A Journey of Computer Setup

Dec 27, 2020 · posted in Ctrl Alt Setup · 4 min read

A Journey of Computer Setup

My desktop setup and the journey of custom built PC

Finally I have completed a PC build upgrade cycle. After 5 years, every part in my PC has been replaced. In retrospective, I have to say that I enjoyed the modular design of custom-build PC, which I am able to upgrade my own parts and spread off the cost in years, but it has its drawbacks. Comparing to owning a non-upgradable Macbook, both experience are unique that I am willing to invest on both sides.

Majority of task I perform on my computer are web browsing, design (using Figma), photo editing (using Adobe Photoshop and Lightroom) and gaming.

My previous build was a second-hand purchase from work, it was used primarily for video editing, assembled by computer store in Sham Shui Po.

CPU: Intel Core i5-6400 @2.70GHz
MB: Gigabyte B150M-D3H MATX
RAM: Kingston 8GB DDR4 2133MHz x 2
SSD: A-DATA SP900 256GB 2.5" SATA3 SSD
GPU: GeForce GTX 960 GAMING 2G
Case: Cooler Master Elite 361 Computer Case MATX
PSU: Sharkoon WPM500W Bronze

It was a decent budget build (around $790 including assembly and OEM Windows license), I know it sounds a lot less impressive now but I have proudly finished editing work for a feature-length documentary project back then.

And now this is my new build:

CPU: AMD Ryzen 5 3600 3.6-4.2GHz (2020)
MB: Asus PRIME-P/CSM X570 (2020)
RAM: Corsair Vengenance Pro RGB 2x16GB 3200mHz
SSD: Intel 660p 1TB M2 SSD + A-DATA SP900 256GB 2.5" SATA3 SSD (2019)
HDD: WD Blue 3TB 3.5" SATA3 HDD + WD Enterprise 3TB 3.5" SATA3 HDD (2017)
GPU: GeForce Zotac GTX1070 (2018)
Case: Corsair Carbide 275R Black ATX (2019)
PSU: High Power Element Bronze 500W

Each of the component has been replaced over the years after buying the setup. Final piece of the build was actually the CPU and motherboard, after I experienced more lag after hooking up with a additional LG 4K 27" monitor. Also, I was unable to play the new Microsoft Flight Simulator properly due to heavy CPU usage.

From a Consumer To a Hobbyist

Over the years, I have learn more about PC parts and DIY by following Youtube channels and catching up with some news site. But the best lesson I have learned, actually was The Verge PC Build video, which I am little late about this matter.

When I was picking a motherboard, future compatibility certainly crossed my mind. Would I be able to use the same motherboard when I upgrade my next CPU in 5-7 years? It didn't work the last time, as my i5-6400 use LGA1151 while the latest 10th gen Intel CPU switched to LGA1200 instead. (And Ryzen is such a great deal in terms of price and performance). But next time, there could be another game-changing standard that everyone must hold on to, new standard like PCI-Express 4.0 and DDR5 and even USB 4 is expected to roll out in upcoming years.

My conclusion, it's certainly impossible to be future proof (at least in my 5-7 years scale). So in the end I just pick an affordable and acceptable option that has leeway for upgrades that I am aware of.

Next Upgrade

I have written most of this article before my last purchase - RAM. I didn't expect to upgrade my RAM as it was sufficient before. However, I have learnt that memory speed does affect CPU performance in AMD and I have been suffering lag & 100% RAM usage since motherboard and CPU upgrade (also after switched to Firefox), so I have upgraded to Corsair Vengenance Pro RGB 2x16GB 3200mHz.

Now the cycle has finally completed and it would be safe for me to say I would not in need for an upgrade at least for a few years.