Thursday, February 10, 2022

My AM4 Ryzen Gaming PC has Reached it Final Form

In 2017 I switched from Intel to the new (at the time)  AMD AM4 Ryzen platform and started completely from scratch with all new components in a new case. I still think of it as my 2017 rig even though almost every  component has been upgraded since. Nevertheless like the Ship of Theseus it retains its essential identity as  my "2017 Computer" and is likely to do so until the next time I build a new PC from scratch. Yesterday I replaced the Ryzen 5 3600 CPU with a rather unnecessary Ryzen 7 5800x for no better reason than spotting one at a decent price on a local trading site. This change is somewhat significant because it probably marks the end of the upgrade path for this rig. The AM4 socket has reached end of the line with the 5000 series and any further upgrade would be prohibitively expensive for very little gain. The rig in its current state has plenty of horsepower to see me through the next couple of years until I am ready to start again from scratch with a new platform. 

Given that the machine reached its final form I think it is a good time to reflect on the changes it went through along the way to get here: 

Parts that have changed

Motherboard has been upgraded once (MSI B350 -> Gigabyte X470). Enables the use of more recent Ryzen CPUS also has better memory support and more sata ports. 

CPU has been upgraded three times Ryzen 5 1600 -> Ryzen 5 3600 -> Ryzen 7 5800x. Faster CPUS.  why not. The 8 core Ryzen 7 is not really better than a 6 core Ryzen 5 for gaming but modern consoles have 8 cores so future games may benefit from more cores. 

Ram has been upgraded once  2x8Gb 3200MHz -> 2x16Gb 3200MHz. I am not really sure why I felt this was necessary. I do multi task a lot and often have many programmes open at once, so more ram can only help. 

Graphics Card has been upgraded from GTX 970 -> GTX 1080 -> RTX 3060ti  This is the most important component for gaming. In an ideal world I would have liked an RTX 3070 or even 3080 but the current crazy GPU market means they are impossible to get at any sensible price. I only got the 3060ti thanks to an arrangement where a non gaming family member got a new Dell PC while I took the graphics card from it. 

Main SSD has changed from A 500Gb Sata SSD to an 500Gb M2 Samsung 970 EVO M2 SSD. Hmm... 1Tb SSDs are pretty cheap now. Perhaps I am not finished upgrading just yet. 

HDD has been upgraded from 1x2Tb to 1x4 Tb. I actually had an earlier disk that I swapped out because it was too noisy. My last 2 drives have been Western Digital Green and they run quietly.

Main Monitor has been upgraded from Dell 24" 1440p to MSI 27" 1440p. My current MAG274QRD-QD has beautiful vivid colours and supports Freesync as well as Gsync so I am not stuck with Nvidia GPUS. 

Various second and occasional third monitors have been added. I currently have a second dsiplay (19" Dell) and a Wacom tablet attached for work purposes. 

Webcam has been added thanks to Covid. Initially Trust 720p and now Razer 1080p. I am not delighted with the Rzer Kyo pro despite many reviews touting it as an excellent web cam. I have had several issues with it and I think the drivers are unstable. 

Mouse has changed from Logitech G300 to Logitech G502 Hero. A wired mouse is a bit less convenient but the increased responsiveness is well worth it for gaming. 

Game controller has changed from wired Xbox 360 to Wireless Xbox One controller. I still have the old controller for occasional co-op with my wife. 

Headphones have changed from Sennheiser HD555 to Sennheiser HD598SE. I am not an audiophile but I do love a nice set of cans and these Sennheisers mange to strike the balance between high sound quality and prolonged comfort. The 555's still sounded great when I replaced them but the plastic furniture had cracked and they were held together with duct tape.  

I removed an internal  DVD writer and I now have an external USB DVD drive for the rare occasion I need to use DVDs. I have a large collection of older games on DVD but nowadays is is often easier to get a digital download version from GOG complete with all necessary patches than to try and get a DVD install to work. 


Parts that have remained the Same since 2017

A white Fractal Design R5 case. No glass panel. No visible rgb. It hides under my desk. 

A Corsair RM650 PSU. It supplies power. 

A 64GB Sandisk sata SSD configured as a Disk Cache for the HDD. I discovered SSD caching back in the days when SSDs were very expensive and I couldn't afford a big one.  The first time you load up a programme you have to wait for the HDD but once it is in the SSD cache it feels like it is on SSD. Caching allows me to store most of my games on large HDD and still get decent loading times. I have used Primocache caching software for years and I am generally happy with it. Occasionally it can cause hiccups but a manual flush of the cache usually solves it. 

A Coolermaster Hyper 212 Evo CPU cooler. The industry standard budget friendly cooler. It isn't as quiet as I would like but I have never gotten around to looking for something better. 

Parts that date from further back than the  2017 upgrade

An absurd Logiteh G19 keyboard complete with customisable 2.5" screen. This is aging but beloved and there is nothing like it available any more. Most of the time I just use the screen for a clock but I sometimes get it to display a roll of photos from whatever game I am playing. It brings joy to my heart when I discover a game which still supports the screen. The last game I remember supporting it was Duke Nukem Forever. 

Creative Labs Gigaworks T20 speakers. I went through a succession of 4.1 and 5.1 speakers back in the 2000's  before finally coming to the conclusion that a good quality set of stereo speakers was a better idea. In deference to my housemates I generally wear headphones when gaming anyway. 

Windows License. I bought a Windows 7 home license in 2010 and have ported it from rig to rig ever since. I availed of the free upgrades to Windows 10 and most recently Windows 11 but it is still the same license. 





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