Budget Digital DarkRoom

I recently purchased an NEC EA244UHD-BK from a friend who was switching careers. This is a high-end 4K business monitor from NEC’s EA series, that is able to be hardware calibrated and covers 99.3% of the Adobe RGB color space.

I tried using my current computer, a refurbished Dell Latitude E7440 (i7-4600U dual core) to drive the display and Lightroom, however there is so much lag on the monitor you can’t do squat. Thus, I decided it was time for an upgrade.

Initially I was going to purchase an 8th gen Intel NUC, powered by an i5-8259U. However, after purchasing this from B&H I consulted with a coworker who spends lots of time on Tom’s Hardware and he said I could easily buy a cheap PC that is more powerful.

I used PCPartPicker to spec out a new custom build, going as small as possible but also to fit under a $500 budget. Unfortunately, that ruled out Mini ITX. I came up with the following build and currently I don’t need a GPU, but in case I do I can always add on a 1050Ti for around $150 new.

PCPartPicker Part List
Type Item Price
CPU Intel Core i5-10400 2.9 GHz 6-Core Processor $182.00 @ B&H
Motherboard Gigabyte B460M DS3H Micro ATX LGA1200 Motherboard $73.98 @ Newegg
Memory GeIL EVO SPEAR Phantom Gaming 16 GB (2 x 8 GB) DDR4-3200 CL16 Memory $58.99 @ Newegg
Storage Kingston A2000 500 GB M.2-2280 NVME Solid State Drive Purchased For $0.00
Case Cooler Master MasterBox Q300L MicroATX Mini Tower Case $53.98 @ Newegg
Power Supply Rosewill 600 W 80+ Gold Certified Semi-modular ATX Power Supply $79.99 @ Newegg
Prices include shipping, taxes, rebates, and discounts
Total $448.94
Generated by PCPartPicker 2020-07-22 19:43 EDT-0400

Seeing how inexpensive the i5-10400 CPU is, I did some hefty research into its performance and it turns out that it is more powerful than my previous Intel build, which ran an i7-4790k. Naturally it is also more powerful than my most recent build which was on an FX-9370 (comparison here).

For funding this new hardware I will be relinquishing one of my Synology NAS devices, a DS214play, along with 2x 3TB WD Red NAS drives. I will also be selling my E7440 once the build is complete. I expect that I should be able to break about even, given $250 for the laptop and around $200 for the NAS and drives.

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