For Christmas my wife handed me a small package and said, “This is the best Christmas present ever!” I was a little skeptical considering the box was obviously too small to contain anything that could possibly be considered the best Christmas present ever. I opened it up and inside was a small piece of paper that said, “ a new computer”. Below the piece of paper was a rather large stack of $100 bills. She was right it was the best Christmas present ever!
My wife has always been supportive of my hobby as a PC gamer. She knows I love playing PC games and even more that I love building the PC to play them on. My last build was in 2011 and even though that system is still more than capable it is beginning to show its age. I have been considering doing a new build and was not looking forward to trying to justify to her the need for the expense of a new build. She obviously knows me well and her unsolicited preemptive Christmas present blew me away.
My 2011 build was an i5 2500k with a GTX 570. I used to normally do a new build every 2-3 years but my wife had quit her job to raise our son, so finances were tighter and I had to stretch this build longer than normal. I breathed new life into it by adding a Samsung 850 Evo 512mb SSD and upgrading the video card with a GTX 970. I normally always went with that middle-high class of parts since I was always in a pretty quick upgrade cycle. I believe this new 2017 build will also need to be stretched out 6 or 7 years, so I've decided to go with an i7, GTX 1080 to make it viable for as long as possible.
The first decision I made was to make this new build completely from scratch without using any parts from my previous system. I wanted to keep my older computer functional so that my son could use it to play co-op games with me.
My next decision was that I wanted to use part of the budget to give my battle station a makeover. I wanted a new desk and a layout that didn't feel as cramped as my last.
The decision that was hardest for me to make was to abandon my 3+1 triple screen surround setup. I've been a triple screen gamer for quite some time achieving it through the SoftTH software before Nvidia added single card Surround support with the 600 series of video cards. I've been a strong advocate for triple screen gaming, however the disadvantages were starting to wear me down. Although more and more games are starting to natively support triple screen, very few of them implement it correctly. UI elements on either side of a triple screen setup can make your neck sore. A few good games put all of the UI elements on the center screen. Even fewer truly great games let you customize the UI positioning. The other issue was that since not all games support triple screen, I would periodically have to switch to my +1 monitor to do single 1080p gaming. Using the +1 was a lot easier than dropping the surround configuration on the bottom 3 monitors all the time.
So after some research I decided a 21:9 ultra wide was the way to go for me. I could still get the immersion of a wider viewport and have the simplicity of a single monitor. It looked like my best two choices were the Acer Predator X34 and the Asus ROG Swift PG348Q. First of all these guys are expensive at $1000-$1200. Second it is my opinion that both of these monitors are aesthetically unappealing to me. They both appear to be marketed towards some “gamer” stereotype I've never seemed to find myself belonging to.
Luckily, I discovered the Microboard M340CLZ. It does 3440x1440 at 100MHz using a Samsung VA panel. Unfortunately it is a free-sync monitor and does not support g-sync. It was only $699 but I had to take a risk and purchase it off eBay and have it shipped from South Korea. I am glad I took that risk. It is an amazing monitor and I'm glad I got it. I only hope the quality holds and it lasts many years.
I've included a picture of my old setup to illustrate the improvement of my battle station makeover. I'm not actually a big fan of flowers however those 4k videos were some of the best content I could find to showcase the monitor. This monitor photographs better than any monitor I've seen. It was almost like taking a picture of a picture.