2021 PC Build Journey

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Intro

I’ve been a computer fanatic since I received my first one in the late 90’s and ever since I rarely go a day without touching one. In all that time I don’t remember there being so much excitement for the next round of new hardware. Whether it’s the battle between AMD and Intel, which is pretty much one-sided now, or the next storage tech for SSDs, or if there’s finally a new player in the GPU market, it’s an amazing time to be a PC builder.

I decided a few months ago that it was time to upgrade and seeing the crop of hardware coming down the pipeline I can’t wait! I’m going to go over my goals and choices for the hardware I have lined up. I’m still waiting and watching for a few announcements before buying the core hardware. Stay tuned, I’ll be updating this post as more news comes out and as I purchase the components. 

I’ve bought everything on 7/20/2021
* Last Updated 8/15/2021
Outdate conent will be italicized

Journey so far

Table of Contents

My Current Rig

My current PC has been serving me well since 2016. When I built it, it was a nice balance of power and affordability but times have certainly changed and I’ve noticed a few areas that my current system is starting to lag behind, specifically around heavy-duty processing such as video processing and 3D CAD rendering. We’ll see how the new system stacks up once it’s actually built. Below are the list of specifications for my current system.

Component Detail
CPU Intel 6700K 4c/8t boosting to 4.2GHz
Graphics MSI GeForce GTX 1070 GAMING X 8GB
Motherboard ASRock Z170 Pro4S LGA 1151 Intel Z170
Memory G.Skill Ripjaws V 16gb DDR4 2166
OS Storage Silicon Power Slim S55 2.5" 240GB SATA III SLC
Secondary Storage WD Blue 2TB Desktop Hard Disk Drive - 7200 RPM SATA
Power Supply CORSAIR CX-M Series CX650M 650W 80 PLUS BRONZE
CPU Cooling CORSAIR Hydro Series H55
Case DIYPC Silence-BK-Window Black

Back in 2016, the total cost including the OS came out to just over $1,250, not including a number of rebates from various manufactures, $10 here, $15 there, a nice touch but not ultimately not impactful.

New Rig Goals

The goal for my system is all about productivity and powering through intensive workloads like those in Blender, Premier, or After Effects without breaking a sweat. I’d like to think this will be a no comprises build with a budget to match. This will be the most expensive system I’ve ever built with a budget of $2,000, it will also be the first AMD build since 2006. Of course, I’ll go over my choices as I review each component.

Besides pure horsepower another goal of mine is silent running. So I’ll be looking for a quiet case, fans, and cooling solutions. Don’t expect a windowed case and a bunch of RGB as that only takes away from the sound dampening that could go on that panel of the case.

Components

CPU

AMD Ryzen 9 5900X 12-Core 3.7GHz

Bought for $580

This CPU is simply a beast. At 12-cores with 24-threads with the impressive single-core performance, there is no down side to this CPU other than maybe the power consumption and heat output but those negatives are out weighed by it’s raw horse power that I will put to good use with the rendering department.

This is truly the age of AMD. With the most recent setbacks in Intel’s attempt to shrink their node process and with AMD’s upcoming Zen3 release AMD has pulled ahead of the pack and are quickly increasing the gap to the benefit of us hardcore PC consumers.

At the time of writing this I’m waiting for AMD to release the 4000 series of CPUs with Zen3. My aim is to get the 4th gen equivalent of the 3800XT with 8 threads and 16 cores. Core speeds will hopefully be uped in the next-gen so maybe a base of 3.9Ghz and boost to 4.5 or 4.8 would be really nice but we still have some time until we see exactly what to expect. One thing I do hope stays close to the 3800XT is the price of $399.

GPU

Gigabyte GeForce RTX™ 3080 Gaming OC 10G

Bought for $1,223

While the MSRP for this card is almost $400 less than what I paid it was surprisingly still a good deal compared to most other cards on the market. One positive of this card is that it is not a LHR (light hash rate) card so I can still do some crypto mining on the side and get a hash rate better than a 3080TI LHR. After getting I found it can mine at roughly 85 MH/s sustained even at 80% power.

As much as AMD has become beloved in the CPU world NVidia still reigns supreme in the GPU realm. With all the rumors saying that the 3000 RTX cards are far superior to the 2000 series due to the refinement of the RTX architecture. NVidia is claiming as much as a 30% increase in performance over one generation which is absolutely huge, I can not wait!

This will be the first time I get the almost top of the line card, I’m hoping to grab up a 3080 soon after they become available.  I say this will be the first time because I’ve pretty exclusively got the second-tier cards like the GTX 1070 or the GTX 670. I really want that extra horsepower to get through Blender renders, Adobe procedures, and the like.

Motherboard 

ASRock X570 Taichi WIFI

Bought for $300

While this motherboard is the most expensive one I’ve ever bought and the WiFi feature will never be used the other features of Taichi models make this board basically future proof, at least for the next few years. It still required a BIOS update to support the 5000 series CPU which was not as big a deal as I thought.

I’m really not sure what chipset the 4000 series AMD CPUs will use, whether it’s going to use the X570 chipset or move on to a new generation.

A few features of the board I’m looking for are at least 2x PCI Express 4.0 slots for NVME storage. Onboard USB 3.2 gen 2 10gbs type-C ports. A good audio drive with isolated chipsets. Still ATX for future additions if needed. For my situation, I’m not overly concerned about WiFi or anything more than 1 gig ethernet but 10 gig would be nice.

For almost the last decade I’ve trusted AsRock for my motherboards. While they don’t have a high-end reputation of the MSI or ASUS brands I’ve always found them to be feature-rich at an affordable price, that just works without a fuss and I have yet for one to go bad.

Whichever chipset I use I will do everything I can to avoid a board with one of the tiny fans on the chipset that will only contribute to noice.

Memory

Team T-FORCE Delta RGB 3200MHz - 64Gb

Bought for $320

Team T-Force memory feels a little underappreciated in the world of RAM but they have quietly been moving the ranks of reliability and performance at a reasonable cost. While the RGB wasn’t a selling point it’s a nice add even if I’ll never actually see it in the case.

Now 64Gb is a lot for most people but I’ve noticed recently on a few renders how close I’ve gotten to using all of my current 16Gb of memory. I’ve had to hold my settings back because of this and my current GPU so I told myself I want a lot of headroom to push as hard as I can. Of course, at a speed 3200 it will be immensely faster than my 2133 memory.

OS Storage

Samsung 970 EVO Plus M.2 1TB PCIe Gen3

Bought for $160

This is definitely a no-compromise storage solution that will cost an extra pretty penny but to get 3.4Gbs per second sequential reads on a PCIe 4.0 lane is completely worth it. At 1Tb I can load all my primary programs and even a few games to get that beautiful quick loading.

Secondary Storage

Western Digital Gold Enterprise HDD 4TB

Purchased for $143.99 plus $8.64 tax = $152.63

Now for the rest of the photo, video, and games library and I will rely on a Gold Enterprise from WD with a capacity of 4Tb. I found this drive very appealing because it’s Enterprise-level and spins at 7200RPM, I get the quality and the speed (for a HDD) at a pretty reasonable price. From now on I will never buy a HDD less than 4Tb because as I’ve experienced even 2Tb got filled up pretty quickly with 4k drone videos and super high-res photos.

PSU

Seasonic FOCUS GM-850W Gold

Bought for $130

Fully modular, highly efficient, and for a crazy good price. What else is there to say really? Until the new 12VO standard becomes more wide spread I’ll be sticking to the good old fashion PSU.

Case

Fractal cases have moved into the top slot for me in terms of cases. I love it because it has a very subtle design with a tonne of soundproofing. Almost every piece of the interior is customizable with a hip of room for cable management and one of my favorite things, it comes with three Dynamic X2 GP-14 quiet running fans. Read the Review

Component Detail Price Link
CPU AMD Ryzen 9 5900X 12-Core 3.7GHz $580
Graphics Gigabyte GeForce RTX™ 3080 Gaming OC 10G $1,230
Motherboard ASRock X570 Taichi WIFI $300
Memory Team T-FORCE Delta RGB 3200MHz $320
OS Storage Samsung 970 EVO Plus $160
Secondary Storage Western Digital Gold Enterprise HDD 4TB $140
Power Supply Seasonic FOCUS GM-850W Gold $130
CPU Cooling NZXT Kraken X63 $150
Case Fractal Design Define 7 Black $90
Shipping $50
Taxes $200
Total $3350

Conclusion

This was the most expensive computer I’ve ever built luckily at the time I had a promotion on my credit card that offers a $300 credit for spending $3000 which worked out perfectly, bringing the cost of the components down to $2800 almost inline with MSRP prices so I really have nothing to complain about.

I’m really looking forward to building this new rig. It’s an absolutely amazing time to be a computer enthusiast even if it is a little pricey but seeing how I will probably be using it every day it’ll be completely worth it!

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