Alder Lake Refresh!

For quite a while, I have been having issues with one of my SSDs on my current gaming rig. Sometimes, it will just not be detected by the computer and the entire drive will just disappear. This can be quite frustrating when I need to start a game that was installed on that particular drive but just wouldn’t start because the data is missing. Initially, I suspected that the SSD might be failing, but after switching the SSD to another NVME slot, that missing drive problem went away. This is when I suspected that the motherboard might be having issues.

This wasn’t the first issue I had with the motherboard. Previously, I had issues with the sound output and Bluetooth connectivity, despite installing the proper drivers for those two that were built into the motherboard. Now, with the current SSD connectivity issue, I am pretty sure that the motherboard is slowly failing, with various connectivity not functioning as intended. For a while, I was able to tolerate these failings with various workarounds, but the latest issue with my SSD was the last straw that broke the camel’s back. Enough is enough. Not wanting to deal with missing SSD and missing files when I needed them most, I decided to do a major overhaul to my current rig. Thus, I went for Intel this time round.

Intel’s Alder Lake CPUs were just introduced a couple of months ago to rave reviews about performance improvements over the last-gen CPUs and the innovative implementation of ‘E’ and ‘P’ cores in their CPUs, leading to better single-threaded and multi-threaded performance without sacrificing too much in power consumption and ultimately heat. It was a step in the right direction that Intel finally took after playing second fiddle to AMD’s Ryzen CPUs that took the world by storm over the last several years. And while I don’t need that much of a performance coming from a CPU since I only used my computer primarily for gaming, I decided to go for the Core i5 12600K CPU, which comes with 6 ‘P’ cores, or Performance cores and 4 ‘E’ core or Efficient cores, making it a total of 16 threads. This CPU is the sweet spot for gamers, offering great performance, at a great value. There are more than enough cores for gaming and benchmarks after benchmarks showed the CPU outperforming a similarly specced, AMD Ryzen 5600x and even the 5800x CPU. So overall, good for Intel for getting back into the competitive CPU arena. Competition is good for consumers.

Because I am buying a completely different system, I had to get a new motherboard for the CPU. Along the way, I decided, on impulse to overhaul my cooling system for the CPU as well as get a new pair of RAM sticks that will play nice with the new Intel processors. While Alder Lake supports DDR5 RAM, I decided to stick to DDR4, since there is no tangible performance difference when gaming between DDR5 and DDR4. And since, DDR5 is selling at a premium, being new tech, I can wait. Finally for good measure, another SSD. SSDs and RAMs are pretty cheap now, hence the ‘add-on’ purchase I made on top of the motherboard and CPU.

I also built the new system in a new case, coming back to NZXT, with the NZXT H510 Elite case all in black. I built my first computer, in an NZXT case, called the Manta. It was my first built on an ITX system. I loved that case a lot. Building on the NZXT after so many years did not disappoint. It was easy and fuss-free.

The Kraken Z63 RGB AIO was a purely impulsive purchase. I could have salvaged my Thermaltake RGB AIO from my previous build, but then I realised that I will need new mounts for the new Intel chipset, which I don’t have. Coupled with buggy RGB software and clunky RGB controllers and hubs that needed to be used together with the Thermaltake AIO, it was just too much of a hassle to dismantle it from my old motherboard and re-wire everything back with all the cables. The Kraken AIO has a much simpler set-up. Coupled with an NZXT case, installation is such a breeze due to compatible parts from the same manufacturer.

The AIO from NZXT is not cheap. But it does come with an LCD screen on the pump. And the LCD screen is simply glorious. I love it when I can add custom animate GIFs onto the LCD screen to add some flair to my overall gaming rig. On top of that I can display the essentials like CPU and GPU temps, CPU and GPU loads and so much more, making it a very informative LCD screen right inside my gaming rig. It just adds a layer of playfulness to my rig.

Other things I salvaged from my previous rig include all the SSDs, NVME and SATA drives, since those things lasts a long time, my recently upgraded 1000W PSU from Seasonic and my most prized possession; the Asus TUF RTX 3080.

So what is the total damage from the new AIO, motherboard, CPU, SSD and RAM?


It’s pretty pricey come to think of it, for just an upgrade. I think I would have saved so much more, and get the overall costs down to S$1500, if not for the AIO. Yes, the AIO is more than S$300 alone. The motherboard and CPU bundle alone is pretty decent. It cost $888.

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