The zen of building gaming PCs


#1

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#2

where’s that Maker spirit?
Build your own damn PC and save money on the parts, plus get a better case.


#3

I have no idea who runs it, but http://www.logicalincrements.com is a godsend for spending the amount of money you want to and adjusting components to “a little cheaper” or “a little more expensive”. Every few years I have to go find it on the internet again when I build another PC


#4

Sure, you save money so long as you don’t have to buy replacements in order to troubleshoot, etc. I’ve always held off on building my own systems, personally, because I’ve seen all the time and money friends have put into getting their home-built systems to work. (Plus, it’s sometimes not even cheaper to build from parts unless you find them steeply discounted - the big manufacturers can sometimes negotiate hardware prices that individuals couldn’t get.) It seems like the real “savings” with build-your-own is that you can get exactly the parts you want, rather than having to buy over-powered systems to get particular specs on a few elements, and avoiding situations where you buy a pre-made and have to buy a new (extra) graphics card, etc. to get what you want.


#5

This is one person’s ridiculous experience making poor decisions. If you try to push your system to that level, you’re going to run into problems that no one else will. SLI is notoriously challenging and may not work with all games, especially at release.

Find a simple build that suits your needs on e.g. http://www.logicalincrements.com

Build it, and if any parts are defective, return them and get a replacement. Ordering from a reputable site like Amazon will make that easy, and you’re just as likely to have defective parts on a pre-built as you are with piecemeal. Don’t waste money on a brand like Alienware; there are some decent pre-builts out there, but generally ordering the parts lets you save money and get exactly what you need.

An upgrade cycle should be replacing the graphics card every 2-3 years, and storage upgrades as needed. A processor and MoBo should last 4-6 years before becoming obsolete. You can keep the case and power supply as long as you’d like.


#6

I really enjoy building my towers, to the point that I don’t even consider pre assembled. I also love the fact that I have a clean OS installed on my machine, no crapware, ever.

First PC I built was “bleeding edge” and I found that I was in over my head trouble shooting some of the more smaller problems. Other problems never got resolved because the industry just moves on to new hardware and software and doesnt look back. (The machine always worked well and was stable, my problems were more to do with software glitches and some small features never working as advertised)

My second build was a more moderate machine and has been a pleasure. One advantage I have is that I run very little software on my machine so it is easier to find the hardware that works best for what I need. But when installing the huge lot of games the author was describing, every machine is going to run into problems because a lot of software simply doesnt play well with certain components or even entire brands. Or, the software is incapable of using some hardware features you may already own, while other software will require features your current hardware doesnt have. Best design idea is to identify your primary 2 or 3 software titles, learn what other builders are currently using successfully with those titles, then prepare yourself knowing your machine (either pre built or home brewed) will eventually glitch out for whatever reason.


#7

A major motive for me (after a day of wrangling horrible little cost-and-volume-optimized corporate boxes and laptops at work) is getting to pick my own case.

After dealing with plastic, ultra-cheap stamped steel, and proprietary fiddly-tool less-mockery; give me a big damn 4U rackmount, mm+ steel, loads of elbow room…


#8

Yes, some people should not build their own PC’s, but building your own supercomputer seems to be the wrong way to go about it.

It’s been awhile since I was seriously into gaming and tweaking and building PC’s but the problem is that no matter how powerful a PC you build, it’s never enough, I ultimately found it simpler and cheaper to build a good enough PC and upgrade every few months once prices went down when the new generation of hardware came down.


#9

For anyone interested, www.reddit.com/r/buildapc is an amazing community with awesome guides, a chat channel etc.


#10

Looking at that http://www.logicalincrements.com/ site I’m a little shocked to see that purchasing parts through Canadian retailers seems to be equivalent or even cheaper to their US mother-sites. Normally when I compare prices between amazon.com vs .ca or (even worse) newegg.com vs .ca there often seems to be a gross markup on the Canadian equivalent.

But for example the total for the “outstanding” tier of parts is $1274 Canadian or $1147 US. At the current dollar conversion, that actually makes is cheaper to build in Canada–weird!

(But glad I’m not an enthusiast in the UK: ouch!)


#11

The ability to upgrade is what makes a DIY system better than the alpha, which, IIRC, you can’t upgrade the graphics card on, which means you’re going to be paying more over the course of a few years. Mine is specced about like that, for about the same price, but with a super high end power supply, so I can just keep swapping everything else out as needed.


#12

Yeah, a big part of why I’m tempted to put together my own machine is that I want to actually build my own, aesthetically pleasing box to put it in. Now I’m thinking I might buy a pre-built and either just take everything out and put it in my own box or build my box around an existing case…


#13

I look forward to seeing more gaming coverage.

My experience with any pre-built PC has always resulted in finding some nonstandard part/port/size that eventually became my bane.


#14

Building a gaming PC is an end, not a means. It saves you money, but never enough to justify the effort and stress. Only do it if you love doing it.


#15

The upgrade treadmill isn’t what it used to be for PC gaming these days - game requirements don’t increase that quickly (especially since they’re so heavily tied into console specs), so even when putting together a machine, using slightly older/not-top-tier parts makes more sense than ever. I suppose the advantage of a custom build is that you can maximize the bang-for-your buck with each part, in terms of getting pieces that are older and cheaper but haven’t significantly been surpassed by anything newer, potentially including the occasional newer component where warranted.


#16

I dont know… PC assembly is no more difficult than toys or furniture (though i never tried water cooling). The last ceiling fan I assembled made me more angry than I have been in years! If I was rich, I would have rather smashed that thing in the street than have taken it back to the store.


#17

I did a custom build six years ago and don’t regret it. I bought the parts about one cycle behind top-of-the-line (about 1500 for everything, including mouse, keyboard, and monitor), and since then topped it up with about 100 bucks worth of upgrades each year (a second monitor, double the ram, SSD, etc). I don’t do as much AAA gaming these days, but I plan on starting over when the Oculus Rift is released.

The best advice I heard regarding custom building is to spend a few solid weeks planning your build. Then you should buy all your parts and avoid custom build sites for the next year.


#18

It’s not as much of a discount as it used to be. A friend just specced out a $2000 gaming desktop, and found that getting it built and overclocked for her would cost exactly the same as ordering the parts individually. The only advantage to homebuilding was that the parts would get there faster.

That won’t be the case for everything, of course.


#19

It’s not that hard to build your own computer. This guy seems to be just way too into it (to the point of writing weird poetry about his experience). If you’re not obsessed gimmicky crap like 3D gaming, it really doesn’t take long or require much specialized knowledge. You get a basic understanding of how the major parts interact with one another, and you might even save some money.


#20

I’ve built my own rig, I’ve helped my brothers build rigs. Mine has more muscle than I thought I’d ever need, then I discovered the joys of un-optimized games in beta. Computers are simple to build, and the enthusiast grade parts are better than you get in stock boxes. SLI would be a breeze(I can get to four), I can drop cards out of the loop with a flick of a switch. Aside from a couple of hiccups from really odd bits of software my computer is more reliable than any stock box I’ve ever touched.
Building them is like the biggest Legos ever, and it means you still have warranty when you swap a fan or add an HDD or whatever part you like.