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Your dollar can go a LOT farther these days (mostly)

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Aug 2, 2012
Prepare for a bit of a wall of text, but I promise it should (hopefully) be worth your time.

One of my favorite things I have found with PCPartPicker just recently is having my history saved so I can see how pricing has changed.

All through college I built a new PC every 9-12 months, but never went high end. AMD Athlon/Opteron, Intel E-Series, i5, Phenom x4, FX-8, etc. Last time I build a PC, a few years out of college, I decided to finally spend something significant on a PC and have it last. I finished my signature build a little over 5 years ago. DDR4 had just released, and I decided to get the very best DDR3 PC I could (within reason). But as I go through the process of building my new PC and adding parts to my PCPartPicker Inventory, I'm noticing some interesting numbers:

i7 4790K - $170 in 2016
i5 12600KF - $225 in Nov 2022

the 12th Gen i5 K has 2 more cores, 4 more threads, plus 4 new efficiency threads; almost a full GHz higher boost clock, and 2.5x the L3 cache. And it seems like benchmarks show more improvement than those numbers suggest. Plus, with the current 1700 platform, I could theoretically go 13th Gen i7 / i9 in a year or two after a BIOS update (which I was hoping had been done at the factory). But I got a 12th Gen i5 K for ~30% less than the 13th Gen equivalent, so I'll call that a win.

4x8GB DDR3 2133 CL 10 (G Skill) - $185 in 2016
2x16GB DDR4 3600 CL18 (G Skill) - $85 in Nov 2022

I don't know if the CAS Latency difference at these speeds makes an impact. I decided I didn't want to pay the enormous premium that CL 16 seems to demand right now. Other than that it's the same amount of RAM, for less than half the price, with an upgrade path to 64GB. Another win.

512GB NVMe PCIe 3.0 TLC NAND (Intel 600p)- $165 in 2017
1TB NVMe PCIe 4.0 TLC NAND (Samsung 980 Pro) - $99 in Nov 2022

I hopped on the NVMe train pretty early, I think. So I paid quite a bit, but Samsung was just so overpriced back then, I couldn't justify it. Intel was a reputable company I knew would be reliable, especially since I had seen so many of their SSDs being the cutting edge in the past (the first PCIe x4 SSDs I can recall seeing, for instance). It has been every bit of what I had hoped. I've never been able to flash the firmware on it (maybe because the OS is on it?) but I've more or less had a single stable Windows 10 installation for more than 5 years, with very little degrading performance. Boot times, game loading speeds (of assets on that drive anyway), and general system responsiveness are all still perfectly acceptable. But I can get twice as much (MUCH faster) storage for 40% less, from the best in the business? OK. Another win.

Samsung 34" 3440x1440 60Hz 4ms Curved Ultrawide VA Panel - $645 in 2017 (Refurbished)
Samsung 34" 3440x1440 165Hz 1ms Curved Ultrawide VA Panel - $400 in Nov 2017 (New)

The form factor of the 34" curved ultrawide has me absolutely hooked, but high refresh rate versions have been crazy expensive for years now. You still pay a premium for features like GSync, OLD/QLED, etc. But an equivalent monitor with more than double the refresh rate (plus FreeSync Premium if one is the AMD GPU type) from the same brand is 40% less than it was 5 years ago. I didn't buy a new monitor yet, but seeing an actual upgrade of my monitor for less than I originally paid is enticing.


Now, all that said, SOME things have not gotten better...

EVGA 1080Ti FTW3 - $789 in 2017
GPUS - FUBAR from 2019 - Q3 2022

Well... EVGA doesn't exist any more as far as GPUs. And everyone knows GPU pricing has been... What it's been. So there's no real direct comparison. Best I can find on PCPartPicker right now is the 3080 12GB FTW3 for $1,500, or the 3080ti FTW3 for $1,750. But I know EVGA prices are inflated right now. A cheaper option is the Zotac 3080ti for $965. Either way, a decent uptick in price. Another option could be a 3070ti, which is more or less on par with the 1080ti given the generational improvement over 20 series. The 3070ti FTW3 is almost $1,000. And the cheapest option is about $700, so not ridiculous.

Pricing has been insane more or less since right after I bought this 1080ti. I realized at the time for the first time in my life I was buying the very best PC component on the market. I saw people selling it for $1,000+ in 2021, and those people probably mined crypto with it. Benchmarks still show it is only beaten by (as far as I can tell) 3080+ GPUs. So I'm going to call the 1080ti my win, and keep using it. I can still max out (or use preferred settings) on all of my games at 3440x1440 60Hz.


I guess if I'm trying to make a point, it's this. The GPU market for the past 3-5 years has made the whole enthusiast PC space feel kind of... impenetrable. When you're paying $200 for a 1050ti in 2022, something has gone wrong. And when the baseline for high refresh rate 1440p gaming becomes a $1,000 GPU (plus the rest of the computer, plus the expensive monitor), I completely understand people's frustrations. But when it comes to general computing, things are looking up. GPU aside, you can get a LOT more horsepower for the same price or less, and that's after 5 years of market shifts on top of technological advances.

If you made it this far, and ask nicely, I can post some picture of my trumpets or my Gunpla. One or the other. Not both. How dare you...

It has seemed impossible to build a PC for a couple years now, unless you were willing to spend thousands. These days, I think we are in an excellent position to find great deals on hardware. Just because something brand new came out doesn't make yours slower. Only when you look at those benchmark charts. But when it seems like tech has advanced far enough (or your PC isn't cutting it any more) and prices have stabilized, try to find the right time to strike. If you're on anything older than 8th Gen (no Windows 11 support) now is an incredible time to build a PC that might not have all of the highest numbers out there, but will be an absolutely worthwhile upgrade.
There's no doubt this is a wall of text, lol...Interesting to see some of these things! :)

RE: CPU: Try comparing flagship to flagship... does the 'song remain the same'?

RE: RAM, that's a tough comparison. 32GB (8GB sticks) was high density for DDR3 and four sticks to two. I'd say DDR3 CL16 is the going CAS rate though. I wouldn't want CL18 these days (not that it makes a big difference, but...). DDR5 has also been out for a while now which throws the comparison off even more.

I really think those curved ultra wides are love/hate. The resolutions are odd and some games don't support and stretch. Otherwise, they look cool, but I prefer a normal aspect ratio, personally.

The impossible part the last two years was with GPUs. Otherwise, as you've noted, prices haven't been terribly out of whack (at the specific price points you're looking at, mind you...).

One thing that's missing from this comparison are motherboards (and DDR5)......................Mobos, especially anything with PCIe 5.0 (Z690 and Z790, X670/B650) tend to be MUCH more expensive. DDR5 is out now too. It was INCREDIBLY expensive just a few months ago, now it's just expensive (compared to DDR4).
It's an interesting comparison.

CPUs and GPUs have gone full stupid in recent years at the high end. It used to be simple, buy as many GHz as you could afford for the CPU cores. Now, it's how many cores do you need for what you do.

Ram seems to go in waves. Early adopter fee, then it calms down, and reaches full maturity before the next generation fee. There's been wide fluctuations depending on supply as well.

Monitors....yeah that's an interesting one. I suppose the ultrawide/high refresh/choose your buzzword specs all have their premiums until mass adoption.

FWIW, I love my 34" UW, for work or play.
If you're comparing over inflated GPU pricing, why not also compare it when it's on fire sale? $1099 3090Ti

Also, a $699 MSRP 3080 can run your monitor at 1440p/165MHz.

According to the Google, a Ryzem 5700G can run 1440p from 30 to 200+ fps depending on the game. All for $359 MSRP (much cheaper now.)

Again, according to the Google, average PC memory in 2016 was 6Gb. You had more than 5 times the average memory in 2016. 32Gb is becoming more and more common now. But I would say 16Gb is still the norm. Which means that 2016 RAM to today's RAM cost would be $40ish vs $40ish.

Technically if you buy CPU/MB from Microcenter you can get DDR5 for free..

It's hard to compare when you aren't comparing apples to apples and technology has also changed from apples to oranges.