Our Mystery Shopper goes in search of a customised gaming desktop

Mystery Shopper: System builders special

This month we’ve sent our Mystery Shopper to the world wide web to test out how easy it is to navigate around some of the UK’s top system builder websites and how helpful they are when buying a customised gaming desktop, along with a monitor and other peripherals, with a budget of £1,500. Let’s see how they got on.

I started my search for a gaming desktop on one of the best-known system builder websites: Overclockers. While there was quite a lot of information crammed onto the homepage, the ‘PCs & Gaming Systems’ banner stood out enough to catch my eye.

Once clicked, I was taken to a page that did more than just catch my eye, it presented me with an array of big, bright pictures and clear descriptions of the different types of desktops on offer. I decided to peruse the Nvidia selection and was presented with a large selection of desktops that were under budget. All had clear images and detailed important specs as well as clearly showing if they came bundled with any peripherals.

It was easy to choose what specs I wanted – all were presented in drop down menus on one page, meaning I didn’t have to scroll through tons of options or leave the main page I was on.

SCAN 8/10
Although the Scan website was very clean in terms of design, I had to click a few options and menus before I got to my desired section.

Scrolling down the page I was presented with a number of options, one being a Steam Machine. The 3XS Steam NC10 started at £564.98 and after taking a look at the specs and overview, I thought I’d see what customisable options there were.

I was a little disappointed by some of the options. For instance there was only one type of graphics card and one sound card to chose from. However, after selecting another PC, the 3XS Gamer 5i for £640.92, I found more options.

The great thing about shopping on the Scan website is that as you select different specs, your shopping cart follows you up and down the page and its total adjusts so you can keep an eye on your budget. The payment process was simple, with plenty of payment options, including Bitcoin.

With a ‘featured products’ banner plonked right in the middle of the homepage it was easy to find what I was looking for.

The Chillblast fusion Ranger R9 Z97 Haswell Gaming PC caught my eye. At £1,249 it was just under my budget. There was plenty of info, but I would have liked it if the imaging was a bit bigger and clearer.

As I clicked on the ‘customise or buy’ button I was presented with a wide variety of customisations. I was trying to be careful not to go over my budget while selecting a monitor, keyboard and mouse, but it was a bit difficult to see where I was at.

While checking out I was pleased to see that I had a number of payment options, including card, PayPal, Hitachi PayByFinance, bank transfer and phone ordering.

Although there were lots of customisation options, it was a bit overwhelming at times. I would have preferred if all the options were on dropdown menus on a single page.

Utopia’s website doesn’t mess about. The homepage challenges users to ‘choose your weapon’ and then presents you with custom desktops, custom laptops and custom bundles.

There were only three different custom PCs to choose from, but there were also promotions for games and in-game credit – something which I had not seen on the other sites that I visited.

I was quick to grab a free copy of Watch Dogs.

Although there were only three PCs to start with, there were tons of spec options and Utopia points out that if there’s any components that are not found on its site, users are encouraged to call or email and request them.

In addition to that, the site features a one-page checkout system, making my purchase nice and quick.

I was very impressed with the reassurance that I could request any component from Utopia if I desired.

Hands down, YoYoTech has the best looking website out of all those that I visited. It was easy to navigate, had clear pricing and banners, and most importantly, lots and lots of custom builds to choose from.

The Warbird XT MK1 caught my eye. It started at £899.99, leaving me a little, but not too much, to play around with.

There was one part of the website that didn’t look quite as nice though. The customising section popped up in a new window, which covered my basket, meaning it was quite fiddly while trying to check if I was going over my budget as I selected different options.

In the end I managed to get everything I need with a little money to spare, although I did have to compromise on one or two specifications. But it was great to see that shipping was only £4.16.

Another bonus was that the site accepted credit card, debit card and PayPal.

Custom gaming PCs are the first thing you’re greeted with on the DinoPC website.

There were nine gaming PCs to choose from, although some of them were out of my budget and another few would have crept over the £1,500 mark had I wanted to customise a few things.

I opted for the Shooter Spartan GTX 760, which at £699 gave me plenty of room for adding a decent monitor and gaming peripherals.

I was able to do just that, and I still had a couple of hundred pounds left over. I was then given the option to recustomise any part I wanted, which was very tempting. I found it easy to flip back and fourth, bumping up specs here and there.

DinoPC also had a one-page checkout system, but unfortunately it did not accept PayPal.

It was great to see the website shout about its price match promise, urging customers to get in touch if they could find a better quote elsewhere.

It is tough to pick a winner in this month’s mystery shop as all the websites I visited had products within my price range.

Although all six system builder websites offered a good range of customised gaming PCs, one or two had a tendency to be a little overwhelming at times.

When you’ve got so many products and options to pick from, it’s quite easy to end up with a website that looks a little clunky and overcrowded.

YoYoTech gets a mention as easily the best looking website with its sleek design, but it was let down slightly by its bulky customisation menu. Utopia and Overclockers were the easiest websites to navigate around and both had very clear and easy-to-use menus when I came to picking out certain components for the PC.

Although it had fewer paying options than Overclockers, Utopia offered some great freebies. It also made a point of letting customers know that they could call up or email and request any specialist components that they needed, regardless as to whether it was available on the website.

Overclockers was a very close second in this mystery shop, but out of all the sites I visited, Utopia was that one which reassured me that I was not only getting a decent gaming PC for my budget, but that the retailer behind the website really cared about making sure their customers had exactly what they needed.

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