So 2016 didn’t go according to plan for the blog. It’s not that there wasn’t anything to post about; I just didn’t feel like posting anything. It’s complicated. 2016 was an unique year. Now here we are almost in 2017. It’s time to get things back on course, and what better way to start things off again than with a brand new PC.
For the record, my old PC still works fine and got some upgrades in the last five years. I got another Dell 24″ Ultrasharp monitor to run a dual monitor setup. The ATI video card died, so I replaced it with an nVidia GeForce GTX 750 Ti. I upgraded my old Logitech mouse to a RedDragon Nemeanlion gaming mouse. And I switched to a Crucial 256GB SSD for my main/OS drive. It’s still a very capable PC and will still be used for things that don’t require serious CPU and/or GPU power.
I ran into many frustrations in 2016. Two of them resulted in building this new PC. The inability to play Doom at 1080p on low settings at a playable framerate and the inability to do effective video editing at 1080p were extremely annoying. Rather than build something budget conscious to just get the job done, I went with a more extreme build. I decided to build it myself this time around rather than have it built for me. It gave me more control over components and saved quite a bit of money. So here is a rundown of the components.
- Intel i7-6700K 4.00ghz Skylake
- Gigabyte G1 Gaming GA-Z170X-Gaming 7
- G.Skill Trident Z Series DDR4 3200 8GB x 4
- Samsung 850 EVO 500GB
- Gigabyte GeForce GTX 1080 Founders Edition
- Cosair Hydro Series H100i v2 CPU cooler
- NZXT H440 mid tower case (matt black/red)
- EVGA SuperNOVA 850 G2 power supply
- Acer Predator XB271HK 27″ 4K monitor
- Windows 10 Home Retail USB
As you can see, there are no middle of the road components. They are all high end components. They are also all not cheap. I bought most of the items around Black Friday and Cyber Monday, so I got good prices for all of them, but it still cost over $2700 in total.
It has been about 11 years since I last built a PC, so I was a little nervous at first when I started putting it all together. The process is still pretty much the same even though the components are much more advanced.
Grab motherboard. The Gigabyte G1 Gaming 7 had everything I was looking for in a motherboard. It has the Intel Z170 chipset. It has great onboard audio. It has the latest and fastest connectors (M2, SATA Express, PCIe Gen3, and USB 3.1). I’m not using them all right now, but it is good to know I can later. It supports SLI. One day I will be running two GTX 1080’s. And finally, it looks cool and lights up. ($180)
Add CPU. While no longer the newest Intel processor with the release of Kaby Lake, the i7-6700K Skylake is probably the best bang for your buck right now. Four cores is plenty for me and the hyper-threading will help with video editing. ($300)
Add heatsink. Getting a liquid CPU cooler was a new step for me. It looks daunting at first (the tubes, the huge radiator, water in your PC), but this is modern CPU cooling. This step takes more time now because of mounting the radiator and running the tubes. Much more laborious than applying thermal compound and clamping down a big chunk of metal. ($100)
Add RAM. 32GB’s of DDR4 3200. G.Skill Trident Z are for extreme users. That’s me. Maybe. They are fast and the metal heatsink design looks cool. Plus during Cyber Monday, they were the cheapest RAM around. ($180)
Add video card. The nVidia GeForce GTX 1080 Founders Edition is the video card to have. The only thing better than a GTX 1080 is two GTX 1080’s. The Founders Edition has a bit more grunt and looks nice. And on Cyber Monday, it was the same price as standard GTX 1080’s. ($650)
Put motherboard into the case. I really like the NZXT H440. My older PC also has an NZXT case. Their layout is good. There is plenty of space for extra fans and ample airflow. And the case comes with extra fans – good quality, quiet ones. I wasn’t too keen on the window at first, but considering the components I choose were designed with aesthetics in mind, it is nice that I can see all that stuff. ($110)
Add drives. I went with a Samsung 850 EVO 500 GB SSD. I wasn’t going to bother with traditional hard drives. I thought about an M.2 NVMe SSD, but felt it was too expensive despite the very tempting speed numbers. As for extra storage, I recently setup a 3 TB Synology NAS to handle all the household data storage needs. ($130)
Add power supply. Connect everything. Turn on and hope nothing blows up. 850 Watts seems like a lot of power, but that’s one place you shouldn’t skimp. Plus I need to be ready for future upgrades. ($110)
Install OS. Nothing special here. The latest Windows version. With no optical drive installed, I got the USB version. Installation was smooth, but there were many boxes I had to uncheck so Microsoft wouldn’t capture and use all my data. That was very annoying. To improve the user experience they say. I’ll pass, thank you. In general, I don’t like Windows 10, but the best components are designed to run on the latest OS, so it’s something I will have to get used to. ($110)
Setup display. While I am a big fan of Dell Ultrasharps, I wanted something that had better gaming performance this time around. The monitor was the last component I bought since I was still struggling with 1440p vs. 4k, G-Sync vs. no G-Sync, and 144hz vs. 60hz. In the end, I decided on the Acer Predator 27″ 4K monitor. I just had to go 4K. The setup I had dictated it. It has G-Sync, which will play well with the GTX 1080. ($850)
Now that it was all put together and working properly, I installed my must-have applications. Then after tweaking a few settings and creating a restore image, the new PC was ready for action.
What about Doom? The game looks beautiful, and it runs great. I am playing it at 4K on high settings, and it never dips below 60fps. I think I am going to have many happy experiences with 4K gaming.
What about video editing? Well, I haven’t processed any video yet. I am shopping around for video editing software. While Adobe Premiere Elements was okay five years ago, I think it is time for something better. I am sure whatever software I pick, video editing will go much, much faster.
Overall, I couldn’t be happier with the new PC. Now it’s up to me to use it to its fullest potential and start putting out more content.