Ironic note: This post was written on a Mac mini.
My current PC is about five years old and truthfully, it still does most things I need it to do without any major issues. I can browse the web, check email, write, read, play games, chat and so on, all without gnashing my teeth about the system being infernally slow, laggy or otherwise annoying to use.
It has an SSD as the main drive, so Windows 10 boots and restarts quickly (even if I notice that the Thinkpad X1 Carbon boots Windows 10 and programs even faster). It has 8 GB of ram, which still allows multitasking of as many programs as I’m likely to run. Its 4th generation Core i5 CPU is officially five generations behind, but it’s clocked at 3.3 GHz and still capable.
In the time I’ve had the PC, I’ve only upgraded three components:
- The monitor, which isn’t even directly part of the PC. I went from a 24″ Samsung TN panel to a 24″ Asus IPS monitor, and the change was totally worth it. The color, clarity, viewing angles and brightness of an IPS monitor are so much better than a TN display. I still have the Samsung as an emergency backup.
- The video card, from a GeForce GTX 570 to a GTX 770. This was also worth it, though I bungled things by not doing enough research, as the even-better GTX 970 came out just weeks after I got the 770.
- The OS, from Windows 8 to Windows 10. And technically this isn’t a component of the PC, anyway.
Apart from that, the system is exactly the same as the day I put it together. I’m even using the same 2 TB hard disk from the previous PC as the secondary drive in the current one.
So with everything working, why build a new system?
The best answer might be that while everything works, I am starting to see the upper limits of what the current PC can manage. As programs–and especially browsers–become more
bloated demanding, the 8 GB of ram is becoming an issue. Having a small primary drive (256 GB) is slowing down overall performance when loading and saving, because I simply don’t have room for everything on it. Older and less demanding games can still run fine on the GTX 770, but more often I have to turn down settings, accept lower framerates, or just play stuff released 10 years ago. Which Diablo 3 halfway to, luckily.
Also, we are at a point where technologies and pricing have both stabilized with some really good offerings.
If I stick to what I’ve picked out, here’s how the new system will compare to the current PC:
- 4x the storage on the primary drive (1 TB vs. 256 GB). I would add additional storage on an as-needed basis.
- 2x the memory (16 vs. 8 GB)
- Faster video card with 4x the memory (RTX 2070 with 8 GB vs. GTX 770 with 2 GB)
- A CPU with 2x the number of cores (8 core AMD Ryzen 2700 vs. 4 core Intel Core i5)
- A larger case (microATX vs. mini-ITX)
The new case is an improvement because I’ve moved the PC back under the desk, so I don’t need a super-small case anymore. A taller one will make the front-facing ports and jacks easier to access, and the case itself should theoretically be easier to work with.
I’ve already gotten the video card, the next step is to figure out where to get everything else. Having amazon.ca ship everything to a locker is appealing (and simple) but amazon’s pricing and selection is surprisingly inconsistent, so I may be going to local dealers, like I did before NCIX self-immolated.
I am both excited (that new toy feeling) and filled with dread (piecing everything together, turning it on, nothing happening). And of course, it doesn’t address one critical aspect–I’m back to using Ulysses, a Mac-only writing app. I’m hoping the developers will eventually use their alleged subscription-fed largesse to port the program to Windows. I don’t think they will because they seem beholden to Apple’s ecosystem, but it would be nice. I like the app a lot more than I like macOS. Maybe I’m just too used to Windows after a hundred years of using it.
But maybe WriteMonkey 3.0 will eventually come out of beta, actually support indents and fulfill all my writing needs. It could happen!
Perhaps most importantly, my giant backlog of games can’t be played on a Mac mini. It’s new PC time.