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I’m finally building a gaming PC

4 min read

The year is 2005, and my long-suffering PC has finally given up the ghost. Young Darryn is surprised that all the percussive maintenance he performed on it wif a hammah hasn’t fixed it, nor has the new GeForce graphics card that he inserted into a motherboard that’s older than original sin, made his games run better.

There it sits, an ancient relic of PC gaming that ran countless hours of Age of Empires II, Quake 3 Arena and I swear a legit emulated ROM of some weird-ass Dragon Ball Z game that never got a Western localisation. A white box of rust and memories, ready to be thrown onto the tip because I’d just bought myself a Dell laptop and hoo boy was it great!

For the last 14 years, I’ve been gaming on a laptop when the occasion called for it. Hell, my entire career has been realised through laptops, which have sated my desire for handling a workload, editing video and playing humble indie games. If I wanted some top-notch gaming, I always had a PlayStation or an Xbox nearby, and I was happy.


But lately, I’ve wanted more. The landscape of video games are changing, and I’m convinced that the best way to stay up to date in a turbulent industry is to have a decent gaming PC on hand in addition to a console. While I’d love to throw down some cash on a top-range gaming laptop, that comes with its own set of challenges: If I want something that’s future-proofed for a few years, I’m going to have to start selling bootleg organs again to shifty back alley surgeons.

If I want something that’s within my budget, I’ll probably have a great notebook for a year and a massive paperweight once I fail to run a simple indie game on it. A desktop PC however, gives me options. I can start small, work my way up and still have a terrific experience. We may joke about how PC gamers are forever throwing wads of cash at the latest parts, but the fact is that they have a platform that allows them to do that. You simply cannot scoff at that versatility.

I’m also less afraid of building a big PC rig, as the entire process looks more fun than daunting. Computers of this era are marvels of engineering, housed in cases that want you to show off your pride and joy. They’re humming with hardware horsepower, they’re twinkling with RGB parts that put a smile on your face. Heck, if Superman can build a PC, so can I dammit!

So what’s the Critical Hit gaming PC going to look like? I’m fortunate enough to be surrounded by a few experts who are teaching me how much the scene has changed over the years, and using that knowledge, I’ve come up with a few points for my dream machine:

  • I’m not worried about 4K gaming yet – It’s still a nebulous field to invest in, whereas I’d be happy to get the best 1080p experience that I can, right now
  • It needs to be modular – If I’m leaning on the strength of a computer, I have to take advantage of it
  • It has to be financially feasible – Once I’ve got my annual Call of Duty review bribe cash, I can splurge

I’ve already got my first major part for this build: The PC case that’ll house all my parts when I eventually have them. Cooler Master kindly sent me a shell in which I’ll haphazardly shove all my piece into, a rather sexy piece of tech in the form of an H500P Mesh ARGB. It’s an attractive home for whatever I place inside of it, and I’m really digging how PC tower designs have changed over the last couple of years. I genuinely dig the move towards an ostentatious design that wants you to show your kit off.


I’ll have more on that gaming case soon, when I do a dedicated review on it. For now, I’ve got a wishlist of parts to start off with, but I’m pretty certain the upgrade bug will bit me soon enough. Once I’ve got an AMD Ryzen 5 3600 CPU, an MSI MPG X570 motherboard and one of our spare Nvidia GeForce cards slotted inside, it’s going to be fun!

I’m excited and nervous again, I’m venturing into upgrade waters and hoping that I haven’t forgotten how to swim. Should be a wild ride, until I inevitably break something. I think what my real endgame here is, is that I want to prove that if I can put a rig together (with help), anyone can. The more people that want to jump into gaming and hardware, the better.

If anyone has any advice, please do drop a comment below! I’ll probably need all the help I can get on this upcoming build.

Last Updated: August 20, 2020


  1. Iskape

    August 20, 2020 at 14:45

    You want some advice. Don’t do anything now. With AMD releasing their new 4000 CPUs on the Zen 3 architecture, I’d wait and see what happens with prices. At least with an X570 MB you are assured for future proofing – and don’t even think of graphics cards with the new ‘Big Navi’ AMD cards and Nvidias 3000 series, your 2000 series cards will most probably drop in price. The rumour mill is saying all of this will come to fruition before the end of the year, and that is only 4 months away – i.e. in the next 4 months, there will be a slew of new releases on the hardware front.


    • The D

      August 20, 2020 at 15:03

      Thanks for the tips! Yeah, I’m taking this slow for now. We’re fortunate in that the GeForce we have is a review card from last year, that will be put to good use. Helps a ton with the budget.


  2. Mark Treloar

    August 20, 2020 at 14:33

    But are you using a Swiss Army Knife?


    • The D

      August 20, 2020 at 14:40

      Yeah, it just so happens to be hammer-shaped 😀


      • Pariah

        August 20, 2020 at 16:02

        So it can’t open a bottle of whiskey then?


        • The D

          August 20, 2020 at 17:06

          Technically it can, but only once.


  3. Alien Emperor Trevor

    August 20, 2020 at 14:52

    The worst part of building a PC: connecting the front i/o panel to the mobo correctly the first time. Screw those two pin connectors of doom.


    • The D

      August 20, 2020 at 15:03

      Dude I saw all those pins and I’m shuddering. They look so stupidly delicate.


      • Francois Knoetze

        August 21, 2020 at 14:05

        Don’t worry too much about the pins. It just drops in and lock it up(as long as it is facing the right way.)


  4. Caveshen Rajman

    August 20, 2020 at 16:56

    I was in your boat around 2012 when deciding which route to commit to, and I swear for a very long time I seriously considered the laptop as my primary means of computing, and then my Xbox as my gaming device of choice.

    I eventually settled for a minor PC upgrade, and was fine for a while until I started working full-time, and slowly saving up enough money for upgrades. By 2016 I was done with console gaming, tired of inferior ports and expensive game releases, and of course paying the BT Games tax for secondhand games (digital was still picking up at the time). So I sold my consoles, and threw all my chips into the PC world.

    Haven’t looked back.

    Yes it’s expensive, and complicated, but honestly it’s been quite easy keeping up with industry trends, and upgrading only when I need to, rather than compulsively. My PC didn’t cost me thaaaaat much because I staggered my big purchases annually (saving is your friend), and it already smashes current-gen games, and is next-gen ready.

    Your specs look good there – 4K is extremely overrated (you really don’t gain much over 1440p, which is the sweet spot for visual fidelity) so the decision to stick with 1080p was a solid one. And the 3600 smashes games out of the park. I’m very excited for you, and looking forward to you experiencing more of the PC world! Big recommendation for a good 144Hz adaptive sync monitor, it will change your entire world. 🙂


    • The D

      August 20, 2020 at 16:56

      On the monitor side, I’m slightly torn. I’m thinking of having my PC setup by my TV, using Steam Big Picture and calling it a day. That being said, if I do grab a screen, the LG 27GL650F is what I’m looking at currently.

      But yeah, exciting and nerdy tech times ahead!


      • Caveshen Rajman

        August 21, 2020 at 10:54

        If you go for a monitor, as long as you shoot for 1440p 144Hz (eg. the AOC CQ27CG) you’re golden. It will also change your life in terms of editing content.


  5. Krabby Paddy

    August 20, 2020 at 18:17

    When buying a PC one needs to ask important questions:
    What can I actually afford? Set a realistic budget.
    What I want vs what I actually need? I mean R9 3650x is really nice but R5 3600 will actually do the job perfectly.
    Have I googled the crap out of what will suit me best to get best bang for buck? Doing more than just gaming then an extra few k on better CPU might be worth your while.
    Am I sure the place I’m buying from is reputable? Does that price look too good to be true? It then probably is.


  6. HairyEwok

    August 21, 2020 at 10:39

    If you want to build it like a real pro I would highly recommend watching the Verge building a PC…..
    and after watching it you will know exactly what NOT to do to be a pro.


  7. konfab

    August 21, 2020 at 08:54

    Get a good NVMe SSD. They are really fantastic.

    Last year I was given the option at work to either get a laptop or a desktop. Getting the desktop was one of the best decisions I have made. There really is no comparison in performance between desktops and laptops.


  8. Francois Knoetze

    August 21, 2020 at 13:57

    Sent you a psn message but here goes. (struggled with disqus yesterday)

    Ryzen 5 3600 and X570 was a solid choice. Went with the 3600XT and B550 bazooka as my motherboard. NVME is your friend so check Evetech for deals on SSD. The NVME makes a HUGE difference.

    This link helped a bucket load for me as a first timer.

    Welcome to the master race dude!


    • Francois Knoetze

      August 21, 2020 at 14:05

      Oh and Destiny on PC is just awesome o.O…


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