In one of my jobs I had to select the processors for the shared compute resource for a major US bank. I would load up all the processor family information from the web along with some benchmark data into a spreadsheet. I would graph a “bang for buck” chart that was usually a pretty simple arc. Smaller processors were cheap, but somewhat weak. Bigger processors with more cores were pricey and you usually paid a premium for the very top end. The answer, some what boringly, was always something in the middle. But it was good to have data to back this up. After all, we were buying thousands, if not tens of thousands of units.
With a home PC it isn’t so simple. I’ve been building PC for decades and I’ve settled on a Rule of Thumb. Spend about $100 each for the motherboard, CPU, RAM and disk. It doesn’t have to be exactly $100 and you can move this around depending on your needs (and how much you want to spend). I’m also recommend last year’s tech. It’s usually more solid and you can read reviews and you don’t pay the premium for the Latest and Greatest.
Upgrading my sons old gaming machine. It has an MSI B250M PRO-VD motherboard. Today it goes for well over $100, but being made for 6th and 7th generation Intel CPUs, you can guess this is just pricing of an old item in stock for repairs. The CPU is an Intel i7-7700 3.6 GHz. Today this sells for over $200 refurbished and even almost $350. Again, I didn’t pay this much new a few years back. This is just old inventory for people that need to make repairs or have other unusual legacy needs. Otherwise there is 16GB of DDR RAM and 500 GB of SSD disk.
I may be upgrading this, keeping the case and power supply. Here’s what I would pick today. Going to stick with a similar MSI motherboard, but one with on-board Wifi. Here’s the list:
- MSI B560M PRO-VDH – $129.99
- Intel® Core™ i5-11400 Desktop Processor 6 Cores up to 4.4 GHz – $147.95
- Patriot Viper Steel DDR4 32GB (2 x 16GB) 3600MHz – $92.99
- 1 TB m.2 SSD Gen4 – $89.99
Doubled the RAM and disk for less than $100 each but went a bit over on the motherboard. As far as Intel CPUs, they seem to keep getting more and more expensive. But this isn’t the place to skimp.
Oh, the GPU. Used to be optional, but this is for a gaming PC. I’ll save that for another post.