The new PC build

After the death of my gaming rig in December, I pulled together parts and built a new machine. I kept the old case, power supply, and optical drive. Everything else I bought new. I used two new resources to help this time round, after years of using the techreport system builders guides. I still referenced them, but this time I relied more on a wonderfully maintained thread and associated resources from neogaf – the “I need a New PC!” 2013 Part 1″ thread. There’s a google spreadsheet linked from there with parts lists for a number of different cost, performance and form factor builds, which is embedded in the first post of the thread. There’s also a link to pcpartpicker.com, which has this great tool that lets you build a shopping list which is sharable and which can be configured to find the lowest price for each component in your build from whichever vendors you want to select from. It’s great. Here’s my build list, by way of example. For the record, since who knows how long that link will work, below is also my partlist:

Intel Core i5-3570K
Asus P8Z77-V LK ATX LGA1155 Motherboard
Corsair Vengeance 8GB (2 x 4GB) DDR3-1600 Memory
Samsung 840 Pro Series 128GB 2.5″ Solid State Disk (this is the Operating System drive)
Western Digital Caviar Blue 1TB 3.5″ 7200RPM Internal Hard Drive (this is the apps drive)
Western Digital Caviar Green 2TB 3.5″ 5400RPM Internal Hard Drive (this is the drive backups are written to)
Gigabyte Radeon HD 7870 2GB Video Card
Asus Xonar DGX 24-bit 96 KHz Sound Card

This is the first time I’ve added a soundcard in years, maybe a decade even. I did it because I became frustrated with the driver situation for my previous build, where the mobo manufacture (Gigabyte) and the audio chipset manufacturer were not in sync on their drivers, and I had a number of compatibility problems with games. The Xonar stuff has been on my radar for a while – it was cheap enough so I figured I would give it a shot. So far it’s great, and having two independent audio devices is actually handy (voice comms on one, game audio on the other).

The build itself was uneventful – about as easy as they come, and so unremarkable that I have nothing to say about it beyond that. The machine’s been running well for a couple of weeks now, I definitely got a performance improvement in a number of games, which is great, even if truth be told I wasn’t feeling like I needed it before the old machine died. Plus, so far all my game saves have been successfully migrated to the new build, which was the thing I was most worried about. Now I can just cross my fingers I get 2+ years out of this build. Insofar as I can tell, the videocard will be the only likely weak link.

It is worth noting that it’s possible this will be the last time I do this. Intel is signalling that eventually you won’t be able to buy processors anymore – you’ll have to buy a motherboard/cpu combo or manufactured machines, and even the machine vendors like Dell and HP are signalling that they want to get out of the PC business (!!! – they can’t make money). I think what they’re trying to do is get PC’s to the point where they are consumer devices – no one picks which audio chip goes into their stereo, and Intel figures no one should think about PC’s, you just go to best buy and buy model a, b, or c. We’ll see if they succeed. In theory by the time I need another new machine, they’ll be close to or at that point, and Dell may be out of the consumer PC business.

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