For some weeks now I have come with multiple iterations on my new gaming PC rig. Each iteration is an idea as to how my upgrade path will follow. Some of which became more expensive, some of which became cheaper. Each iteration follows a different idea of what it means for me to upgrade. What do I want to get out of it following an upgrade after having my gaming PC for a year now?
Every time a new iteration was created, I gain a little more clarity as to the sole purpose of the upgrade. In the end, I decided upon an upgrade path that salvages most of the PC parts, mainly the storage (SSD and HDD), PSU, and my beloved NZXT Manta case. It dawns upon me several factors that made me decide to choose such an upgrade path.
I have calculated the cost it would take me to do a complete overhaul in addition to a substantial graphics card upgrade from 1070 to a 1080ti. It is very expensive. An endeavour that I would like to embark, but just goes beyond what I am able to spend on. Rationally, my current rig works perfectly. It has just passed its one year mark of usage. It is still in pristine condition and all of the parts are still working fine. Having to sell the entire rig and then build a new one from scratch is expensive, even after factoring what I can potentially earn from selling my previous rig.
2. I still find the NZXT Manta a hugely unique case in terms of design.
The NZXT Manta was space age when it was first released. And I still find it so, despite the fact that it still sports an acrylic window. Now, every case maker has gone the tempered glass route. While it is highly tempting to own a sleek, tempered glass build, the overall looks and design of the Manta, still holds dear in my heart. I simply cannot part from an ITX build, especially when using the NZXT Manta case. It is simply unlike any other.
3. Upgrade to mATX or ATX motherboard in the hopes of upgrading to an SLI build is just wishful thinking.
It is tempting to dream of a time of building an SLI build in the future. I have factored that idea in several iterations of my PC upgrade path process and still, it is deemed an extremely expensive investment. Costs aside, I have come to a conclusion and is backed by official sources from GPU makers themselves that SLI support is in decline. Several gaming enthusiasts have also highlighted the fact that owning and using an SLI build may be more trouble than it’s worth. When games no longer support SLI, your return on investments are severely curtailed. At the end of the day, spending potentially 1000 bucks or more just to have another graphics card installed for aesthetics purposes is meaningless. Therefore, I still feel that an ITX set up is perfect for my use case scenario.There is simply no need to spend unnecessarily on a second graphics card.
I have gained a little more clarity in my upgrade path now. Even the cost of it has gone down significantly. For example, I have calculated that a complete overhaul of the system (getting a brand new gaming PC) would cost me $2571, excluding graphics card (the reason why I exclude graphics card is that the GTX 1070 is still hugely relevant in gaming and there is technically no need to upgrade). However, If I were to simply upgrade my current gaming PC, the Dark Rage build to a Dark Rage ver.2.0, it would cost me $1242. I would be saving around $1300 just from upgrade Dark Rage alone. The only thing that I would need to upgrade is a new CPU, (I am going for AMD Ryzen 7 1700, more on that in another post in the future) motherboard, AIO cooler RGB RAM, and a couple of RGB fans. That’s it. With the new upgrade, especially the AIO and RGB fans and RGB, my upgrade rig will look even better. Dark Rage ver.2.0 would closely resemble the ideal build I have always dreamed off for my Manta. That way, I can enjoy my Manta case for a couple more years until something better than a Manta comes along the way. Who knows, maybe NZXT may release Manta 2.0 with a curved tempered glass build. That would be wicked! So why AMD? Well, for a couple of reason, but I will explain them in another post someday.
In the past couple of days, there has been a deluge of information regarding AMD’s new product offering from the CPU and GPU departments. The latest monster of a cpu, Threadripper was launched to much fanfare and I really dig the review kits AMD distributed to all major influential tech reviewers on YouTube. The review kit they received was really badass! AMD also announced their new Vega GPUs for the mainstream market and so far things are looking really promising for AMD. I have heard nothing but praises for AMD from the tech community, especially when it comes to really listening to feedback and acting on that feedback to give customers what they truly want from AMD.
Which got me wondering now about my future gaming rig. And all AMD build seems an interesting prospect. It would be doubtful for me to get the Threadripper lineup of CPUs. Those are overkill, but the Ryzen 5 or even the Ryzen 7 series is competitively priced against Intel’s CPU offerings. Having an 8-core, 16-thread CPU is a bonus. Definitely still overkill, but nice to have.
As for GPUs, I’m reserving judgment over them. Vega is an interesting product, but I am more interested in what Nvidia has to offer next year. Honestly, I am still a Nvidia fan, and their recent 10 series GPUs are nothing to scoff about. But one thing is for sure, and that it I will go for multi GPU set up for my next build. I am aiming to get 2 enthusiast level GPUs to be included in my future build. More power! It could be possible that I could go for an AMD CPU coupled with a pair of Nvidia GPUs in my future builds.
By the way, in about 15 days or so, my current Dark Rage build will be official one year old! Time truly flies! It doesn’t feel like a year has passed. At. All. But believe it or not, a full year will soon pass since I first built my new gaming PC. It is still going strong and I have made zero upgrades to the PC since then. I just love my PC to death. I imposed a moratorium on PC upgrades for 2017 and I have kept to my end of the bargain. Reason being is that I personally feel a waste of money to make incremental upgrades to my current PC, when I can use that money and more as I save up to build an even bigger and better PC in the future, hopefully sometime in 2018.
Over the past few days, after months of research I have finally finalised by PC build. This would be my first time building a PC from scratch after more than 10 years. I have a lot to learn since then. Technology moves so fast and so much within that span of time. The DIY and modder community have moved forward by leaps and bounds. There are so many new players on the market, selling so many new things catered to all kinds of DIYers and PC custom modders.
Hours upon hours of research reading and watching youtube videos on various components, builds, pros and cons have all boiled down to my “Black Rage” build. I believe the PC I am building is the ideal one for me based on my needs and my budget. Although the said budget has increased a little bit more than originally thought, I still believe that this is the build I am finally happy with.
I want to thank all those people on youtube who posted such excellent videos about PC components, benchmarks, reviews, unboxing and all the various builds for various kinds of people with various kinds of budget. Truly, it has all been one enjoyable ride. Some of the videos were so informative, so useful that they played a major part in my decision making process of choosing the right components based on my needs and budget. Without them, it would have been so much tougher just to get up to speed with all the latest development that has happened so far since I last built my own PC many many years ago. So here it is, The Black Rage.
NZXT Manta Black Rage Build (Black/red theme)
Intel Core i5 6600 3.3GHz
Asus B150i Pro Gaming Aura Mini ITX with Wifi
G.Skill RipJaws V DDR4 2133MHz 16GB RAM (2x8GB)
Sandisk Ultra II 480GB SSD x 2
WD 2TB HDD
Cryorig H7 CPU Cooler
EVGA GTX 1070 8GB SC Gaming ACX3.0
Corsair RM650X PSU
NZXT Manta Mini ITX Case (Red/Black)
Roccat Sova Keyboard-Mouse Combo
Corsair 140mm AF x 2 Case Fans
CableMods Custom PSU Cables (Red/Black)
NEXT Hue + LED RGB lighting strip
Microsoft Windows 10 64bit Home Edition
Total cost: S$2700
I have ordered most of the parts online. Many of them are still on the way from various warehouses. The only parts I have with me now are the NXZT Manta CPU case, the Cryorig H7 CPU cooler, and the Corsair PSU. I should be able to begin assembling my build sometime on the third week of August.
I am at a tipping point where I am very close to buying all the parts needed to build my very own DIY PC. I think I can safely say that the tipping point for that decision came about when I impulsively bought 2 EVGA GTX 1070 SC Gaming ACX 3.0 GPU at a relatively competitive price on Amazon. I saw a good deal on the website and decided to try my luck to buy and sell it here locally. Firstly, Singapore doesn’t sell EVGA GPUs. There is no official distributor for EVGA GPUs. But (and its a big but) EVGA GPUs are covered by an international warranty and they have pretty detailed RMA instruction from their official website should there be a need to return a defective GPU back to the manufacturer. Coupled with these two factors and on top of the fact that GPUs sold in the US are generally much cheaper, I decided to try my luck to buy 2 of those and hopefully make a tiny profit selling it back on the local market here. And if they do sell well, I might buy several more in the near future. I don’t need to make huge markups, just enough to cover the initial cost and pocket some little extra cash. Nothing lavish.
Personally, I love the EVGA GPU design. I think they have the best heatsink and fan design among the other GPU vendors. It is simple, angular, with little to none of the copper of nickel plated heatsink pipes protruding on the sides of the GPU. Their designs and colours are not too flashy either, but they do come with a very prominent LED-backed wording panel that displayed the EVGA brand and type of GPU that you are using. This is especially prominent if you have CPU case with a clear side, allowing you to show off your new GPU.
But that aside, the very fact that I purchased those 2 GPUs may have tipped my decision in building a DIY PC of my own. I actually spent close to SGD 1.5k just like that. In addition to the GPUs, I also bought 2, 480GB SSD, from OCZ, a subsidiary of Toshiba. Again, after much research, retail prices of SSDs here were surprisingly very expensive. And the variety of SSD brands and models were surprisingly thin. The SSD I bought is suitable for entry level, budget conscious users, like me, who wishes to just simply instal and boot up my OS and use it as a day to day storage device in my PC build. I realised that I did not need extra performance or speed in terms of read and write speeds. SSDs are naturally much faster than traditional hard drive. So unless I am using my PC to move large files, process thousands of images or various 4K video files all at once, I wouldn’t be able to notice any substantial improvements in a more professional grade SSD than what I would ultimately use for my PC, just a simple decent one for a fraction of the cost. This cost savings would then allow me to invest in other parts of the PC that I may find it more useful.
I have spent months researching about all the PC parts that are needed for my newly built DIY PC. I have reached a point where I know in detail most parts, devices and peripherals that would suit my needs and the variety of choices present in front of me. I know what to look out for in terms of cross compatibilities, and I now have the knowledge and technical know-how to confidently build my own PC and even make informed choices on which parts are the best for my current needs. The choices are endless, the permutations of parts you can select are infinite. But looking harder and studying the technical aspect of each computer part, all boils down to just a handful of items that not only be useful for me, but comes at just the right price. Everything else is just noise. At the end of the day, its not about investing in the best in the system, but investing in a system and suits you best.
Right now I have multiple builds written down in great detail, down to the exact costs that is going to take to build on. And I have even created multiple builds based on my numerous needs and wants. From HTPC setup, to mini ITX builds, each with various components mixed and matched (like I said, the permutations to mix and match are endless), each with its own set of pros and cons. But looking closer, a number of parts listed in those builds don’t differ much and that, by setting a budget and listing down your needs, you simply have to set your mind to listing the components you need to just a handful of them.
I have just listed my final build for my PC. I have already purchased some of the components listed online and should arrive in the later half of August. As for the rest that I intend to buy locally, there is no rush. I should be able able to start building my PC towards the end of August. I will post my final build soon and perhaps show pictures of all my purchases in future updates.
Yesterday I went to the PC show. It was crowded, but not overly so. Surprisingly, it was walkable and I rarely had to squeeze among the throng of crowds. Held in Expo halls 5 and 6, I was impressed by the M1 booth. It was huge. I cannot remember the last time the M1 was that large.
M1, Singtel, My Republic. Aggressive in their broadband marketing. Cutthroat prices. It was really interesting in grilling the sales people on the bundled broadband packages, any hidden costs, if there are any and the freebies thrown in when you sign up with them. A friend of mine got the M1 1Gbps fibre broadband package at just SGD39.90 a month (on a 24-month contract). She topped up another SGD120 for a better Asus router. In return, the activation and home line port to M1 was free and part of the package. All being equal, the monthly subscription rates were the lowest among the other telcos. I signed up for MyRepublic, which doesn’t really make much of a difference. I have yet to see how MyRepublic fibre broadband connections perform in real world settings. This is my first time signing up with them for my internet broadband needs.
Another friend of mine bought a new computer. The Acer Predator computer. Costing nearly SGD2000, featuring an SSD and HDD, 24Gb Ram (additional 8GB after much haggling, since it was the last day of the show) one year Microsoft office bundled, GTX 970 4GB graphics good. Not too shabby. We went after a distributor that sold the same computer model for more than SGD200 less than was advertised in the brochures. And for SGD200 less, we get additional RAM and a free 1-year Microsoft office. Not bad when it comes to pushing more freebies.
As for me? I didn’t get anything for myself. I really wanted to given the choice. Especially the NAS from Synology and QNAP. Maybe the Samsung T3 Portable SSD. But these are just wants, and not needs. I can still live without. I did get to admire Aftershock Ultracore line of PCs. Equipped with custom liquid cooling with the liquid colour of your choice, throwing some really high end parts, and the entire set up was quite a sight to behold. They even showcased the new Nvidia GTX 1080 and paired with The Witcher as a demo for smooth 4K gameplay on an Acer Predator curved monitor. Sweet.