PC Hobbies to Consider
by Noah Thompson
As console hardware evolves closer to computer gaming technology, many will prefer the more straightforward of the two. Upon the release of next-gen gaming consoles it has become clear that high-end PCs are not the only way to experience a videogame’s potential. Video quality, framerate, and affordable titles have been associated with PC gaming for years; now that the new PS5 and Series X are capable of 4k 60fps gaming, what reason is there to spend several hundreds, if not thousands, on a gaming computer?
One reason is freedom; with a PC, you are free to customize it immensely. From the internal software to the external hardware, no console is nearly as versatile as a gaming computer. Even prebuilt laptops and computers are still as personalized as a custom rig, which allows customization options for laptop and desktop users alike. Nothing is as exciting as successfully powering up your build, and for many, this is the main reason to build a custom PC. Although that satisfaction will eventually scale down for one-time builders, there are many hobbies available to excite you as much as that first boot-up.
Headphones- At first glance, the most subjective devices to explore are headphones. While many will look for the simplest pair to buy, quietly there sits the cult-like audiophile community which bridges sound engineering with recreational music and gaming. It can get frustrating when looking for the perfect pair of gaming headphones after the first set or two, after a while it might just be beneficial to spend as much on a beginner’s setup than to buy the most high-end gaming headphones. There is a vast amount of “audiophile” headphones out there which can deliver drastically higher clarity and range in sound reproduction. I would only recommend exploring this area if you are looking to upgrade your current audio setup, whether you are interested in sound engineering or were already willing to buy a high-end pair of gaming headphones. Be aware that this can get costly, an entry level setup could cost you around $200-$250. This price consists of the headphones, an amplifier to power them, and an attachable mic (optional). Comparing the level of audio and microphone quality, this route would last much longer than any gaming headphones in a similar price range.
Keyboards- Just as every pair of headphones sounds different to everyone’s ears, keyboards feel different to everyone’s fingers. We are all used to the basic feel of plastic; one does not need to own a typewriter nor dump several hundreds of dollars on a mechanical keyboard to avoid the mushy presses of membrane keys. Mechanical keyboards are a bit more accessible than headphones depending on the way you choose to go. Either you could buy a keyboard with mechanical switches or you could make one. Although you could buy a long-lasting mechanical keyboard for less than $100, part of the reason one would build their own PC is for the experience and the freedom in which it provided them in the first place. Building a mechanical keyboard will seem daunting at first, but thanks to the many forums, subreddits, YouTube channels, and communities out there it will seem more accessible with more individual research done. However, this hobby will require as much patience as it does money, but the experience will greatly reward you no matter the building method.
(Keyboard) Artisans- Both hobbies will get more expensive the deeper you explore; besides scalping there are legitimate ways to earn money to support these addictions! For keyboards specifically, there is a huge market for “artisan keycaps”. These small, handcrafted keycaps usually sell for $20-$40 per cap (sometimes double or even triple that), and if you are familiar with clay, epoxy, or other molding materials then this is an enjoyable hobby as well. Even though it’s not directly related to the same technology associated with computer building it does still offer a unique option for creative hobbyists.
There are many more hobbies like these to consider, especially if you enjoyed building your PC as much as playing on it. Don’t be discouraged by the wait time for any of them, however, as these communities have been hit hard at the start of the pandemic. Since many of the companies and vendors are operated internationally it is not uncommon to wait months for parts, regardless of the pandemic prevailing. Waiting is something everyone from both PC and console communities have gotten used to, if its use will outlast the wait then there is no need to worry if you have patience.