it was one of the most rewarding and straightforward things I’ve ever done. And it was largely thanks to the plethora of helpful resources available online.

Written Guides 

Walkthrough Videos

If you’re a freelancer, building a computer can be one of the most beneficial investments you can make. It gives you the flexibility of building towards a need, and saves you money in the process. On top of that, there’s always room for upgrades later on, and you’ll learn useful technical skills. While it all depends on what you need out of a computer, building your own PC presents you so many more possibilities.

Read Next: Freelancer Taxes in 2021: Advice From A Tax Accountant

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