What parts make up your dream gaming PC? Obviously, you’ll need a powerful processor capable of handling whatever games you play. You’ll also need plenty of memory to store your gaming library, and a decent amount of RAM.
However, arguably the most important part of your build will be the graphics card which will power all your gaming endeavors. Unfortunately, at the moment, even half-decent GPUs are near-impossible to find. Below, I’ll share how I nabbed an Nvidia GeForce RTX 3080 graphics card and managed to build my dream gaming PC despite the global chip shortage.
From a console to a laptop to a desktop PC
I’ve always been a console gamer prior to the pandemic, having relied heavily on my PS4 Pro for all my gaming needs. However, in 2020 I finally made the transition to PC gaming after purchasing the Razer Blade 15 Quartz as my very first gaming laptop.
I love my Razer Blade to bits, and I still use it whenever I feel like playing something more casual (like Stardew Valley) from the comfort of my sofa. But as I started to get into streaming on Twitch and playing more graphically-intensive games, the more I realized that my laptop’s NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2060 just wasn’t powerful enough to cope with the demand.
I had been saving up for a desktop gaming PC for a while now, but was stymied by the ongoing chip shortage. Good CPUs were tricky but not impossible to find, and other components such as SSDs, PSUs and RAM were almost as plentiful as ever. However, trying to figure out where to buy either the RTX 3070 or RTX 3080 seemed fruitless. On multiple occasions I took a gamble and tried to play the restock game with no success — scalpers always managed to buy up every single unit the second it dropped.
In June 2021, I decided to try and go for the then-soon-to-be-released NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3080 Ti. Unlike in the US, where plenty of retailers like Walmart to Best Buy were planning on selling the new GPU, Scan.co.uk was the only UK retailer officially stocking the 3080 Ti at launch. Predictably, their website crashed minutes into the launch, after scalpers bought out what little stock the UK had in mere seconds.
Fortunately, frantically refreshing the Scan website did eventually prove to be useful. After failing to nab the RTX 3080 Ti, I came across a pre-built hardware bundle that packed all the components I had been hunting for: an AMD Ryzen 9 5900X processor, ASUS ROG STRIX B550-A motherboard and an NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3080 graphics card.
Let’s address the elephant in the room first: retailing at £2,200, the price of this hardware bundle certainly scared me at first. However, after I took into account that it contains most of the priciest components within a PC, including a high-range CPU, GPU, motherboard, 32GB of RAM and all-in-one CPU liquid-cooler, I realized that it came out to a good deal. Don’t believe me? If we assume retail value for the entire bundle, it comes to a total of about £1,515, which means you’d be overpaying by £645. In reality, however, buying these components separately would be substantially more expensive given that right now, most RTX 3080s are being resold on Ebay for £1,500 — more than twice their MSRP of £649.
Once I placed my order, I was notified by Scan that my order would be fulfilled as soon as they verified that they had all the components in stock. At this point, my heart sank — I had just paid a large sum of money for a GPU that wasn’t even guaranteed to be available. Luckily, I worried for nothing, as the entire bundle was dispatched to my address within three days.
While I patiently waited for my new hardware bundle to arrive, I went on Amazon to order whatever outstanding components weren’t part of the bundle, including a PC case, a power supply unit and an SSD/HDD. I also had to order a Wi-Fi/Bluetooth card, since it turned out that the ASUS ROG STRIX B550-A motherboard didn’t have built-in wireless capabilities. Still, all these parts were relatively inexpensive compared to the sum I spent on the bundle.
Another minor addition to the ‘pro’ column for me was the hardware bundle’s color scheme. I’ve always been a sucker for a white RGB gaming setup, so when I discovered the RTX 3080 included as part of the order was an ASUS ROG limited edition GPU, I knew that this piece of kit fit the bill perfectly in terms of my ideal aesthetics and performance.
Hardware bundles - are they worth it?
Once all the components arrived, it was time to assemble my dream gaming PC. This was my first time putting one together, so it was incredibly convenient that the motherboard, CPU, GPU, RAM and the liquid cooling unit all came pre-assembled — essentially all that was left to do was to hook the bundle up to a power supply and a hard drive.
After I made sure that the PC booted up without a hitch, I unhooked the power supply and carefully reattached it to the motherboard once all the components were installed safely inside my new case. Cable management, however, was an entirely different story. I had a clear mental image of what I wanted my PC to look like, so the majority of the time I spent working on my PC mainly consisted of tidying up cables and hiding them wherever possible to achieve a neat and minimalistic look.
Once I was finally finished, I couldn’t help but admire my efforts - this absolute gaming beast may not look like it, but I can now finally stream graphics-heavy games like Cyberpunk 2077 on Twitch without so much as a stutter in frame-rate. No disrespect to my beloved 2019 Razer Blade 15, but it could never pull off such a feat.
Overall, my experience purchasing a hardware bundle was overwhelmingly positive. Despite paying a hefty price tag of £2,200, I was able to purchase a brand-new GPU amidst a global shortage - and on top of that, I was able to do so without giving any money to scalpers. Not having to muck around with thermal paste was a plus in my book too.
Is purchasing a pre-assembled hardware bundle with a CPU, GPU, motherboard, RAM and liquid cooler a viable solution for everyone? Not really. Personally, it worked for me because I initially set out to build a brand new gaming PC entirely from scratch. This bundle would hardly be suitable for someone who already has a perfectly good PC and is just looking for an upgrade on their graphics card.
Bottom line, I’m happy with my new gaming PC, and I don’t regret sinking my savings into a high-performance gaming PC that will last me for years to come. Even now, it feels like a bigger bargain with each passing day, especially with some analysts predicting that chip shortages may last through to 2023.