Update, 6/7/17, 8:10am PT: NZXT reached out to clarify a few things about BLD after this story's publication. We covered the new information about BLD's warranties in a separate post, which you can find here. The company also said that the $350 fee is meant to guarantee that systems will be built and shipped within two days of being ordered.
Original article: 6/6/17, 1:40pm PT:
Not everyone wants to spend hours researching different components, finding the best prices across multiple stores, and then putting everything together once it arrives at their front door. That's why companies offer pre-built gaming PCs--it makes it easy for people who want to have decent performance without breaking the bank or figuring out how to assemble their own system. NZXT wants to combine that approach with the flexibility of custom rigs via BLD, a new service that helps you pick out the parts for your next PC, which the company will then put together for you.
BLD starts with a simple question: What do you want to play? You're given a few popular games from the usual categories to choose from: online shooters like Counter Strike: Global Offensive and Overwatch, single-player games like Middle-Earth: Shadow of Mordor and Grand Theft Auto V, and so on. Instead of building a system you like and figuring out what you can play on it, NZXT wants you to pick a game you want to play and then build a PC that can run it. You can select up to three games from NZXT's list (which has 18 total) before moving along to BLD's next step.
That's where your budget comes in. You can choose to keep the system under $1,500, $2,000, or $2,500. BLD then finds the parts that meet your games' recommended benchmarks (which seems to default at 60fps with no other variables) within that price limit. Everything is of course crammed into an NZXT case, and it seems like BLD favors Intel processors and Nvidia graphics over their AMD counterparts, regardless of price range. Here's where things get interesting: NZXT claimed that BLD can predict a resulting system's performance in your selected games within a 10% margin.
Unfortunately, you're given little control over these numbers. If you want to upgrade to a 1440p or 4K monitor, for example, you're out of luck. All of BLD's estimates are based on 1920 x 1080 resolution displays. The service also doesn't say at what settings a game will run--sure, you can get 66fps from Overwatch with a system that costs $1,265. But is that on low, medium, or high settings? You might be willing to spend a little extra money to jump from medium to high, for example, or need to know how games will perform on your monitor. But we couldn't find those options.
The good news is that BLD doesn't appear to be gouging anyone. We got as close to the $1,265 build mentioned above as we could on PCPartPicker, and many of the prices were similar; the discrepancies could be explained by BLD not including mail-in rebates or omitting some stores from its database. But, for the most part, it seems like NZXT isn't looking to charge you more for the same components you could buy yourself. Instead, it's going to make its money by charging you a flat $350 fee for assembly and shipping. But that's where BLD starts to stumble.
Building a PC isn't hard. That's something you'd expect to read on Tom's Hardware, sure, but it's true whether you're building your first system or putting together your tenth. It's kind of like playing with very expensive Lego--unless you're totally careless and ignore every instruction that comes with each component, chances are good that you'd have to actually try to break something. Paying someone $350 to put those parts together seems like a waste, and you'd almost certainly get even better performance if you put that money into those components instead.
That won't be true for everyone. Some people just have no desire to put together a system. At that point, though, it's not clear that they'll want to use something like BLD to pick the parts themselves. It seems more likely that they'll just buy a pre-built system and live with whatever its manufacturer decided to cram into its case. The performance predictions are useful, though, and maybe there are a bunch of people who care about what goes into their systems but are unwilling or unable to put everything together themselves. BLD will probably suit those people just fine.
They'll also be pleased to know that you aren't stuck with NZXT's recommendations. You have a few options for each of the main components, and you can customize it further by choosing your case's color, purchasing some NZXT-made peripherals, or going with Windows 10 Pro instead of the Home version. This could help remove some of the guesswork from choosing between different products, which is another hurdle people face when they build a PC. What parts work together? Who makes the best item in each category? BLD can help answer those questions.
Or, you know, they could just visit a little internet webpage we like to call Tom's Hardware.