Maximum PC - - EDITORIAL - Alan Dex­ter Alan Dex­teris Max­i­mum PC’s ex­ec­u­tive edi­tor and a pun­ish er of hard­ware. He’ s been at­ech jour­nal­ist for over 20 years, and has no prob­lem up set­ting the PC in­dus­try as a whole.

SOME­THING STRANGE has just hap­pened in the PC mar­ket. Some­thing that bucks the trend. The de­cline in PC sales that we’ve seen since 2011 has ex­pe­ri­enced a hic­cup. Just for a change, we saw a small in­crease for the se­cond quar­ter of 2018 com­pared to the pre­vi­ous year. It’s sub­tle, and it may not sig­nify a ma­jor shift, but it could turn out to be the start of some­thing big­ger.

To throw some fig­ures be­hind this, ac­cord­ing to Gart­ner, the se­cond quar­ter of 2018 saw the likes of HP, Dell, and Len­ovo ship 14.51 mil­lion PCs across the United States. Com­pare that with the 14.26 mil­lion for the same time frame the pre­vi­ous year, and you’re look­ing at growth of 1.7 per­cent. This is echoed to a lesser ex­tent by the global mar­ket, which saw a 1.4 per­cent rise from 2Q17’s 61.3m ship­ments up to 62.1m for 2Q18.

While this is good news for the health of the PC as a whole—and should help keep pric­ing in check, among other things—there’s a few im­por­tant things that these fig­ures don’t cap­ture. They don’t in­clude any­one up­grad­ing their sys­tems, the growth in rel­a­tively niche ar­eas—such as high-end sys­tems and gam­ing PCs—and, im­por­tantly for this month’s in­tro, ma­chines that users have built them­selves.

Build­ing your own ma­chine is a rite of pas­sage for many users. Even if you later re­turn to whole sys­tem pur­chases, the process of build­ing your own rig is an in­valu­able ex­er­cise in terms of un­der­stand­ing how ma­chines are put to­gether. It shows you what your money ac­tu­ally buys, where the ex­tra time and ef­fort needs to be spent to turn a per­fectly func­tional sys­tem into some­thing you can cher­ish, and puts value be­hind any com­po­nent you use. We heartily rec­om­mend build­ing a PC at least once in your life.

This is­sue, we show you how to build a bud­get gam­ing sys­tem that punches well above its weight. And we do so in a level of de­tail that we haven’t done be­fore: Every con­nec­tion, every screw, every de­ci­sion, and every process is cov­ered in in­tri­cate de­tail, to make sure noth­ing can go wrong. If you’ve never un­der­taken a sys­tem build be­fore, this guide is for you. Al­ter­na­tively, if you have a friend who could ben­e­fit from such a guide, please pass this is­sue on to them (once you’ve fin­ished read­ing it your­self, of course), and see what they can pro­duce.

The fi­nal ma­chine is an im­pres­sive sys­tem in its own right, more than ca­pa­ble of han­dling the vast ma­jor­ity of com­mon tasks. With a few choice up­grades as you go, there’s no rea­son that it couldn’t stay with you for years to come. Or, if you need more power right now, you can tweak the spec­i­fi­ca­tion from the start, and build a PC that hits your sweet spot straight away.

On a fi­nal note, if you have any tips or ex­pe­ri­ences you’d like to share with your fel­low read­ers, please drop us a line to the email ad­dress be­low, and we’ll share them on our let­ters page. Happy build­ing!

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