A popular PC building simulator has entered Steam’s Early Access program after first debuting on the itch.io game platform. The developer, Claudiu Kiss, has partnered with a variety of brands to offer recreations of real-world hardware, including AMD, InWin, Gigabyte, Cryorig, MSI, Cooler Master, Corsair, EVGA, NZXT, Raijintek, Silverstone, and Arctic. The idea behind the application — it’s not really a game in the traditional sense, though there’s reference to building a PC “empire,” and a Career Mode with multiple job types from a range of customer types — is to give users the opportunity to experiment with components and system build options.
In theory, this is an amazing idea. The Steam page refers to a laundry list of upcoming features the developer wants to add to the title, including:
- Water cooling
- More licensed components
- Fully localized in select languages
- More benchmarking options
- More job types in career mode
The game is also supposed to include a simulated OS and benchmarking mode, with simulated applications like 3DMark. That means you can now run a simulated version of a simulated benchmark, which would totally be an XZibit meme if this was 2007. A launch trailer for the app is shown below:
But as awesome as this app could be in theory, I’m dubious it’ll play out that way in practice. Showing people how specific components will look inside a given chassis has some limited utility, but the capabilities that would make this type of simulator practically useful to PC enthusiasts require far too much system-specific modeling for a $ 20 app.
The real advantage of being able to implement specific cases, for example, would be if the application could give you model-specific information on how a given cooler was likely to perform or how airflow would change within the chassis depending on which fans you used and whether you configured the system for positive or negative pressure. Similarly, a water cooling modeling system that could estimate the impact of using various pumps, radiators, and tubing sizes, or a overclocking tool that could access a backend of user data about the likely performance of various chips, and give feedback on which coolers were statistically more or less likely to result in higher performance levels, could all be very interesting. But any of these options would require veritable oceans of data, including per-component modeling and test results. It’s the kind of data set you could only generate with dedicated personnel, extensive testing, and a lab to do it in — and that’s just not going to happen.
Absent such practical capabilities, I’m not sure what the actual point of this thing would be. Pointing and clicking on digital objects to “mount” them in a chassis might have some limited utility as far as showing you how things ought to look (and I’m not dismissing that). But there are literally hundreds of excellent guides to building PCs online, including videos, photographic tutorials, and written articles. Integrating actual components from name-brand manufacturers is an interesting twist, but the inability to perform meaningful modeling (through no fault of the developers) is going to constrain real-world usefulness. A PC component visualizer is no kind of bad thing, but we’d recommend waiting and seeing how this evolves before dropping cash on it.