This isn't really news as such, but it is important (to me at least). I finally made some decent upgrades my PC for the first time since I built it in late 2011. When I built my PC, I built it with the idea to not have to upgrade for at least 2 years, and I think it's lasted me fairly well considering its been over 3. To give you an idea of what I changed, the original specs were:
CPU: Intel Core i7 960 (3.2ghz)
Mobo: Asus Rampage III Black Edition
Ram: Corsair 24gb DDR3
Graphics: EVGA GTX570 SC Edition
Storage: WD Black 1TB HDD (Windows install) + 2 x 2TB Seagate HDDs.
After setting a budget of $900, I spent some time doing research and discussing the upgrade with a friend. I knew I wanted to stick with nVidia for the graphics card, as I have had issues with AMD in the past (and the fact that nVidia was offering the Witcher 3 with their cards at the moment was a bonus). I considered simply upgrading straight to a GTX 980, a card which in Australia retails for around $800 - $900 depending on brand and retailer.
However while looking around at prices for the card, something was niggling at the back of my mind. Solid State Drives (SSDs) were around when I built my PC two years ago, but were very new and not really cost effective for what I was doing. Now however you can pick up an SSD for reasonable money with a decent amount of storage. This convinced me to make some changes to my plan.
The final upgrade? An EVGA GTX 970 SC with the ACX 2.0 cooler, a Samsung 850 Evo 500GB SSD, and a Cooler Master Hyper 212 EVO CPU cooler.
Replacing the stock CPU cooler took the most time out of all of the work, but has actually made a huge difference with heat and opens up the possibility for me to overclock. Where before I would idle at between 50 - 60C, I now idle at 39C rock solid. During gaming my CPU no longer hits temps higher than 90C, but sits at around 60C - 70C, and the fan no longer sounds like a small aircraft trying to take off. I have no idea why I didn't make the change ages ago, especially considering the reasonable price of the cooler. If you are having issues with noise, and you are running the stock CPU cooler, definitely consider the upgrade to a quieter, more efficient aftermarket cooler.
A clean install of Windows went onto the SSD, and two things I noticed immediately were the startup load times, and the noise. My old WD Black HDD was noisy, as that series of HDDs is intended for use in server farms where noise isn't a massive factor. The SSD makes zero noise, due to the complete lack of moving parts. For the load times, my old install of Windows would take a solid minute and a half to get to the desktop. On the SSD, that has dropped to 30 seconds.
As for the graphics card, there is no way that it could be worse is there? I kept the GTX 570 in there as a dedicated PhysX Card to help take the load off the GTX 970 (at least until I can afford a second one to SLi with). Because I am not aiming for 4k resolutions with my gaming, I'm pretty sure this card will handle most upcoming games at High, possibly even Ultra settings.
So that's the new improved TetrisPC. I want to take a moment to give a shout out to the fluffiest of FluffyMules. Your help in selecting the right SSD was invaluable, and having someone who is as interested in computer tech as I am to bounce ideas off is a great resource to have.