It was finally time for an upgrade after close to 5 years. Gone are the days of having to lug around a huge ATX computer case (Yeah I think they're huge). Designed for video editing, running modern and future games, and watching Youtube
My old computer had:
- Intel Core i5 3570 with 4 cores, 4 threads a clockrate of 4.2ghz once i have messed with the BIOS non-K overclock settings (I bought the ASRock Z77 Extreme4-M micro ATX motherboard). I know, strange choices!
- G Skill Ares DDR3-1600mhz 8GB dual DIMMs (2x 4GB).
- Sapphire AIB -- AMD Radeon R9 270X which had 2GB of GDDR5 memory utilizing a 256 bit mem bus.
- Fractal Design Define R4
- Corsair HX 650W power supply.
- Samsung 840 EVO 120GB SSD
- Seagate Barracuda 2TB 7200RPM HDD
You may think that it was a silly investment, and it was, but my younger self from early 2014 wanted to be super careful. Power supplies are, after all, generally most efficient at 50-60% utilization and the old PC I had would have consumed ~300W+ after all the overclocking I did to it.
My old system was very fast at the time, in my opinion. Though you may have noticed some parts for early 2014 were already outdated. I chose Intel Ivy Bridge uArch over Haswell, which had just released, as Haswell was more expensive, ran hotter and was hardly any faster. Late 2013-2014 was the period of the video card rebranding. I wanted the R9 280X, though I wanted to stick close to my $1100 AUD budget and it cost $150 more than the 270X. I could have afforded it with better part selection, but oh well.
It ran the vast majority of modern games at 1080p native, high/ultra graphics settings at 30 - 60+ frames/sec, and it was good. Lasted me almost 5 years after all! But it was showing signs of age, having problems, and admittedly I was using basically 6 year old computer tech by now! I had wanted it to outperform the PlayStation 4. I didn't expect that Sony and Microsoft would release upgraded versions. I bought the PlayStation 4 Pro a while back, didn't bother with the Xbox One X. It is a remarkable feat of engineering, though when I can play 99.9% of the software it has on a WindowsOS there's just little point in me considering it.
Introducing its successor. With a budget set of $2280 USD / $3000 AUD when I converted AUD to USD. I had already purchased the computer case. Exactly 4.5 years later when it was built. Much smaller, much lighter, much more portable. My old computer case weighed over 12kg, probably around 14kg all things accounted for. This new case weighs only 1.25kg with nothing inside it. It does feel quite heavy though with everything inside it. Probably around 3-4kg. But finally I can take it around with me all over the world, or to a friend's house with ease! Before I needed a suitcase, now I can fit it in my backpack! Insane! Over 5 times faster at graphics, over 3x faster at multithreading, twice as many CPU cores, with over 4x as much total RAM (32GB SDRAM + 11GB VRAM compared to 8GB SDRAM + 2GB VRAM). Oh, and built-in bluetooth and 802.11ac wireless Internet!! Now that's what I call an upgrade!
I bought most of the parts when I went to Taipei last month for Computex. The rest I had ordered online. There are a couple things I do feel uneasy about. System RAM is quite expensive, and I spent over $1000 USD on a video card. Specifically 870 euro which when converted gave me close to $1400 Australian. I never thought I'd spend that much on a video card. The Radeon video card I bought almost 5 years ago cost me only $240 which is still quite a lot of money! I do intend for the new system to last me a very, very, very long time. It does not need any upgrading at all for many, many years I think. I had also expected there to be a video card faster than the GTX 1080 Ti by now for under $700 USD, but oh well.
If a new graphics architecture releases in the next 3 or so months I can take advantage of the EVGA Step-Up program so I could still get the GeForce GTX 1180 or whatever it's called. While stress testing the system, the CPU only thermal throttles under the heaviest of workloads where it drops to around 3500mhz which is still very good! Most of the time it's 4ghz+. The video card runs at over 1950mhz compared to 1070mhz on my old video card, and it has over 500GB/s memory bandwidth after a bit of overclocking! I did want 1TB/s memory bandwidth, but oh well, such things don't exist yet. With over 14 TFLOPs of Fp32 compute performance, it only runs at 65-68 degrees celcius. In a tiny shoebox sized box!
You probably don't believe me at all. It's insane. Utterly insane.
I did run into a little snag when building the system, which I had built with a friend. All the parts would turn on, system wouldn't post/boot. I didn't know what was wrong with it, and I know a lot more about computers now than I did almost 5 years ago. I got quite emotional, felt miserable for a little while. Thought maybe one of the parts was broken. Turned out that something was wrong with the CMOS settings and after removing it (which was a bit of a pain in the arse, that computer case is tiny) it booted! I got so, so excited.
I have undervolted the CPU in the BIOS 0.05V, set the G Skill SDRAM to run at 3200mhz CL16-18-18-38 at 1.35v and apart from overclocking the video card +30mhz on the graphics core and the GDDR5X overclocked 450mhz using EVGA Precision XOC, running 100% stable.... I haven't touched much else. I do intend to attempt to tighten the RAM timings, and there's not much I can do about the CPU thermal throttling under the heaviest of loads. There's literally a 2mm gap between the cooler and the side panel. Any closer and it will sound like a jet engine due to air turbulence. It's the best CPU cooler that could fit, barring maybe an Asetek AIO but I don't know how it could fit in that tiny case. Maybe an experiment for another day. Same goes for the Noctua NF-A9 25mm thick fan which can be installed under the PSU but the cables are there and it's so tight a space.
A fun experiment nonetheless and quite successful I should think!
The latest and greatest CPU uArch by AMD. Zen. Chosen for its thermal efficiency, very high performance, low cost compared to Intel solutions.
The best small air cooler. Full copper construction. Had to change the stock fan as it's 1mm too thick! Insane. Only thing that could beat it is an Asetek AIO probably, but I can't stomach spending over $120 USD on it (shipping costs)
The best non conductive thermal compound in the world. Seems to work quite well. I applied it in a straight line.
Arguably the best mini ITX AM4 motherboard thus far. I love the fact it has built in wifi and bluetooth, and it's made of high quality construction.
Bought this direct from G Skill while in Computex. I love their products and G Skill is such a great name. They gave me a nice discount on the RAM. Normally it costs quite a bit more. Though I guess, normally it costs quite a bit less.... Damn it Micron, Samsung and SK-Hynix!
Arguably the fastest TLC NVMe SSD in the world. It's crazy fast.
The fastest ~$1000 USD video card in the world. Faster than a speeding bullet. Leaps tall buildings in a single bound, according to Jen-Hsun Huang apparently. Worthy enough of an upgrade. I hate that it cost me so much though. In Taipei it cost ~30000 TWD. In Europe it's no better. Trying to order from Amazon.com they charged me $250 VAT. Screw that crap.
The smallest case in the world that fits high end, full size video cards. Very little temperature difference with side panels off and on. It's a remarkable design, manufactured by Lian Li and designed by Daniel Hansen in Germany. Had to wait over 9 months for it to arrive though!
Fits in the palm of my hand, very efficient. Apparently reaches Platinum certification according to Jonny Guru review. Enough wattage to power this insane system. I will not enjoy the electrical bill.
Windows 10. Meh.
Not too loud, but it does ramp up/down quite a bit. At least it's not a jet engine thank God.
I love this mechanical keyboard. Bought it a couple years ago. Cost me so much though.
I love this mouse, though again I spent a lot for it.
I love these wireless headphones. Very high sound quality. Open aired design. Lasts ages without needing to charge. Approximately an entire day's worth of charge