Help Me, Laptop: I Want Something Custom

When we review laptops, they're usually from companies you've heard of: Dell, Asus, HP, MSI, Lenovo, etc. And, usually, those are preconfigured machines. But some people have the need, the desire or the money to burn on something uniquely their own. That's where a custom machine comes in. This week, reader umbrellacorp89 asked about that kind of laptop.

There are two ways to go about this. You can go with boutique brands, which will let you customize every aspect of your notebook, or buy from other companies that offer more customization options than others for existing computers.

The fancy route is to go through a boutique builder. You might try something like Maingear, Origin PC, CyberPowerPC or Falcon Northwest, which let you choose your own colors, RAM, storage options and accessories (and, to a lesser extent, CPU and GPU). These laptops are usually from a company like Clevo, which sells chassis to other companies to use in their laptops. These machines also tend to be gaming laptops and cost a pretty premium.

But umbrellacorp89 also said they want something under $1,000, with a 1080p display and at least a 256GB SSD. That's an issue, because a custom laptop from one of those boutique firms will often cost a lot more than $1,000. The only exception I found was if you get something with a weaker GPU, like an Nvidia GeForce GTX 1050 Ti. The reader said they play World of Warcraft and Diablo III, which aren't intense games, but added that they also wanted something "future proof."  During my time browsing CyberPowerPC's website, I found a few models with a 1050 Ti or 1060, but they had less storage than umbrellacorp89 would like.

MORE: Which GPU is Right For You?

The alternative is to go with a more established brand. Both Dell and HP often have pretty solid customization options. Unfortunately, as I write this, those company's new entry-level laptops, the Dell G series and HP Pavilion Gaming lineups, are still being stocked on the companies' online stores and aren't available for purchase yet. But our reader may be able to get a computer within their budget that way. Think of it as being slightly custom.

But if you don't care about colors or prestige, you can choose from plenty of great laptops, gaming or otherwise, from popular companies. When you buy custom, always be sure to double-check the warranty and weigh the benefits of whatever customization options the company offers.

Credit: Laptop Mag