Previously in this series: PC Build Log 01
In my first PC Build Log post I discussed what motivated me to leave the Mac behind for work use and instead to dive into building a custom PC. Today I’m going to go over what parts I chose and how they stack up to what I might have purchased if I stayed with Apple hardware.
A Note on Software
Most all post production software runs on both macOS and Windows. The obvious exception is Final Cut Pro X. For my use case I primarily rely on Adobe Premiere Pro and DaVinci Resolve for the freelance color work I do. Both run on Windows and therefore I have no desire to try and build a Hackintosh PC that will boot macOS.
I may at some point in the future try and hack macOS to run just for fun, but three main things pushed me to go with Windows for my PC’s operating system:
- I didn’t want macOS compatibility to be a limiting factor in the parts I chose. The Hackintosh community maintains records of known compatible hardware and that is a great resource. However, I am building my PC for reasons besides price alone and therefore I didn’t want to make part decisions based on what would more easily run macOS.
- I don’t want to run a compromised or less stable macOS. Recent issues aside, macOS is very stable. On top of all the variables already present in assembling your own PC, I didn’t want to add an unsuported OS to the list. Also, it sometimes takes extra compromises or is impossible to get some macOS features like iMessage, AirDrop, and Handoff working. Since the main work software I need runs on both platforms, those creature comforts would be the exact reason for me to even consider hacking macOS.
- I’m already about as versed in macOS as most people get. As someone who fundamentally loves computers, I’m interested in seeing what working in Windows more will be like. I am broadening my skills by familiarizing myself more with Windows rather than wasting time cobbling macOS together on unsupported hardware.
My Part List
The excellent PC Part Picker website is essential for a first time builder in getting your head around what you need and what may or may not be compatible. Here’s a link to my PC Part List for this build and I’ll list it below:
- Case: NZXT s340 Elite in White
- Motherboard: ASUS PRIME X299-A
- CPU: Intel Core i9 7920X 12-core 2.9 GHz
- CPU Cooler: be quiet! Dark Rock 3
- RAM: 32 GB Corsair Vengeance LPX (4 x 8 GB)
- Boot Drive: 512 GB Intel 600p M.2 NVMe SSD
- Graphics Card: EVGA GeForce GTX 1080 Ti 11 GB FTW3
- Power Supply: SeaSonic FOCUS Plus 850W 80+ Gold
- Operating System: Windows 10 Pro 64-bit
For other components like secondary storage, keyboard, mouse, and monitor I am for now using existing spares that I have. Once I find a broadcast monitor for my color work I will add a Blackmagic card of some sort for monitoring.
How Does It Compare to a Mac?
I happen to think that Apple charges a surprisingly fair price for the workstation components you get in the iMac Pro. That said, if you can get by without true workstation components (most can) you will always end up with a cheaper PC. I present the below comparison with no editorial; you’re not wrong if you decide to buy a Mac even if it’s more expensive. Price is just one of many factors driving me to go this route. I’m comparing my build to the Apple hardware I would be considering if I weren’t building my own PC. Even though I’ll be using a 27“ Dell 4K monitor I already have, I wanted to add a comparable 5K monitor to my build price to be more fair. However, it seems no manufacturers are currently selling 5K displays besides the LG UltraFine which is really meant to go with Apple hardware. Given that you can get 27” 4K IPS monitors ranging from $250 to over $1,000, I’ll add $600 to my build to simulate buying a good monitor.
Like I said above, price is one factor in this equation. I understand this fails to capture things like warranty, support, physical ports, future upgradeability, and many other facets that make any computer purchase a very individualized discussion. All I can do is provide the information I have and what led me to my decisions.
That said, I’m at the exciting stage of the process now where all my components have arrived and I’m ready to start my build!
Note that graphics card and RAM prices are in a high state of flux right now and may not reflect the prices I paid below when you check them. ↩
This was…expensive. I hope all you crypto-miners are happy. ↩
Xeon processors, ECC RAM, not to mention that gorgeous 5K Retina Display. ↩
I hope it’s obvious why the 2013 Mac Pro is excluded from this comparison. ↩
Due to fluctuating graphics card prices, already having a monitor, and a significant discount on my CPU through a friend, the price I paid for my build is more like $2,900. ↩