We’re all for building your own computer. We’ve shown you how and given you some builds. However, if you’re looking for a rig that’s high-end but also comes with perks like support, a warranty, and your supervision but not your time and troubleshooting, we have five custom PC builders that’ll build that rig for you—based on your nominations.
Earlier in the week we asked you to tell us which custom PC builders do it right—high-end components, great customer support, great build options and customization choices, and of course, options for various budgets. You weighed in with some great suggestions, and now, in no particular order, are your top five.
Puget Systems has been around since 2000, building custom high-end desktops and laptops for people who want to have their say in how their system is built and designed, but also wanted the luxury of burn-in testing, a warranty, customer support, and other features that a PC builder can offer. Additionally, Puget Systems puts a special focus on making sure their rigs are as quiet as absolutely possible, so your computer doesn’t sound like a jet engine every time you fire it up. The company is known for offering systems with high-quality fans and soundproofing to keep noise down. While traditionally PC gamers are the ones people assume need these kinds of rigs, Puget also makes systems for video editors, graphic or 3D designers, and other professional users with high-end spec requirements. In addition to completely custom PCs, Puget also offers pre-built computers and base systems you can tweak and customize to your heart’s content.
In the nomination thread for Puget, you praised the company for its concierge service, which helps you through the customization and build process from start to finish, including the time required for your computer to be benchmarked, tested, and shipped to you to set up. You mentioned that they ask detailed questions to make sure that you get exactly what you need, and the quality of their builds is incredible, from high-end parts and a clean case to excellent cable management. You even get photos and video of your build as it’s built and before it ships out to you, which is a nice touch. You can read more praise for the company and its customer service in its nomination thread here.
Falcon Northwest was founded in 1992, and has been churning out custom desktops and laptops since then, aimed right at people who want powerful PCs but don’t have the time or the inclination to build them on their own. They’re one of the oldest custom builders around, still making completely custom systems for enthusiasts—specifically PC gamers looking for great performance. The company prides itself on its long history and the fact that all they do is make custom PCs (unlike some of their competitors) with unique designs, styles, and configurations for the most demanding consumers. They also pride themselves on their unique case designs, which use custom machined cases as opposed to off-the-shelf components you could use on your own. The company offers desktops in multiple sizes and form factors, and laptops for power users on the go. Each system also comes with a highly optimized BIOS, exceptional pre-ship testing and benchmarking, and a custom “rescue” USB drive you can use to restore your PC to your own preferred state if something goes wrong.
In its nomination thread, Falcon Northwest earned your praise for its customer support, burn-in testing, completely custom builds from components to design to paint job, and their configuration tool that makes it easy to personalize even one of their starter builds that you can use to get started designing the system of your dreams. You noted that they’re not the cheapest show in town, so budget buyers may not look to them first, but their build quality is on the mark. You can read more in the Falcon Northwest nomination thread here.
Digital Storm has been building custom gaming PCs, laptops, and workstations for enthusiasts since 2002, and also sells components and peripherals like gaming headsets, keyboards, and mice. They also publish their own articles outlining how the components they sell (and use in their custom PCs) benchmark and perform in real-world tests and popular games. Digital Storm builds systems with custom machined cases and completely unique copper piped watercooling loops—some of which are so intricate and complex that they’re difficult for someone without the tools and workspace that Digital Storm has to do really well. The company also offers laser etching for your custom desktop or laptop, overclocking before it ships to you, stress testing, and of course, their beautiful liquid cooling options. While most of Digital Storm’s systems are extremely unique and tailored to PC gamers, anyone who gets one can enjoy both the craftsmanship and the power that’s under the hood of those systems. The company is also proud of its customer service and workmanship, saying that unlike many custom PC builders that just slap off-the-shelf components together, they put a lot of effort and care into making sure your PC isn’t just perfect, but it works flawlessly when it gets to you.
In its nomination thread, many of you highlighted those amazing watercooling loops that Digital Storm is known for, and their own custom chips, controllers, and other components that make Digital Storm truly a custom PC builder, capable of putting together a system that’s just right for you, with the components you need in the size and form factor that you need as well. You also mentioned their Hydrolux cooling system, which is awesome even if you don’t want the copper setup, designed to keep all of your components nice and cool with a custom setup for your specific computer and the gear you put in it. Read more in their nomination thread here.
Origin PC has made headlines repeatedly since it was founded in 2009 by the original team behind Alienware (which at the time had been snapped up a few years earlier by its current owner, Dell), partially for its high-end gaming and professional computers, but also because the company regularly pushes the boundaries of what you can fit in a PC. They were one of the first companies to sign on with Valve to build Steam Boxes running Steam OS, and shortly thereafter released one. They were the folks who managed to cram an Xbox 360 into the same chassis as a gaming PC, after all. They’re well known for their completely custom rigs, with cases and chassis you’ll only find on Origin PCs, and thin, built-to-demand gaming laptops you can use as desktop replacements or take anywhere. When you buy from Origin, you can build with a starter system in mind and customize from there, or you can go full custom and build something just for you. Origin also sells their own lines of gaming peripherals, like keyboards and mice, to both go along with their systems, or just to anyone who wants them. They may not be the cheapest on the block, but they offer some really special systems, from workstation and relatively budget-friendly machines to rigs capable of 4K gaming out of the box.
In Origin’s nomination thread, many of you praised them for being the company that made Alienware great before it got sold to Dell, and others of you mentioned their exceptional customer service, their rock-solid warranty and fast, expert support, and a customer service team that’s willing to go the extra mile for their customers. Many of you also highlighted Origin’s regular sales and discounts, which can take the sting out of spending all that money on a custom high-end machine. You can read more in their nomination thread here.
eCollegePC was a bit of a dark horse nominee, but it picked up just enough steam to make it to the top five, even over some other, bigger names. Why? The company offers exceptional customer support, great technicians, a killer selection of components and cases to build your system with, and above all, budget-friendly prices for those high-end rigs. You may not get fancy completely customized machined hardware here, but you will find people who know what they’re doing, are willing to help you get the best bang for your buck, and do it all right without robbing you blind in the process. The company has been around since 2000, making well-priced custom desktops for designers, gamers, students, and anyone else who wants one since then. Their custom builder will make sure that the components you want work together and you get the power you need, and it’s easy to use. Their customer support is lightning quick, with support techs available around the clock and even on the weekends (with some turnaround time.) They’re also one of the few custom builders in the field to offer a 3 year parts and labor warranty on your whole machine.
Those of you who nominated eCollegePC noted that they’re a smaller company, but also praised them as offering customer service and support that the bigger names could learn from. You highlighted their exceptional build and shipping speed, not to mention their affordable pricing that didn’t break your budget. You can read more in their nomination thread here.
Now that you’ve seen the top five, it’s time to vote for the all-out community favorite:
This week’s honorable mention goes out to DogHouse Systems, who missed the top five by just one vote. DogHouse Systems has a history of supporting geek and gamer-friendly podcasts and webcomics, and offers great custom desktops and laptops for those same podcasts, webcomics, favorite games, and more. You have the option of customizing your own system using their base builds, tweaking it to your hearts content, and then adding things like custom case designs, water cooling, and more. They’re well known for their World of Warcraft special systems, and their current partnership with Scott Kurtz’ awesome webcomic, PVP. You can read more in its nomination thread here.
We should also give a shout to Velocity Micro, who, even though they didn’t make it in the nominations round, are generally considered a serious competitor to the names above, so if you’re looking for another option, they’re worth checking out, along with some of our other nominees from the call for contenders thread.
Finally, we should give a hearty honorable mention to the do it yourself (DIY) option, since after all, that’s the one we encourage you to follow whenever possible. We’ve talked about why it’s important to try, how to determine if your needs make it cheaper to build or buy, and even how to save money when you do and where you should get your parts when you build. We’ve even offered up a guide to doing it and some PC builds for any price point. If you can do it yourself, you really should—but we completely understand that the DIY approach comes with its own benefits—and its own drawbacks. Still, we encourage you to give it a try!
Want to make the case for your personal favorite, even if it wasn’t included in the list? Remember, the top five are based on your most popular nominations from the call for contenders thread earlier in the week. Don’t just complain about the top five, let us know what your preferred alternative is—and make your case for it—in the discussions below.
The Hive Five is based on reader nominations. As with most Hive Five posts, if your favorite was left out, it didn’t get the nominations required in the call for contenders post to make the top five. We understand it’s a bit of a popularity contest. Have a suggestion for the Hive Five? Send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org!
Title photo by JD Hancock.