With the release of the next generation of RealFlight R/C Flight Simulator, RF-X, the minimum and optimal computer requirements have been dramatically increased. Like many that want to run this new version of RealFlight, we needed to upgrade our computer and keep those costs low, which meant building our own computer.
I've upgraded the graphics cards on my own computers before, but this would mark the first time I've ever built a computer from the ground up. It was certainly a learning experience, but was far easier that I thought it would be going in.
The first big key to successfully building your own computer is making sure all the components you build will actually work together.
It's really, really easy to screw this part up, so it's nice to know there's a website out there that handles this for you. It's called pcpartpicker.com, and it is what helped me ensure all the parts I wanted to use would work together without a problem. It also provides a detailed list of what online stores have that component and the prices, so you can find the cheapest price or try to get everything from a single store. I'll post a link to the build we used for our computer a little later on in this column.
The other resource I used to learn how this all goes together was a video from the guys at NewEgg.com. While it's quite long — a little over an hour — it's in-depth and very handy, helping you avoid doing things over and over again because you missed a step along the way. I definitely recommend checking out the video if you're planning on building your own PC for the first time.
Ultimately, the build was fun and only took about three hours all said and done. In total, we spent around $1,200 building this computer, and while that sounds expensive, the cheapest computer I could find with similar specs was from Alienware, and it cost just over $2,000, so you can see how building your own rig can save you a lot of money. Our new PC can't run on the highest end specs for RealFlight, but adding in some more RAM would probably do the trick.
You can check out our entire component list here, and stop in to see the new simulator in action — it's really quite gorgeous with the new hardware!