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