After five years of running Macs I’m going to try Windows again. I only use the computer in front of me as a fancy terminal, web browsers and SSH sessions mostly. And gaming. But I’m not really using the OS as a real computer, so I can suffer with Windows. Also I’m fed up with a bunch of stuff related to Macs. MacOS is not a very good Unix, I went back to doing all my real work on Ubuntu last year. Mac gaming is just awful. And Apple has apparently abandoned the idea of updating iMac hardware.
Anyway, I ordered a PC. I went full max spec with brand new Kaby Lake parts because I intend to use this machine for 4+ years. Top end CPU, top end GPU, 16GB RAM, 500GB SSD, and some fancier cooling / quiet components. Here’s the parts list.
- Motherboard: Asus Z270-P
- CPU: Intel Core i7-7700K 4.2GHz
- GPU: EVGA 08G-P4-6286-KR NVIDIA Geforce GTX 1080 FTW
- RAM: C769-V16B Corsair CMK16GX4M2B2800C14 16GB (2x8GB)
- Drive: Samsung 960 EVO 500GB PCIe NVMe M.2 SSD
- Power supply: Corsair CP-9020092-NA RMx RM750X 750W
- Case: Fractal Design Define R5
- CPU cooler: Noctua NH-D15S
- Monitor: Asus ROG PG348Q 3440×1440
So far so good! The motherboard was a compromise, it doesn’t support SLI. The CPU and GPU are too far up on the price vs. performance curve but I was feeling spendy. The case is nice, it has sound baffling. The CPU cooler is absurdly huge; I don’t intend to overclock, but large = quiet.
Shopping for the monitor really made me appreciate what Apple has done with the iMac displays. It’s very hard to find something that quality for PC parts. I decided not to go with the 4k/5k/Retina high density displays, too expensive and no GPU can fill that many pixels in a game.
There’s some neat new things in PC hardware. The M.2 form factor for SSDs dispenses entirely with the history of hard drives, the SSD looks something like a RAM module. (Which begs the question; why are PC cases still so giant? Cooling.) And GPUs have a nice new feature called G-Sync or Freesync. For 20+ years we run the screen at 60Hz and hope the GPU can keep up with 60fps vsync interrupts. Now the GPU just renders frames as fast as it can and the LCD only updates when there’s a new frame to draw.
I had Central Computers build it for me, a local screwdriver shop. They did a great job on the quote and build process for $80 labor plus maybe a 10% markup on parts. The computer priced out about $2150, the monitor $1100. Expensive! But I use this literally all day every day, and like I said I don’t intend to upgrade for a long while.