Duncan’s PC [we built around 3 years ago] was really starting to show its age, and lacking anything major to buy him for Christmas (seriously, this kid’s sole item on his wishlist was a chess set!) we figured it was time for an upgrade. When we built the machine, his target was basically “just Minecraft” and now he plays a lot more diverse games.
He got my GTX 1060 6GB card when I got my RTX 3080, so he already had a modest bump in performance, but for things like Garry’s Mod the Ryzen 1200 was really starting to show its weak spots. I also had to bump my PSU up (the RM650x is, on paper, not quite good enough, though at the wall I reckon I had about 100W headroom on it, I decided to upgrade for safety/warranty purposes), so he was to get that too.
So what sort of sensible upgrades can we make without spending a stupid amount? It turns out, lots!
- Ryzen 3 1200 to Ryzen 5 2600: CPU is definitely what’s hurting him, so this was the first step. I looked at the third-gen Ryzen stuff, which his board would support too, but in Australia at purchase time it was about 50% more for about a 20% increase in CPU performance according to benchmarks… didn’t seem worth it, and going for a newer, but lower model was in all cases more expensive and worse on paper.
- 8GB to 16GB RAM: Buying a 16GB pair, which has finally come down a lot, also lets me take his 8GB single stick out and put it in Sabriena’s machine. So not only do they both get double the RAM, but they also finally get dual-channel memory which I later learned is much more important for Ryzen.
- Replaced his 240GB SSD with a 500GB Samsung, because Epic’s launcher is dogshit and has to unpack everything on C drive, and Fortnite weighs about 100GB these days.
- Replaced his 1TB beyblade with a 4TB one (I bought one for me also, because the 750GB 5400RPM drive from my laptop is making funny noises for about the last 9 months) so he shouldn’t struggle with space at all now.
So on the morning of Christmas Eve (when we open presents, for historical reasons but also for convenience), I looked up what firmware updates we needed to make to his AB350M-HDV motherboard to support the 2600, grabbed the binaries, and made sure I had a fresh copy of Windows 10 dropped on a USB stick. Before he woke up, I rebooted his machine and applied the firmware updates (mercifully, only two) so it was all set.
Installing everything went without a hitch, though it was time consuming to organize swapping the PSU over and I had to dig up the Type4 cable with a molex end for his front fans. Installed Windows, the GPU driver, Steam, and set about restoring games from the backups on our Samba server. Before lunchtime he was playing away, and things are a lot better. He’s really happy, which is great!
Here’s the finished parts list for 2020:
Anyway, today, out to Mum and Dad’s for the traditional dinner and a couple more presents. He also got a pair of Nerf guns he’s been eyeing off, from Santa.