Build your first PC in PC Building Simulator’s demo

“If you haven’t ever built your own gaming PC, you’re selling yourself short,” our Alec has said. Though I’ve been on a gaming laptop for a few years I do agree; the computers I built myself are the ones I cherished most. Picking components and clacking it all together is interesting and exciting, and also a bit terrifying – especially the first time. So hey, whether you’ve built a PC before or not, you might be interested in trying PC Building Simulator [official site]. It is exactly what it sounds like. PC Building Simulator is still in pre-alpha and quite scrappy but you can now try it.

The pre-alpha build is up on Itch for Windows and Linux as pay-what-you-want with no minimum. I do mean it when I say this build is scrappy but hey, it’s a pre-alpha demo of a solo project. It’s the work of a Romanian developer known simply and mysteriously as Claudiu.

That demo offers the tutorial, running through how to put a PC together from the case up. It’s fairly simple and friendly when compared to component ’em ups like Car Mechanic Simulator, My Summer Car, and World of Guns, and doesn’t have any dangers of e.g. bending CPU pins or frying components with static. All the same, it is still quite satisfying to put a PC together. I’ve missed the process.

“The purpose of this game is to try to teach people about building PCs while still having fun,” Claudiu says.

If you’ve never built a PC but have wondered about the magical parts you can see through the perspex window your PC mystifyingly came with, this’ll help explain. Maybe it’ll give you confidence to build a real PC. Please don’t blame me if anything goes wrong. It is, of course, equally fine if you never build a PC.

A career mode is planned for the future. Personally I’d also hope one day for a simulation that gets into functional electronics, deep enough for diagnosis puzzles and repairs like Car Mechanic Sim.

For illustrative purposes, here’s a peek at the cabling system from February:

60 Comments

  1. internisus says:

    Because I have a childish sense of irony, I wish the game could somehow only run on custom-built PCs.

    Looking forward to seeing what career mode involves. I love building computers, but unfortunately it doesn’t seem to be a viable way to make a living.

  2. zind says:

    But once you’ve built the PC, can it run Crysis?

    • Premium User Badge

      RaveTurned says:

      Once you’ve built the PC, can it run PC Building Simulator?

      • automatic says:

        The real question is: can PC Building Simulator running on PC Building Simulator run PC Building Simulator?

  3. Deemedrol says:

    Damn, I really hope it’s not a PC exclusive. Would be a shame for gamers to miss the opportunity to see that building your own PC is not as complicated these days as some seem to think.

    • LTK says:

      Has there ever been a ‘simulator’ title released on a console?

  4. Premium User Badge

    distantlurker says:

    I wonder if it’ll explain that 2 GC’s as the holding pic for the vid shows, is never, ever worth the hassle.

  5. dvorhagen says:

    If this thing supported VR and was around when I built my PC for VR, and if I’d had a VR PC before I built that VR PC, I would have loved to use the VR version of this on my first VR PC to practice building a VR PC. Luckily, it all worked out anyway.

    • ColonelFlanders says:

      Misread instructions, got dick stuck in computer fan.

  6. dylan says:

    This doesn’t look nearly stressful enough. Last time I upgraded my motherboard, I had to grab it by both ends and bend it to make it fit into the space afforded by my awful tower. Then, I realized I’d forgotten to put the heatsync screws on the bottom, so I had to grab, bend, remove, screw, bend, replace. In the end, my heatsync didn’t fit into the case so that was, yes, another mobo replacement.

    From this video, it looks like everything “just fits,” which honestly undercuts all the drama of building a rig.

    Edit: This topic would be much better handled by something like Surgeon Sim, where the slightest mistake means you’ll at least be dropping tiny screws into the unfathomable depths of your tower.

    • Premium User Badge

      Der Zeitgeist says:

      Oh yes, and it also needs a scale showing your rising blood pressure everytime you hear an ominous sound when you push some component in a little harder and you aren’t sure you just broke your 500€ graphics card.

      Also, cutting your fingers on sharp metal edges.

      • Chiron says:

        Dropping the screw from the Graphics card onto the motherboard and then it rolls behind it.

        Cue firm, yet gentle, shaking trying to dislodge the fucking thing only to realise it rolled out a minute ago and its gone under the sofa.

        • UnholySmoke says:

          Contorting your arm into impossible positions to try and get the on/off switch jumpers wired up. Some things you just have to do in meatspace to get the full experience. And creating a machine for simulating things is one. Head = asplode.

          • Save Me Grilled Cheesus says:

            For years wiring up that header with the power, reset, speaker, and HD light was the worst part of the assembly for me. Like a decade ago ASUS invented the Q-Connector and that took 90% of the pain out of it. Definitely look into it.
            link to event.asus.com

        • Paul B says:

          That reminds me, next time I build a PC, I’m going to use a magnetic screwdriver to stop this precisely from happening.

          • Jekadu says:

            It will happen anyway.

          • Jorum says:

            With a magnetic screwdriver you have the exciting possibility of instead of simply dropping the screw, it acting as an impromptu trebuchet arm flinging your screw across the room never to be seen again by mortal eyes.

      • DeadlyAccurate says:

        I still have the injury from a week and a half ago where I sliced open my knuckle almost to the bone trying to unseat my old video card.

        I did at least remember to put the heatsink screws in this time before I screwed the motherboard down, which is a first. But I did accidentally buy the wrong watercooling system, so I ended up having to use my old giant heatsink and fan, which is why I ended up cutting my finger up removing my video card in the first place.

        Other than that (and my new video card dying the next morning), the install actually went pretty smoothly.

        This game won’t feel real unless there’s an option to yell out expletives every time something goes wrong and/or a cat tries to shove her nose into the case every five minutes.

      • Pravin Lal's Nuclear Arsenal says:

        Installing your 1070 in the middle of a Southern Italian August, with rubber gloves and a towel around your head to avoid sweating in your rig. Having a single, housefly-sized drop of sweat hanging from your nose and falling into your motherboard in slo-mo and praying it doesn’t fall anywhere important. Seeing it splash around like it was a fucking fountain and spending the next few minutes just…waiting. For it to dry up and to convince yourself it’s fine, really.

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      Styxie says:

      Yep, motherboard and heatsync screws are by far the most difficult part of building a PC. That process just can’t be recreated in a game because you have to be able to feel the screw not quite lining up correctly. Oh and it’s fallen out again for the 20th time – so it’s time to go and stand in the garden for half an hour with your face in your hands, yelling quietly.

    • haldolium says:

      And lets not forget about the need to apply tremendous force getting fabric-new connectors in place or attaching not-so-well designed custom coolers with over half a kilo weight with absolutely no place to properly grab or hold any of the involved items.

      I really like the Surgeon Simulator idea here… that would actually be fun. This looks much more like a “where goes what” interactive video.

      • Koozer says:

        I always ‘enjoyed’ the challenge of getting inhumanly tight IDE power connectors apart, trying to exert just enough force and wiggleage to free the bugger while also desperately trying to avoid hands flying apart at speed in a confined space full of very sharp bits of PCB, pointy component legs and heatsink blades.

  7. GenialityOfEvil says:

    For those looking for a steeper challenge, try building your own CPU instead.
    link to cs.colby.edu

    • caff says:

      I would rather shove my face with rapid up/down movements into a cheese grater than attempt that.

      • GenialityOfEvil says:

        It’s actually more intuitive than the game equivalents like Shenzhen or MHRD. It also explains things better. Shenzhen is entirely designed around understanding the manual they give you but it hardly tells you anything and the damn thing’s a PDF, you can’t read it in-game. CPU Sim’s help is built in.

  8. Premium User Badge

    phuzz says:

    “A career mode is planned”
    I spent a year or so building PCs for a living. It was pretty shit, I don’t recommend making it your career.

    That said, I do enjoy opening up a PC and fiddling around.

  9. noiseferatu says:

    Building your own PC is really satisfying but judging from the video this thing isn’t capturing it. Where’s the physicality of slamming in RAM sticks and hoping they won’t break, desperately guiding SATA cables past your too-large-for-the-chassis GPU while trying to not block the flow of cooling air, triple-checking that you didn’t install the CPU chip the wrong way? I was hoping for something between Surgeon Simulator and My Summer Car. My Sophomore Year Gamer Rig.

  10. MantaRay_HB says:

    There is nothing more gratifying than having pieces of silicone, metal, and plastic all working together and communicating with each other via software. It is a sense of accomplishment, and a sense of ownership that is far more satisfying than purchasing a system off the shelf.

    I welcome and encourage anyone considering building a PC, to do so. And, I’m glad that there are tools to help those that want to build for the first time.

  11. kud13 says:

    Pfft. What kind of a simulator is it if you can’t bend the pins on your brand new $250 CPU and only notice it when you launch the PC and it doesn’t work?

    One of the most stressful experiences of my life, sitting there with a precision screwdriver, unbending them one by one and praying that nothing snaps.

    • Koozer says:

      I hope it lets you get the motherboard standoffs in the wrong holes and shorting the system.

    • vorador says:

      Me with my brand new Athlon64 3500+

      Me takes it from the tray.

      Me promptly drops it to the floor.

      Me spends half an hour veeeeery slowly straightening pins with a small flat screwdriver. At the end everything worked, but it was quite stressful.

      • kud13 says:

        I dropped my 8-core FX 4500. On carpet.

        Naturally, I couldn’t imagine that would do damage to the pins. But it did.

        I don’t remember, it was either a very thin screwdriver, or a large sewing needle.

    • caff says:

      I did this too. I think I used a needle to bend the pins back. Very stressful. I had no kind of magnification and my eyesight isn’t great, so it was like attempting to de-blur something one pixel at a time.

    • Det. Bullock says:

      I remember watching a LOT of videos on how to install CPUs before even considering attempting to buy one, the best advice I could glean from them was to assemble CPU and heat sink before installing the motherboard, possibly using the both of the motherboard itself as support. Also, I opened the box of the CPU on the same table just beside the motherboard iself to reduce the risk it falling from too much height. It was still unnerving and obscenely sweaty but I managed to install my first CPU without trouble.

  12. vorador says:

    I will use PC Building Simulator to build my pc so i can build my pc while i build my pc. Inside my PC.

    Xzibit would be all over this.

  13. PoulWrist says:

    Why is the PSU in the cover pic upside down? :(

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      yhancik says:

      That’s where some PSU go. It is in the PC I’m typing from at this very moment.

    • ColonelFlanders says:

      You can put a lot of PSUs either way up – because my computer sits on a carpet, I put the fan facing up so the hot air gets blown into my cooling flow.

      • GenialityOfEvil says:

        I have that but the PSU is at the top of the tower with a vent above it so you can face the fan straight up and out of the case.

  14. Rack says:

    Building my new PC tomorrow. Thanks for the nightmares everyone!

    • caff says:

      No worries! Good luck with the build. Hope the DDR sticks don’t make too much of a crunching noise when you install them! Hopefully you’ll see the POST screen when you boot it up. And fingers crossed it doesn’t intermittently black screen randomly on start up every 3rd time, and block your USB ports because it feels like it.

    • Ex Lion Tamer says:

      I’m alternating between cackling and experiencing post-traumatic flashbacks myself, but you’ll be fine. We always are or we wouldn’t keep doing this stupid, satisfying thing.

    • kud13 says:

      You’ll be fine. Your mobo has the instructions on how to install pretty much everything important in one go.

      Until you start doing fancy stuff like trying to overclock your CPU, the basic out of the box building process is generally quite easy these days.

  15. SirBubbles says:

    If only one could install a motherboard as easily as is shown in the video. If only it wasn’t such a fiddly nightmare. Hope my next build goes anywhere near as well as this in real life.
    Odds are I’ll still get a little blood inside my new system. Oh well.

    • Premium User Badge

      Harlander says:

      You know a computer won’t work properly unless it’s sanctified with a blood sacrifice to the Dread Lord of Gate A20.

      • GameOverMan says:

        The Supreme Arcane of the BIOS Shadow demands one too.

        • SirBubbles says:

          It may have been a fancy msi motherboard, but after updating bios to get it to work with my fancy new cpu, it bricked itself. Very not happy was I. I obviously missed out the correct invocations and supplications.

      • taffeylewis says:

        Lol. Gate A20!

        Takes me back to the days of setting board configurations with jumpers and bending DIL memory chip pins on a table top to align them before fettling them into the motherboard :-)

        Oh those happy days of discovery.

    • Premium User Badge

      Benratha says:

      Think of it as a minor sacrifice to the electron gods….

  16. Premium User Badge

    MajorLag says:

    Building a PC nowadays is basically color-coded Lego. I find it difficult to imagine how it could be made interesting in game form.

    Now, if they’d gone with building a PC in the 80s, and I mean that in the sense of actually designing your own architecture, choosing chips and processors and mapping memory and making it all work like you’re the Woz, then that’d be cool, if probably too hard for the average player.

    Or you could go with 90s era computing, where every case is a Chinese puzzle box and the game is figuring out how to open it without damaging it or yourself (fuck you Compaq, I still have a scar!), then making sure your chosen components fit the slots available (your videocard is VLB right?), setting IRQs and IO ranges to avoid conflicts using dip-switches, etc. Not to mention that there was barely any standardization of anything at the time, so you couldn’t just buy “a power supply” and expect it to fit and connect to everything.

    Now get off my lawn.

    • GenialityOfEvil says:

      You could make a mystery game out of PC repair. Explore the curious world of computers that have had all their components glued in, CPU funnel vents made out of flower pots, and VHS tapes that have been crammed into an HDD bay.

      All true stories, by the way.

      • Seyda Neen says:

        Do you know what was being attempted with the VHS tape?

        • GenialityOfEvil says:

          Well they broke the side off trying to fit it in (tapes are bigger than HDDs), so I suppose they were trying to copy it onto a DVD.

  17. ZigomatiX says:

    Is there any termal paste management ?
    Would gladly use this to show how to use the right amount and put it ON TOP of the CPU, not BETWEEN the CPU and the socket… Yeah, some people seamed to think it was some kind of grease or conductivity enhancing paste…

    • LTK says:

      I am both laughing and crying.

    • SirBubbles says:

      I suddenly feel somewhat less embarrassed by my own technical shenanigans from once upon a time. Thanks for that. Although I did keep installing my ram modules before installing the cpu heatsink on an AMD system. Imagine what that did to them, if you will.