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NZXT BLD Kit review: Building a gaming PC doesn't get easier than this

Great for first-timers. NZXT's BLD Kit includes everything you need -- from components to instructional videos -- and some help if you need it.

The NZXT BLD Kit is for people who want to build a gaming desktop PC for the first time but might not know where to start or are intimidated by the process. You don't need to hunt for parts on Amazon or fight scalpers on reselling sites for graphic cards. NZXT will send you one big box with everything you need, including an impressive guide book.

The BLD Kit comes in two configurations: an Intel-based Starter Pro Kit for $1,399 (£1,018, AU$1,890, converted) and an AMD-based Streaming Plus Kit for $1,599 (£1,165, AU$2,160, converted). I built the Streaming Plus Kit and the experience was surprisingly wonderful. You can scroll down to the bottom to see the full component lists for both builds.

bld-kit
Oliver Padilla/CNET

It's all in there, sort of

The unboxing experience was straightforward. NZXT is a system integrator, meaning it gathers components from multiple manufacturers. Sometimes it buys stock in bulk, so some of the components, including the motherboard and CPU, weren't in retail packaging. There are some quality control issues that I ran into, though nothing major. For example, although everything worked, my motherboard was incomplete and missing the rear I/O shield and manual. 

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When I realized it was missing, I reached out to NZXT's chat support on its website. Getting to a live chat representative took a few clicks to get past the customer service bot. But even with the bot slowing me down, I was able to get my missing I/O shield shipped overnight within a total of 20 minutes. The motherboard manual never did arrive. 

It might not sound like much, but at the end of the day, you'll want the motherboard manual. The BLD Kit booklet will often point you to it for auxiliary information so my experience was a bit incomplete. 

The instructions are... interesting

What sets BLD Kit apart from just gathering PC components from Amazon or Newegg is what NZXT provides for its BLD Kit customers. In the box, there's an illustrated booklet with over 180 pages of instructions. This booklet is well written with full-color illustrations that can guide many first-time PC builders. NZXT presents building the desktop as a quest. You "discover" components in ruins as you go through the steps of the build. This makes the process much more enjoyable. But it's not without its faults. There are some over-simplifications and generalizations of instructions that can trip up new builders.

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An example of colorful illustrations from NZXT's PC building instructional booklet.

Oliver Padilla

In the illustrated guide, the cable management diagram is downright confusing and intimidating. If I'd never built a PC before, I'd be totally lost. The downfall of the illustration is using color-coordinated labels for cables. It just doesn't match what you see in real life. When you're looking at an open PC, you just see an octopus of black cables. As opposed to the bright colors in the booklet.

The illustrated booklet also has the challenge of needing to make sense with different models of components. For example, the printed labels on the motherboard's cooling pump header did not match the example names listed in the book. The labeling was different enough that I felt I needed help to be sure I would get it right the first time.

NZXT has created a dedicated phone support line for BLD Kit customers. When I called the hotline, it placed me directly into a queue and within a minute I was connected directly with a tech. 

cable

The NZXT illustration uses bright colors as opposed to the true black cables seen in the PC build.

Oliver Padilla

After giving my order information, the tech was able to pull up the specific components I had. The tech asked what I was having trouble with. Referencing which chapter I was in and step I was on, they were able to guide me, telling me the specific label I should look for on the motherboard in front of me. This detailed help is something that will make a huge difference for anyone who is worried about doing their first build alone. Knowing that help is a phone call away will give someone the confidence to take the leap and try to build their first desktop PC on their own.   

It's important to note, however, that my BLD Kit experience was during a review period for press. It's safe to assume that both the web chat customer service agent and the dedicated hotline tech were on their best behavior.

NZXT has also said it would replace parts if you accidentally damage a component in a build. I specifically asked about bent pins on the CPU, one of the more expensive parts of a PC, and it said the component would be replaced free of charge.

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Each component in NZXT's BLD Kit has a sticker attached with a QR code linking to an instructional video.

Oliver Padilla

The BLD Kit also has a set of instructional videos that work in tandem with the booklet. At the beginning of each chapter there is a QR code that links to a video for that specific step. There are also QR codes on each component that link to the relative videos. 

At the time of writing, about half of the instructional videos were made available to me. They are well produced with closeups of small details that the illustrations might have missed. The videos are short and to the point. However, some videos use acronyms and language that only seasoned PC builders would know, so I expect first-time builders to watch these two or three times.

Fine-tuning after the build 

One issue that I see arising is the lack of instructions after powering on the PC. NZXT currently does not provide any guidance on BIOS settings, including enabling XMP. Without XMP enabled, it's likely that your RAM will operate at a lower speed than advertised. That was the case for my BLD Kit. In my case, the RAM in the system operated at 2,400MHz instead of the advertised 3,200MHz. 

I spoke with NZXT about this and it said it's something it is looking to address  in future revisions in videos and the booklet so people will have access to it. It remains to be seen how quickly NZXT will be able to implement this, but it's good that it's aware of the issue. The BLD Kit has already enabled NZXT's customers to build their own PC, and really they should also be shown a bit of the advanced software side of the building experience as well. 

The NVMe drive comes with Windows 10 preloaded on it. NZXT says that BLD kits with Windows 11 will ship at a later date. I was able to check my PC and it is compatible with a Windows 11 upgrade. You'll have plenty of Windows 10 updates to do, however. The good thing is that the instructions do link to a blog post that explains how to download and install the latest GPU and motherboard drivers.

The results are right on the money

Building your own desktop is a satisfying experience, and the NZXT BLD Kit makes the process painless, for the most part. The price is a bit higher than buying parts separately by about $100. However, I found an almost identically specced prebuilt computer at a big box store that was way more expensive than the BLD Kit by a few hundred dollars. I expect prices to fluctuate as retailers struggle with supply chain issues. What this does mean is that NZXT's BLD Kits are competitively priced, even if you do have to build it yourself. What you're getting isn't just a working desktop, but also the confidence and ability to upgrade the machine. Adding more RAM or upgrading the GPU won't feel as daunting.

Overall the BLD Kit instructions are well put together. The illustrations keep the process fun for all ages. Getting from start to finish takes about 2 hours and could be just as entertaining as doing a jigsaw puzzle or assembling a Lego kit. But at the end of it, you have a fully functioning PC for school, work or gaming. 

Starter Pro Kit

Price $1,399
Case NZXT H510
Motherboard Asrock B560 Pro4
CPU Intel Core i5-11400F
Memory 16GB 3200MHz DDR4
Graphics Gigabyte RTX 3060 Ti Gaming OC
Storage 1TB PCIe NVMe SSD
Cooling Deepcool Gammaxx GTE V2
Networking Wi-Fi dual-band wireless PCIe adapter card
Operating system Microsoft Windows 10 Home

Streaming Plus Kit

Price $1,599
Case NZXT H510
Motherboard MSI B550-A Pro
CPU AMD Ryzen 5600X
Memory 16GB 3200MHz DDR4
Graphics Gigabyte RTX 3060 Ti Gaming OC
Storage 1TB PCIe NVMe SSD
Cooling NZXT Kraken M22 120mm Liquid cooler
Networking Wi-Fi dual-band wireless PCIe adapter card
Operating system Microsoft Windows 10 Home