Kevin C. Tofel

I was so wrong. Don't build your own PC

Published on July 31, 2020

About a month ago I suggested that most people should build their own PC at least once. That was right after I built a decent gaming PC on a $900 budget. And so far it has served me well, not just for gaming but for coding too: I'm really liking the Windows Subsystem for Linux and the way it works with Visual Code.

Creating a website in Visual Code using Linux in Windows 10

And then about a week later, I spent $68 to add a second storage drive. I didn't necessarily need the additional space just yet but I was enamoured by the massive speed boost in data throughput. So I dropped the money on it, making the $900 PC closer to a $1,000 PC.

After that, I decided that I really liked the look of this $130 open air sort of industrial PC case compared to the $50 bland box I used for the build. I liked it enough that I ordered it and basically rebuilt the PC, which is now at least an $1,100 PC.

Thermaltake P3

I love the room it provides for any hardware changes because aside from the side tempered glass, which is easily removed, it's open on the top, front and back.

This week, I got watching a bunch of YouTube videos discussing air-cooling vs. liquid-cooling is better for a CPU. It seems like a relative draw, depending on the products used during the test. But it also appeared that I could keep my CPU cooler with a little less fan noise if I went with a liquid cooling system.

You know what happened next.

Liquid coooled CPU

Yup, I ordered a $120 all-in-one liquid CPU cooler and installed it today. And it works great - CPU temps are way down, which helps performance. And I get nice customizable LEDs, which is bonus.

Of course, the $900 PC is now a $1,200+ PC.

I sense a trend.

Although I built my share of PCs back in the day and still remember how to put them together, I forgot what type of person I was back then. And still am today.

I try to eke out as much as possible out of any tech product I buy. Sometimes it's just a cosmetic thing, like the case I probably didn't need to buy. Then again, you can wall mount it, so there's that. Other times I focus on some extra performance, like I did with the 500 GB of speedy storage.

Regardless, I take back what I said about everyone building their own PC. At least if your personality is like mine, that is. If you're someone that holds on to their iPhone for five years or still doesn't have an HDTV set because your 15 year old TV still works, then go for it and build a PC. Otherwise don't do it. Your bank account will thank you. ;)

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