2021 brings its challenges to the world of computer building


Myles Wahlquist

Components for PCs are hard to find.

While COVID-19 shocked the world in multiple ways, one of its biggest effects was the spike of tech sales for at-home use. When working at home you’ll most likely need a computer; the issue is that everybody else needs one too.

In the middle of August 2020, my Xbox One motherboard decided to fry itself and become no longer usable. Unfortunately, the warranty period had ended, and it would have ultimately cost me more to buy a new motherboard and repair it than it would to buy a new Xbox. So I decided to do nothing and accepted the fact that my gaming days were over. After about two weeks, I realized that I was very bored, as I only saw my friends two days a week at school and now had no way of connecting with them through gaming. After finding an old 2008 iMac in my basement I decided to put that in my room and give it a try. I quickly realized how terrible this computer was when I couldn’t even open Google Chrome.

Around February, I got sick and tired of not being able to do what I loved: gaming with the boys. I decided that I had enough money to build my own custom gaming PC. I spent a week researching what pieces and components I would need. At that point, I felt like I knew everything about computers even though I had no prior knowledge before that week.

I set out to Micro Center with an Amazon wish list full of components. I walked in excited to start my build, and then I looked to my left. The line was chest-to-back and ran all the way down the store. “No problem,” I thought, “just a busy day.” Then I realized that it was noon on a Tuesday. I shrugged it off and headed towards the PC building section. I found someone nice enough to help me out with getting what I needed. I knew that graphics cards were the hardest thing to find nowadays, so that’s what I told them I needed first. The guy looked at me and laughed, which was a bit concerning. He took me over to where the graphics card should have been, and all I saw was empty shelves. This was crazy! They get a shipment of new PC components every day and the store opens at 10 in the morning. The guy handed me a paper and told me to join the online waitlist to get into the store every morning. So, that’s what I did.

With a lot of perseverance and a good amount of patience, I’m finally proud to say that I built my own custom computer.

— Myles Wahlquist

Every morning I would scan the QR code on the paper he gave me and check into the waitlist, hoping to get a decent spot in line. Not only was I fighting for a place in line, but it was unknown as to if they would even have an affordable graphics card. On my third day, I got a decent spot in line and luckily found a pretty solid graphics card. The struggle was finally over, so I thought. Then I realized this wasn’t the same card I had put in my Amazon wish list, which meant that I had to remake the entire build specified to that one item. The kind employees at Micro Center were more than willing to build me a PC on paper. They were extremely helpful in finding me good components that would also fit my budget.

With my notes sheet in hand, I went to Micro Center about four more times to acquire all the parts that I would need. I wish I could say that the hardest part was over, but then I found myself with eight boxes of PC parts and zero knowledge of how to put them together. Thankfully the wonderful website of YouTube turned me into a PC building master in about two days and a handful of videos.

My PC is now built, and I can confidently say that I’m glad that I stuck with it and didn’t give up. It would have been easy for me on the first day to decide that this wasn’t worth it, but I’m grateful I stayed dedicated. With a lot of perseverance and a good amount of patience, I’m finally proud to say that I built my own custom computer.