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Walsingham

Economics? No widget buying?

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I noticed that Skeeter's is quite as the grave just now. Are we ALL economising on kit?

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"It wasn't lies. It was just... bull****"."

             -Elwood Blues

 

tarna's dead; processing... complete. Disappointed by Universe. RIP Hades/Sand/etc. Here's hoping your next alt has a harp.

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Pretty much, yeah. I *want* to spend, but the stuff out there really doesn't justify it yet. I mean it's like a laundry list of stuff I *should* be getting, but am not for one reason or another. One overriding one is the relative weakness of the Aussie dollar - down about 15% from the highs of last year. Not a huge amount, but still a disincentive to spend, whether it be importing from overseas or buying locally.

 

I want more RAM, after one of my four sticks died this year I'm down to 4GB from 8GB. But the prices have been stupid since January, so I'm not going to bite.

 

I want more storage, both spindle and solid state (or two). But WD's 4TB Red drive took over a year longer to come out than its competitors, and I'm still waiting for reviews on that. And there's nothing too exciting in the SSD arena: Crucial and Samsung have new(ish) mainstream ones with good capacity, but the Crucial M500 is outperformed by its predecessor, and the Samsung EVO uses less durable TLC NAND. The pick for performance is probably the Sandisk Extreme II, but the lack of competition is disappointing. But I should probably get a new platform first anyway before buying a shiny new boot drive. Speaking of which:

 

Haswell. What a damp squib that turned out to be. Great for mobile applications, but almost a pointless release on the desktop - at least in terms of a "tock" (Ivy was a worse upgrade, but at least it's understandably so). And of course, AMD have done nothing outside the APU arena except for the silly stunt with the 200W+ overclocked chips. I'm ready to upgrade from my first gen Lynnfield - if not for performance, for new features like UEFI boot, USB3 and SATA3. but not when all on offer is this. And Intel's chipsets are still rationing out those ports as if we were in a world war anyway.

 

And in other miscellaneous tech, Blu-ray burners continue to be pointless with stupid media prices, there are still no "legitimate" 120Hz non-TN LCD panels, the post-LCD display techs are still AWOL, and there aren't any GPUs that can reasonably push demanding games at 4k (quad-SLI Titan doesn't count as "reasonable").

 

 

Anyhow, rant over. And I actually did buy a piece of tech: another Logitech M570 trackball. I have one for my HTPC, and have bought the new one to replace the wired equivalent I was using for my laptop. I don't know why people gush about Valve discovering a new way to control your console/PC in the living room, the tech's been in production for decades.

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Got big plans for a new PC. Wont happen until mid next year though. Then I'll be going for a workstation build :)

 

As for gadgets... I have been forced at gunpoint to carry an Android phone at work (which usually means all my waking hours). Would never buy one. I've always loved computers. Never was into gadgets.

 

Only gadget I would consider is if my now 20 year old Moulinex toaster decides to commit Seppuku on me. Long may it toast my sandwiches still.

 

@Humanoid: You are preaching to the choir when it comes to BD media. I've had a dual layer (50GB) burner for years. Never bought a single disc to burn in it. In the end, external USB HDD's are cheaper per MB. Ridiculous but true, buy a handful of external HDD's instead of the BD discs (and put virtual BD images on them if you really need to) =]


“He who joyfully marches to music in rank and file has already earned my contempt. He has been given a large brain by mistake, since for him the spinal cord would surely suffice.” - Albert Einstein

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After that hit on my savings to get a working pc, I'm economising in a big way. Although one of the fans on my graphics card has started to make grinding noises whenever I boot up, so I'm kind of crossing my fingers and hoping it doesn't go on me in the next few months.


"Cuius testiculos habeas, habeas cardia et cerebellum."

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Yeah. My Novatech (UK company) desktop is soldiering on like a champion ever since I upgraded the power supply to the fanciest I could find. I have a backlog of games from 2010/2011 so why on earth would I need to upgrade?

 

Actually, maybe it's just down to all those Steam sales... :)


"It wasn't lies. It was just... bull****"."

             -Elwood Blues

 

tarna's dead; processing... complete. Disappointed by Universe. RIP Hades/Sand/etc. Here's hoping your next alt has a harp.

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I could run out and build a new cutting edge PC if I felt like it ... but my old i7 still runs everything like a champ and there's no peripherals that I care about...except maybe for another external storage/backup HDD. So why bother. In a year or three, perhaps.

 

And I like gadgets, but usually not enough to buy them. They tend to fall into the "that's so cool/neat-o, but I"d never actually use them and they'd just be paperweights" category.


“Things are as they are. Looking out into the universe at night, we make no comparisons between right and wrong stars, nor between well and badly arranged constellations.” – Alan Watts

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Maybe I spoke too soon. I've been thinking about it, and might go ahead and build myself a NAS before the year is out. My HTPC's storage is pretty much saturated, and has always been pretty cumbersome - 2x4TB internal drives, 4x2TB drives in an external enclosure, and 2x3TB external HDDs - so it's been a long time coming. Thing is, I knew, and indeed know, very little about NASes. But no matter, I'll dive in and learn as I go. I assume I'll be using FreeNAS or whatever OS is the fashion these days.

Obviously my needs are somewhat different than the typical home NAS. I don't really care the slightest bit about functionality beyond being a pure data store for the time being. So consumer NASes are out: anything beyond four bays, which is about the limit as far as reasonable prices go, is right out. So are the ubiquitous HP microserver-based builds, which only house four drives. So realistically the only thing I can go for is a custom build.

Provisionally:

AMD A4 APU on the A88X platform

I wanted to go with a "real" drop-in CPU for a variety of reasons: flexibility, performance, and upgradability - especially considering that if I decide this NAS business is not a keeper, it'd be easier to repurpose such a box. I went with AMD over Intel primarily because the A85X/A88X (the difference is compatibility with future "Kaveri" APUs for the latter) offers eight SATA ports as opposed to six for the Intel platforms (and I do mean *all* Intel platforms). I already have six HDDs to transfer into it, plus the SSD I'll need as the system drive, I'd prefer not to have to deal with SATA expansion cards immediately. The fact that AMD is cheaper is just icing.

 

Fractal Design Define R4 case and Seasonic G360 PSU

I initially considered the smaller Define Mini, but I need all the 3.5" bays I can get. So for a box that'll just sit in a corner somewhere out of sight and out of mind, I don't mind the extra bulk. The Mini is the case I'd use if I were to build a new desktop system for myself today, for what it's worth. The Seasonic G360 is peerless in its class. Granted, not many competitors even make such a low output model, but it's still an excellent, near silent product that I'd recommend for even proper gaming systems (provided they use no more than one mid-range video card).

 

Silverstone AR01 CPU cooler

A full height tower cooler might seem ridiculous overkill for a NAS, but I'm not taking any chances with noise. I was very much unsatisfied with the acoustics and performance of the stock AMD cooler for the A10 system I built (for someone else) a few months ago. I'll use one of the Nexus 120mm fans I have lying around as it's superior to the stock Silverstone one. At the loads the CPU will encounter in this application, I could try running fanless, but it's probably not worth the effort since I'll have case fans to cool the hard drives anyway. I have no particular attachment to this particular cooler, it's just the cheapest 120mm tower cooler I can conveniently get my hands on. (For anyone looking for an excellent but affordable cooler in general, I recommend whichever is the cheapest for you between this and the Coolermaster Hyper 212, though I recommend buying your own 120mm fan for either of them rather than using the stock one. That said, the Silverstone stock fan is better than the Coolermaster one.)

 

Netcomm NP504 Ethernet over Powerline adapters

This is probably the reason I'm been umming and ahhing so much about the idea of a NAS: my HTPC is connected via wi-fi, and I live in a rental so installing in-wall ethernet ports is not an option. So it's high time I tried this. Fortunately I'll only need a pair of them, I'll arrange it so the NAS, my desktop, and my router/switch are in the same room.

Edited by Humanoid

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I don't know what about Wals has done this to me, but now I'm also tempted by another gadget, the Asus Transformer Book T100. Yeah, it looks like one of those woefully underpowered netbooks from years gone by, but with Bay Trail, it looks as if Intel finally has Atom performance at a point where it's useful for more than being a punchline in a joke. I'd prefer it a little larger than 10" (oooh, matron), but at under $400, when I'd been sort of thinking about alternatives like the Dell XPS 12 and Lenovo Helix/Yoga/whatever convertibles at well over $1000, it's probably a safe investment. The gimmick isn't new, the form factor isn't new, but for my purposes I just needed the design translated into a Wintel machine instead of the ubiquitous ARM-Android devices.

 

 

It also means I no longer have to umm and ahh over whether the Haswell notebook I intend to purchase next year should be a ~12" device like the aforementioned, it probably seals my choice of a Lenovo T440s.

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Well I didn't see the 290X coming. All the other R9 variants are warmed 7-series units, but this monster video card appears to be mostly new and completely volcanic in performance and power consumption. And for half the price of the $1k Titan, yet equally capable. I can't believe I just wrote that. 

 

Overkill is overkill, for this widget, though. I'm content to game at 1080, down here where $200 is appropriate for stunning-enough graphics. And a lot quieter. They say the 290X in Uber mode could be confused for the noise of a wind tunnel. I'm assuming the partner manufacturers will develop some more efficient cooling. But at least it's fun to know 4k gaming just became one degree more available. They said you won't even need that little Crossfire bridge connector thing anymore.   


All Stop. On Screen.

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Liquid cooling is your friend when you get tired of having the vacuum cleaner noisy desktop standing next to your desk :)


“He who joyfully marches to music in rank and file has already earned my contempt. He has been given a large brain by mistake, since for him the spinal cord would surely suffice.” - Albert Einstein

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Won't be upgrading GPU for at least 3 months, will wait until 2015 for a new system. I am waiting on delivery of parts for a fanless PC that I'll use as a server/htpc/???.

Edited by AwesomeOcelot

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It's an interesting halo card to be sure, but the real news will be when the R7 290 (non-X) comes in - the NDA lifts on the 31st. If it launches at $450 we may have a new effective ceiling for video card pricing. After the 7970 launch price of $550 (and to a lesser extent the 680 at $500), which were followed by the ridiculous Titan and the only slightly less ridiculous 780 ($650), it would be a refreshing change for the high-end to once again be defined at a sub-$500 level.

 

We have this tantalising pseudo-leak:

 

u7se.jpg

 

Is Titan performance* for only 55% of the price good? Well how about 45%?

 

 

* To be fair, while it makes a good headline, yes, but then Titan is such a stupid product that it makes comparisons with it mostly hyperbole. More relevant is GTX 780 here. 290X soundly beats it for $100 less. Nice, but you have extra costs with custom factory coolers or user-installed ones. 290-non-X for $200 less? It ends the value debate instantly.

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This baby just arrived. 

 

http://www.wacom.com/en/de/creative/cintiq-22-hd

 

I was a bit worried about complaints about the quality of the surface coating on many wacom products and this one in particular. The anti glare goes produce a noticable shimmer, the effect is best described as the screen looking like it's a bit dusty. I'm happy to report that once I got going I didn't notice it at all. It's an awesome tool. I can drag the whole thing onto my couch, the cords are extra long. 

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