Do you need your own PC?
Ask these yourself before wasting big bucks
After Black Friday came and went, I saw that people took it as a great opportunity to build their own PC. They were not wrong, there was some great discounts and sales for mature platforms and some recently launched hardware. Gaming PC are slowly recovering from the crypto crash, especially on the GPU side prices, but there is a lot of value on the CPU side.
I also found some people building their own PC even if they didn’t need it. While they’re still useful machines, technology as advanced enough to not require them at all for mundane tasks, like sending an email.
For that reason, I want to publish and archive my three-bullet questionnaire that will make any “I want a flashy computer like the people on YouTube” person stop wasting bucks. Enjoying the journey of PC building, tuning and troubleshooting one, it’s not for everybody.
1. Do he/she knows how a Computer works?
It’s surprising how many people don’t know how a computer works at the most basic level, but want a computer anyway. When someone does not, they should stay away from the journey of PC building something by themselves.
If the user who wants a custom PC isn’t an enthusiast, or doesn’t want to spend a day or weekend setting up their PC, he will be better off with a prebuilt. It may seem like a bad value compared to custom made PC, but consider the premium price paid for something already built from a respectable company includes support and warranty.
In other words, a newbie will never mix, overclock, tune, let alone upgrade, a prebuilt PC. If there is a problem, having live support will save you from troubleshooting their PC a Thursday at 2:00 AM. Part of the cost pays the patient people willing to troubleshoot any problem the user may have, just a call away.
There are only two recommendations when going for a prebuilt for someone who can work with a PC: always prefer a prebuilt PC from a reputable company, and always shove as much RAM as possible to avoid hiccups in the future.
2. Does he/she require compute power?
This shoots many people down from a PC, but is the hard truth. A PC is very flexible on the computing power side. There is a wide availability of tools and compatible hardware to create content and run heavy or specific workloads.
Content creation, software development and scientific tasks may require powerful machines, even custom hardware like an AI Accelerator. If the usage category for its future PC lands on one of these scenarios, then a custom PC may be a good fit.
Otherwise, for mundane tasks and some light or occasional gaming, you’re better recommending an iPad plus a console like an XBOX Series S, and let them both devices share a wireless keyboard and mouse combo. There are also Small Form Factor PC, also called “Mini PC”, going around for cheap.
3. Does he/she not need a laptop?
A deal breaker for a custom PC is portability. Some people require to have their own computer on different places, and not having one at hands may put them in serious trouble.
If the user requires portability, then you may spend your bucks on a Macbook on any of their Apple Silicon offerings. The newer MacBook with Apple Silicon offer a great performance with killer battery life, which is still unmatched.
If there are specific tools only available on Windows or Linux, then you may safely discard a MacBook, as there is no reliable way to use software made for Windows or Linux under a Virtual Machine that is x86 instead of ARM, and VM vendors like VMware have no plans to do so.
In any case, consider there is usually a macOS versions available for your software, like happens with the Affinity Suite or Ableton Live.
If your victim has answered yes to all these questions, then it’s safe to recommend building their very own PC, and check out one of the most useful guides to make one from scratch.