Or maybe we’re the crazy ones.
After my daughter and I finished up her hockey practice, I decided to go and pick up the RAM for the laptop. I had already done some digging into which specific specs I had in the box. I need to properly set the picture. We had stopped at Booster Juice so she was standing in the computer store with this big container and straw, looking at what most sane people would call a junk store.
Anyhow, I catch the guy at the counter and he asks if I have the old stick. I don’t, but I spit out the important bits: DD3, 8Gig, 1600Mhz, 1.35volt. (Say that out loud for a second.) The look from my kid like I was talking some sort of space language…It’s enough, and he looks through a wall of RAM to find what’s needed. This tiny little thing and we leave the store.
There were a lot of questions in the car ride back. I start explaining what all that jargon means, and she asks that golden questions “why is it so complicated?”, followed by the geek question “can we build a computer?”. To answer “to make people feel smart” and “sure, but we need to to some studying first.”
Or perhaps, I should say the abundance of ridiculous choice. There are a half dozen viable choices of thermal paste today. RAM comes in multiple sizes, speeds, and voltages. CPUs are near indistinguishable (i7 has been around for 6 years). It’s near impossible to pick a motherboard, or know what you’re buying. And video cards…sweet baby jeebers – the GTX1080 has 3 variants (base, VR, TI).
And that’s aside from things like proper cases, power supplies, hard drives, and cooling systems. Feels like I need an engineering degree so that I have a chance to see reflections in a puddle. It’s such a ridiculously high barrier of entry.
I won’t talk about POST tests… argghgg
The PC market isn’t dying, it’s simply getting a smaller form factor. I do get that PCs are even more niche now, but let’s be honest, laptops are the way forward. At $500 you can get one that can do nearly everything you need, including some basic gaming. For $2500 you can get a super slim ultra powerful laptop too – know that it’s entirely covered by warranty, and that it will work when you boot it up. And with decent power management options, it can get through a day of work without charging.
I could build a PC for half the cost, but it would be physically stuck in a single place and 3x the size. It’s pretty hard to “co-game” with someone with a PC, while a pair of laptops is stupid simple. A port replicator gives that desktop feeling too.
- Sager/Clevo custom build (exact specs, great price, massive size)
- MSI make some amazing rigs, at different form factors. Stealth is almost an ultrabook. Titan is a tank. Raider seems a reasonable size.
- Alienware was bought by Dell and reports are all over the place. Build quality is strong, but cooling & fan noise seem to be a problem. They look amazing.
- ROG fits in-between the last two, with odd price points.
Key points I’m looking for:
- 16GB of RAM
- 256 SSD + 1TB of hard drive
- Upgradeable storage/RAM
- Thunderbolt 3 port (for docking/daisy chain to other things)
- GTX 1070
- Not enough games actually support ray tracing, and this card is still gives 4K, at less than half the price of an RTX2080.
- 8th gen i7 CPU
- 9th gen is marginal performance (5%) for ~$100 more.
- Solid cooling to keep CPU < 80, and physical laptop < 32
- Low noise levels when fans are at load
- Screen size isn’t all that important, but a 17″ would be nice
That fun stuff runs around $2500 – with that Thunderbolt port being the tough one to find. More digging required…and no real rush either.