Let's build a PC together!


I am building a PC. I desperately need your help.

My last memory of PC gaming was an eyebrow-twitching installation of Vampire: The Masquerade Redemption in 2000. From what I remember, it required drivers and patches, a brand new computer, despite the one I owned being a year old, and someone smarter than fourteen-year-old me to make it all work. And yet, for one glorious moment a role-playing vamp appeared on the screen. My mouse wasn't recognized, but who cared. Then the image froze. The file corrupted. The screen went blue. I sold the machine to my neighbor. He wanted another rig for his Counter Strike LAN parties, and never wanted to see a PC again.

I switched to a Mac, and made the best of my Dreamcast. Now the only proof I ever played PC is my forever inverted Y-axis, an artifact from weekends lost to Descent.

Men, women, forumers: I think it's time for a homecoming.

I've been told patches and drivers are less of a headache. That Steam and online storefronts will save me money. That Windows is sort of okay now. That the best indie games are happening on PC first, and sometimes never making it anywhere else.

And the games, they are things of beauty. I'm not ashamed by my love of graphics. I dwell on sound and visuals. Spectacle. PC is where I'll find it.

So will you help me? Please. Because the truth is, my knowledge of PC gaming ends at Windows 95.

I've done some preliminary research, watching the Verge build a PC and reading this comprehensive post by DocSeuss. My colleagues have given me some pointers, leading me to put together a theoretical list of hardware, which I'll share in a moment.

First, I'd like to give you an idea of what sort of machine I hope to build

My fantasy PC:

  • It must look nice and be quiet, as it will live in my office/bedroom. My wife puts up with a lot, but I can't have a glowing, growling supercomputer keeping us up at night.
  • It must be relatively future proof. Yes, no computer is truly future proof, but I would like something that's producing ultra high end visuals a few years into the next generation of games.
  • It must be easily upgradeable. See above.
  • It must be around $1,500 or less. This is a serious investment for me, but I don't intend to build the ultimate review rig. I can't really afford this, let alone anything better.
  • It must be adaptable to a living room. Okay, originally I wanted this machine to exist much like a console, plugged into my living room television. I am beginning to think that's a square peg, round hole idea. That many of the best PC games are designed knowing the player is at a desk, not on a couch. So for now, it will live at my work space. But if I want to cut and run when Steam launches Big Picture Mode, then I want this PC to handle it.

Okay, here's what I have. I can only imagine how off it is. Critique away. The most helpful comments will be wrapped into the feature series. You also will have the reward of my gratitude, and a video of me putting this beat together, likely cursing and sweating profusely.