My current desktop dates to Jan/Feb 2011, and is starting to get pretty creaky (in fact, the motherboard was recalled a few months after I bought it but I didn’t bother with that). That was around the time that SSDs began to enter the range of affordability, though I still paid a comparative king’s ransom for my 240 GB drive. Since then I haven’t seen much that looked interesting in the desktop arena, whereas laptops, smartphones, and tablets have made big gains. There are a suite of things that have finally made the desktop interesting again (to me at least).
Since I’m now roughly planning on building a new setup in 2016, here follows my wishlist:
- Intel Kaby Lake: Intel’s Skylake processors were fine, but I don’t think they really wowed anyone. The problem was that Intel had introduced a large eDram L4 cache to its older Broadwell line which gave some remarkable performance gains. What we wanted was Skylake + eDram, which we didn’t get. The 2016 update to Skylake, called Kaby Lake, is rumored to include such a cache, however.
- nVidia GeForce 1000 series or AMD Radeon Rx 400 series: One of the big things in desktop computers these days is 4K monitors. Another thread has been monitors with high (120+ Hz) refresh rates (most ordinary monitors refresh at 60 Hz). The “Holy Unification” would be 4K + 120 Hz, which has hitherto not been possible due to bandwidth restrictions. However, next-gen video cards will include support for DisplayPort 1.3 which has the necessary bandwidth. I also hold out a faint hope for the “Holy Trinity”: 4K + 120 Hz + OLED, but I’m not holding my breath for affordability. Triple 4K monitors is the dream.
- 16/32 GB of DDR4 RAM: I am a browser tab hoarder, which is starting to push the limits of my 8 GB capacity, so this will obviously be upgraded. The question is to get a perfectly reasonable 16 GB, or spend a bit more to get 32 GB such that I can sail into the 2020s without regrets?
- SATA Express SSDs: Going from an HDD to an SSD was a massive perceptual cliff (when I use computers today without an SSD they feel genuinely broken). The next (smaller) jump will be getting an SSD that communicates via the PCIe protocol. I have to exercise some discipline with the storage on my 240 GB drive, so a major bump up in storage will also be a given.
The specs for my 2011 build, for what it’s worth, are:
- Intel Sandy Bridge 2500K
- AMD Radeon 6950
- 8 GB DDR3 RAM
- 240 GB SSD (I think only SATA 3 GBps at that) with some larger storage HDDs