Part 1: An Intro to Tom’s Build
Hi! I am Tom, the creator of the “Moore’s Law Is Dead” YouTube channel and Broken Silicon Podcast (there’s a website too!). As is custom, I will start by introducing my dog build:
That’s my current rig as of writing this article. Resting in a custom ordered Cerebus Sliger MATX case are the following core components:
- 600w Corsair SFX PSU (80+ Platinum)
- I7-6700K @ 4.3GHz
It used to be @4.6GHz, but now I need stability far more than 3% more FPS.
- The 50th Anniversary Edition Radeon VII
- 92mm AIO Liquid Cooler
I got this 7 years ago in college direct from an OEM distributor. They didn’t even sell these SFF AIO’s on Newegg at the time!
- 2 x 8GB of Corsair DDR4 @3600MHz 14-17-17-28
- 2 x 1TB PNY SATA SSD’s in Raid 0
And an additional Samsung SATA SSD I added to save my videos and podcasts.
- An assortment of various fans, scavenged from older builds.
I didn’t mention the motherboard because, well, all I remember is that it’s a High-End ASUS ITX board…and finding the exact model is not especially high on my list of priorities. My highest priority is maintaining a steady flow of content for my supporters.
Many new subscribers assume I have a Zen or Threadripper system (since I am supposedly an AMD fanboy), but the truth is these parts scavenged from an old Skylake rig continue to serve me well. To be fair I will likely upgrade soon now that I am a “creator,” but I am not in a rush. Speaking of rushed – time is the currency I most worry about now, and even if time wasn’t an issue – I always have to ensure I am spending the money I have most effectively, be it on other gear for video and podcast production, or other hobbies. A stronger CPU + Motherboard combination or better gaming card is far from the only thing I can buy. How I prioritize upgrades, and not just for PC’s…that is what this article will really be about. That in many ways is the best window into who I am.
Picture above you can see my desk layout. In the bottom photo I am actually working on my “Whispers of Golden Cove” video, rendering a new episode of Broken Silicon, and mining Ethereum at the same time. The reader may be surprised to hear that my RADEON VII isn’t quite maxed out, actually, and the i7-6700K is humming along at 80% usage.
Part 2: Prioritizing Purchases to Maximize Freedom
If I were to have bought a 3900X at launch, yes – the editing would be smoother, the chrome tabs would load faster, and perhaps the rendering would get done a bit sooner. But that 3900X would have gotten in the way of the October Camera upgrade (I hope you all noticed!), and in fact buying that Camera earlier in July would have delayed the upgrade to a Shure mic. Can you all see where I am going with this?
There is nothing wrong with spoiling oneself – one should not feel obligated to experience guilt when spending into diminishing returns with their chosen hobby. Having that little bit of extra performance can legitimately lead to a little bit of extra happiness. And extra happiness is one of the main reasons to store money, after all.
But if you store a little money over and over, it will eventually lead to a small pile of extra wealth, and that small pile can eventually grow into a large pile. Save enough of it, and money doesn’t just represent extra joy for a single hobby….it can also represent freedom.
- Freedom to afford to go where you want, and when you want. Want to join a friend on a last-minute trip? Extra money means the increased airfare won’t stop you. Yes, it would have been better to plan ahead for cheaper ticket prices, but maybe this spontaneity is what you really needed after months of work.
- Was there a game you expected to suck (Death Stranding), but then it turned out way better than expected? Go buy it right now if it’s just the tick you needed to recharge yourself in the evenings of this month.
- Has it been a long week that left you with no energy to cook? Extra money saved can mean a dinner out right when you need it, and there was no way for you to know in the past that this night would be the night you needed a break. Saving extra is the only real way to plan for that.
Yes, most people are quick to point out extra money can protect one from unplanned physical disasters, family emergencies, abrupt medical necessities, and retiring early…but it’s also a boon for being able to buy what you really want spontaneously when you really really want it. Extra money saved is not just about the responsible adult things you are prepared to handle; it is also about having the freedom to buy exactly what you want when you know you actually want it. Never forget what else you can buy with money besides a 2080 Ti, and never lie to yourself about why you are buying it. Maybe that 2080 Ti is that “extra thing” you want more right now than expected, but just be sure it will bring you more joy than the endless other things you could spend $1200 on…
I personally constantly strive to never allow myself to do mental gymnastics in order to convince myself why “it really does make sense to get a 2080 Super over a 5700XT because it only adds 10% more to the overall build cost” …I just stop myself when I start sounding like that. Those mental backflips are really lies, the truth would be: “I just want that extra 15% performance, and I want to goof around in Ray Tracing betas.” If that’s you, that’s fine! Treat yourself, and don’t let others talk down to you about how you should never buy anything fun and everyone should just own an RX 580 or something – we all have hobbies we spend too much on, and if something is a hobby, it is by definition for pleasure. I personally just admit it when I am spending extravagantly, ensure extra extravagance will bring me extra pleasure, and then I enjoy it!
Part 3: Prioritizing Purchases to Maximize Content for my Patrons
One thing I also always consider when arguing with myself about a purchase (yes, I often look like a rambling madman), is if my money could be better spent on more capabilities, not just a slightly better version of the same thing. One such capability I insist on keeping is literally the capacity to never stop creating on the go…and I mean really on the go. Another reason I haven’t upgraded my desktop yet, is I wanted to first make sure I could record, edit, and output videos to my Patrons while moving around:
What you see above is my 2019 Envy 13 with an i7-8565, MX250, 16GB of DDR4, and 512GB NVMe drive….and a massive 90w output power bank. You can see it rendering that video from “Hot Wings at Hot Chips” with Raja Koduri and Jim Keller. I had 15 minutes between Keynotes, and thus snuck into an empty student collaboration room (thanks Stanford!) to quickly edit the previous evening’s footage. In parallel my sound editor (Gerard) cleaned up the audio, and then sent it to me just in time for it to started rendering…. while I was literally walking.
That’s right, the laptop started rendering, I folded it up and hitched it to my mega power bank, and then I walked across Stanford campus with a piping hot editing bag! Oh, and this setup cost about as much as a single 2080 Ti, but it improved my capability and output far more than a $1200, 11GB card ever could.
As a recap of my long-winded point, let’s look back at my “expensive” purchases:
- I bought a seemingly extravagant OLED TV because it was the first model ever to finally combine the perfect black levels of OLED, fast response times, and 120Hz Freesync in one package.
- I have a Radeon VII because it is the best multi-tasker and professional-level card I could get outside of something 5-10x the cost.
- I have a Sony RX100 VII Camera because it allows for 960Hz video (to analyze tearing and response times), and it will allow portable ultra-high-quality recording for years. It also provides beautiful pics for my “Fly Over States” project…
- I have an editing notebook so small, and so efficient, that I will never have an excuse for not getting you guys regular videos…no matter where on Earth I am, I will have a netbook with me capable of making great videos.
- A new CPU and Motherboard are coming soon, but to buy it earlier would have interrupted the flow of content from me, and the 6700K wasn’t quite a bottleneck yet. By early next year I suspect it will be, and so the plan (that I am sticking to) is an upgrade around Christmas.
And that is the theme: Every buy is predicated on a purpose, on maximizing, on optimizing – for either more capabilities, higher quality content, or truly greater experiences. And if I am feeling wasteful – I make sure that an extra 30% really will give me extra joy. But unless you are a millionaire, I suspect there is almost always more productive ways to spend your money than an extra 10-30% frames in games. I’m clearly not a budget gamer, but I still have plenty of hobbies and pastimes – and I value having the freedom to buy and do exactly what I want, exactly when I want to. The price of some of the configs I see flying around on reddit and YouTube could fund an entire additional hobby for years!
Part 4: Ok stop Rambling, who is “Tom”?
There are many reasons I founded this platform, Moore’s Law Is Dead, and paramount was the tunnel vision I saw obsessing over 10% performance differences. But it was many other things as well: the wholly abhorrent misuse and lazy (mis)interpretation of rumors, and frankly just almost every channel sounding the same. There was room for a different voice (or technically voices), and I wanted to be one of them.
I don’t report on something if it was already said a hundred times before, instead I focus on bringing a fresh perspective, new information, and/or something unique. I aim to make people think, and entertain them too, hopefully. You may not agree with me, but as long as I made you consider a viewpoint you’ve not heard advocated before – I did what I wanted to.
Speaking of life outside tech, what’s that for me? I was born in Minnesota, but didn’t stay there long. My family moved all over the Midwest for my mom’s career (and my dad was in the military too). Actually, my parents really are the type of people who lived the “American Dream.” They come from meager beginnings, paid for college themselves, and worked their ways up the corporate ladder. This self-determinism rubbed off on me from a young age – I have worked to have zero debt my whole life, I live frugally, and try to never ask for anything from my parents…. or anyone really. I hate debt and dependency more than Cascade Lake-X.
I went to college at Michigan Tech to study Mechanical Engineering. I aimed (pun intended) to eventually design guns, and in fact I was on the rifle team. Off subject – I can get into as many armchair general debates as you want…especially if they involve history since I minored in International Studies (again, check out “Fly Over States”). However, I ended up professionally using my degree in the automotive industry due to a multitude of reasons involving location, availability, and a bit of destiny.
But at the end of the day there is one strand in my life that has always been true – I have always been interested in computers, and loved gaming. When I was young my family had to share one PC between the entire household (yes, I am that old), and yet I was definitely the one using it 75% of the time. Whether it was AOEII, building Rayman levels, or eventually pouring over random things on Wikipedia for hours – I was the “Computer guy of the family” at a young age. Admittedly though – it was cryptocurrencies in college that made me really become fascinated with PC Hardware. The rest is history – a slow, but inescapable path leading from Litecoin mining to my current exploits – a YouTube channels, podcasts, and website…
Outside of this channel I still enjoy riding my motorcycle (a custom upgraded Honda Grom), going wilderness camping, doing stand-up comedy, and often shooting a gun out here – in the center of the US of A.
I am the creator, director, writer, and show-runner of the Moore’s Law is Dead YouTube channel and Broken Silicon podcast. I also run the Political Podcast “Fly Over States,” and Patreon exclusive podcast “Die Shrink.” If you would like to support me (and the handful of people working with me to make this happen) – please consider joining the Moore’s Law Is Dead Patreon…or just share my videos/podcasts and talk about how cute my dog is to your friends.
With best Regards,
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