Can the Apple Playbook work for Windows computers?

Upon returning to Apple Inc. in the 1990s, Steve Jobs launched what would become one of the most legendary corporate turnarounds in history. The key to the comeback was refocusing the iconic tech company on its original DNA: combining beautifully designed, high-quality products with a streamlined, user-friendly customer experience. While Mac users have benefited from Apple’s return to form, the roughly 9 in 10 computer users who rely on Windows machines have generally not.

But at least one company is challenging the idea that consumers who want an affordable Windows PC have to settle for clunky design and suboptimal performance. NZXT, based in Southern California, started out as a small manufacturer of hardware components and accessories and has been manufacturing full-featured desktop computers for only about four years. In an industry where giants like HP Inc. and Lenovo produce more than 70 million computers a year, NZXT is a very small player. Yet the brand’s growing popularity with gamers, designers, engineers, and others who tend to have strong opinions about technology suggests that the computing market isn’t inevitably locked into two extremes, Apple or an interchangeable range of bland Windows machines.