I grew up in a house hold where my elder brother and dad were deeply involved with technology. I can still remember the first day my brother got a laptop. It was a Compaq laptop. It had a dual core Athlon processor, 1 GB of RAM and a Radeon graphics card with 512 Mb of dedicated video RAM. He had it hooked up to this really nice Samsung BWX monitor with a fully articulating screen. I just thought it was the coolest thing. Since then I have always dreamed of putting together my own ultimate set up.
I happened to be looking through my Google photos recently, and came across pictures I had taken as far back as 2012. So I decided to document my set ups and their progressions.
I had just had my HP laptop die on me (sorry no pictures of that), and my dad decided to help me out by getting me a computer in the mean time that I could use to finish out the school year before I got a summer job and saved enough money to get a better laptop. As it was, this machine was already a few years old, but it was exactly what I needed to get started. It had a dual core Intel processor and maybe 4 GB of RAM. It had a bad battery so if I wanted to move it I would have to shut down and move it. And every time I did it would take forever to boot back up. And remember that Samsung monitor I mentioned by brother used? There it is! I also was using a Mac wired keyboard, which is when I fell in love with the low profile keyboards. That paired with a simple Microsoft, basic mouse, rounded out the set up that would tide me over for a few months.
It was during the Summer of 2012 and I was working as a lifeguard to get some extra money. I saved up enough and decided that I wanted to pick up a shiny new gaming laptop. I ended up choosing an Asus because I had heard so many stories of their motherboards. The laptop was a beefy 6 pounds (not to mention the huge power brick), but it came with an i7 processor (4700 HQ if i remember correctly), 16 GB of RAM and a Nvidia GeForce 650 GT graphics card with 2 GB of video RAM. It even had its own dedicated mini subwoofer (see the picture below, to the right of the laptop). Rounding out my set up was, once again, the Samsung BWX monitor, and my trusty apple keyboard and Microsoft mouse.
I don’t have any picture from this time. But right around this time, I ended up dropping my Asus laptop on a binder (slipped off my bed). Also around that time I was really getting serious about programming and design work. So with a broken computer and me getting into the work force, my brother gave me a spare Mac Mini that he had lying around. That was the first time I learned to use and began to love the mac ecosystem. (Fun fact: I still have that machine and use it in my house as my TV PC, albeit with an SSD swap to bring it up with the times).
I remember it was my birthday. I had spent quite a few months with the Mac Mini and had gotten quite comfortable with it. My brother ended up surprising me by gifting me a brand new MacBook 15" so that I could better my skills as a professional (I was getting serious about web programming and design work). Above, you can see the MacBook Pro paired with a more modern Dell 1080p monitor. Paired once again with my trust (now more functional) Apple keyboard and Microsoft mouse. I also ended up adding a set of Logitech X-230 speakers with dedicated subwoofer.
So by now the MacBook was working out really well for me. I decided to turn my attention to the other hardware I was using. I had a steady job by now and decided to invest in some more serious hardware.
The monitor I upgraded to a cutting edge LG 4K (27UD68-W) monitor sitting on top of an all aluminium monitor riser. The laptop ended up getting perched on a Peak Design laptop stand. The Logitech speakers I swapped for a pair of AudioEngine A2+ speakers (with eventually a S8 subwoofer, not pictured here but you will see it in pictures further down). The keyboard and mouse got swapped with a wireless trio: Logitech MX Master mouse as well as an Apple Magic keyboard and trackpad. I ended up adding a pair of Audio Technica ATH-M50x headphones. Rounding out everything was a sit stand desk from IKEA. This set up was the main turning point from being amateur and going for something that would help me boost productivity.
Right around this time, I wanted to foray into gaming. So with the help of a friend I ended up building a gaming rig. It was fitted with an i5–6600K procesor, 16 GB of 2133Mhz Ripjaws RAM and ASUS ROG Strix 1080 graphics card fitted in a Corsair mid-tower chassis. I also ended up adding a Corsair K95 RGB keyboard and Razer Deathadder mouse. I upgraded my headphones to Bose QC35 II.
I ended up moving into two different apartments and the set up stayed the same. It had the perfect balance for me to switch between a dedicated gaming machine and a set up for doing my programming and designing.
Over the two years, I would add another 4K monitor, upgrade a few parts out of my gaming rig (graphics card and PCI-E storage). I also upgraded my headset hardware and went with a Cloud Revolver Gears of War edition headset.
This was another major milestone, because I gave my set up a huge bump. I started by adding an LG 32" (UD89-W) 4K monitor flanked by 2 4K 27" monitors. I eventually got rid of their stands and mounted them on monitor arms. I swapped my mid tower for a full tower. Bumped the processor to an i9–9900K processor, 32 GB of 3000Mhz RAM, an ASUS ROG Strix 2080Ti graphics card, and an ASUS Maximus motherboard. You can find the full specs here: https://pcpartpicker.com/user/rohanbhangui/saved/#view=jyKTCJ
A few months later I upgraded my aging 2015 Macbook Pro for a 2019 16" Macbook Pro with 32 GB of RAM.
I finally decided to ditch Intel and replaced my entire rig with a mini ITX build. You can find the story here. This allows my rig to be more portable and powerful.
What I learned from all of this…
This was my journey, 8 years in the making. I look back and remember how much each set-up changed how I did the things that I did with computers.
Did it cost a lot of money? Yes!
Was it worth it? Hell yes!
Would I do it again? Many times over!
My advice: Pursue your dreams, never lose sight of your target.