The Bittersweet Rebuild

May 02, 2017 Written by

A brand-new Ryzen 5 1600X sits in a box under my desk, unopened, inside the plastic Micro Center bag I used to haul it home. It’s accompanied by a motherboard and CPU cooler, since I’ve learned my lesson on keeping a stock fan to cool the processor in your gaming PC. This will be my second full-rebuild since I officially ascended to PC gaming [EN: This.], and, this time, I might even have an idea of what the hell I’m doing. But, as my annoyed fiancé can attest, I’ve been putting some time into researching the parts I want and what components I can start replacing right away.

If I’m being honest, I’ve spent more time on UserBenchmark and /r/buildapcsales than I have playing any actual video games over the last couple weeks. Just thinking about how well my new machine could perform has proven to be more entertaining than the purpose of that very machine. The other day I took a graphics card off my list of potential buys when it had a clock speed 100hz below another card I was looking at.

Why am I like this?

Why did I let a few frame drops in Overwatch annoy me to the point of spending hundreds of dollars on new PC components that will just inevitably annoy me in the exact same way a few years from now?

That’s even if they work when I take them out of the box and after I use my stupid, too-cool-for-that-wristband hands to put everything in the right slots. Those same fat, stupid hands that bent the pins in the socket of my first motherboard and got into a bickering match with the Newegg support lady about exactly when those pins could have been bent. That last bit probably wasn’t the fault of my hands but that’s not what’s important right now.

The point is this: rebuilding your gaming PC can be a weird version of fun and a weird version of anxiety. I guess for the same reason we get new dogs when the dirt’s barely dry on the last one, I need a new PC. And I need it to be a powerful beast that won’t let me down, just like the last one — oh, wait…

I’ve always felt like performance issues (on my PC, mind you) have plagued me since I started playing DotA on a Dell laptop that I got in college. The moment more than three heroes entered the screen, the framerate would drop to -12 and the fan beneath my keyboard would start speaking in tongues. Trying to be an effective tank in a WoW raid was like playing catcher in a baseball field lit with strobe lights. You get hit in the balls a lot, and people tell you that you suck.

I’m sure many of us had modest beginnings as PC gamers, but I truly feel like I got off to a rough start.

It wasn’t until I was given a desktop PC as a hand-me-down that I really got to take gaming on my computer all that seriously. I was able to maintain 40-ish frames per second in my games of Team Fortress 2 and long sessions of Fallout: New Vegas, but I wasn’t knocking anyone’s socks off with my benchmarks. I got to really experience the immersion and soul-sucking nature of gaming on your PC.

Not only did I start to prefer the mouse and controller, my Xbox 360 became a Red Dead Redemption and Netflix machine. There was nothing much worth doing with it anymore.

But, as the cycle goes, I started to crave more. My birthday was coming up, I bet it wouldn’t be too much to ask for this moderately priced video card… would it? And off we go, in a spiral of semi-necessary upgrades and various impulse buys that are hard to explain to people who lack experience as PC gamers.

I don’t expect them to get it because it’s kind of stupid how quickly hardware turns over in the PC component market. Unless you’re ‘financially stable,’ whatever the hell that means, we’re all just putting off the thing that we want because the next thing that comes out might drive the price down of the thing we originally wanted. I’ve made three trips to Micro Center this week and all I’ve got to show for it is a bag of PC components that probably won’t even work properly when I put them all together.

My next paycheck is a video card. A big, selfish video card that is going to make my games run at a buttery smooth fps and allow me to realize my dreams as a professional guy who sits in front of a webcam and shouts at his monitor for generous donations. That’s what the PC components are, you guys, dreams coming true.

Hopefully, I’ll be able to buy groceries for the two weeks after that, but I’m sure that will work itself out. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got prices to compare and Amazon package-tracking pages to refresh. Keep your head up out there, PC gamers. One day the correct combination of computer parts packed into a case will fill that void in your soul. Just keep spending money and you’ll be fine.

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The opinions expressed in this article are the author's own and do not reflect the views of The Overpowered Noobs, LLC.

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Adam Wheeler

Adam Wheeler loves his computer, his cat, and his work-from-home lifestyle. When he feels the motivation to put on pants, he tells jokes on stage. With no real distractions in his life (friends, relationships, a reason to go outdoors, etc.), he is able to provide in-depth analysis of games and the culture that surrounds them. Adam almost never has anything better to do.

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