BYOPC: Building a PC (or Two) in 2016

Posted on January 25, 2016 by Paul Thurrott in Hardware with 0

DIY: Building a PC (or Two) in 2016

Last year, I discussed my plans to build my next desktop PC, and then never really followed through. But this year, I’ll be building two PCs, a gaming PC for my son and a non-gaming PC for myself.

I’ve mentioned at least part of these plans a few times recently on podcasts, and have already received some amazing feedback from readers/listeners, which is most appreciated. But I’d like to expand on these plans, which have evolved, and I can certainly use whatever additional advice you have to share.

First, my son: He has been gaming mostly via Steam over the past year on a Windows 8.1-based gaming laptop, but it’s had ongoing performance issues. We’ve reset it back to scratch a few times, but that has stopped working. For whatever reason, it just won’t play games full speed anymore.

Given the timing—I have an HP Envy AIO PC in for testing at the moment—I loaned him my normal desktop PC, which is a reasonably powerful “Ivy Bridge”-era Core i7-based desktop tower with 16 GB of RAM and a fast 256 GB SSD. This actually works a lot better than his gaming laptop in its current state. But the lackluster video card (it’s an ATI Radeon 7570 I believe) holds down the screen resolution possibilities.

Looking at video cards for the old PC, I immediately ran into a host of technical issues that makes my head spin. There are different 6- and 8-pin connector types for modern video cards, which often come with humongous fans and big power requirements. Eventually it became clear that while I could probably figure out something, the chances were high we’d buy a card that didn’t work properly or at all.

So we’ve talked about building a PC. I’ve been thinking and talking about doing this for myself. Maybe he could as well.

He has a good job for a 17-year-old, and makes enough that he could buy a component or two every time he gets paid. And over time, he’d be able to put together a decent gaming PC. Apparently a few of his friends have done this as well, so with this new goal in mind, we’re going to move forward. He already has a great screen, but we’re thinking about $1000 for the actual PC.

The PC I’d build for myself doesn’t have a hard cap on the price, but I do have very specific requirements: I want this system to be all-SSD, and the very latest/fastest M.2 SSD only, and I want a high-end Skylake Core-7 chip and at least 16 GB of RAM. I don’t care about the video card per se, in fact the old 7570 from my current desktop PC would be just fine if such a thing were still offered. This is for work, not play. And I value silence over graphics performance.

I’ve been planning to build a PC for so long, things have changed: Skylake is supplanting Haswell on the desktop, and M.2 SSD seems like the way to go. But for my son, a more stable and well-understood Haswell system may be a better choice, and of course it may be cheaper too.

I’m not a hardware guy at all, so I’m asking for your help. 🙂 Any thoughts on the best way we can proceed?


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