Like I said in the title, I've played games on consoles for as long as I've been alive–from the original Xbox to the 360 to the Wii to the PS4 to the Switch. Taking the time to learn how to build a PC, and investing the money and time into actually building one, was something I never was really able to do. I've always known PC is the best platform for performance and many competitive games, as the PC gaming community has always seemed very hasty to remind people, but it was just never really in the cards for me.
Cut to late 2020. I've finally got a job that pays enough, and enough free time, so I say "fuck it" and start on my first machine, the one I finished this past week.
I feel like I've gained some new insights into the PC-building process and what merits and drawbacks there are versus going to
- The build itself was simpler than I anticipated. I was always daunted by the idea of messing with very delicate, expensive electronics with no background in computer engineering, but luckily the manufacturers of these parts include (somewhat) idiot-proof manuals to help you. The motherboard's manual in particular was helpful in figuring out how everything fits together, and YouTube guides certainly helped in that regard as well. I've heard it likened to building a Lego set, but I think that framing is a little dishonest. It was simpler than I was expecting, but I don't expect an eight-year-old to crack open a bunch of PC parts and fit them together with the same ease that they could a bunch of plastic bricks.
- I'm not convinced by any argument that a comparable gaming PC can be as affordable as a console. Thankfully I managed to get my motherboard and CPU from a friend of my dad's, and my SSD as a Christmas gift, but let's tally how much this build would cost if I had bought each part outright. Yes, I know the GPU market is fucked right now, so I'll consider the MSRP of my GPU instead of the price I paid for it.
- GPU: NVidia GeForce GTX 1660 Super, $230 (I paid $800)
- CPU: AMD Ryzen 5 3600, $200
- Motherboard: Asus ROG Strix B450-F Gaming, $120
- Case: NZXT H510, $70
- SSD: XPG SX8200 Pro, $65
- PSU: Silverstone ET550, $55
- Keyboard: Logitech G413, $70
- Mouse: Logitech G402, $40
- Powerline adapter: Not sure the brand since I threw the box away, but $90.
- Speakers: Logitech Z313, $35
- Monitor: Lenovo G25-10, $200
- OS: Windows 10 Home, $120
This all totals to $1,295 before tax. Well over twice as much as a PS5 or Xbox Series X, and this is a relatively budget-oriented machine that isn't able to do things those consoles can like ray tracing and 4K gaming. So yeah, to anyone who's never built a PC before, don't let anyone tell you it's cheaper than buying a $300-500 console every decade.
- Experiencing games I've played before feels brand new. I've spent the last couple days playing Far Cry 5, Titanfall 2, Marvel's Avengers, and Warframe on my PC, all games I've only played on console before. And my God, it's such a step up. The framerates are so smooth, the graphics are gorgeous, and for once it feels like I don't have to compromise on quality just to get a game to run. This is absolutely my preferred gaming platform now, and I anticipate my Switch and PS4 will both be Nintendo- and Sony-exclusive machines from here on.
- To be perfectly honest, everything above 60 frames per second just feels like 60. I bought a shiny new 144hz monitor, and I mean, there might be a tiny difference? But not substantial enough for my eyes to notice.
Speaking generally, I can't say I recommend building a PC unless you have a solid $2,000 that you're just not doing anything with at all. I say $2,000 because, as I mentioned previously, the PC parts market is very fucked at the moment and I picked a particularly terrible time to build one, and also because you may want to buy things like games, a chair, a desk, and other accessories the costs of which I didn't factor in above. I also would hesitate to recommend building anything for much less than this build, as you could end up being out a lot of money for a PC that underperforms. At that point I just say save the time and money by investing in a next-gen console instead, which you'll get more performance out of than this build.
That said, if you do have a spare two grand lying around, I can't recommend it enough. It definitely was easy enough for a noob like me to figure out, and the step up in performance and graphical quality is absolutely appreciated. It's going to be my preferred platform moving forward, and as a content creator I anticipate it'll make my life much easier in that regard as well.
What does everyone else think? I know this was a little rambly but I had some thoughts on my experience and just thought I'd share and discuss with the good people of Reddit. Am I a filthy console peasant for thinking PC gaming is generally too expensive?
EDIT: Forgot the cost of the OS.
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