Building a PC isn’t the most impossible task in the world, but there are definitely people who don’t mind paying a premium to have the hassle taken out of the process. Even that has its challenges, though, which is what makes NZXT’s prebuilt BLD service so neat.
When it comes to buying any PC, or laptop, there’s usually some translation involved. You have to know how to read a parts list, and then know what those parts translate to in real-world performance. And while that’s not a problem if you’re constantly in the day-to-day of tech news and how games perform, but plenty of people don’t do that. They just want a PC that runs games well, generally without compromises, and if they have to compromise, they’d like to know what that’ll equate to in real-world terms.
So rather than offering you a set of systems, NZXT’s BLD service asks you a series of questions: What games do you want to play, what resolution do you want to play at, and roughly how fast do you want those games to run? From there, NZXT works out what parts are needed.
NZXT BLD has been available internationally for years, but this week is the first time it’s been available to Australians. After clicking on the custom build option — there are also easier prebuilt options like Streaming, Creator and Starter Series PCs — you then can choose between an AMD or Intel chipset, and a set budget.
If you pick, say, AMD with a $1000 budget, NZXT will say they’re capable of building a PC that can run GTA 5 at 61 FPS, Fortnite at 124 FPS, and Call of Duty: Modern Warfare at 91 FPS at 1080p. Set the budget to $2000 instead, and NZXT predicts their machine will run GTA 5 at 89 FPS (but at 1440p) and Fortnite at 181 FPS. (In a statement, NZXT said their recommendation system predicts a system’s frame rate to within 10 percent accuracy.)
There aren’t estimations for performance at 4K, which makes sense when you click through to the build. The $2,000 AMD system, for instance, came with a RTX 3060 Ti and a Ryzen 5 3600 — not really a computer for 4K gaming. But the second page has more games for comparison, so if you’ve tested games like Shadow of the Tomb Raider or CS:GO, then you can use the NZXT BLD estimator to get an idea of the overall cost.
What’s interesting is that the budget doesn’t include the cost of Windows or service charges. So the price of the $2,000 system is actually $2,472.4 after shipping and labour is included, although NZXT has a supremely clear summary page that outlines exactly what you can expect:
Systems come with a 3-year warranty and free returns for “any systems that do not meet the BLD engine FPS performance guarantee of within 10%”.
Another appealing reason for services like NZXT BLD is supply. Companies like NZXT are generally your best shot at getting a modern graphics card these days, given how the crippling supply has sent individual cards skyrocketing. At the time of writing, the $2,000 PC above could be customised with a RTX 3070 for an extra $10. For an extra $2,010, you could swap out the GPU for a beefy RTX 3090 — although at that point, you might as well consider a more rounded, better spec’d machine to begin with.
Another neat feature is that the site will automatically upgrade parts to keep your custom build compatible. If I swap out the RTX 3060 Ti in the $2,000 PC for a RTX 3070, and the CPU for a Ryzen 5 5600X, the site will upgrade the power supply to ensure it’s compatible. It’s a neat quality of life feature for people who want to get a good PC, but really aren’t up to date with all the requirements they need.
I would personally make some changes to some of the prebuilt systems, mind you. A lot of the systems I clicked on would only have a single SSD drive. The Streamer PC, for instance, only had a single M.2 1TB NVMe drive. That’s nice and fast, but it’s a good habit to never be playing a game on the same drive that you’re streaming or recording from, so I’d prefer to customise something with similar specs that has a second drive for safety. (It’s worth noting that NZXT also don’t provide any performance metrics around games when they’re streaming, which makes complete sense given all the variables, but it’s worth remembering before buying.)
Outside of the custom builds, NZXT are offering four pre-built options in Australia right now:
- NZXT Starter PC (i5-10400F, GTX 1650): $1,399
- NZXT Starter Plus PC (i5-10400F, GTX 1660 Super): $1,599
- NZXT Starter Pro PC (i5-10400F, RTX 2060, 1TB M.2 SSD): $2,099
- Streaming PC (Ryzen 5600X, RTX 3070): $2,999
- H1 Mini PC (i9-10900K, RTX 3070): $3,299
- Creator PC (i9-10900K, RTX 3090, 1TB SSD + 4TB SATA): $5,999
The systems are also shipping relatively quickly. A couple of test custom builds I put together were ready to ship within a couple of days, although it’s worth noting that NZXT didn’t have any supply of the RTX 3080. They also haven’t added the newly announced RTX 3070 Ti or RTX 3080 Ti into their systems. The latter is due to launch worldwide tomorrow, so I imagine supply of that will run out pretty quickly — but if anyone is going to have stock for a little bit longer, it’ll be prebuilt companies like NZXT.
That aside, it’s just nice for Australians to get access to a service that removes some of the friction with PC gaming. I have no problems building my own computer, and I know plenty of friends who will always put together their own rig. But there’s many, many more who would enjoy PCs and the world it offers if the barrier to entry was a little bit lower, and services like NZXT BLD are a good way of doing it.
I haven’t been able to test the quality of the machines or NZXT’s delivery offering, although the company has offered a review unit to Kotaku Australia to test. (We weren’t able to test it in time for NZXT BLD’s launch with the amount of embargoes and releases right now, but it’s something we’ll revisit once the madness of E3 wears off.)
If you want to have a play around with the service, you can do so via NZXT’s Australian page here.