Power User Profiles: A YouTuber's DIY Dream PC With Matthew Perks

The team at Tom's Hardware is here to help you make the best computer hardware purchase decisions and squeeze every last drop of power out of your rig. We want to know what you use all those precious processor cycles for, which is why we've started a new series: Power User Profiles. We sat down with Matthew Perks, famed host of DIY Perks, to find out what make his PC so special.

1. Tell us a little about your background and what you do.

Howdy folks! My name is Matthew Perks and I run a YouTube channel called DIY Perks (see what I did there?), on which I publish various how-to guides on a variety of topics. These have so far ranged from making thermoelectric generators and LED studio lights, to custom PC cases and monitor lifts. I started the channel in 2012 as a place to log things I had been working on, but it quickly evolved into what it is today and it continues to develop as time goes on. Making the videos can be quite involved, as a typical project would require first to be designed and then built under the camera (I've been in some crazy positions for the sake of a good camera angle!), after which a script can be written and narrated, and then it can be all edited and published. It's good fun though and I love any opportunity to learn a new skill or work with a new material.

2. What kind of computer do you use for work?

Since starting the channel I've used an i7 2600k, with 16GB of RAM and a variety of GPUs over that time period. It did a good job for the most part (especially considering the age of the components!) but I've recently retired it and am now using my latest custom build, which is my rather usual looking 'Rope & Wood' PC.

This was definitely the most involved project I've worked on so far for the channel, as it required so many fine point design choices simply to make it all fit together. This included mounting an NH-D15 onto the graphics card for extremely quiet cooling, which needed to cool the entire card so that its compartment could be sealed air tight to eliminate the very audible coil whine that the card makes when rendering frames. The whole system makes barely a whisper under a full gaming load, so it was worth all the work. 

Thankfully I had a few companies who wanted to support the build in return for a mention in the video, so I was able to make it high-spec:

ProcessorIntel Core i7-8700k Overclocked to 5GHz
GPUZotac GTX 1080 Mini
RAM32GB DDR4-3000
OS Storage256GB Samsung 960 Pro NVME M.2
Work Storage2TB Western Digital Blue M.2 SATA
PSUSuperFlower 500W fanless
MotherboardAsus ROG Strix Z370i Gaming
DisplayDell UltraSharp U3014 30" Monitor
AudioBurson Audio PLAY (class A amp & DAC)

3. What are the most demanding tasks you perform?

Editing! I don't really care too much about rendering speed, as I can just do something else while videos render, but I do like the timeline performance to be smooth. Since moving to 4K footage this has been quite a challenge, and the system still struggles on occasion with my editing software; Magix Vegas. I think this is down to program optimization though, rather than hardware performance.

4. What apps do you run?

For work it's primarily Magix Vegas, occasionally using Adobe After Effects for additional graphics. When a project needs some CNC work Inkscape is my go-to choice, and I absolutely LOVE Fritzing for designing PCBs. I also enjoy photography so I do use Lightroom and DxO Optics Pro for that. Great combo.

I have a fairly focused workflow so that's pretty much it! 

5. Which of those apps or tasks would choke a mainstream computer?

Probably just editing, but even that is doable on a moderate machine. I was using a 2600K until very recently, so I think that mainstream PCs have reached a point where they can do most things reasonably well if they're not choked with software running in the background etc. I guess the PC industry is moving more slowly than it used to, which is disappointing as an enthusiast, but from a work perspective it's quite good because you're not thinking about hardware all the time and just getting on with the job instead.

6. What are your biggest bottlenecks on your current computer?

I'm not sure! I think it is a very well-balanced system, and there's plenty of hardware power. If it has a bottleneck I'd put it down to software. Magix Vegas does use the GPU for decoding, for example, but Nvidia cards do this poorly in comparison to AMD cards even a few generations old, so I think something is poorly optimized there. Unfortunately, I'm stuck with the GTX 1080 as it's not exactly easy to swap out in my custom build.

7. What are you currently playing?

I've been slowly working my way through Assassin's Creed Origins, but I also love the DiRT series of racing games and Rocket League! Having always been a PC gamer I missed out on most of the Halo franchise, bar the first one, which did get ported to PC. A family member surprisingly bought me a used Xbox 360 a few months back and so I've been playing through all the Halo games released to that platform, which has been wildly fun. I do feel like I've betrayed my teenage self though haha - I was so anti-game-console it's making me laugh thinking back at what I would have thought at my future self going over to the 'dark side'! "An FPS... WITH A GAMEPAD?!?!!"

8. Any questions for the Tom's Hardware Community?

Being a YouTuber, I don't do any written guides for my builds. I'd guess there's a large part of the internet that doesn't really bother with YouTube, so how strong is the interest for written guides to compliment the videos? Yay or nay?

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  • why_wolf
    While a video might be nice to show off a build. I've always found them to be close to useless in instructing people on how to complete the build themselves.

    I think this is because the level of granular footage required would just make the video obscenely long when most viewers just want beauty shots.

    Contrasted with written guides where length is usually the desired result.

    That all said at a minimum you should always put links or at least names of whatever thing you showing off in a video in the description so people can search for it easier.
  • Druidsmark
    I prefer written guides with really good quality pictures included to show me what to do my self. The last place I look for help is places like you tube, I all ways look for written help first when I look on the internet for help with a problem as I find this way of learning to work much better for me.
  • Bnystrom
    As someone who writes instructional material for a living, I appreciate the comments above. However, my current project has progressed past the written stage and has moved into video production. While not all material is suitable for video, where it works, it's invaluable, as a substantial percentage of the population are visual learners for whom seeing something done is critical to their learning. We also do online classes, but the 24/7/365 to online video is something that cannot be duplicated with classes and is far less time-consuming in the long run.

    Written text and pictures will always have a place in the instructional world, but video is also a very important tool.