Software and Computer Engineering

My First PC Build

Time has come for me to upgrade my personal PC. I was using an Surface Book for some years now, but the hinge has grown unreliable and leads to frequent keyboard and mousepad disconnections during regular use. Quite frustrating.

With the university years behind me, I realized that I use my notebook most of the time at a single spot anyway. This mean that I can now harness the full power and cost-efficiency of a desktop setup.

One small caveat: I still expect to be able to travel with my PC as a carry-on luggage in flights, so it has to be small-ish.

Processor: Intel Core i5-12600K

Any desktop-class processor blows a same-year notebook-class processor out of the water. I wanted to go with the latest generation Intel processors, which was 12th at the time I was researching for this build.

My heaviest workloads involve multithreaded work, such as compiling or running virtual machines. I settled on the Intel Core i5-12600K. The 6 performance cores and 16 threads would be great for making short work of any compilation, and are plenty of resources to share between a host and a virtualized system.

I could've gone higher with an i7 or i9, but I wanted to keep the price reasonable and the cooling manageable. I also could've gone lower with an i3, but I could justify the expense as it improves my ability to do work, and I wanted to invest in a system that would be snappy for the next 5 years or so.

The processor model I chose also has integrated graphics, which will be needed since I don't plan to include a graphics card on this build. While doing some machine learning or artificial intelligence could benefit from a GPU, I don't do much of it and I feel that a general purpose beast of a processor would still enable me to get the same results with some additional patience.

NOTE: The integrated graphics card still allows me to play my favorite game, the 10-year-old Starcraft 2.

Motherboard: ASUS Prime Z690M-Plus D4

With the processor settled, the motherboard choice are narrowed down. The LGA 1700 socket requirements leads to only a few candidates and the Z690 is the best chipset that Intel provides, allowing us to make full use of this 12th generation processor.

RAM: G.SKILL Ripjaws V 32 GB (2x16 GB) DDR4 3200

I went for two sticks 16 GB memory, for a total of 32 GB of DDR4 RAM. I looked at DDR5 memory, but it was pricier, and the motherboard would have to be pricier to make use of it. Besides, I think more capacity of slower DDR4 memory would be more useful for me than lower capacity of speedier DDR5 memory, given my workflows.

32 GB is plenty for sharing with a virtualized system and running plenty of parallel memory-hungry processes. Maybe 16 GB was what I strictly needed, but 32 GB accomodates some headroom for the future.

Storage: SAMSUNG 980 PRO M.2 2280 500 GB NVMe SSD

For storage, you can't go wrong with a good brand, a fast device and enough capacity. I plan to offload archival needs to my 1 TB One Drive subscription anyway, so this 500 GB is enough for the system and projects I'm actively working on.

Case: In Win Cj712 8L

This was the smallest case I could find, it supports the size of the motherboard, was reasonably priced and fitted into a carry-on luggage.

This case also asked for a low-profile CPU cooler, so I went with the Noctua NH-L9i-i17xx. I didn't want to cheap out with the cooler because there is not purpose in having a great processor and being thermal throttled.