Will tier 1 computer vendors erode the specialist PC gaming system build market?

Over the last few years the system builder market has developed, with more tier 1 vendors returning with their own take on gaming desktops.

Currently, system builders lead the specialist gaming desktop market, with good margins from high performance products designed for hardcore gamers. 

Back in the day, larger vendors including the likes of Dell and HP came into the PC market with competitive prices, which in turn forced some system builders into the gaming market.

Steve Ling, executive director for Caseking, explained: “The system build market has changed a lot in the UK over the last ten years. It used to be very much more low-end or B2B and education based, and then obviously the tier 1s came in with cheaper and cheaper propositions, because of the scale of manufacturing.

"That started to erode a lot of the original big system builders in the UK market. That was then also compounded by the fact there was a fairly big move from desktop to notebook, and now you’ve seen a new breed of system builders come out: companies like Overclockers, Scan, PC Specialist, CyberPower… these companies are enjoying a new niche area which has seen a lot of growth over the past few years.

"And our focus has been very much on delivering high performance products that look really good. For us this is where the capability of Overclockers is really important. Being able to knock out £400 PCs is not really a good use of our space."

However, gaming is starting to get taken seriously with bigger vendors, with the likes of Acer recently unveiling its Predator G6 desktop (pictured) and Lenovo pushing gaming desktops.

But now that these brands are breaking out into the desktop gaming market, will more follow? Are system builders like Overclockers fearful of this possibility?

Miodrag Relic, business development director for Caseking group (which owns Overclockers), said: "Not at all. For example, beside being able to offer the latest and best possible components, we are able to offer the tuning. So we can always offer pre-overclocked systems and bundles, and customisation as well.

"Bigger vendors do have a place, especially on the B2B side for corporate customers, absolutely, they’re extremely strong when it comes to notebooks too. 

"But they purchase tens of thousands of machines at the same time, for a large manufacturing organisation they have to lock in the spec months before the launch actually commences. Once spec is locked and they go into production, they can’t change it. In the meantime you’re going to have all the new technologies, CPUs, memory, graphics cards, whatever, and they will fall behind.

"So as much as they would like to do so, it’s not easy for them to be flexible. As new technology comes, we can use it – we can constantly adapt. Our time to market is very short – theirs is longer."

Ling added: "Maybe at the entry level they will have a pop at it, and if you’re talking a £500 or £600 gaming PC, I could potentially see that happening. They have tried to dabble in it a little bit."

Time will tell whether big brands will begin to take a greater share of the PC gaming system build market, but like Relic says, it’s going to be difficult for them to effectively compete with the UK’s more nimble specialists.

Further reading: What’s next for the UK system build sector?

PCR’s Sector Spotlight on Gaming is also running throughout September – click here for more articles

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