My PC Diary: Week 2

Posted by Matt Birchler
— 3 min read

Well, it’s been almost 2 weeks since I got my new PC and wanted to give an update. Specifically, how well is it doing compared to the 4 primary needs I had for it?

  1. $1,000-sh price tag
  2. Great performance, specifically for Creative Cloud apps
  3. Top shelf gaming potential
  4. Web development

$1,000-ish Price Tag

As I said on my podcast episode last week, I wanted to spend no more than a bit over $1,000 on this machine. I ended up dropping $1,200 after tax which puts this in line with a low-end Mac Mini and the absolute lowest end iMac. In terms of specs, it’s not even close. We’re talking 2x the CPU performance, 2x the memory, and literally 10-100x the graphics performance.

But what impressed me about this is that the $1,200 I spent is actually less than basically any other comparable system I could get from anywhere I can find online. For example, the apparently well-priced NZXT would bill me almost $300 more for the same machine, and buying the parts myself would have saved me just a couple bucks.

TLDR: I was happy with the pricing from Dell when I bought it, and I’m even more impressed with it now.

Performance for Creative Cloud Apps

I’ve used Photoshop a few times and it’s been night and day compared to using it on my 2012 Mac Mini, which makes sense considering the age difference between these machines. But beyond that, it’s definitely much faster than the maxed out 2015 MacBook Pro I use at work, so for me it’s the fasted Photoshop Machine I’ve ever used, so I’m happy.

The Intel Core i5 9400 seems plenty quick for now, and since this is a totally modular PC, if I ever feel I need an i7 or anything else that’s faster, I can just buy the chip and swap it in.

Top Shelf Gaming

This has been an unbelievable home run. I’ve spent most of my time playing Forza Horizon, which runs at a silky smooth 60fps at 1440p and all graphics settings set to ultra. The hardest game I’ve thrown at it is probably Call of Duty Modern Warfare (2019) with also does 1440p and 60fps with all graphics settings, including ray tracing, turned all the way up.

My next game on the list is Control, which might be the first game to show any limits at all, but we’ll see. My hope was that this machine would play CyberPunk 2077 better than my PS4 Pro and it looks like that is going to happen, which is awesome.

Web Development

If there is one area that has fallen down for me, it’s web development. This part has nothing to do with the specs, it’s the software. Windows is just hot garbage compared to macOS in my opinion for web development.

The first issue is the command line, which is not the UNIX-based system I use everywhere else. I need to just install the Ubuntu…something on my machine so I can do what I want, but it’s annoying to work from a system that has such a fundamentally different terminal experience from my websites.

The second issue is the garbage collection of apps for doing dev work. I’m poised by things like CodeKit and Transmit for the Mac, and nothing on Windows gets even close to these for me. Local dev work is a pain and for FTP I need to use CyberDuck because apparently that’s still the easiest to use, nicest looking FTP app for Windows in 2020, which is just insane.

At least Visual Studio Code is here and works as wonderfully as it does everywhere else.

General Feelings

Overall I feel great! In terms of price-to-performance, I think I came out way ahead, and in terms of the computer being able to execute the games and software I wanted it to, it’s an absolute champ. I still don’t love Windows, but since I’m mostly jumping into game launchers and Photoshop or XD files, it’s not hurting me that much right now.