BLD is a new service from computer hardware maker NZXT that simplifies the process of buying a new gaming PC. Customers select the games they want to play and the price they want to pay, and BLD spits out a rig that will get the job done. I went through the process, and it's pretty painless.
While long-time PC gamers developer a sense of what they need inside a case to run games comfortably, it's easy for newcomers to get lost in a tangle of processor speeds, memory clocks and graphic card specs. They just want to know if the system they are buying will run Overwatch or The Witcher 3 or Grand Theft Auto. That's what BLD is for.
The process begins with the customer selecting the games they'd like to play from a list. With only 18 games represented, it's by no means a comprehensive accounting of popular PC games, but it's a fairly good slice of the sort of games a newcomer to the platform might be interested in playing.
I didn't want to go full-on fancypants (technical term) for my demo build, so I went with a trio of relatively modest titles -- Heroes of the Storm, Overwatch and World of Warcraft. Apparently this was going to be a Blizzard machine.
After making my game selection, BLD asked how much I was willing to pay for my new gaming PC.
For the purpose of this article, the BLD folks gave me a coupon good for anything from the shop (to be returned afterwards), so I could have gone balls out here. But balls out is boring. I wanted something more modest. Something in the $US1000 ($1282) price range.
Boom. Here's a $US1124 ($1441) system, along with the estimated frames-per-second each of my chosen games will achieve at 1920 x 1080 resolution. There is no option to see 4K performance here. Perhaps it will be added in the future. Then again, given the FPS projections at 1080p, maybe it's best we not see those 4K numbers.
From here customers have the option to select a higher or lower price. Interestingly enough, a lower price doesn't necessarily mean lower performance. The build below just has less storage.
Not too shabby, though I wasn't about to have a system with a Nvidia GTX 1050 Ti in my home, even if it would perform better technically. In the customisation section I bumped up the storage, chose a shiny new case, and upgraded the card to a 1060.
Here are the final specs. Note the additional cost section lists a "BLD Assembly & Service Package" charge of $US350 ($449). The BLD folks changed that to $US150 ($192) starting today, which is reflected in the final price. The charge includes assembly, a two year parts and labour warranty, shipping, and a guarantee that if the system doesn't hit the FPS targets within 10 per cent the whole thing can be returned for free.
Three working days after submitting the order, the new PC arrived. It came packaged with quick start instructions informing me exactly which cables to plug in where and how. The network, power and HDMI cables were numbered to make the setup process easier. Within a half hour, I had a lovely new gaming PC on my desk.
Picture taken before I added the cables, because it's prettier that way.
The BLD build here is very nice. Everything is nice and clean, the cables are neat and tidy. My nephew saw the PC on my desk unplugged and thought it was just an empty case. He's a little dumb sometimes.
I hooked everything up, added a trackball and keyboard (if you don't have a trackball you can probably use a mouse, I guess), and I was good to go.
There's something lovely about having a PC that comes with a set of guaranteed predicted frames-per-second targets for the games I planned on playing. What's more lovely is that the BLD PC hit those targets right out of the box. Overwatch kept things in the mid to high 70s (slightly lower when I turned on triple buffering, which is enabled in the screen below).
Heroes of the Storm actually exceeded the target FPS average. Predicted to run at an average of 114 frames-per-second, the game generally ran at about 140, dipping into the high 120s only during the most intense battles.
World of Warcraft kept things in the mid-90s while out and about in non-crowded areas, dipping into the mid-80s in the bustling floating city of Dalaran, which is to be expected.
So BLD works. I picked three games I wanted to play, told it how much I wanted to spend, and it spat out a computer the met or exceeded the frames-per-second targets the service promised, all for $US150 ($192) above the price of parts.
Want to check it out for yourself? Unfortunately the service currently doesn't ship outside the US, but you can still head over to the BLD website and poke around.