In today’s modern age, computers are simply a part of our everyday life. As adults, we use them for both work and pleasure, but our kids use them often in a way we cannot understand. Ask my 9 and 11 year olds about their favorite game and their eyes will light up. A 20 minute discussion will ensue, resulting in hours of screen time, if I’m not careful. If I dare go down the rabbit hole of asking their favorite YouTube video, I may have a pink fluffy unicorn dancing in my dreams for many nights to come.
As a parent and someone who likes to tinker, I would be wise to take advantage of their enthusiasm. There will never be a better time to connect and give them a skill that will stay with them forever. After toying with the idea of building a PC, I finally took the leap and asked the kids if they wanted to build a gaming PC as a project. I’m sure you can guess their answer. What ensued was a memorable and lasting experience. Building or upgrading a PC can be a fun engineering project for any family. With the right advice, it can also be totally doable, even if you have little experience.
Having never built a PC, I started searching the Internet and talking with some experts (it helps knowing people). I found an endless amount of info on first builds, how to, and step-by-step instructions. The only thing left was determining a budget and shopping for compatible components.
It was important to make sure all the components we chose worked with each other, but some quick searches told us what would work and what wouldn’t. We made a family night out of researching and shopping, starting with some articles such as How to Build a Computer: the Basics and How to build an Epic Gaming PC. Next we determined our budget, selected, and finally purchased our components. The components we selected are below:
o MSI – Z390 – A PRO ATX LGA1151
- Processor/Central Processing Unit (CPU)
o Intel Core I7 9700k
- Memory (RAM)
o Ballistix Tactical Tracer 32 GB (4x8GB) DDR4-3000 Memory
- Storage Drive
o Crucial MX500 1TB 2.5” Solid State Drive
o Corsair Air 540 ATX Full Tower
o Corsair H60 57.2 CFM Liquid CPU Cooler
- Power Supply
o EVGA B3 650 W 80+ Bronze Certified Fully-Modular ATX Power Supply
- Graphics Card
o ASUS Dual GeForce RTX 2070 DirectX 8GB Video Card
- Operating System
o Windows 10
Without going into detail, we assembled our first gaming PC as a family with no issues at all. Following articles such as How to Install an SSD in your Desktop PC and How to install Memory in a Desktop Computer made the assembly quick and easy. We all took turns reviewing each step and then performing the task; we talked about why we were doing the step, any precautions needed, and what each component does in the computer. We learned more about computers, their components, and how they work in the hour-long assembly process than we ever expected.
The biggest (not best) moment of the whole ordeal was pushing the power button and watching the system power up. After loading Windows 10®, DDR4 Ballistix M.O.D. Utility (LED color is important to kids), and our Steam® account, the computer was up and running. Some quick game downloads (it’s amazing how fast computers are with good components) and we were deep into gameplay.
The best thing I can say about building a PC with my kids is that it was a wonderful experience. It truly is amazing and easy to dive into building (or modifying) your first PC with your kids; your family will learn how computers are assembled, operate, and it’s a way to ultimately connect. Plus, it is fun to sit down and play some games, even after they go to bed.
Seeing your kids enjoying something as complex as a computer that they built is worthwhile. They start appreciating what is happening inside the computer and why, instead of just focusing on the screen. It may be easier to jump online and purchase an off-the-shelf computer, but you will not have the same performance, knowledge, or experience of building or improving an existing computer with your family.
The biggest thing I can offer: keep it fun, keep it simple, involve everyone, and remember: it’s easy, no matter how daunting it may seem.