Deputy Editor Gordon Mah Ung explains why we build PCs
I’ve heard from plenty of OG nerds who have long since given up on rolling their own rigs. They almost always ask the same question: “People still build PCs?” or “Why build?”
Look, I’m not against buying a PC, and I believe there are actually tons of good reasons to buy a prebuilt PC, such as support, warranty, and better pricing than you or I could ever get by building. OEMs also offer expertise and/or technology that’s inaccessible to most home builders—such as outfitting a three-way SLI machine with custom water-cooling, or building in a nifty mini-tower chassis that the public can’t get. And to be honest, I’d much rather have a relative or friend buy an OEM machine than to custom-build one because I don’t want to be on the hook for the 3 a.m. calls. Let’s not even get into laptops, which are verboten to DIYers.
But none of those reasons take away from the pure joy I get out of building a PC. Getting a seat in our little budget build-off was a plain hoot. For a hardcore PC nerd, there’s nothing so exciting as sorting through parts lists looking for just the right components that will let you vanquish your foes. For that article, Tom, Chris, and I spent an afternoon taunting one another over our respective hardware choices and then sweating bullets when we realized a competitor’s machine might actually be better. Once all the parts were in house, we built the machines side-by-side in our common area so we could peer over each other’s shoulders. I mean, I did have a spare Core i7-3770K—no one would notice, right?
This got me thinking, why do we build?
We build because we like the control we get—from the parts selection, to the color, to even the shape and size of the case. We can wire it tight or leave it messy. (Yeah, I left my budget rig messy. I charge $5 to clean up wiring.)
We build because it’s cathartic. Yeah, the day sucked, the bills came in, and you just had a spat with your spouse, girlfriend/boyfriend, or pet, but nothing makes it all fade away like cracking open a stack of boxed hardware you’ve been collecting and finally building that brand-new rig. When the last part is installed and you’re installing the OS, it’s better than Miller time.
We build because we’re green. My co-workers think I’m nuts when I try to save even an old stock Intel LGA775 cooler or a box of DDR2 RAM, but I do it because I know eventually I’ll have enough leftover parts to assemble a PC and set it loose rather than sending it to the big e-waste bin in the sky.