• notebookcomputer
  • 02/01/2023

PC Building Diary: Assembling my first gaming rig and why I should have gone pre-built instead

Like many other console gamers through the past few years, the allure of switching over to a PC finally got the best of me. There’s just the problem of actually making the jump, considering just how hard things are with the ongoing stock shortages. Detailing the entire experience of building a PC for the first time, down below you can follow along as I go through all the components in my first rig and my thoughts on why I should have just gone for a pre-built in the first place.

Detailing my first time PC build

After having a chance to check out a pre-built machine from CLX as a loaner, it got the ball rolling in my head that it might be time to invest in a system all my own. In what was a test for “will I even use a gaming PC in the first place,” I inevitably decided that my mixed experience with that brand shouldn’t deter me, and I sent out to build my own gaming PC and see what the other side of the table had in store. After all, there has to be a reason why everyone is so gung ho about crafting their own gaming rig.

In what was perfect timing with NZXT launching a new case and some coolers to go with it, I took those debuts as the perfect chance to dive in. So what did I ultimately decide on for my first machine?

To start things out, I built the entire PC around NZXT’s new H510 Flow case. While I am hardly one to push my system to the point of really needing the improved airflow capabilities that give this case its namesake, the peace of mind is certainly nice. I was originally debating getting one of the brand’s more compact machines, though after assembling everything inside of the mid-sized case, I am glad I had the extra room to work with. That pairs with the NZXT C850 power supply to get things started.

As for the CPU, I was recommended the Intel i7-11700 chip by 9to5Toys’ own PC builder extraordinaire Patrick. The suggestion has turned out to serve my gaming needs quite well and should be more than capable for any workstation-related tasks in the unlikely event that I make the switch from macOS. I am not going to bore you with benchmark results or anything trying to contend that this is the best value out there for the price point, but the CPU seems like it will be able to hold me over well into the future.

Once settling on the CPU, it was time to get the hardest component of my PC build. That’s right, the graphics card. In what ultimately seemed to come down to fate, I was able to score an NVIDIA RTX 3060 for a little more than its retail price. Its performance has been worth every penny over its MSRP and has meant that my rig can handle pretty much every I throw at it in the gaming department. Even if all I seem to be playing right now is Halo Infinite and Overwatch.

PC Building Diary: Assembling my first gaming rig and why I should have gone pre-built instead

On the RAM side of things, I am rocking four sticks of CORSAIR’s Vengeance RGB PRO DDR4 memory. This gives me a total of 32GB for multitasking and is the perfect kind of overkill for my gaming rig. Adding to CORSAIR’s claim on my gaming PC, I also have one of its CORE 1TB M.2 PCIe Gen4 SSDs as the main boot drive. It has been nothing short of a beast even with how little I push the limits of its 4,700MB/s max transfer speeds.

On the all-important front of cooling, I mentioned earlier that this entire build was inspired by some of NZXT’s latest releases. So it’s only fitting that the brand’s Kraken Z73 all-in-one cooler is what helped me pull the trigger on the entire system.

The refreshed white design was a big selling point for having a uniform PC in the looks department, and its actual performance has kept me happy with it over the past month or so of gaming. I particularly love the built-in screen which can do everything from monitor system stats like temperature or CPU utilization to displaying gifs, which might be my favorite part.

And to tie it all together, I am rocking one of NZXT’s N7 B550 motherboards. Keeping up with the slick white theming, it has a matching coat of paint to the rest of my system and more I/O than I thought I could ever need. Lastly, I threw in an extra pair of NZXT’s AER RGB 2 120mm fans for some extra cooling. Though if I am being entirely honest, the extra RGB lighting is really the reason I splurged here.

  • While assembly could have gone better than expected, the experience of actually building a PC wasn’t all that bad. It may have taken an afternoon to get all of the components slotted into place, and more time than I’d like to admit for installing Windows, but eventually everything was ready to go. Even though I don’t necessarily regret the process of sourcing my own machine, I am getting some envy from just going the pre-built route.

    Shortly after finishing my own build, the holidays arrived and I picked up one of NZXT’s H1 Mini PCs for my significant other so we can game together. And the whole experience there was honestly night and day to what I had gone through with CLX. That’s to say I was impressed with the process from the second I clicked buy all the way until it was finally plugged in and ready to go. That’s in contrast to doing all of the work myself to end up with a similar, yet much messier setup. Seriously, don’t judge my cable management, I know it could be better!

    9to5Toys’ Take:

    Even if now isn’t the best time to be getting into the PC gaming space for the first time in terms of actually sourcing parts, I am shocked by how much value is offered by the mid-tier gear found in this build. I feel confident that my machine should last well into the future without having to sacrifice too much on performance for any new games that the next few years may hold. And honestly, if it wasn’t for the shortages, now would be such an amazing time to dive into the world of PC gaming with just how much competition there is in the space churning out better and better products.

    That’s to say after experiencing both sides of the equation, I would go the pre-built route for myself if I had to do it all over again. Even if I ended up saving a little bit of cash, having a package ready to go out of the box that I could have tailored to my liking over time seems like a far better compromise for this casual gamer than having to do all of the hard work to get a perfect rig right from the start.

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