It’s been more than three years since I built my i7 Haswell (4th generation) machine which is a pretty impressive time for me between builds (I built it in September 2013!), so this fall, I decided to do one of the most complete overhauls ever bringing my PC up to Intel’s Skylake (6th generation) architecture. For this blog post, I’m going to revisit the “What PC am I running right now” with a side-by-side comparison of the previous parts and the new ones.
Irk’s Current PC:
Operating System: Windows 10 Home 64-bit (OEM)
Previous Operating System: Windows 7 Home Premium SP1 64bit (OEM) System Builder DVD 1 Pack (New Packaging)
Don’t let the skeptics tell you otherwise – despite a few quirks, Windows 10 is a darn good operating system. Although it’s not quite as smooth and nice as Windows 7, if you want to run games using DirectX 12, you have no choice. Time to upgrade to Windows 10. Current price on Amazon: $90.72
Processor: Intel Core i7 6700K 4.00 GHz Quad-Core Skylake Desktop Processor, Socket LGA 1151 BX80662I76700K
Previous Processor: Intel Core i7-4770K Quad-Core Haswell Desktop Processor (3.5 GHz, 8 MB Cache, Intel HD graphics, BX80646I74770K)K
Although many PC magazines and websites will tell you that the i5 is sufficient, the extra hyper-threading, clock speeds, and goodies you get with an i7 makes the extra $50-100 a no-brainer. Select the “K” version to get an unlocked processor meaning you can overclock the bejesus out of it (my i7 6700K runs at 4.4GHz with the ability to go even higher should I so desire). Current price on Amazon: $342.99
Current/Previous Processor Cooler: Cooler Master Hyper 212 EVO – CPU Cooler with 120mm PWM Fan (RR-212E-20PK-R2)
Believe it or not, I stuck with the same CPU cooler in this rig as my Haswell build. Why? It’s simply that good. Take the unbelievable $30 or less price out of the equation, and the Cooler Master Hyper 212 EVO is still the best cooler on the market with no liquid and virtually silent cooling. It’s simply that good. I did buy a brand-new one for this build to ensure reliability and because I used the old parts in my Home Theater PC (HTPC). Yes, my HTPC is an i7-4770K with 32GB of RAM. Can you say overkill? At Amazon, the cooler is currently $29.99.
Current Memory: Corsair Vengeance 32GB (4x8GB) DDR4 3400 (PC4-27200) C16, Red LED (CMU32GX4M4C3400C16R)
Previous Memory: Two (2) sets of Crucial Ballistix Tactical BLT2KIT8G3D1608DT1TX0 16GB 240-Pin DIMM DDR3 1600, PC3 12800, Desktop Memory
Although Skylake supports 64GB of RAM (or more, depending on your motherboard selection), I stuck with 32GB. However, I did put some extra dough toward the 3400Ghz clock speed. Independent benchmarks have shown that faster DDR4 RAM actually improves frames-per-second performance in games so the extra cash was worth it. Plus, red LEDs, because… well… lighting is cool, right? Current price on Amazon: $234.99
Current Boot Drive (SSD): Samsung 950 PRO Series – 256GB PCIe NVMe – M.2 Internal SSD
Previous Boot Drive (SSD): Samsung 850 Pro 256GB 2.5-Inch SATA III Internal SSD (MZ-7KE256BW)
Samsung retains its title for best SSDs and the NVMe models are second-to-none. We’re in a funny time period right now as we wait for Samsung’s 960 series to be released, so I opted for a factory-refurbished 256GB 950 Pro while I wait for the 960s to come out. The 950 series is no slouch delivering read/write speeds far exceeding the already lightning-fast 2.5″ SATA SSDs. Current price on Amazon: $139.99
Game Drive #1 (SSD): Samsung 850 Pro 256GB 2.5-Inch SATA III Internal SSD (MZ-7KE256BW)
A new category this year, I carried my Samsung 850 Pro over from my old build to make it one of two dedicated game drives in my new PC. Think that’s overkill? Reserve your judgment for Game Drive #2 and the Documents Drive. Five drives in a single PC? You betcha! Current price on Amazon: $124.74
Game Drive #2 (SSD): Samsung 850 EVO 250GB 2.5-Inch SATA III Internal SSD (MZ-75E250B/AM)
Samsung’s EVO line-up of SSDs provides an affordable alternative to the more expensive Pro series. Why do you lose 6GB of space with this drive ringing in at 250GB instead of 256GB? I have no idea. I bought this SSD as a dedicated game drive in my Haswell PC and brought it over to provide an extra 250GB of space for games that I want running faster than an HDD, but aren’t so good that they deserve space on the Pro. Crazy? Probably. Current price on Amazon: $89.99
Documents Drive (SSD): Crucial MX300 750GB SATA 2.5 Inch Internal Solid State Drive – CT750MX300SSD1
As an experiment, I picked up a Crucial MX300 750GB SSD this year during Black Friday when they went on sale for $99.99 to see what it’s like to store my documents on a SSD instead of a HDD. The Data Drive has been relegated to music, videos, and games I don’t care about with the Crucial picking up the document heavy lifting loading 18MP photos and huge documents with superfast ease. A whole lot of SSD-speedy space for a very decent price. Current price on Amazon: $179.68
Current Data Drive (HDD): WD Black 5TB Performance Desktop Hard Disk Drive – 7200 RPM SATA 6 Gb/s 128MB Cache 3.5 Inch – WD5001FZWX
Previous Data Drive (HDD): Seagate Desktop 3 TB HDD SATA 6 Gb/s NCQ 64MB Cache 7200 RPM 3.5-Inch Internal Bare Drive ST3000DM001
My Seagate was alright, but Seagate’s meager 1-year warranty and lack of long-term reliability (in my opinion), left it wanting. Western Digital’s Black Series features a 5-year warranty, superfast read/write speeds (for a standard HDD) and 128MB of cache in the 5+ TB models. Ridiculous space. Ridiculous reliability. Ridiculous price. Current price on Amazon: $220.95
Optical Drive: LG Black 12X BD-ROM 16X DVD-ROM 48X CD-ROM SATA Internal Blu-ray Disc Drive Model UH12NS30
It seems this combo kind of Blu-ray reader/DVD writer drive has gone out-of-style, so I’m linking a full-on Blu-Ray/DVDRW Writer because it’s still worth having an optical drive. Current price on Amazon: $49.99
Current Video Card: ASUS GeForce GTX1070 8GB Dual-Fan OC Edition 4K/VR Ready Dual HDMI DP 1.4 Gaming Graphics Card DUAL-GTX1070-O8G
Previous Video Card: EVGA GTX980 Superclocked ACX 2.0 4GB GDDR5 256bit, DVI-I, DP x 3, HDMI, SLI Ready Graphics Card Graphics Cards 04G-P4-2983-KR
In the first half of 2016, Nvidia released their 10-series chip which blew all previous and competing graphic processors completely out of the water. The 1080 is the fastest one available, but you won’t see cards running a 1080 for anything less than $600 for the moment. The 1070 beats the pants off the flagship previous generation for a very reasonable price. I was able to pick one up for $360 after rebate during Black Friday and it provides a nearly 30% speed increase over my Haswell’s GTX 980. Current price on Amazon: $399.89 (after rebate)
Current Motherboard: ASUS ROG MAXIMUS VIII HERO ALPHA ATX DDR4 3000 LGA 1151
Previous Motherboard: Asus Z87-Deluxe DDR3 1600 LGA 1150 Motherboard
ASUS continues to be my motherboard manufacturer of choice with the Maximus VIII Hero Alpha providing the best blend of features to price (some of ASUS’s mobo lineup rings the bell at more than $500!). With u.2 connectors, an m.2 connector, RGB lighting headers, MIMO 802.11ac Wi-Fi, and so many more features, there pretty much isn’t any build this motherboard can’t do: Current price on Amazon: $248.99 (after rebate)
Previous/Current Case: NZXT Technologies Computer Case, Matte Black CA-H630F-M1
I didn’t change my case! I love my NZXT case’s size and functionality, so I decided to stick to the old “if it ain’t broke it” mentality and loved the one I’m with. I went with the black one and the current price on Amazon is: $169.99
Previous/Current Power Supply: Corsair RM Series 750 Watt ATX/EPS 80PLUS Gold-Certified Power Supply – CP-9020055-NA RM750
Like the case, my Corsair RM 750w power supply continues to rock the house. With full modular capability and fans that don’t run if the power supply is using 40% or less of its rated power, this power supply provides silence and stability. It continues to be amazing. Current price on Amazon: $115.95
Previous/Current Fans: Four (4) Nexus 140mm B/W Case Fans
The Nexus fans are still champions in my book and made the jump from the last system. Awesome fans providing superior cooling with almost no noise. Current price on Amazon is: $7.99 each ($31.96 total)
Current Keyboard: Logitech – G910 Orion Spectrum RGB Mechanical Gaming Keyboard
Previous Keyboard: Microsoft Natural Ergonomic Keyboard 4000
What’s old is new again and mechanical keyboards have come back into fashion. Believe it or not, my all-time favorite Microsoft Natural Ergonomic Keyboard 4000 has been upset by the outstanding Logitech G910 Orion Spectrum featuring mechanical Romer-G keys (Logitech’s exclusive key type). Programmable functionality combined with super-cool RGB lighting (you can make each and every key a different color!) makes the G910 an outstanding keyboard. Currently, Best Buy carries it for $129.99
Current Mouse: Logitech G502 Proteus Core Tunable Gaming Mouse
Previous Mouse: Anker® Gaming Mouse, 7 Programmable Buttons, up to 2000 DPI, 5 User Profiles (bound to specific games), Omron Micro Switches
A 12,000-dpi sensor combined with superior ergonomics, an amazing feel, and RGB lighting has made me a Logitech diehard for my mouse and pretty much every single one of my peripherals. The Proteus Core also features adjustable weights and programmable buttons. An outstanding mouse that’s well worth its price. Current Price on Amazon: $54.99
Current Speakers: Logitech Z906 Surround Sound Speakers – (RMS) 500-W Subwoofer: 165-W, 3D Stereo
Previous Speakers: Logitech Z-5500 THX-Certified 5.1 Digital Surround Sound Speaker System
My Z-5500 series speakers finally started to kick the bucket after more than a decade of use so I recently upgraded to Logitech’s current flagship 5.1 speaker setup, the Z906. Almost as powerful as the Z-5500 series with a better interface and signal decoder, the Z906 is second-to-none. Currently, $309.58 at Amazon.
Current Gaming Headset: Logitech G933 Artemis Spectrum RGB 7.1 Surround Sound Gaming Headset, Wireless Headphones and Microphone
Previous Gaming Headset: Logitech Wireless Gaming Headset G930 with 7.1 Surround Sound
I loved my G930 headset so when Logitech launched a new version, the G933, with better 2.4GHz range, nicer ergonomics, and longer battery life, it was time to upgrade. That being said, the G930 is regularly on sale for less than $70, so if price is an issue, rest assured that the G930 will provide you with a quality experience, too. Current price on Amazon: $139.99
Previous/Current Monitors: One (1) HP ZR2740w 27″ LED LCD Monitor Ultra-HD (2560×1440) -and- Two (2) BenQ GL2760H 27-inch HDMI LED-lit Monitors
My monitors rock. I love my HP ZR2740w primary monitor and my two side BenQ 1080p monitors provide outstanding performance for the price. You just can’t go wrong with these. Currently, the HP is no longer available at a reasonable price so I’ve linked the updated HP EliteDisplay E272q 27” 2560×1440 display at $309.99 while you’ll spend a paltry $149.99 (each) on the BenQs, an outstanding bargain for quality 1080p 27″ monitors. Total cost? $609.97
Current Printer: HP OfficeJet Pro 8710 Wireless All-in-One Photo Printer with Mobile Printing, Instant Ink ready (M9L66A)
Previous Printer: Brother Printer BusinessSmart MFC-J4610DW Wireless Color Photo Printer with Scanner, Copier and Fax
My Brother printer treated me right, however I absolutely adore HP printers, so when the OfficeJet 8710 went on sale for $99.99, I couldn’t resist upgrading. The OfficeJet series provides outstanding performance and reliability for a small business, while the 8710 is nearly $100 cheaper than the slightly faster 8720 series. A crazy printer for a crazy price. Currently $107.99 at Amazon.
Total cost of my current PC: $3,815.32 (Previous PC: $3,650.16)
The benchmarks really tell the tale:
- Single Core performance (the majority of the average computer’s use) saw a 52% improvement moving from the Haswell 4th generation i7 to the Skylake 6th generation i7.
- The Memory improvement of 42% really demonstrates how far DDR4 has come over its DDR3 predecessor.
- The almost unbelievable 131% jump in DiskMark improvement really shows how a NVMe drives are SO much faster than even standard SSDs of old.
- Finally, the graphics jump of 29% in FireStrike (pretty much the graphics benchmark) is unbelievable. Nvidia must have made a deal with the devil to make a card in the $300-400 price bracket outperform the previous generation’s $570 GTX 980. Positively nutty.
Do you have a different perspective?
I always like hearing other opinions. Feel free to leave your comments below.
About Irk: Eric “Irk” Jacobson started using computers when he was 3 years old with an Apple IIe. He tries to be device-agnostic using all kinds of technology from all of the major players, and he loves/hates them equally in different ways. When he’s not working, he’s likely riding his motorcycle(s) or hanging out with his wonderful family.