PC Building Simulator review: Have you tried restarting the computer?

Live out all your Geek Squad fantasies with PC Building Simulator.

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It never fails that a new simulator-type game appears on the market with a premise that sounds so completely mundane that it could not possibly be entertaining, yet manages to offer a rewarding experience. In the modern era, Euro Truck Simulator 2 popularized turning an actual job into a rather compelling way to spend your time in front of a computer and PC Building Simulator succeeds at carrying that torch. At first glance, it seems like a gimmick, but I enjoyed my time with the game’s relaxed vibe.

PC Building Simulator puts you in control of a small business that specializes in servicing and building PCs. You have a relative that previously ran the operation to the point of failure and you must rebuild its reputation and balance sheet. As you acquire more income and strengthen your reputation as a computer repair wizard, you will gain access to tougher jobs and increasingly higher-tier hardware.

At the outset, you have a simple PC on a workbench with a 2nd monitor that is used for troubleshooting and working on customer PCs. All customer interaction and the process of running the business is handled from your main desktop. Clients contact you via e-mail and if you accept their jobs, will leave their machines at your doorstep. Early on, most jobs will be of the simple variety, requiring you to run virus scan or expand the RAM capacity of a customer's PC.

Many of the work request emails are straightforward, with the customer knowing exactly what they want. Others, accurately resembling real-life PC repair interactions, simply have vague descriptions of a problem that require you to troubleshoot the issue on your test bench. As your reputation grows, you will get requests from customers that require you to read between the lines to find what they actually want. Each closed ticket earns you a score from the client, ranging from one to five stars. Ideally, you aim for five stars from a client to help you build your reputation.

The process of working on the machines is fairly straightforward. You must carry the machines to your test bench, open the chassis, and plug each of the peripheral and power cables into the back. You can use a preloaded USB drive to install anti-virus software or a benchmarking suite. All parts inside the customer PCs can be unscrewed and removed and the game presents this process in realistic fashion, right down to the application of thermal paste onto the CPU heat spreaders.

Many times, customers will bring in PCs with broken parts or they may want to upgrade a specific component. You must buy the parts needed from a virtual part store website on you business PC or you can use something out of your own parts inventory, should you have the right hardware on hand. Some customers are cool with used parts, while others are adamant that they only receive new gear. Clients may also have brand preferences. If you fail to make note of brands they mentioning liking in the work order emails, you could cost yourself some stars on an otherwise perfect job.

Watch Trigger Riggin' with PC Building Simulator from Shacknews on www.twitch.tv

Speaking of brands, PC Building Simulator has a surprisingly wide selection of components from real and mock manufacturers. You’ll find MSI graphics cards, Team Group memory, Silverstone power supplies, and more. As a PC hardware enthusiast, I found the inclusion of real life gear went a long way to increasing the immersion. There are also accurate recreations of many real-life cases, each with their own  ways of opening and holding parts.

When some customers are looking for upgrades to run the latest games and applications, they turn to you for upgrades. Usually this means that you need to use benchmarking software to determine their current performance and then make choices on how to upgrade. The benchmark runs take up time in-game just like they do in reality. To keep things flowing smoothly across multiple work tickets, you’ll be able to buy expanded inventory and additional work benches so you can work on multiple tickets simultaneously. You can swap out memory in one PC will 3DMark runs on another.

For the most part, everything in the game is straightforward and there isn’t much of a challenge. The only real obstacle you will face is juggling multiple open tickets. You will have to open and re-read emails during jobs to make sure you don’t miss any details as well as try to space out jobs while you wait for parts to be delivered. Some customers want their machines back on the same day, while others are more relaxed. Things can begin to increase in complexity once you manage to have three or four PCs in various states of completion across multiple work days.

At the end of the day, PC Building Simulator is a solid experience, especially for those who may already have an affinity for PC hardware. The business simulation side of things is not all that complex, so players looking for a challenge need not apply. On the flipside, the game is detailed enough that someone who has never laid hands on a PC could legitimately learn the process from playing. Ultimately, repeating the same basic process over and over can become tedious, while at the same time being relaxing. There is an in-game radio that will play real internet radio stations and PC Building Simulator is at its best when you are methodically working through tickets and swapping CPU coolers while Hall and Oates plays softly in the background. 8/10 RTX 2080 TIs in SLI


This review is based on a Steam key provided by the publisher. PC Building Simulator was made available for Window on January 29, for $19.99.

Contributing Tech Editor

Chris Jarrard likes playing games, crankin' tunes, and looking for fights on obscure online message boards. He understands that breakfast food is the only true food. Don't @ him.

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Pros
  • Detailed models of real-life parts
  • Accurate depiction of PC building
  • Attention to details
  • In-game radio improves experience
Cons
  • Business simulation is incredibly light
  • Gameplay loop can become tedious
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