In this post I'll describe the desktop PC that I have assembled and used for gaming since 2012.

# Initial build in 2012

In April 2012, I assembled a PC primarily to play Diablo 3, which came out in May 2012. It had:

• a Core i5-2500K processor
• an NVIDIA GeForce GTX 560 Ti graphics card
• 8 GB of DDR3 SDRAM
• 256 GB of SSD (two 128 GB set up as one disk in RAID0)

Add to this the case, Windows license, peripherals and 1080p monitor and the bill amounted to $1250. Here's the detailed bill from Newegg: Part Price 2 x Crucial M4 CT128M4SSD2CCA 2.5" 128GB SATA III$283.98
EVGA 01G-P3-1561-AR GeForce GTX 560 Ti FPB (Fermi) $224.99 Intel Core i5-2500K 95W Quad-Core Processor$219.99
ASUS VH242H 23.6" 5ms 1080P LCD Monitor 300 cd/m2 $179.99 Microsoft Windows 7 Home Premium$99.99
GIGABYTE GA-H61MA-D3V Micro ATX Intel Motherboard $69.99 Rosewill RG630-S12 630W Power Supply$59.99
Mushkin 8GB (2 x 4GB) DDR3 SDRAM 1333 (PC3 10666) Model 996770 $42.99 Rosewill FBM-01 MicroATX Computer Case$29.99
Logitech Optical USB Mouse B100 (910-001439) $11.99 Rosewill RIKB-11001 X-Slim Keyboard$9.99
Subtotal: $1233.88 Tax:$0.00
Shipping and Handling: $14.37 Total Amount:$1248.25

# 2015 refresh

In Dec 2015, I bought a GTX 970 for $350. Over time, I also replaced the keyboard by a$30 Logitech keyboard and mouse.

A year later in Dec 2016, I bought a 4K monitor for $483: ASUS 28-inch 4K Freesync Gaming Monitor [MG28UQ] UHD 1ms Rapid Response Time, 60Hz. # 2021 refresh Fast forward to Sept 2021, and I upgraded the CPU from a Core i5-2500K (2nd generation) to a Core i7-11700K (11th generation). Since the socket is different, I had to buy a new motherboard and DDR4 SDRAM. I used this occasion to buy a new SSD drive: Part Price ASRock B560M-HDV Micro ATX Intel Motherboard$84
Intel Core i7-11700K 8-Core 125W $420 SAMSUNG 980 M.2 2280 1TB SSD MZ-V8V1T0B/AM$126
CORSAIR Vengeance RGB Pro 32GB (2 x 16GB) DDR4 SDRAM 3600 (PC4 28800) $179 Total amount$809

While assembling it, I accidentally broke a blade on the stock Core i5-2500K's fan. Because of the imbalance, the fan would make the whole desktop vibrate. So I had to buy a new heat sink and fan, which cost me $30. I also got myself the new XBox Controller with Bluetooth adapter for$70.

A few quick observations:

• SSD has gotten really cheap. I paid $140 for 128 GB back in 2012, and now I get 1 TB for the same price. It has gotten 8 times cheaper. • A Core i5-2500K cost$220 in 2012 while a Core i5-11600K costs $270 in 2021. Same range of price, while the i5-2500K had 4 cores and the i5-11600K has 6 cores. Nowadays my budget is higher, so I opted for a more expensive CPU, but it's twice the price. Let's see if it's worth it below. • Fans are really cheap. However, the$30 heatsink and fan is huge compared to the stock Intel fan ($10 on Amazon). It was a pain to install, and it barely fit in my mini ATX case. On the plus side, it's really quiet. ## Core i7-11700K ### vs Core i5-11600K I admit I bought the new Core i7 hastily without looking at my bill from 2012, nor benchmarks. I just seemed to recall that a CPU cost about$400 and so I bought it. I misremembered.

Let's take a look after the fact: https://www.cpu-monkey.com/en/compare_cpu-intel_core_i7_11700k-1862-vs-intel_core_i5_11600k-1865. Based on Cinebench R23 and Geekbench 5 benchmarks, one can reach this conclusion:

• single-core performance is the same.
• multi-core performance is expectedly 30% better for the Core i7.

Since in games the graphics card is more likely the bottleneck, and since my 4 core Core i5-2500K was able to play Assassin's Creed Odyssey reasonably well, a 6 core Core i5-11600K would have done the job nicely.

See also this video benchmark on the game. With 6 core, each core runs at about 75% capacity, while with 8 core, each core runs at about 65% capacity.

I don't use this PC for anything other than gaming, since I use a Mac for coding. So let's just say that this CPU will last me longer than the Core i5. Also, over 10 years, the difference between a $400 and a$200 CPU is practically none: $20/year. ### vs Core i5-2500K Take a look at this: https://www.cpu-monkey.com/en/compare_cpu-intel_core_i5_2500k-5-vs-intel_core_i7_11700k-1862. Based on Cinebench R23 and Geekbench 5 benchmarks: • single-core performance has doubled. • multi-core performance is 6 times better. Meanwhile a core i5-11600K multi-core performance 5 times better. ## SSD performance ## Samsung 980 NVMe vs Crucial M4 Based on this benchmark, it looks like the Samsung 980 NVMe SSD is 3.8 times faster than a regular M4 SSD. However, I used 2 drives in RAID0. According to this post, combining 2 Crucial M4 128GB SSD in RAID0 results in 50% increased performance. In other words, my new Samsung 980 NVMe SSD drive is 2.5 times faster than my RAID0 Crucial M4 SSDs. Here's the computation: Where S is the Samsung 980 speed, and C is a single Crucial M4 speed, and C' = performance of two Crucial M4 in RAID0 C' = 1.5C S = 3.8C = 3.8 * 1.5 / 1.5 C = 3.8 / 1.5 * 1.5C = 2.5 * 1.5C = 2.5C'  Another benefit is the space it takes in the desktop case. The two Crucial M4 SSDs required a rack, 2 SATA cables and 2 power cables. Instead, the Samsung 980 NVMe SSD is a small stick that's you install directly on the motherboard. The stick is twice as small as a RAM stick. ## Samsung 980 Pro vs Samsung 980 The Samsung 980 Pro is 40% faster than the non-pro version. 1 TB costs$180 for the Pro version and $130 for the non-pro version. Interestingly, that's 40% more expensive. For just 40 bucks more, I wish I had bought the Pro version. ### Impact on gaming In this video, you can see the impact of a fast drive is mostly on the initial game load for Assassin's Creed Odyssey. It also prevents some frame drops for complex scenes. In their 1 minute benchmark, while the average fps was the same (47 fps vs 48 fps), the test on the HDD drive had dropped 380 frames. # Next refresh The GTX 970 was released in 2014. It's been 7 years. I plan to buy a newer graphics card when shortages are resolved. This will cost me another$500, and I may spend another $500 on a monitor. By the way, as I was working on my next post, I stumbled upon https://www.logicalincrements.com/. This website has a table of build suggestions at each price points. It's great! I might write a summary of what I've found out later. # Total Spent Since 2012, I've spent nearly$3000 on hardware for that gaming PC, not counting inflation. That's about $333/yr over 9 years even though it was never top of the line. With my current GTX 970, I can still only play in high settings in Assassin's Creed Odyssey (2018) in 1080p. If I spend another$500, I'll be able to play in 4K, on par with current gen consoles. I might also spend $500 more for a better monitor. So the total would be$4000. I expect that could last me for at least another 5 years. In other words, I'll have spent $4000 over 14 years, or$285/year.

In the next blog post, I'll compare gaming PCs, notebooks and consoles.