Difference Between Retail and Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEM)

If you’ve ever tried to buy a license for Windows, you’re familiar with the challenges that come up. The concept may seem simple – buy the license and be on your way – but you have to decide upon the cheaper system builder (OEM)or the more expensive retail license. In theory, these two options are built for different audiences: normal Windows users and those building their own workstation PCs.

Generally speaking, most Windows users don’t go out and purchase a boxed copy of Windows. Instead, the program comes pre-installed on the computer they purchased. But another group of people exists, too. Those who are building their own gaming computers and need to pre-install Windows onto their system.

Let’s take a look at the differences between the two licenses.

  • Retail: The retail version of Windows is the full version and the standard “consumer” version. Anytime you walk into an electronics store and see the boxed sets of Windows, you’re looking at the retail version. It’s designed for people who want to upgrade their computer or buy a new license. The license can be installed on any computer, and it comes with full support from Microsoft.
  • OEM: The OEM version of Windows is a system builder and primarily used by large computer manufacturers as well as local computer shops. Computer enthusiasts can use them on their workstation PCs, though Microsoft has gone back and forth as to whether or not this is allowed. The OEM version is tied to a single PC forever, and it doesn’t come with support from Microsoft.

As you can imagine, the OEM version of Windows is much cheaper than the retail version, but it’s also far more limited. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing if you’re building your own workstation PC and every dollar counts. For example, you will still receive updates from Microsoft Update; you just won’t be able to connect to them directly for support. Generally speaking, though, retail is best.

When you choose Velocity Micro for your gaming PC, only retail parts will be used. We prefer retail parts because the higher performing computer parts are used in retail, while the slower performing parts are sold in bulk to OEMs. OEM companies then use the parts in their systems, and the consumer ends up with a gaming computer that runs slower than it should. More information about why we use retail parts in our workstations and gaming systems.

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