Gaming Computer Upgrades

I last wrote about a computer upgrade back in 2008 when I re-established my geek-fu. It seems like I was upgrading every 3-4 years for a long time, but then the upgrades slowed down as my computer had enough horsepower for any demanding daily tasks and ‘fast enough’ for gaming so long as I was prepared to not run on max resolution and graphics detail on full.

Next upgrade came in 2014 with the following (I forgot to write about it at the time):

  • Asus Maximum VII Ranger Motherboard
  • Intel Core i7 4790 Quad Core LGA 1150 3.6GHz CPU Processor
  • EVGA GeForce GTX 970 Superclocked ACX 2.0 4GB
  • Corsair 8GB (2x4GB) DDR3 1600MHz Vengeance Pro
  • SanDisk Extreme II SSD 240G
  • Antec Eleven Hundred Black Gaming Case
  • Antec 620W High Current Gamer Modular PSU

Fast forward to September 2020 and it was time again, I was able to keep my existing case, PSU, DVD-RW and existing hard drives. Below was the new component and the first truly new item was the hard drive had changed from a 2.5″ solid state drive to a newer and even faster NVMe drive which basically looks like a stick of RAM:

  • Gigabyte Z390 Aorus Ultra LGA 1151 Motherboard
  • Intel Core i9 9th Gen – Core i9-9900K 3.6 GHz (5.0 GHz Turbo) LGA 1151
  • EVGA GeForce RTX 2070 SUPER 8GB GDDR6
  • Corsair Vengeance LPX 32GB (2 x 16GB) DDR4 3600
  • Samsung 970 EVO PLUS M.2 2280 1TB PCIe Gen 3.0 x4, NVMe
  • Cooler Master Hyper 212 RGB Black Edition CPU Air Cooler
  • Microsoft Windows 10 Home 64-bit

When we first moved to the USA, Hugo and Evie enjoyed playing the PlayStation and the idea of playing games on the computer just didn’t make sense and when attempting to wrangle the mouse/keyboard combination it was completely foreign. A few years later and the PlayStation is sitting virtually idle and unused, gaming has transitioned to the PC.

For Hugo’s 14th birthday, the big present that he really wanted was a new graphics card for the computer. Hugo would tell me that the GeForce RTX 2070 Super didn’t have the oomph needed to maintain 100FPS in taxing games, he was lagging and we all know, if you’re laggin’ you aint livin’ ;-).

To address said lag, we upgraded to an EVGA GeForce RTX 3080Ti 12GB GDDR6X memory. One hiccup we did run into with this upgrade, my Antec 620w PSU which was designed for the era previous GPU only had two PCI Express power connectors. I didn’t have a third with the correct connectors, so I ordered a custom made cable which arrived a week later. Suffice to say, once installed, the computer nearly lifted off the desk.

In June 2023, Diablo IV was going to be released and I wanted to be able to play it with Hugo but needed a second gaming machine. To address that ‘problem’, it seemed like a good idea to build a new blazing fast PC:

  • Gigabyte Z790 Aorus Elite AX LGA 1700 Intel Z790 ATX Motherboard
  • Intel Core i9 13th Gen – Core i9-13900KF 3.0 GHz
  • Samsung 980 Pro M.2 2280 1TB PCIe NVMe
  • Samsung 980 Pro M.2 2280 2TB PCIe NVMe
  • Corsair RMx Series (2021) RM1000x 1000w PSU
  • Corsair Vengeance RGB 32GB (2 x 16GB) DDR5 6000 RAM
  • Corsair 4000D Airflow Black Steel Tempered Glass ATX Mid Tower Computer Case
  • LG External CD/DVD Rewriter
  • Cooler Master Hyper 212 RGB Black Edition CPU Air Cooler
  • Microsoft Windows 11 Home 64-bit

I’ve put Hugo’s new GPU in the above PC build which are much better matched in terms of overall age and performance characteristics. In doing so, I’ve restored my ‘old’ computer from September 2020 to it’s former glory as I had a working GeForce 2070 Super sitting in an anti-static bag. Granted, not the fastest by today’s standards but it’s enough to play the new Diablo IV on moderate settings.

The costs of lower-end computer parts is relatively cheap today, which I’d say by comparison 10 years ago wasn’t as true. Prices have certainly moved on in that time, the 2014 computer components above were AU$1535 (~US$1380 at the 2014 average AU/US exchange rate of 0.9). By comparison, the 2020 components above were US$1840, the new GeForce 3080Ti GPU was US$1130 and the 2023 components were US$1850.

If I can get another year or two out of the 2020 component list above I’ll think that’d be pretty good overall value given that games are much more computationally expensive now, so I’m taxing that system more and more in the next two-ish years.

Washing The Car

It’s funny how a whole variety of experiences can trigger memories.

Growing up in Chinchilla, it was a small country farming town with about 2500 people in the town itself and surrounding areas. My parents owned and operated the local Ford car dealership named Lattimore’s Carey Ford.

A couple times a year, there would be public events such as the annual May Day Parade or local Chinchilla Show. All major local businesses would support these endevours and the township would come together to celebrate.

George would enter a collection of new vehicles into the parade and also have dozens of cars on display at the show for people to inspect. As preparation for those events, of course they needed to be spick and span, and as such were cleaned early in the morning, on the day of the event.

Living in Seattle, we have a generally cool to cold climate, especially across the winter months when the daily temperatures are between -5c and 5c. When I wash my car, every time I plunge my hand into the soapy bucket, it reminds me of washing cars in the cold mornings in Chinchilla. Your hands will get so cold they start to go pink and they get a strange pins and needles feeling.

It was always worth it though, there was a little kiosk nearby that had delicious sausage rolls, lammingtons & freshly made sandwiches!

Love you Dad, miss you heaps.

30 Day Challenge: Reducing Sugar Intake Results

At the end of March I started a challenge to reduce my daily sugar intake. I wasn’t setting out to remove sugar entirely from my diet, but to reduce the cakes, lollies, ice-cream and hot chocolates.

When I quit drinking coffee, I didn’t get withdrawal symptoms but missed the habit of having a coffee. When I started reducing my sugar intake, I missed the habit again but I really missed the sugary treats. Thankfully, that initial wave of withdrawal symptoms subsided after a week, not gone but that voice had been quietened substantially.

Across April, I was successful in eating a lot less sweet sugary items. I didn’t have any hot chocolates (they were a recent addition to replace a cafe mocha when I quit coffee) and I have mostly removed the cakes, lollies and ice-cream where I might have had them three or four times over the month.

I started the challenge at 97kg, I finished the month at 95kg.

I’m going to continue with my reduced sugar intake and maybe look to refine some other areas such as having a ‘normal’ sized bowl of cereal and replacing a glass of orange juice with a glass of water in the morning.

30 Day Challenge: Reducing Sugar Intake

I wrote recently about sustainable weight loss, I commented that through removing some really poor diet choices like Coke and moving every day that it had helped me lose 15kg and go from 108kg down to a low of 93kg.

I try to exercise most days of the week by going for a run or ride for 45-60min and on the weekend I’ll do something longer that is normally 2 hours plus. I’m pretty consistent with it, Strava tells me that I averaged 25-35 hours of aerobic exercise per month last year. To lose additional weight, the answer can’t be to add more exercise – I need to adjust my diet.

The recommended intake for an average adult is 2000cal/8000Kj per day.

As I mentioned in the post linked above, my diet is far from ideal and I could definitely clean it up by removing/reducing additional unneeded sugary foods:

  • Hot Chocolate – While I’m not drinking coffee at work, I am drinking hot chocolate. I did some quick searches in Google and they contain ~200-250cal. Most days I have one, some days I’ll have two.
  • Ice Cream – Most nights after dinner I’ll have a small bowl of ice cream. I weighed it last week and while it isn’t a lot by volume/weight, it is rich and comes in at 150-175cal. The timing on this is also not great, your metabolism slows down in the afternoon, so taking in unnecessary food at night isn’t ideal.
  • Cake – I discovered something called a Pound Cake, it is a vanilla sponge type cake. When I’m working from home, I’ll usually have a piece of that at morning tea.
  • Lollies / Chocolate – I often have a variety of different lollies or chocolate in the house. Not an every day item, but it is frequent and could be reduced.

My goal is to reduce or remove items like those above from my diet over the next month. I’ll make a point of weighing myself at least once a week to see if it is having an impact or not. As of this morning, I am 97kg and ultimately I want to be under 90kg. I don’t expect to lose 7kg in a month, but I’d be happy if these small changes re-starts my weight loss trend as I look to find a new sustainable normal.

Stay tuned.

30 Day Challenge: No Coffee Results

A month ago I decided I was going to stop drinking coffee for 30 days and said:

I’m going to stop drinking coffee, which will give me a new baseline for what ‘tired’ feels like. I’ll start going to bed earlier to help my body recover better and maybe my blood pressure will come down. Even if the latter doesn’t happen, getting more sleep is a good thing and maybe I’ll feel more alert, clearer in mind, better able to tackle the day.

I’m happy to report that going without coffee or caffeine was remarkably easy and I didn’t notice any significant withdrawal symptoms despite the high levels of coffee I drink. While I didn’t miss the caffeine especially, I absolutely missed the ritual and habit of having a coffee. Throughout the day, there are so many points where I always have a coffee and suddenly not having one felt weird.

Another good habit of not drinking coffee, I’m naturally drinking a lot more water. While I do drink water across an average day, I’d generally get most of my liquid intake through coffee so this was a heathy improvement.

I had hoped that I could find some objective measure that quitting coffee had an impact. Coincidentally, I have a Garmin Fenix 6 running watch and it measures a lot of different aspects of your health on an ongoing basis.

Heart Rate Variability

According to Garmin, a HRV between 60-80ms is a normal range. While I have periods where it is in the normal/green zone, I am often orange (slightly below) or even red (significantly below). As soon as I stopped drinking coffee, my Heart Rate Variability started to improve and has remained consistently in the normal range.


One of the goals of this challenge was to go to bed earlier and get more overall sleep. My total sleep time has increased slightly, but I haven’t been very successful on this goal yet.

However, while I’m not getting a lot more sleep, my sleep quality has improved significantly. In the lefthand side of the chart below, my sleep quality is lower overall and also quite variable. After quitting coffee, it has improved on average and varies a lot less.

While drinking coffee, I could get to sleep easily but I’d often wake up throughout the night – sometimes one or twice and on a restless night maybe up to five times. Over the last month, on average I’m not waking up at all and my Garmin watch is measuring single digits of ‘awake’ time. Caffeine is a diuretic, which causes you to need to urinate more often and during the night I am not getting up for any bathroom breaks either which is great.


Stress can be caused by a lot of different factors such as physical, emotional and many more. I don’t think caffeine on its own is responsible but it might contribute to it since it is a stimulant. Regardless, my stress levels have trended down and are more stable than beforehand. This might in part be due to getting better quality sleep and being more rested/recovered each day.

Blood Pressure

I haven’t taken my blood pressure many times over the last month, but it has been in the correct range which is good. If I can adjust my schedule and increase my total sleep time, I’ll definitely start checking it more often to see if there is any change or if I feel the low blood pressure by getting dizzy or light headed with certain activities.

I’m going to continue with my no coffee effort & report back if anything changes once I adjust my sleep schedule.