What is a Sleeper PC Build?

The word “sleeper” in regard to ar PC build means unassuming and underwhelming. Similar to a sleeper car, which looks plain and simple but carries a lot of power under the hood, the same concept applies to a sleeper PC. It is essentially a desktop computer that looks rather basic from the outside, however, it actually performs above average. The case has a retro “old school” look while the parts inside are superior and modern. A sleeper PC is a modest, generic type chassis with a powerful machine inside. Depending on the case, it can add an old age charm or it can simply “blend” in.

Why you want a sleeper PC

Sleeper PCs are mostly favored among the gaming community, although they have become quite popular in recent times. In an age when repurposing and recycling have become ever so trendy, breathing new life into that first family desktop can be rewarding. Perhaps you have spare parts and components lying around that are not compatible with your everyday computer. You can put them to use in a sleeper build. Or you may simply not want to spend money on a new case when you can use a cheaper or free secondhand one instead.

Regardless of the reason and modifications of any build, you are simply adding another machine to your arsenal. It is usually a cheaper option when compared to buying a prebuilt PC, however, you are at liberty when it comes to parts and components, meaning you ultimately decide how much to spend. 

How to build a sleeper PC

You can purchase a minimal looking chassis, such as a Dell Optiplex, and configure it with parts that will give you high performance. This particular line of desktops offers a wide range of simple cases customized and configured to your liking. Or you can build one yourself from the ground up, which is the most popular option for sleeper PCs.

A typical choice for a case is a clunky beige colored one from the 1990s. These can be found on websites such as eBay, or perhaps in your parents’ garage if you are lucky. This decision depends entirely on your aesthetic preferences, although it is important to note that some prebuilt cases will not allow for any modifications.

Aside from the chassis, the parts for a sleeper build are a central processing unit (CPU), cooler, motherboard, memory, storage, power supply, video graphics card, as well as any other peripheral you desire. Building a sleeper PC is similar to building any custom PC, however, depending on your case you will need to adapt your setup accordingly. You first need to remove everything from the old case which gives you the bare bones or blank canvas to work with. Then, by using the instruction manuals that come with the individual computer parts you can set up your sleeper PC in just a matter of hours.