Custom PC construction is a great hobby. Like very few things in life, it is a hugely inclusive activity, with room for a whole gamut of methods and styles, of intents and purposes, and levels of dedication. Of the myriad hobbies in which I've indulged in my life, this is surely one of the most fascinating and engrossing.
Let's run through a short list of modes of expression, shall we?
Some people build PCs simply because it's a great way to save some money. If you already have a great set of peripherals -- monitor(s), keyboard, mouse, speakers, etc. -- and all you really need is a new computer on which to work and/or play, all you have to do is select the components you want/need, and open the purse strings. This is cheaper, by far, than buying a computer at any given retail outlet, where you're almost always forced to buy the peripherals as well, even if you don't really need these. These are probably the most practical Custom PC constructors.
Then there are the modders. I'm sure they use their computers as most people do -- i.e., as tools or as toys, whichever role fits in the moment. But what makes modders distinctive is their strong artistic bent. They're fairly easy to distinguish: Their PCs, after all, are all works of art, and are easily identified as such. Modders can be light to moderate (they who settle for case badges or CCLs in their windowed cases), or they can be extreme (they who start out with basically nothing, then end up with tours-de-force that have more in common with modern sculpture than modern technology. Modders delight in provoking reactions from their work, and in my opinion most of these are overwhelmingly positive. Modders' works are sometimes all show and not so much go, but that's okay: Art is supposed to be admired, and not to be used as a workhorse.
Then there are the overclockers. But even within this group there can be sub-groups. There are the suicidals, who are only truly interested in stretching their equipment to the death, just so they can find that very upper limit of performance potential and touch it, however briefly. There are the sporting overclockers, who treat their machines as drag racers; they're interested in speed records and performance benchmarks. Then there are the functionals, who aim for the perfect balance of speed and stability and reliability.
It's like an ice cream shop, where there are tons of flavors to be had. The best part is, it's all good. Custom PCs are, after all, a reflection of their creators. Like many true works of art, they say something about who made them.
As always, I invite comments, questions, and discussion! Thanks for reading.