Building My Own PC

I’ve been an avid Mac user for years, and I love the simplicity and features of macOS. But recently, I realized that a Mac wasn’t going to cut it anymore.

I rely on three Macs daily: an iMac for home, an Intel MacBook for work, and an M1 MacBook for mobility. However, with the shift to Apple Silicon, my Intel-based Macs are now showing their age. As my demands grow with gaming, content creation, streaming, and AI experimentation, I’ve realized the need for a better hardware. While the M1 excels in machine learning and AI, it still falls short in terms of graphics performance and cost effectiveness compared to mid-range Nvidia or AMD cards.

My MacSpecification
MacBook Pro 15-in. (Intel, 2018)2.9GHz 6-Core Intel Core i9 / Radeon Pro 555X 4GB / 256GB / 16GB
MacBook Pro 13-in. (M1, 2020)Apple M1 / 512GB / 8GB
iMac 27-in. (Intel, 2020)3.1GHz 6-core Intel Core i5 / Radeon Pro 5300 4GB / 256GB / 32GB

In pursuit of better performance, I looked at the option of upgrading to a Mac with the M2 Pro or M2 Max chip. However, the practical considerations, especially for tasks like gaming and content creation, tilted the scale in favor of a PC. Factor in the hefty price tag associated with Apple hardware, I decided to build my own PC for the first time in life.

In fact, the current market condition seems favorable, with a range of upper-mid-range GPUs readily available. The recent release of the GeForce RTX 40 series, with a more stable supply compared to its 30 series predecessors from years ago, makes this a good timing to build my new gear.

This custom-built approach allows me to handpick the exact components I need and ensures room for future upgrades. Certain cost-cutting strategies can also save me some money. The freedom feels great.

My specifications

As I said, I decided to go for an upper-mid range build, giving me enough performance while maintaining a reasonable spend. Below is a list of components I have purchased:

  • CPU: Intel Core i5-13600K
  • CPU Cooler: NZXT Kraken 240
  • Motherboard: MSI Pro Z790-P WiFi
  • Memory: Corsair Vengeance 32 GB DDR5 5600MHz
  • Primary Storage: Samsung 980 Pro 1 TB M.2
  • Secondary Storage: Samsung 970 Evo Plus 1 TB M.2
  • GPU: Nvidia GeForce RTX 4070 Founder’s Edition 
  • Case: NZXT H5 Flow ATX Mid Tower
  • Power Supply: Corsair RM750e 2023
  • Case Fan: NZXT F120P
  • Case Fan: NZXT F120P

For the CPU, my initial choice was the i7-13700K, priced at roughly $390 with tax. However, due to a slow shipping process and a new American Express offer on Amazon, I cancelled that and managed to secure a i5-13600K processor for a mere $271 with tax included. Given the small performance difference between these two processors, it feels rewarding to save $100 in the process.

As for the GPU selection, I initially opted for the 4060 Ti, but later realized that it might not offer the best value. The 4070, on the other hand, seemed to provide a more compelling proposition. With an additional 4GB of VRAM and enhanced performance, the 4070 can surely to elevate the user experience to a level comparable to its higher price. Moreover, this choice is likely to extend the setup’s longevity and having a higher resale value. Fortunately, I was able to snag a Founder’s Edition from Nvidia at its MSRP.

A Nvidia GeForce RTX 4070 graphics card sitting in its original box.

When it came to selecting a motherboard, I sought advice from a friend who recommended ASUS or MSI. Ultimately, I opted for the MSI Pro Z790, which I found on sale. What I like about this motherboard is its room for expansion. With four M.2 slots, I can add up to four internal SSDs in the system. In addition, there are three more PCIe slots after I added the CPU, two of which are full size. While they do have to share bandwidth with other components on the motherboard, extra ports are always nice to have for future expansion.

Building the PC

MSI provided an excellent manual along with their motherboard, making the installation process a breeze. Following the diagrams and securing a few screws was straightforward. The more challenging aspect was neatly managing the cables inside the case, and I greatly appreciated the help of my girlfriend in tackling this part of the setup.

While I admit there’s still room for improvement in the cable management department, it’s worth mentioning that this part of the PC assembly remains out of sight, so we settled for the current setup.

The front of my PC case features a see-through glass panel, and you might have noticed the absence of RGB lighting. I find RGB lighting to be quite distracting, and I prefer a more toned down look without constant glowing effects.

Now, the GPU power cable isn’t the prettiest sight in this build. That cable is the stock one that came with the power supply. I must say, it’s a bit on the unattractive side. Unfortunately, Nvidia’s provided cable was too short for my setup.

After snapping this picture, I installed two more fans behind the front panel (notice the empty space on the right hand side of the picture) to enhance airflow. These fans are black, adding a touch of balance and refinement to the overall look of the build.

Final Thoughts

After putting my new PC to test for a few days, it seems like I might have gone a bit overboard with the cooling solution. With the liquid cooler and a grand total of 7 fans, my CPU remains cool most of the time, rarely breaching 45ºC, regardless of the game or task I throw at it. Meanwhile, the GPU fan only spins up when I play the extremely demanding games with all the graphics settings cranked up to max.





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