My MacBook Air has served me well these last three years but considering the directions my interests have been headed this past year (mainly towards coding and PC gaming), I discovered that there’s only so much you can do with when it only has the about same amount of RAM as my phone and refuses to run Windows. I finally decided that it was about time for an upgrade around Christmas when it attempted to give up the ghost along with my history coursework.
With the specs I needed in mind, I appeared to be left with only two options: compromise with some of specifications to fit within my budget, or spend nearly £2000 to get what I wanted. Not particularly interested in doing either, I chose a third option: building my own.
The concept me of buying each individual part and then assembling them into a working unit that allowed you to even at least use Word, let alone run a demanding game like Civilization 6, seemed ridiculous to everyone apart from me (who had been blinded by the potential monetary savings). To be fair, at the time I didn’t even know what a CPU looked like, let alone how to install it in a motherboard…
Lucky for me, there’s a plethora of helpful websites, forums and Youtube channels dedicated to helping you make the sickest RGB-fueled gaming machine that ever existed. While planning, I probably ended up watching hundreds of build guides and component reviews in an attempt to optimise my parts.
By early June (only one month later), I knew a decent amount about hyperthreading, chipsets and even overclocking. All I needed to do now was scrape together the money to buy the parts required to build my masterpiece.
It’s time. pic.twitter.com/4L3zQiF9ia
— AJ @ school (@shoujoramen) August 8, 2017
Not getting into the nerdy part of the build here, but you can check out my post on PC Parts Picker if you’re actually interested.
As you can see, the finished item looks very stylish indeed, with its all-black colour scheme and tasteful lighting from my RGB RAM (currently cycling through subtle shades).
If I could pass on any words of wisdom to anyone else interested in building a PC, there are a few things that might be helpful to know:
- PC Parts Picker is a godsend if you’re not sure where to start. It allows you to make lists of the parts you want to get, while checking their compatibility and online prices all at the same time! There are also reviews and you can check out other people’s awesome builds (like mine) for inspiration.
- If your CPU and GPU aren’t within about ±30% of the same price as each other (does that make sense?), you’re probably doing it wrong. I mean, a $600 graphics card won’t do much with an $80 processor…
- The worst time to buy a graphics card appears to be in the thick of a cryptocurrency mining craze. Wait a couple months and the prices should simmer down.
- Your first build will not take you “only about half an hour”. Expect it to take AT LEAST the entire afternoon IF it boots by the third attempt. And don’t do it on a hot day.
- Don’t just buy the most expensive parts you can afford, but don’t buy the cheapest parts you can find either. It’s all about value. Tech reviews from sites and channels like Hardware Canucks and Linus Tech Tips tend to give you a pretty good idea of what works well with what within certain price ranges.
- Aesthetics should probably not be quite as important as I decided to make them if you’re on a budget. I probably could have saved as much as £200 or even upgraded some of my parts, had I forgone the black colour scheme, the tempered glass and the RGB RAM (#noregrets).
As for gaming and coding (you know, the actual reason why I needed a new computer in the first place), I haven’t exactly had the chance test it out
since my maths course is more intense than I thought it would be but a little overclocking has made running pretty much any game a breeze.
I still don’t regret that extra £15 I spent on RGB RAM.
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