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OCC's Recommend Holiday Build Guide


Introduction to the Holiday Build Guide:

It's that time of year when gifts are being given and Consumer Electronics Show (CES) is only a month away. Why not purchase yourself a new computer with all that unused vacation time you are about to be paid out from work? Or maybe grandma's in a giving mood to help you achieve some higher education. It's even possible you're using a computer that is starting to feel a bit dated. Well, you are in luck! OCC has put together a parts list that will get you rocking and rolling in no time. I myself am just waiting to get the wife's approval and it is just a matter of time before she feels sorry for me and gives in. But until then, I'll just have to keep drooling over all the awesome new gear that has hit the market so far this year.



Build Choices:

This build guide is focused solely gaming and getting the best "bang for the buck" so to speak. A byproduct of this are things like RGB lighting and color theme builds go out the window due to budget restraints. On the low end, every dollar saved from an unnecessary, flashy setup can be put to better use. However, nothing is set in stone and you are free to adjust and spend a few dollars more to purchase things more to your liking. But whatever changes you make, just be sure it is compatible. If you unsure, feel free to hit up the OCC forums and ask for help.

On that note, I am not loyal to one brand, but my lists do consist of parts I would buy myself instead of putting together a list of the cheapest possible combinations. I also avoided rebates due to needing to pay more up front. Since I opted out of the rebates, you will find better hardware for a similar price if you are willing to fill out the paperwork. I also listed alternate choices for most of the parts, so if something is out of stock or if you have a distaste for a certain brand, the option is available to choose.


Current Video Card Market with Cryptocurrency and DRAM shortage:

Whether you like it or not, cryptocurrency is here to stay and has greatly impacted the gaming community so far in 2017 due to high demand for mid-range video cards. Prices for AMD video cards are inflated due to a strong demand because of their performance (hash rate) to wattage ratio. AMD cards have always excelled in OpenCL and hash rates compared to NVIDIA, and it was a no brainier that if a miner bought an RX 480 at $200 it would outperform a $600 NVIDIA GTX 1080 when mining certain cryptocurrencies. After a nearly complete depletion of AMD stock earlier this year, miners switched to the GTX 1060 and GTX 1070 as a means to stay in the race to mine the most before the feared bubble popped, like Bitcoin mining did in 2013. This meant by August 2017, all mid-range video cards were either out of stock or double the MSRP, and being sold by third parties on the open-market.

Since then, things have settled down a bit after the large boom of miners around May 2017. Difficultly of mining overall has increased since more people are aware of it (plus miners themselves) and therefore requires more GPUs to achieve the same payout. Small scale miners that only had two to six cards almost all dropped out and those with 6-12 GPU mining rigs are soon to be next. There will always be "Alt Coins" to mine and possible large payouts, but the big three (Bitcoin, Litecoin, and Ethereum) are no longer feasible to mine using a small number video cards, even in a mining pool. It will take until mid-2018 to see a possible return of normal prices, unless a new Alt Coin pops up causing another buying boom.

So why are the prices for video card still high even if miners are moving on? The answer is a bit a of mixed bag. While small scale mining is a lot lower, people are creating mining farms that need more cards than ever before. On top of that, East Asia had floods two years ago that affected DRAM production, among other things. Add to current unexpected low yields from Samsung, Micron, and others due to manufacturing defects when transitioning to 10nm manufacturing. All these factors have driven up the price as demands continues to grow with no end in sight. It is not only computers that use DRAM, but video cards, smartphones, and gaming consoles all use DDR4 in some form, which contributes to the overall demand.

It is looking to be at least another six months before things start to clear up. Until then, computer memory and video cards will be higher than MSRP and future generations of video cards will be adjusted to reflect what the current market demand is.

  1. OCC's Recommend Holiday Build Guide: Introduction
  2. OCC's Recommend Holiday Build Guide: 1080p Low Budget Build
  3. OCC's Recommend Holiday Build Guide: 1440p Medium Budget Build
  4. OCC's Recommend Holiday Build Guide: 4K High-End Budget Build
  5. OCC's Recommend Holiday Build Guide: Alternative Parts List
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