Maximum PC – December 2019
When it comes to building PCs, it enables you to spend your cash where it will have the most impact. Pump the lion’s share of your budget at the processor if you•re going to be doing a lot of number crunching, at the graphics card if you’re a gamer, or at the storage if you’ve got a lot of data to plow through or you’re building some kind of NAS. But what do you focus on when you’re building a more general- purpose system? Where should your hard-earned cash go?
This issue, we show you how to build such a system, with the added benefit that the resultant machine won’t break the bank. It absolutely works as a fully functioning PC, and thanks to shifts in processor capabilities, it will handle workloads that would have required much more expensive hardware only a couple of years ago. Even so, this isn’t really what the system is designed for—it’s meant as a foundation for a more focused machine. So, not only do we show you how to piece it together, but we then go on to show you how to upgrade it, depending on what you’ve got in mind.
When embarking on such a build. the initial pivotal decision is generally whether you should go for AMD or Intel. Given the recent shifts in the market. it probably won’t come as much of a surprise to discover that we’ve sided with AMD here, with the latest Ryzen 3 3200G. This uses a Zen* architecture as opposed to the Zen 2 architecture that can be found powering the rest of the 3000-series family, but don’t let that put you off what is an incredible budget powerhouse. If you wish to side with Intel. however. its slightly more expensive Core i3s would be a good starting point (with a similarly affordable motherboard).
Looking at the budget end of the spectrum shows that PCs really have come a long way recently, something that is highlighted by our big feature on the history of the PC (pg. 40). You may have an idea of how some of the bits and pieces that define the modern PC came about. but actually seeing how it all started makes for an epic story. and it’s well worth a read. It may change how you view some of the players involved.
Our other big feature looks at the best options for taking control of your password manager (pg. 52). It’s all well and good using an online service, but you’re not really in control, you’re just putting your security into the hands of others. What you should do is run your own server, possibly from your NAS, that handles all the hard work for you. We also show you how to take charge of your media, converting videos so they stream glitch-free across your network on any connected devices. Speaking of which. we also show you how to install Kodi on your Amazon Fire TV Stick, so you can get it to do so much more with your TV than simply stream shows from Amazon. Given how cheap Fire TV Sticks are. it’s a great way of making even the dumbest TV a smart device.