I finally did build it. Here are the parts (more for my benefit than yours). It was mostly based on what Logical Increments recommended for an excellent/outstanding tier. I bought up on the processor, doubled the memory, and got a much faster/bigger SSD because of deals I found plus wanting something that would be a good workstation in addition to a gaming machine.

All in all, I paid a little under $1,500 for everything including tax and shipping (about a hundred bucks less if you ignore tax and shipping). Was it worth it? Eh, probably.

  • Processor: The Ryzen has been more than fast enough for anything I’ve thrown at it so far, and I’ve yet to even really test it with video encoding or something that would really test having all of those cores. Usually, I’ve got 8 cores (16 threads) sitting around running mostly idle Chrome processes. Given how warm it gets, I’m glad I didn’t get something with an even higher thermal displacement.
  • Motherboard: The motherboard was literally the only X570 motherboard I could find in stock that hadn’t been marked up double or more. It was back out of stock minutes after I nabbed it. Everybody is building a PC during the pandemic, it turns out. I wish I had found one with onboard WiFi and BlueTooth but really it’s fine, and the X570 chipset will support the next generation of AMD chips should I ever upgrade (which might be doubtful.
  • Memory: 32GB was really about future-proofing since I’ve never gotten close to really needing more than the 16GB I had on my previous system. But it was pretty cheap and I might try some things with virtualization where the memory will be a limiting factor.
  • Video card: This was way more video card than I needed, it turns out. What I failed to account for was just how old the games that were struggling on my old onboard video card were. It turns out if you mostly play titles published 10 or 15 years ago, pretty much any discrete video card would have worked. Oh well, let’s call this more future-proofing in case I pick up a new game. The thermal displacement is also less than some older cards with approximately the same performance (or even some cheaper / lower performance alternatives I considered), so that was a factor too.
  • Storage: This feels like a pretty big upgrade. My last computer had an NVMe SSD, but only for the system drive. Somehow this one is much faster; big updates take seconds instead of minutes.
  • Power supply: I was worried that 550W was not going to be enough given the recommendation for 650W for the range of parts I was ordering. But when I measure the actual power usage, it turns out even this was massive overkill. Chok that up to a low TDP processor and very few peripherals. Power supplies were also very hard to find at the time I built this, and by opting for a hundred watts less than I was looking for I got a much higher quality and more efficient power supply than I would have gotten, and at a lower price. My actual system usage? 60W idle, in the mid-100W range under the load of a “demanding” (by my standards) game.
  • Case: This case was fine; it’s not as nice as the Fractal case I bought a decade ago, but it was reasonably easy to work with and fades into the room. I did not want a window on my case, but the few LEDs on my CPU fan that I didn’t care about actually look kind of cool through the mesh.

Overall, I’m happy with the purchase. If I did it again, I might change some things, but give how many hours it took to pick everything out (and how many times previous to this year I had also considered doing this), I’m just glad to be done. It’s been about a month now since putting everything together, and I’ve had no major issues.

The biggest upgrade I wasn’t counting on? Since my motherboard lacked a WiFi card, I actually had to move where the cable modem is (and where the cable comes into the house) in order to get it in the same room as my computer without running Ethernet the entire length of the house (and I’m not about to get up in the attic to do it the “right” way, either). I did not realize how slow my WiFi connection was versus a wired connection. Honestly, I’m not sure I had ever experienced “fast” broadband in my entire life, outside of an institutional setting. It’s pretty dang fast, and it would have made using my mom’s DSL when I go visit even more painful than it was before (fortunately she recently was able to upgrade to cable).

Next question: Would I rather switch to a different monitor? 1080p is starting to feel a little bit dated at this point. Granted, I’ve got two of them. But I’m using dual monitors for doing things that are useful to do with two monitors less and less. Honestly, when the new machine was done and I realized the motherboard HDMI port wasn’t working when the video card was in use, I just didn’t worry too much about it and started using a single monitor until I could dig out an HDMI to DP adapter. Except, that’s gone on for weeks now.

I think a larger 4k or similar resolution monitor might be a better fit for me. Roughly the same number of horizontal pixels, but with more total vertical pixels. The one thing you lose that I’ll be a little sad about is the hard denotation between the two monitors in certain situations where software segmentation of your screen just isn’t good enough. Mostly when you want to do something you’re sharing on one screen, and control the sharing on another screen. But honestly, that’s a pretty small percentage of my time at the computer.

So, probably yes, but that can be another day.

Officially, I’ve been a marketer for most of my professional career. Which is tough to say, because I abhor most marketing. The way I sleep at night is by sticking to and advocating for what I consider to be ethical marketing. That means, only tracking with consent, only tracking what I need, and focusing on using data to improve the quality of what I produce instead of selling something to you in increasingly finer granuality.

For me, ethical marketing also means staying off of platforms that don’t respect these rights. I deactivated my Facebook account over a year ago. For me, I prefer email marketing. The relationship is clear cut, between you and me. No third party owns the platform. In my day job, I try to do it right. I let you opt in, and if you later opt out, I respect that.

But I’m not an email marketing expert. I do try to pay attention to what other organizations do with their email lists, but that’s a little hard, because I intentionally opt-out of most brands and corporate email campaigns in my personal life. So when I do see some that I like, I’ll try to make a note of them here.

Recently I ordered a poster for my wife’s birthday. Here are the emails I got from the vendor.

  • Thanks for letting us add you to our email list, here’s 10% off.
  • Your order is confirmed
  • Did you know if you bought just a little more you’d get free shipping? Order more in the next six hours and we’ll wave the shipping on both orders with this code.
  • Your order is ready and being shipped, here’s the invoice and where to track it.
  • Hey did you know about our rewards program?
  • We’ve got a new poster, it’s 20% off for you
  • We’re making another poster, here’s a sneak peek.
  • Here’s a related product we offer for hanging posters that you can use with your new poster.
  • Our new poster is here! Here are random facts about it and a discount code.

All of these felt okay to me. Not obnoxious, not “here’s our catalog, please buy more,” not creepy personalized. Maybe people wouldn’t hate marketing and marketers so much if we all held ourselves to higher ethical standards, and focused on what customers want instead of what we want.