All white PC builds look awesome. There’s something clean and refreshing about a build where the case, hardware, fans and cables are all white:
(Granted the motherboard isn’t all white – a topic I touch on later in this article)
But if you’re planning out a wintery PC build of your own, you might have noticed that they cost a lot more. Why is this? Is it just corporate greed – an attempt for big companies to rip-off consumers? Or is there a legitimate reason? I take a look.
I discuss this topic in the YouTube video below, but read on if you prefer text to video:
- All-white PC hardware is a smaller market, and so the cost per unit (for producing all white components) can be higher than other colors.
- When it’s clear that some people really want all white components, many hardware makers will charge a ‘fashion tax’ (to cash in, effectively!).
- Producing all white plastic and PCBs is actually harder than other colors, due to the pigments and manufacturing process involved.
Examples Of More Expensive White Components
While white PC components do sometimes go on sale, they’re often more expensive than their black counterparts. For example, I just checked on Overclockers UK and Amazon and quickly found a number of cases where white hardware is more expensive:
|White Price (£)
|Black/Non-White Price (£)
|Lian Li O11 Dynamic Mini Midi-Tower Case
|White is 19% more
|Glorious Model O USB RGB Odin Mouse
|White is 12.6% more
|Asus GeForce RTX 4070 Dual OC 12GB GPU
|White is 1.7% more
|Kraken X63 RBP AIO Cooler
|White is 22% more
|Arctic P14 140mm Case Fan
|White is 34.3% more
Note: It is naturally possible to find examples where white PC parts cost the same as the non-white equivalents, but in general white components do cost more on a like-for-like basis.
Why White PC Hardware Is More Expensive
In a world of economic turmoil, growing income disparity and ever-lessening brand loyalty, it’s easy to assume that all white PC parts are more expensive simply due to corporate greed. But do want to know the real reason why they’re more expensive?
Kidding, sort of. Well, that actually is one of the three reasons, but let’s drill into things a bit more.
Supply And Demand
Supply and demand is a fairly basic economic principle that explains why prices rise when demand rises, but conversely prices can fall when supply rises.
Imagine that 100 of us live in an old medieval town where there’s a single baker. We’re all fairly hungry but due to an issue with the furnace, there are only 25 loaves to purchase. When people come to buy, they will barter and negotiate and (in general) the richest 25 residents end up with the loaves at an average cost of 15 ora per loaf. The other 75 go hungry – sorry everyone. This is a case of high demand but constrained supply.
But then a few days later, the furnace issues are resolved and there are 150 loaves to purchase – woohoo. No-one has to starve, and there is no longer a need to pay 15 ora per loaf. Instead, the price plummets to 5 ora for each loaf because there are no longer any supply constraints.
That’s a fairly basic (and historically inaccurate!) explanation of supply and demand, and it applies to PC hardware too. Not everyone wants to purchase white PC parts: in-fact, only a tiny fraction of PC builders end up building all-white PCs. So PC manufacturers will make less all-white components, and instead focus more on speed, features and the price of their hardware.
While you might think that there’s high demand for all-white PCs (and so supply should rise in time), the reality is that many computers are built by big companies like Dell, Asus and HP – companies that barely ever use white PC parts.
As a result, the white PC building market is always in a position of stable demand but constrained supply: i.e. there is a much more limited supply of all-white hardware to choose from. This means that white components are naturally more expensive.
Corporate Greed (Speciality Items Cost More)
Have you ever wondered how Apple can charge $700 for wheels for their Mac Pro computers, or Gucci can charge $650 for a belt? Some people call this the ‘fashion tax’: companies who sell flashy and desirable products can charge higher prices because they know they can get it.
It’s the same idea with all-white computer hardware, too. Consumers don’t usually seek out white components by chance: it’s because they are planning to build a white PC. And this means that they are a captive market, and so they will nearly always pay more for white hardware.
After all, if someone doesn’t care what color their PC build is, they can buy pretty much any color component – and have the pick of the market. But if a PC builder wants an all-white system, they are stuck with a much more limited choice of products – and so companies can charge a premium, which people will reluctantly pay.
In Short: PC manufacturers will often charge a premium for white components because they can. They know that people who actively want to purchase white PC parts will do so because they really want a white PC build.
White Plastic Is Harder To Manufacture
Moving away from economic and business reasons, there is one other reason why white components cost more: they are genuinely harder to manufacture. There are a few reasons why it’s harder to make pure white plastic than other colors:
- Contamination: white shows more dirt, discoloration and contamination than other colors. So white plastic is often made in smaller (or separate) batches, and in a slightly more stringent environment than non-white plastics.
- Extra pigments/additives: making the white color within plastic requires slightly more specialist chemicals, such as using titanium dioxide (TiO2) to achieve the white pigment. However TiO2 can be more expensive than other plastic additives.
- Harder to work with: the use of TiO2 also makes the plastic more opaque (less transparent) than some other plastic additives, meaning that molding the white-colored plastic can be more difficult.
As a result, computer component manufacturers do actually have (some) valid reasons for hiking up the price of their white components. Of course, I don’t think that this warrants the 10-35% ‘white premium’ I have sometimes observed, but it might explain why a white GPU costs 1-3% more than the non-white equivalent.
White PC Builds: Where To Draw The Line?
There’s no denying that there’s something special about white PC builds, but it’s not always possible to achieve a 100% white build. For example, white motherboards like the MSI B360 Arctic Motherboard are now hard to find:
Quite a few people have noticed that white motherboards are hard to find recently, and I think it’s because white PCBs are harder again to manufacture – plus there’s the usual supply and demand arguments. I think that’s why many ‘all white builds’ you see online actually contain black and white motherboards.
Equally you often can’t find white RAM, so people either buy RGB memory which ‘distracts’ people away from the non-white color. Alternatively, Corsair Vengeance sell RAM with a white heatsink that can work well:
Finally, some people insist on buying a white PSU… before realizing that the PSU is hidden away by the case! So this might be one situation where it’s best just to buy any color of PSU. The exception here, though, is that some white PSUs come with white cables – and these cables naturally will be visible throughout your build (please excuse the bad cable management below – I wanted to quickly check that my PC booted up):
So choosing a white PSU might make sense in this situation, even if your case hides your PSU from sight.