The 5 Stages of PC Shopping
Stage 1: Denial
I just got a new computer about two years ago. Everything runs completely fine!* What would I even do with the old computer? You know those people who buy a brand new car every other year, and how much you hate them? Don’t be that guy.
Besides, you have plenty of indie games and MMOs to keep you busy practically for years to come. Who cares that everyone is talking about Skyrim?
Stage 2: Anger
Why do developers do this shit?!
I paid something stupid like $1400 on a computer two years ago and already I’m being priced out of videogames? I could have spent that money on a PS3 and XBox 360 on launch day and been good for the next seven years! This is why there will always be a market for consoles; what kind of insane person buys the equivalent of $700 videogames?
And when did the computer component world pass me by? “Sandy bridge” my ass.
You know, I had a real handle on graphics card models back in the day. I could explain that a NVidia 8700 was more powerful than a 9500 – the trick was that the first number was a model number, and only the last three digits meant anything important. Nowadays, the NVidia guys are telling me that their goddamn GTX 295 outperforms their GTX 560. Sounds sorta like the old system, right? But wait! The GTX 480 spanks them both. You can’t explain that!
Stage 3: Bargaining
Okay, you win. I spend probably close to 90% of my free time using the computer, and two years is like a decade in internet years anyway. If I just cave and buy a console, I’ll miss out on all those ridiculous Steam deals; the money I’ll save probably makes the price a wash. Nevermind that my computer monitor is larger than any TV in the house… and I really, really want to play Battlefield 3/Skyrim/etc.
I don’t need the bleeding edge stuff. Maybe something that, you know, is done bleeding but still warm. For about $1000.
Stage 4: Depression
I have no idea WTF I am doing. NVidia helpfully says I can buy everything off of Newegg for ~$700 and then build it myself. That’s great… until I start reading shit like this:
Static electricity is the biggest danger to the expensive parts you are about to assemble, even a tiny shock, much too small for you to feel, can damage or ruin the delicate electronic traces, many times smaller than a human hair, that make up your CPU, RAM and other chips. It’s important to use your anti-static wrist strap to prevent damage to these components. Once you have the power supply installed in the case, clip the end of the wrist strap to the outside of the power supply. (Never plug your computer in while you are connected to it by a wrist strap.)
Installing the CPU, and the CPU’s heat-sink and fan, are by far the most difficult steps you’ll have to complete during your build. Here, more than anywhere else, it will pay to read the instructions carefully, look at the parts, study the diagrams that came with your CPU and/or third party cooling solution, and make sure you thoroughly understand what you are going to do before you try to do it.
There is no getting over the sense of impending doom that is knowing it is possible to destroy a CPU with static I won’t even feel, and can probably launch just by looking at it funny. Christ, I cannot even look at a Micro SD chip without getting an insane urge to put it in my mouth.
There is no way this is going to work.
Surely though, with components at $700 I could find some place willing to build it for me for like $300, right? Everyone tells me its easy, so that should be an easy $300. Except… not so much. Oh wait, this computer looks pretty cool. Hmm, let me check out the comments.
I don’t know what to do anymore. Maybe I shouldn’t scrimp on a computer. My current computer was like $1400 at the time, so maybe I should look at the higher end machines and just go for it.
Wow… look at this $1600 machine. Liquid cooling is badass. Alright, having the liquid cooling leak all over the inside of the computer during shipping sounds less cool in the comments. I suppose I could at least look at the Youtube video they provided.
Holy mother of Christ, is that Asian chick just tiny or is that case really the size of a goddamn diesel generator?
You know what? I can’t do it. I just can’t. That thing costs about 1/4th of what I spent on my car, and is about 1/4th the size of the car to boot – at this point, I would be shopping for a new desk just to have somewhere to place a computer, a new chair to fit the desk, and renting a crane to lower the case through a recently installed skylight. All the while praying to any god that would listen so that some component I cannot begin to touch without frying it did not come loose in shipping.
I can troubleshoot software no problem. But I know just enough about hardware to know I will A) screw it up building it myself, B) get screwed buying pre-built machines on the cheap, or C) get screwed buying expensive pre-built machines only 1% better than the half-priced prior generation machines.
Stage 5: Repeat Stages 1-4.
Until I break down and buy something from Best Buy simply because it offers the safety of having a physical location to direct my ire. Not that any of them ever have an idea of what they’re talking about, aside from sending the computer off to Asscrack, Alaska for the next eight weeks.
But hey, the devil you know…
*For given amounts of fine. For example, my audio-out only delivers sound from the left speaker. Headphones work fine, but I have bought 3 different sets of external speakers over the years, and all of them had the same problem. Of course, none of the audio cables fit in all the way, but I’m tired of spending $20 a pop guessing.