Poll: Do aesthetics ever influence your component selection?

If one thing demarks enthusiast components from other computer hardware, it has to be their aesthetics. Whether you’re looking at elegant copper heatsinks, motherboards with carefully picked out color schemes, or graphics card shrouds emblazoned with cyborg frogs, having the most attractive-looking piece of hardware seems like a requirement in this market.

TR reader Mike shared a similar observation with us, and he suggested we whip up a new poll to see how other readers felt:

I was perusing Newegg (as I often do when reading various articles) when an all black motherboard by EVGA caught my eye. I thought to myself, "that would look badass in my rig!" So I started looking for other all black components. Which naturally led me to think about my fellow Gerbils and led me to this question . . . "Do aesthetics ever influence your component selection?"

The poll is now up, and you may cast your vote either below or on our front page. Are TR gerbils biased toward attractive-looking components, or do they keep their heads cool, picking hardware based on its specs and performance alone? We shall soon find out.

In the meantime, we’ve got the results from our previous poll, which dealt with the topic of gigabytes versus gibibytes. Out of 5,526 voters, 85% use the old-school terminology and would say a PC has 4GB of RAM. 5% made a jab at the word "gibibyte," but the remaining 10% wouldn’t hesitate to use the term in the real world.

Comments closed
    • sigher
    • 10 years ago

    I find this hard to answer, I would not say I wanted a color or decals or something and buy a component because of that (apart maybe from a case if it wasn’t too crappy in functionality), but if something looks crummy you do lose faith in its effectiveness and the capabilities of the manufacturer I find, so in a round-and-about way I do let looks influence me.
    So what do I answer? I find it hard to commit to a choice, if I say yes it might be interpreted I’d buy RAM because it ‘looks cool’, and that I find stupid, but if I say no you might conclude that I’m part of a group for whom looks mean absolutely nothing.
    So I guess I pick the middle option, with reservations.

    • dashbarron
    • 10 years ago

    As a faithful techwriter “we” work with aesthetics and design non-stop. We are well aware the aesthetics almost always influence a buyers choice, from people in the heartland of America to rural India. There have been several studies done in the past to more than confirm that even those societies which aren’t object-oriented, tend to buy heavily on the side of aesthetics.

    Then of course there are the products that sell because of their /[

      • sigher
      • 10 years ago

      But surely you’d not buy a lousy CPU when they made the thing look nice, maybe a decorated cover in dual metal design?
      We are talking about components here not products.

    • fantastic
    • 10 years ago

    I voted wrong. I guess. “Sometimes, when all else is roughly equal” isn’t quite true. I choose cheap, quiet, functional, reliable and understated. I avoid RAMsinks, anything made by Thermaltake, case windows, silly colors without any meaning, LED fans, chrome plating (painted mostly now) and I loathe blue LEDs. If every PC component was put together by a company like Thermalright, the world would be a better place. <half joking>

    • KoolAidMan
    • 10 years ago

    Case aesthetics do factor into my decision when it comes to my PC. I had a LianLi V1100 case for years and have had a Corsair 800D for the last few months. Neither have gaudy lights, colors, stupid plastic trim, none of that. They are also both very well proportioned. Aesthetics in terms of noise is also important to me, I aim to get my systems as quiet as possible with massive heatsinks and 20db or under fans. My gaming PC is almost as silent as my 27″ iMac, that’s saying a lot.

    As for internals, I’ll take it or leave it, aesthetics are a bonus. I have an EVGA board but only because it has a LOTES retention clip for the CPU instead of a Foxconn. Price was also competitive with Asus, Gigabyte, MSI, etc, but with the advantage of US tech support and RMA. Functionality wins out, same as with my Corsair PSU with detachable cables, but the fact that they also look nice is a good bonus.

    Where I draw the line are gaudy “EXTREME” PC components, of which there are too way many in the PC market. A trip to Fry’s is like being surrounded by cheaply made crap that’s trying way too hard to be “flashy”. Gross.

    Give my my Corsair case or 27″ iMac any day. Understated but still nice to look at.

      • albundy
      • 10 years ago

      That LianLi V1100 is one of the nicest looking cases with wheels that I have ever seen in a while. The only beef I had with it was the USB/Audio jacks that were positioned at the bottom and the fact that the case was made for extended server boards.

        • KoolAidMan
        • 10 years ago

        I agree, placing the ports at the bottom of the V1100 case was a bad idea, IMHO the main flaw with that case. It is not a problem with the 800D since all buttons and ports are at the top of the case. Very logical and convenient.

    • tesla120
    • 10 years ago

    I generally like to buy things that fit the color scheme of my computer. top of the line isn’t important to me though, and personally I think buying the the best thing possible is a waste of money. it wont be top of the line in a few months, but the colors will always match and not look like a smattering of crap

    • spanky1off
    • 10 years ago

    i select my components on the same criteria as i did my wife. excellent aesthetics and great performance for the money.

    • albundy
    • 10 years ago

    i chose yes, for one reason only. resale value! the pimps know what I’m talking about.

    • sircharles32
    • 10 years ago

    I’ll agree with what some others are saying:

    I look at aesthetics when buying a case, and when purchasing case fans (try to avoid LEDs).

    • paulWTAMU
    • 10 years ago

    For cases, hell yes. I don’t care if it looks wonderful, but I do try to avoid eyesores and things with windows, gaudy lights, XTREME styling and the like.

    • September
    • 10 years ago

    Use Mushkin Blackline DDR3 RAM to match the EVGA board. Looks badass.

    I had a blue/silver theme going on with all my components for my Core i7 920 rig in a Silver Silverstone FT-01 w/window. Blue heat-spreaders on the RAM from Mushkin, blue/white Gigabyte board, blue cable wrap, looks great. If I’m going to spend $300 on the case/psu for external (WAF) aesthetics it might as well extend to the inside too.

    • Firestarter
    • 10 years ago

    I can’t help myself, sexy heatsinks are just so sexy!

    • FireGryphon
    • 10 years ago

    I am attracted to the artistry and civic engineering style of motherboards, but in the last 15 years, I haven’t made a single computer hardware purchase based on appearance.

    • jstern
    • 10 years ago

    I paid a few extra hundred for a Mac because I liked the way it looked. Huge mistake.

    • FuturePastNow
    • 10 years ago

    My choice of case was based entirely on aesthetics. I have to look at it every day.

    I also buy keyboards laid out a certain way, mice that are shaped a certain way, gamepads that are shaped a certain way, graphics cards that have the ‘stock’ cooler, etc. That stuff goes beyond simple aesthetics, though.

      • Veerappan
      • 10 years ago

      Agreed. I buy my case/monitor with aesthetics in mind, but features are also important. These are the things I have to look at every day, so I at least make sure they’re not gaudy looking.

      As for the internal components, I don’t really care what they look like. If two parts have the same specs and the same price, I’ll go for the one that I think looks better (no LEDs, no neon colors, etc), but I won’t sacrifice performance/features to do it.

    • Krogoth
    • 10 years ago

    I take functionality over aesthetics. If I were to make an aesthetic choice, I chose something conservative.

    The over the top, bling bling fetish found on most “enthusiast” gear is just too much.

      • Voldenuit
      • 10 years ago

      l[

    • Galvnze
    • 10 years ago

    I think aesthetics matter more for parts you look at more often. For example, the new Coolmaster Sentinel mouse I recently bought just looks frickin’ awesome. My Asus P6T Deluxe V2 mobo looks cool too, but honestly, how much am I going to duck my head under my desk and salivate at its nifty gadgets (apparently too often according to my girlfriend). I got that because of what it can do. Its nice that it looks cool, but that’s not as important as my desktop-side peripherals.

    But I guess the question, as put to TR folks who are probably more wise with their money and knowledge, is really asking, “Are you hosed by the ads and hype?”, which probably explains the poll answers.

      • sigher
      • 10 years ago

      Mouse isn’t a component, component are on the inside.

    • ScreaminGherkin
    • 10 years ago

    I chose a case with no window so my components don’t need to look good

    • oldDummy
    • 10 years ago

    aahhhhh the curve of the heat sink, twinkle of the power indicator, purrr of the fan, touch of the keys….

    OH oh, humph. Never have I bought for looks.

    It must work and clean, be content with it’s surroundings and serve it’s master.

    Your running well my precious.

    • blazer_123
    • 10 years ago

    I’m attracted to price 🙂

    • thanatos355
    • 10 years ago

    I am Mike, and I approve of this poll. 🙂

    Oh, and my original suggestion for the third poll option was

    “You got a purdy mouth.”

    😉

    • Fragnificent
    • 10 years ago

    I am attracted to anything that looks clean and well designed, and has a good color scheme, but obviously with electronics this means nothing without quality as well.

    • bthylafh
    • 10 years ago

    I try to have the external drives match the case color, and (not being a magpie) I avoid bling whenever possible – no case windows, no LED fans, no really stupid-looking mascot stickers on video cards.

    The last one is the only one I’ll ignore when the price is right.

    • MaxTheLimit
    • 10 years ago

    I don’t care too much about the stuff inside, but I do care what the case, and monitor look like. They are kinda like furniture. I have to look at them every day. I’d hate for them to be an eyesore.

    • Dashak
    • 10 years ago

    Yes. WAF (Wife Acceptance Factor) rules all my choices, and your life will be easier for remembering the WAF on your next purchase.

      • UberGerbil
      • 10 years ago

      Your wife cares about the color of your motherboard?

        • NeelyCam
        • 10 years ago

        It becomes exceedingly important when you have to upgrade your mobo every time you upgrade your Intel CPU, and the old one ends up sitting on a shelf somewhere

          • Dashak
          • 10 years ago

          I knew a guy who had all his mobos framed in his office. The cpus and ram were included, too. I think. That’s a bit extreme though.

      • 5150
      • 10 years ago

      Happy wife, happy life.

        • ssidbroadcast
        • 10 years ago

        No woman: no cry.

      • stmok
      • 10 years ago

      l[

        • September
        • 10 years ago

        WAF FTW!………

    • adam1378
    • 10 years ago

    Solid black seems to be the driven choice by manufacturers and the most popular color. I do prefer clean lines and order to my cases. Cable management is as important as colors in my opinion. Though I did buy the CM Stacker SE coming from the p182b.

    • herothezero
    • 10 years ago

    Who gives a rat’s ass about the aesthetics of components hidden inside of a case?

    Gaudy LED lighting and clear window side panels are for sexually insecure losers…that is all.

      • adam1378
      • 10 years ago

      Hey! Whats that supposed to mean? I have a acrylic case with cold cathode lighting. My mom loves it!

      • lilbuddhaman
      • 10 years ago

      Real men show off with big trucks.

        • Buzzard44
        • 10 years ago

        this

        • MadManOriginal
        • 10 years ago

        -[

          • sweatshopking
          • 10 years ago

          .-[

          • Waco
          • 10 years ago

          Way to miss the joke. 😛

        • stmok
        • 10 years ago

        Real men don’t show off. Period.

          • thanatos355
          • 10 years ago

          So you drive an old Geo Metro? It is the height of function over form after all.

            • waffle911
            • 10 years ago

            It is most certainly NOT the height of function over form. It lacks both form AND function.

      • willmore
      • 10 years ago

      Agreed. I often shy away from products that are gaudy or overly colorful. That said, my main server has a clear pannel in the side and two CCFL inside. Why, you ask would I do that to a box that sits in a dark basement?

      Simple. It sits in a *dark* basement. Everytime I work in it or on it–say to see if there are any spiders, etc. living in it–all I have to do is turn on the CCFLs–through the switch mounted in a card slot out the back–and peak in through the clear side pannel. I don’t have to open it up, shut it off, etc..

      I got a good laugh out of the idea to colorize all connectors so that they can be told appart. I’m colorblind, this isn’t gonna help me at all. Then again, I know the difference between a USB socket and an ethernet socket. Yes, I once fixed a machine for someone who didn’t know. *sigh*

      • d2brothe
      • 10 years ago

      You do realize of course that not buying something because of “gaudy LEDs or CCFLs” is in fact considering aesthetics when you’re purchasing. Aesthetics does not mean big and flashy to everyone (in fact, I argue it shouldn’t to anybody, as it never looks good) but simply that your hardware looks good where it is…as simple as not having an ugly grey box sitting in ones living room.

    • derFunkenstein
    • 10 years ago

    Aesthetics cane be more than looks, too. Quiet fans without whines or other “piercing” noise attributes are aesthetically pleasing.

    Visually, I’m big on how it looks when it comes to things that face the world. I don’t care about motherboards or graphics cards with neat color schemes or gimmicky cooling systems because I won’t have another case with a clear window. I do care, however, that the case is subdued, attractive, and not lighty-uppy. Clean edges and “finished” looks (such as fan ports that have a thinner honeycomb pattern that aren’t rough) are important because my PCs live in the living room until we buy a house.

    The only “internal” part that I worry about is the PSU. Modular PSUs look purdy but it’s for utility (better air flow) more than anything else, so I’m not sure it really qualifies.

    • wira020
    • 10 years ago

    “Roughly” equals doesnt really cut it for me.. but i go with that answer… i just wouldnt sacrifice performance for looks…

    • Dazrin
    • 10 years ago

    I will definately choose aesthetics for the case and external components. Fortunately my tastes lean very conservative (I love the P182) and that makes it easy to get good (for me) aesthetics and excellent performance.

    Internal components will never be seen by anyone but me and I don’t care what they look like.

    • tfp
    • 10 years ago

    I said yes because I will purposely not buy a fan if it has LED lights in it.

      • dlenmn
      • 10 years ago

      Amen — I do the same thing. I also go for cases without windows.

      It’s interesting that we disagree with popular aesthetics choices so much that it makes us choose based on aesthetics.

      • donkeycrock
      • 10 years ago

      i really hate lights in computers

      • derFunkenstein
      • 10 years ago

      And in the same vein buying a case is very difficult because so many of them have extra lights that you can’t see in online listings. Front panels with huge blue cathodes that light up the room, or blue power/HDD LEDs.

      • ImSpartacus
      • 10 years ago

      Oh hell yes, P180 FTW!

        • September
        • 10 years ago

        Ditto! Building two l[

    • oldog
    • 10 years ago

    Aesthetics don’t influence my component selections but looks substantially influence my opinion about notebook computer selection.

    • eitje
    • 10 years ago

    I use Gigabyte hardware so, you know… aesthetics aren’t as important to me as feature set.

    Though I wonder – do we count board LAYOUT as an aesthetic issue, when it really only comes down to affecting cable routing & layout?

      • neon
      • 10 years ago

      well if cable routing and layout is a technical issue because the cables are short, there is airflow restriction, or perhaps for EMI concerns, then no. However, if the cable routing and layout is only for the sake of tidiness, then it is only aesthetic.

      • A_Pickle
      • 10 years ago

      I would totally count board layout, and that’s a big reason why I prefer Gigabyte boards. Their port layout on the back MAKES SENSE. They just have a big stack of USB ports, unlike ASUS and MSI, who feel the idiotic need to put two USB ports next to a hybrid, mouse-keyboard PS2 port. Then they have like, two more USB ports, and beneath those is a USB port and an eSATA port that, for some reason, are red.

      I don’t understand Taiwanese mobo designers, and they obviously don’t understand me unless they’re working for Gigabyte, which makes my technology look more and more like a Federation starship and less and less like a Klingon one.

    • LoneWolf15
    • 10 years ago

    Aesthetics affect a number of purchases, sometimes in the reverse of what this article talks about. Haven’t we all looked at a case or possibly another component and said “There’s no way in H-E-double-hockey-sticks I’m going to buy that because it’s ugly as sin or has twenty stickers of dragons/armored warrior princesses/etc.”?

    How many of you guys actually buy those fan grilles with the lady silhouettes you see on the back of 18-wheelers and redneck trucks?

    • Farting Bob
    • 10 years ago

    I only care when it comes to something external.
    I only go inside my PC when im replacing something or occasionally to clean the dust out. And then i dont care what things look like, as long as they work as expected. They could make brown and grey motherboards, if they are the best value for money ill use it.

    • Meadows
    • 10 years ago

    Not even the case itself. Give me functionality above all else.

      • Dashak
      • 10 years ago

      Deleted…

      • Buzzard44
      • 10 years ago

      this too

      • ssidbroadcast
      • 10 years ago

      Even if it’s smothered in flames?

        • Buzzard44
        • 10 years ago

        Flames aren’t aesthetics, noob. Flames on your case add 400 MHz to your CPU clock speed, and 150 MHz to your graphics card core clock. That’s the first thing any techie learns.

      • Dashak
      • 10 years ago

      Deleted…

      • not@home
      • 10 years ago

      Same here. Spoken like a true engineer. I am still using and old beige case from the late 1990’s. It has been modified a few times to fit add-ons like front panel USB and audio, more fans, etc. of course I have no wife or girlfriend to complain about it,
      Hmm, maybe there is a lesson here…. nope.

      • SomeOtherGeek
      • 10 years ago

      Same here, I use what I have available. Who cares what things looks like as long as they do the job. Period.

    • Sahrin
    • 10 years ago

    Eh, within in reason they do. I voted for “Sometimes, when all else is roughly equal…” but the truth is, depending on the situation I’m willing to spend less than $5 extra to get something that really attracts me, visually.

    Conversely, there are some components that I will deliberately seek out no-frills options for. Power Supplies are a great example; I’ve been shafted several times by snazzy looking no-namers, and I refuse to buy a PSU that has anything more than rudimentary aesthetics, even if there are cheaper options available that look snazzy; usually because the good brands don’t waste a lot of effort making them ‘look cool’ (eg, Antec – I’ve got a BFG in one of my rigs right now).

    Obviously there are different values for different components. I’m shopping for a 5800 series GPU right now, and I love the batmobile look – so I’m looking for an AIB that doesn’t gussy it up with a bunch of hideous stickers. Asus looks to be doing the best job, with Sapphire and Gigabyte alright. Motherboards are important as well, but I have never chosen a board on aesthetics just because it is such a crucial component and can come with a very high degree of variable quality.

    • anotherengineer
    • 10 years ago

    Not really, probably only the PC case and thats about it.
    Function over form, a biege drive would not bother me, since my sonata 3 door would cover it 😉

    • blastdoor
    • 10 years ago

    I recently bought some RAM for my Mac Pro without thinking about the color of the DIMMs, but when I opened up the box to install them, I felt a tiny twinge of regret at having not paid attention to it. The aesthetics of the inside of a Mac Pro are pretty impressive, at least to my eye. I would never pay extra money to have color-coordinated RAM, but if the price and specs were exactly equal, I might go with what looked best.

      • lilbuddhaman
      • 10 years ago

      …..

      /baffled

      Don’t you think that as someone who bought a MAC PRO you are a bit hypocritical in your comment….Or do you actually like OSX ?

        • Waco
        • 10 years ago

        What’s wrong with OSX?

          • KoolAidMan
          • 10 years ago

          Nothing. Trolling sure is fun for some people though

        • Veerappan
        • 10 years ago

        Feeds the troll…

        Some of us actually like OS X. I’ve got Win 7 and Ubuntu on my desktop at home, Solaris and CentOS at work, and Windows XP/7 and MacOS 10.6 on my laptop.

        Of all of the OSes that I use on a daily basis, OSX is the one that I enjoy using the most. It’s stable, fairly quick, and does everything I need it to do (especially with a copy of Crossover Games installed).

    • SNM
    • 10 years ago

    When picking out optical drives it does. I don’t think it has at any other point, although it could make a difference in my case buys in the future.

    • Prion
    • 10 years ago

    To the extent that I’m not going to buy a beige-faceplate optical drive to go in a black case, yes.

    • dpaus
    • 10 years ago

    There’s a reason that manufacturers were making cases with clear sides….

      • Swollen_Goat
      • 10 years ago

      Some folks are fascinated by the spinning of fans. 🙂

        • neon
        • 10 years ago

        Indeed – haven’t we all peered through a window to enjoy a good fan dance once in a while?

      • sigher
      • 10 years ago

      Well it does help if you have something tangible to see where all the damn money went.

    • khands
    • 10 years ago

    The answer of “Sometimes, when all else is roughly equal” is the correct one, FYI

      • Hemotoxin
      • 10 years ago

      I doth agreest.

        • BooTs
        • 10 years ago

        I clicked Yes because for me the equality is implied and expected. And the question is “does it ever” so a yes, and a yes with a vague condition is the same imo.

          • khands
          • 10 years ago

          How often outside of optical media drives and sometimes cases is all else equal though? Usually not very.

            • Skrying
            • 10 years ago

            Often? If I’m down between a Asus or Gigabyte motherboard using the same chipset and have the features I need I’ll probably lean towards the one that looks the best and has the least gaudy heatsink. Same with video card. If I’ve decided I want an HD5770 I might avoid ones with the most ridiculous stickers on them.

            Even more so with a laptop where the looks of it actually do play a huge role. Do I want sleek looks or utilitarian looks or do I want some awful in between (looking at you gaming/HP/most laptops).

            • BooTs
            • 10 years ago

            I’m going to have to say often. The quality and performance of many components have increased and matured with the industry and differences are relatively (when minor compared to years past.)

            Keyboards all work roughly the same. I would expect any $10 keyboard to perform the same, and have the same lifespan… But if one looked stupid I’d skip it.

            • khands
            • 10 years ago

            See, there are few components that I would think warrant that kind of logic, As far as keyboards go, I want the most comfortable, as far as mice go, I want the best response time + the right number of buttons, once you start adding features into the mix and deciding between those the products no longer become approximately equal, and there’s usually a price leader.

      • TurtlePerson2
      • 10 years ago

      One would have to wonder why someone would select the answer “No” below that. If everything else is the same, then why would you not choose based on color?

      I can’t think of any parts that I have bought because of color, but I don’t have a case with a window in it anymore. I’m more into power than aesthetics.

        • Sahrin
        • 10 years ago

        The Vorta don’t have a sense of aesthetics.

        • travbrad
        • 10 years ago

        For lawls?

      • derFunkenstein
      • 10 years ago

      It can also be argued that “sometimes” and “yes” are effectively the same because the question is “Do aesthetics *ever* influence your component selection?”

        • khands
        • 10 years ago

        I suppose, it becomes a poorly worded question or a poor selection of answers. When things come up like this, I feel like “Yes” would mean it’s an important factor that is equal to all other major factors, whereas “Sometimes” is “when all is said and done and there’s only a negligible difference between them, then it becomes a potential factor.

          • derFunkenstein
          • 10 years ago

          The question is fine. I understand what you’re saying, but then when you say that, you’re just basically saying “yes” and repeating the question. Unfortunately I think the majority of people, faced with “yes” or “no” would say “no” because they’d misinterpret the question. They’d say “no, I don’t always let form come before function, so I have to say no here” or something.

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