What I do with it
I’m a content creator and aspiring film colorist. I do video and image editing, motion graphics, YouTube, and Twitch streaming. I also use my computer for gaming, voice acting, audio engineering / recording, accounting-related business purposes, and digital art.
Why I built it
My old computer was a modest gaming PC built three years ago, long before I became involved in any real editing or creative stuff. Most of the parts were fine but unimpressive when I bought them, such as the graphics card (Radeon HD 7950 R7950), RAM (16GB DDR3), and CPU (i5-3570K).
The problems I had with it were mostly related to editing. Render times became unbearable (especially in After Effects), timelines in Premiere and Reaper were choppy, previews took way too long, and any effect that used the graphics card risked crashing the computer. Streaming an intense game or program was too much for the comp to handle, games weren’t running at max settings, and my single 1080p monitor was a serious problem for editing and streaming.
I wanted to be able to pursue freelance and hobbyist editing, stream a quality presentation, and keep up with new games in the coming years.
I planned the computer and researched the parts for about six weeks prior to purchasing. I became passionate and excited – thought went into every single part. I reused my Fractal Design R4 case, a 250GB SSD, and a 1TB HDD. If heat becomes an issue, I’ll first try removing some of the foam that blocks air vents and adding new fans, but I’m not against upgrading to a new case if needed. So far, the rig is dead silent and has no heat issues.
CPU – The Broadwell-E release was the most disappointing part of this project. I had hoped this chip line would allow me to get 8 cores for 600-800 dollars, but the 6900K was actually more expensive than the previous 8-core flagship that it replaced (5960K). The 10-core 6950K was completely out of the question thanks to its $1750 price, and a Xeon build was just unnecessary.
RAM – I’m thrilled to have 64GB of DDR4-2400 for $210. After Effects can make good use of up to 2GB per core (including logic cores); anything more has almost no effect. This means that my 8/16 core chip uses 32GB in After Effects while also leaving an absurd amount of memory for everything else.
Monitors – a top priority for this computer was upgrading to dual monitors. 1440p looks amazing for gaming and editing alike. The Asus PB258Q was a great choice: small bezels, a great looking IPS screen, lots of mounting and connection options. When I first built this rig, 4K just wasn’t worth the money. As of 8/17 I’ve been regularly working with 4K video, and I’m hoping to get a 4K display in the next year or so.
Video Card – No explanation should be needed for the 1080GTX. When I bought it in 2016, I thought it would be overkill. Now, I’m very glad I have it since DaVinci Resolve leans heavily on the GPU.
Audio Interface – My M-Track+ acts as an external sound card that accepts XLR and ¼” jacks. It’s much cheaper than the professional recording equipment you see on some builds, but it’s enough for hobbyist recording and streaming.
Peripherals – I wanted to list everything that I consider essential to this rig and my streaming, including my webcam and microphone. In 2017 I added a color correction tool for the monitors, a digital art tablet, and a NAS server to store my photos and videos.
Thank you to:
-PCPartPicker.com and it's users- this site made the build process easy to organize and track, and part reviews from users helped a lot when making some tough choices. Seeing completed builds from users with similar goals was also very helpful.
-logicalincrements.com - Excellent, easy to understand guides on what parts I needed to focus on for this computer. The monitor section was particularly helpful since monitors were the most intimidating aspect of the selection process. Special thanks to the LI team that quickly answered my questions on their site!
-My friend Billy, an enthusiast who did the actual assembly of the computer and helped with several part recommendations.
-My friend Travis, who also helped with part choices.
Everything is still running perfectly and I'm very happy with the build. The box is silent and cool. Every game runs perfectly at max settings on the 1440p monitors. Premiere Pro and After Effects are both a joy to use with this rig; render times are fast, timelines are smooth, and even the most demanding projects can be tackled without things slowing down.
People have asked about whether or not the 6900K was worth it. It's been hard to answer; I don't know if a 6-core would have been good enough. Most things are instant, so maybe a 6-core would be instant too. Recently, I've been checking the CPU usage while editing videos and it seems like the chip is indeed being pushed at times.