I was often told how hard it was to get into the PC Gaming space when I was younger, and to that I can agree now as a young adult that it indeed was. Not the availability of parts per-say; although it is definitely easier to be able to go to the store and buy what you need or even go on amazon and have it delivered. What I had trouble with was how.
Nowadays I am a lot more knowledgeable in the PC building space and have plenty of experience building computers for many different use-cases. In this case, my girlfriend had needed a computer as she has an old iMac which either cannot run the games she desires to play or steam doesn't have a compatible version of the game supporting MacOS.
For context, this was originally built in Late 2016 - Early 2017. Upgrades have been made along the way, including a new case and SSD. My Dad found an OEM GeForce GTX 760 Ti from a family friend who said it was not functioning correctly. I haven't done much in the way of researching for this graphics card, but it looks to have been made for an older model of an Alienware SFF PC. Looking up the product numbers on the back revealed it to be manufactured by DELL. I put it in my computer used for testing to find it throttling it's clock speed fairly low. Taking the card apart revealed that the card was put together with very few thermal pads installed to allow dissipation of the high-heat spots on the PCB. A few dollars on eBay and a week or so in shipping later and the card was in perfect working condition.
By today's standards, the GTX 760 Ti is pretty outdated and, to some, even ancient. It's actually quite a hard-to-grasp concept for me that some PC Gamers today weren't even aware of the 700 series existence after the success of the lower end graphics cards in the 900 series line-up. Most younger gamers in my neighborhood that I know personally that are on a budget are still content with their 950's and 960's for light 1080p gaming. If this card wasn't free, it's safe to say I wouldn't have considered it.
The original case was a Rosewill FBM-01 that I got on Amazon for $20 or so on-sale. The Cooler Master MasterBox Q300L, although even smaller than the FBM-01, has a much better layout and room for cable-management hidden by the motherboard tray. It also doesn't have a bare-aluminum looking inside to make the build look even less modern than it already was. This was a very easy upgrade that my girlfriend definitely appreciated. Although, she didn't care quite as much as I did about taking the time to disassemble everything just to change a computer case without really upgrading anything else.
While it was disassembled, I did take out my 120gb SSD that I was given as a present to help speed up my older HTPC and quickly found a flash-drive to boot the Windows Media Installer and get Windows 10 up and running before she could notice it was different at all. It isn't her fault by any means, but sometimes when a computer problem insues, the blame for it goes on the last one to mess with whatever pertains to the problem; which happened right before I disassembled the rig by the way of her Sims 4 save games. I had downloaded mods she wanted, which then proceeded to be incompatible with the mods she already had installed and... it was just a bad time.
Luckily, she's happy with it now and can (almost) play the same games as I can side-by-side with her with our current desk set-up. I posted my personal rig and the other side of the desk in a separate Completed Build in case you were curious about the computer set-up across from this one.
Thanks for reading :D
Oh yeah, I'm always happy to help anyone who is looking to build a PC or part out one here on PCPP. I am trying my best to continue to be a valuable asset for those who are new to this space or new to this lovely site/forum. Thanks :)