PC hardware manufacturer NZXT, best known for their line of cases, power and cooling products like the Kraken, is launching a new PC building service called BLD. With BLD, (pronounced “build”) customers can pick from a menu of popular games. The engine crunches the numbers and spits out a list of components, along with a guaranteed frame rate. If the PC, as delivered, misses the mark by more than 10 percent you get your money back.
“We see it more as a service than a traditional system integration,” said NZXT’s CEO and founder Johnny Hou. “Other places there’s model A, model B and model C. There is no such thing with this service. All of the systems you’re going to get come from an engine.”
The secret sauce behind BLD is the NZXT CAM PC monitoring software. The cloud-based application has been gathering data from users for years. Hou says that it’s gobbled up more than 10 million hours of data, all of which has been instrumental in tuning BLD’s algorithm.
“There’s no human that’s involved as part of that process,” Hou said. NZXT simply feeds it a list of available parts and it spits out a list of components and target framerates. The goal isn’t to compete with the other, larger custom PC manufacturers on build quality. As far as tying down cables and tightening screws, there’s parity all down the line. What Hou is striving for is an improved customer experience.
“Last year when VR was super hot I had a ton of friends call me up,” he said. “‘Hey Johnny! I want to build a computer for PC gaming. What should I build?’ And I was just thinking to myself, ‘How is this still such a problem?’ It’s been years and people are still not finding it very easy to buy a gaming PC.”
BLD, which goes live today, starts by letting customers choose from a few popular games. Currently, those include mostly older titles such as Overwatch, Battlefield 1, Star Wars Battlefront and The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt. After picking three titles, customers select a price range from $1,500 to $2,500. They also have the option of configuring their PC in detail from there, adding additional drives, RAM and the like. Computers are built and shipped within 48 hours and if the frame rate in the selected games deviates by more than 10 percent returns are free.
Hou was candid in explaining that BLD was a kind of experiment. Not the technology, per se, since he’s confident in his dataset. It’s the shopping experience itself that is unproven.
“We really don’t know if it’s going to work,” Hou said, “When you come to the website there’s no systems to click on. As a gamer, you think about the games first. Content drives the hardware business.”
The challenge comes in predicting the hardware needs of upcoming games. By building in additional performance for legacy titles, Hou is confident that BLD can provide superior products. Systems will begin shipping this week.