- PC enthusiasts have taken their computing setups to the next level, especially in the midst of the pandemic.
- Builders interested in “modding” pay thousands of dollars on LED lights and other rigs to decorate them.
- Suppliers have also influenced the trend, despite the additions that do not add to the function of the PC.
August marked the 40th anniversary of the launch of the IBM personal computer, or PC, and it doesn’t slow down in middle age.
For a very long time, PCs were just a beige box that was tucked away under a desk, out of sight and out of mind, unless you needed to put a DVD in the drive. They had two lights, one for power and one for driving activity, and maybe three invisible fans for intake and exhaust.
PCs today are much more beautiful to look at as they are. But some gamers and PC enthusiasts have taken the aesthetics of their PC setups a step further – in an attempt to liven up the spaces in which they often spend 10 or more hours a day, they are investing in computers and offices equipped with Lights. LED.
Ryan Schlecht, who operates PCBattlestations.com, a community where enthusiasts can share their computer and gaming setups and exchange resources, as well as a Youtube channel of the same name, told Insider that the PC community often judges each other’s “battle stations”, as they call them, on clean design as much as on originality – sometimes harshly. PC builders take their work areas seriously, keeping them meticulously clean with cables tucked out of the way and decorated with things like colorful RGB lights and plants.
“The DIY community is a dynamic, vital and truthful group of builders, experimenters and enthusiasts who are akin to the hot-rod builders of yesterday and today. [original equipment manufacturers] a thing or two about taste, performance and ambition, ”Jon Peddie, president of Jon Peddie Research, which tracks the GPU and gaming markets, told Insider.
Peddie estimated that the average investment for a DIY computer platform is $ 2,000 and can reach $ 10,000 for some of the more elaborate and decorative units. YouTube has several videos PC builds costing $ 25,000.
The influence of PC enthusiasts is also being felt beyond the niche community. Most non-Best Buy non-brand PCs are quite underpowered and barely suitable for playing “Minecraft”, let alone “Call of Duty” in
resolution, but their cases will often sport a rainbow color of fans and tempered glass, much like the ones spotted on PCBattlestations.com.
DIY Systems Gets Mainstream With Help From COVID-19
Two separate events reflect the growing awareness of the general public towards building systems, with very different results.
At the end of 2018, The Verge released a video that was supposed to be a manual on building DIY systems, but it turned into a manual in brutal trolling because the poor builder made error after error. The veteran builders on YouTube were absolutely merciless.
“I’m sorry for the guy,” Schlecht said. “The reason they’re roasted for that is because they’re a big company with a big audience. And they tell people, that’s how you do it. And the professionals were like, oh , no, no, no, that’s not how we do that. “
Compare that with a 2020 Instagram video of actor Henry Cavill building his own PC. The five-minute video shows Cavill carefully reading the instructions, messing up at times but acknowledging his mistakes and correcting them – and was much better received.
“There was definitely more general attention to the fact that he built a PC, and a lot of PC builders certainly capitalized on the attention,” Justin Robey, a systems builder who runs the popular YouTube channel. Robeytech which focuses on high-end PC versions, Insider said. “Everyone was nice and it was positive for sure. It was a highlight for the community.”
Robey said he first noticed the trend several years ago.
“People did it and made custom mods well, well, long before that. But in terms of making it mainstream and really easy, that was probably in the last five to seven years,” he said. he declared.
He added that it’s all about personalization. “PC gamers are interested in their platforms, and RGB becomes an expression to make that platform unique. And so I think every time you add expression, which I think you’re talking about, then people are going to use it because it makes the PC their own, ”he said. One of Robey’s most viewed construction costs $ 10,000.
System builder, professional photographer and owner of ModsByBen Ben Quintanilla told Insider he believes the whole PC modding craze, or “modding,” has been stepped up a gear thanks to COVID-19 lockdowns. People were stuck at home but UPS was still delivering, so parts were just a click away.
“A lot of people were bored at home,” Quintanilla said. “People used to have machines, but most of the time they’re obsolete, so people needed new machines.”
“It’s easy to get drawn into this rabbit hole when you start looking at other people’s setups,” Robey added. “I think people like to be proud of having something that is a beautiful desk that they can personalize.”
Modding is also driven by suppliers
PC modding wouldn’t have been possible if vendors liked Corsair and Lian li Nor had they started putting rainbow lighting in everything, and motherboard makers hadn’t started putting LED sockets (also known as headers) on their motherboards.
“The sellers influence him so much because they create the product, then they send [it] to critics, YouTubers and Instagramers, so it gets even more impactful because you see it everywhere now, ”Quintanilla said.
Back in the days of plain beige cases, the PC had two, maybe three fans. Now they have up to 17, all illuminated.
Fans and DRAMs with LED lighting cost about $ 20 more than the version without LED. The costs start to add up when you add the case, keyboard, and cooler, especially if it’s a liquid processor cooler.
Thomas Lombardi, a technical marketer at memory and storage maker ADATA, also noticed the growing popularity of color in components about five years ago, even though there was no easy way to connect. a light to the motherboard. ADATA first added LED lights to its XPG DRAM which could not be adjusted, but quickly added adjustable DRAM.
“The adjustable RGB is a big deal because the user can control and manipulate the lighting in various ways. Each LED bulb can be changed individually,” Lombardi said.
For the first time ever, components such as memory and fans as well as keyboards started to come with lighting control software so that the user could configure the lighting the way they wanted. This software, along with the LEDs themselves, add to the cost of the components.
“There is obviously a lot of time and money spent developing this software, which is free,” Robey said. “I don’t know directly how much more they earn, but yes, it is more expensive.” He added that there is no impact of lights on PC performance.
But despite all the work required for nothing but the sparkle, Corsair said he wouldn’t have done it any other way. “The return on investment is that when people enjoy the experience, they will be more likely to recommend us to friends, and when they decide to build their next PC in a few years, they will also think of Corsair,” George Makris, director of marketing for DIY Demand Generation at Corsair, told Insider.
What’s the next step in modding
Perhaps because people have gone too far with the lights, there has been something of an antiRGB backlash over the past year among gamers, who derisively label the excess RGB as “unicorn puke. “. The recent versions of the system advertised on YouTube are devoid of any light.
“I think RGB has been strongly correlated with gaming, so I think things will tend to continue in that direction. Making everything liquid-cooled was one of the big trends, and still is to some extent. We can start to see some people start to move away from the big, flashy PCs in the future and start to go back to smaller PCs that will be just as powerful, ”said Lombardi of ADATA.
Quintanilla has also seen players start modifying their consoles. “Why stop at PCs when you can water-cool a PS5 or an Xbox?” he said.
Corsair’s Makris, however, believes the PC modding trend will continue to accelerate. “With 3D printing taking off, resin printing and ABS printing getting better, and all the cool Raspberry Pi-like projects out there, manufacturers have more tools than ever before,” a- he declared.
“I think the customization started out of necessity – improving cooling, installing larger components, etc. – and quickly spread to aesthetics. I think this trend is only accelerating and we’re going to see a lot more personalization in the next few years. he added.