How much money is in building PC's?

Firstly, I'd like to apologize if I'm in the wrong section. Secondly, I'd like to thank the fine people of Tom's hardware for helping me in building my first PC ever.

I'd like to say I caught the bug and immediately after finishing I wanted to go again. Problem is I can't fund this habit . Browsing the internet I keep coming across crazy bargains than I could purchase and start building a catalog and eventually sell them all on. I just want to know what kind of profit (Minimal-Decent-etc) I'd make from selling medium to high end machines and how many of you do it?

This is my first build and I'd appreciate any quotes on what it would be worth if I was to list it (Just so I have a rough idea of profit). Thanks a lot!
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  1. I don't think there's much in it at all, assuming you're doing it right. I build machines for family and friends, and on rare occasions for someone else, but you spotted part of the problem yourself: the "crazy bargains." Never mind that they're built with Logisys or Diablotek PSU-shaped objects, heavy foil cases, and yesteryear's tech; they're cheap, and that's all most consumers understand. I can't do that; I will not build a machine using any part I would not buy myself, which means I can't profit on selling them. So, I do it as a hobby, not a business. I tell people I'll build them a PC, essentially for the cost of the parts. I typically get "tipped" another $50 or so, but the point is I get to do something I enjoy, and they get a machine that won't be dead in a month or useless in six, and furthermore can be easily upgraded. Nobody loses, and that's how I think it ought to be, even though I couldn't make a living at it.
  2. There is no OS in that list, so add another £100 to any build you do.

    Really, there isn't much money in it. 75% of people are going to go to the big box stores and buy the cheapest $300 computer they can to play facebook games on or email with and have no interest in gaming. The small PC gaming segment, most will build their own or buy a premade one from Alienware, CyberPC-whatever that new gaming PC company is called. Maybe a few percent will pay someone to build it.

    As for buying stuff now, and building a catalog, welcome to a money pit. Anything you buy today will be cheaper tomorrow and if/when you sell it in a month or two or three, parts will be cheaper even more so. In that time, you'll have thousands of dollars/pounds/whatever invested in equipment.

    I've tried several businesses, one offering some retail PC parts and it's hard. You buy 20 HD's to have in stock, 3 weeks later, a new bigger size comes out, all the other drives are now worth less retail than what you paid wholesale.

    Most PC places do not get rich off building PC's, not selling parts. They take a wash on a lot of that stuff. Buy some processors and have them in stock, no one buys, then a new generation comes out, all the old ones get a huge price dump.

    Now with the internet, it's 10x harder to make money at it. Most retail places make money off selling mice, doing repairs and upgrades, cables, the small stuff. Sad that there is a bigger profit margin off selling a cheap boxed mouse/keyboard combo for $15 than there is on a hard drive, but it's the way it is. It's when someone comes in with a dying hard drive or something that you can make some money on the labor aspect of it. I don't keep any stock nowadays. If someone wants something, I go to a big computer center like Canada Computers or Tiger Direct or Sumit Direct and get my parts when I need them for a customer, add $10 for gas and pickup and then make my money on the labor.
  3. For the most part, I agree with Onus. There really isn't much of a profit margin to be made. Occasionally, you'll find the guy (or gal) who builds a $1000 PC and claims it's worth twice that on Craigslist or E-Bay, but they're dreamers hoping to rip off some uneducated individual. Like Onus, I build for family and friends.

    The problem with that is when something they want to do doesn't work, I get the call (whether I built the system or not). The same would hold true for any system you built and then sold. You'd be responsible for warranty on parts and technical support. That tech support would eat away any profit you could hope to make.

    -Wolf sends
  4. PC Building nowadays is strictly hobby. Unless you are a teenager making side cash, the time invested in building & testing as well as the money invested initially to purchase the parts isn't worth the return, especially for people who has a decent paying job or a career.

    There are different reasons for this, but some of the main reasons are:

    1. Expensive "OS" costs - Any recent version of MS Windows still costs ~$100.. Enough said... (yes.. OS IS part of the system cost, no matter what some people say)

    2. Expensive "core" component costs - HDD and RAM prices are no longer cheap due to various reasons. It is difficult to find great deals on these today. ODD is generally cheap, but due to decrease in demand and availability, you won't find super deals on these. CPU & Mobo deals are hard to find (except for maybe Microcenter).

    3. Builder's part availability - Unless you have high # of build requests, and building multiple PCs at once, purchasing parts as "hot deal" and using them is unrealistic. The parts need to be available on hand to complete a build, which means you need to purchase abundance qty of parts in ready mode. And when you order a part with regular price, the profit margin decrease..

    4. Availability of extremely "cheap" brand PCs, and "gaming" PC specialists - Dell, Acer, Lenovo, HP, etc etc.. the list goes on and on.. These PC makers sell PCs for an affordable price everyday, and great prices during specials. To make matters worse for personal builders, there are tons of "gaming" PC specialists such as iBuyPower (my favorite), Cyberpower, AVAdirect, etc etc.... And some of their prices aren't that bad at all considering the tech support..

    5. Tech Support!!! - Again, the time you need to invest to provide support is much more than builders realize.. If the buyer doesn't have tech knowledge, you somehow may need to educate that individual, because they don't know the difference between component failure vs. OS issue caused by user stupidity.

    I have been building and selling it for a while, but realized that it really wasn't worth it, even for friends and family. Now, I simply find the best deal at the moment, and have them purchase it on their own. I do simply repairs (dead psu, virus issues, etc) for them, but that is it. I would rather spend the time I saved doing something for myself, such as upgrading my PC.
  5. Thanks everyone for the insight. I guess I'll give it a miss. It was never something I was 100% set on and from browsing around it seems everyone has the same opinion. A shame but o'well. Thanks for the advise.
  6. It is way too hard to compete with the big guys dell and such. I build gaming machines for people and make about a 100 bucks per build.
  7. christop said:
    It is way too hard to compete with the big guys dell and such. I build gaming machines for people and make about a 100 bucks per build.

    And when you factor in the time shopping around for parts, either online or driving around, putting it together, installing OS, drivers, etc, it's probably doesn't work out to a decent "hourly wage" nor are you doing 15-20 builds a week. Great hobby for side money, or to help out friends, but not worth it for a full business. I try to average 50-100 per build too depending, but it's hard when someone wants a cheap PC and Bestbuy has ones for $300. It costs us $100 just for a damn OS.
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