Well that's good. Fantastic. That gives us 20 minutes to save the world and I've got a post office. And it's shut!
Thursday, July 27
One of the tricks with the USB Type-C connector is that both the plugs and cables are reversible - plug in either end, either way up, and it just works.
They do this by having two pairs of wires and crossing them over in the cable, so whichever way you connect it you are connected to the right pins at the other end.
It's also possible to do this by having a smarter USB controller chip that crosses the signals over itself. That way you only need one set of wires - or you can use existing cables with two sets of wires and run twice as fast.
The engineers who design this stuff can see the obvious too, and just announced USB 3.2, running at 20 gigabits per second, up from 10 gigabits for USB 3.1 and 5 gigabits for USB 3.0, and roughly 2000 times faster than USB 1.0.
Now if they can just use it to replace SATA cables, I'll be happy.
The Mediapad M3 is pretty great, but suffers an odd problem: If you touch the bottom edge of the screen, just above the home button, it opens a Google web page. Completely useless but immensely irritating if you're playing a game and try to tap on something and BOOM Googled!
Speaking of the Mediapad M3, it looks like Nougat (Android 7.0) is finally showing up. Users in Europe are already getting the update, but it hasn't landed for US devices yet. (And mine is technically a US device.)
Assuming that Huawei hasn't screwed it up, that will remove my last hesitation on recommending this tablet. I couldn't be happier with the hardware, but the software needed some tweaking.
(Tohru has an R7 1700 and an RX 580, which is a few percent faster than the 480. And a 4K screen. And I picked up Civ 6 for about $20 in the Steam summer sale.)
That's better than I expected; the RX 580 is marginal for 4K gaming, and I was expecting to have to drop down to 1080p. Not that that is really a hardship. But it seems most of the benchmarks are for actiony games that I don't play anyway, and for strategy stuff it does a lot better.
It's to use as a spare PC for watching TV and arguing on Twitter in the bedroom. It replaces Potemayo, an old HP laptop running Windows 8.
Cost me $250 on sale - about US $180 $200* - and despite the limitations (Atom CPU, 2GB RAM, 32GB SSD) it's actually pretty good. The screen is much better than the 5-year-old Potemayo; it's a TN panel, but a good one. The CPU is faster (though still slow), the memory is adequate, though barely, and the SSD is a thing that exists. Considering that a Windows 10 license alone is $150, I'm not going to complain.
Mostly, though, it gets a wifi signal. Potemayo always had lousy wifi, and it's been getting worse as the airwaves get more crowded. That's what got me out of the house on the weekend to buy a new computer - I wanted to watch some Flying Witch and got the no wifi for you message.
Shana has no such problems, at least so far.
For a device that has clearly been built to a price rather than a performance level, it's surprisingly well-made. It's light-weight but solid, the keyboard is crisp, the screen is bright and colourful, and overall it's a slim, sleek, and attractive little device.
There's also a 14" model with 4GB ram and a 64GB SSD, which is probably the way to go if you want to use it for anything more than watching anime. I can see Windows 10's eternal upgrades eventually eating that 32GB SSD even without installing any applications.
It does have three USB ports and a micro-SD slot for storage upgrades, and I stuck in a 32GB card for my files, but Windows wants its C:.
For 1/10th the price of Tohru, Shana delivers 1/10th the performance, has 1/10th the RAM, 1/10th the storage, and 1/10th the pixels. About 1/10th the weight as well. This seems fair to me.
The Dell Inspiron 27 7000. The model I'm looking at has a 4k screen, 8-core Ryzen 1700 CPU and 16GB RAM, a Radeon RX 580 graphics card with 8GB RAM, a 256GB SSD and a 1TB disk drive.
It's 15% off for the next week, so instead of paying a little more for the convenience of an all-in-one system, it's actually cheaper than I could build myself. Particularly right now with the extinction-level event that's hit mid-range video cards.
Update: Order placed! I added a three year warranty, three year accidental damage insurance, a speaker system and their fancy Bluetooth keyboard and mouse and it still came out cheaper than the bare system was before. (The US models ship with the fancy keyboard, but for some reason they went with a cheaper one in Australia.)
Tohru will be a little sister to Taiga, my 2015 Retina iMac. Yes, tiger and dragon. No, I didn't specifically plan that.
Update: ETA was two weeks when I placed the order. It's now two days for the system, which is great... And two weeks for the keyboard.
Update: Keyboard just arrived. That was a quick two weeks!
Update: Tohru has shipped! Keyboard is currently showing an ETA of Sunday...
Update: The keyboard is very good. Similar feel to Apple's full-size keyboard (not the terrible "Magic" keyboard), but a bit firmer and with a little more key travel. I paired it with my iMac via Bluetooth and it works fine. The mouse also works perfectly with the iMac and has proper buttons and a scroll wheel. This is great because both keyboard and mouse can pair with three devices, so I can have one keyboard for Tohru and Taiga and Azusa and hot-switch.
Dell really needs to make a version of this keyboard with Apple key labels. It's better than anything Apple currently sells.
SMR Drives Are Not The Fastest Things In The World...
Actually, they're bimodal. If you try doing random writes to an SMR drive (like the Seagate Archive models) you can hit 1000 IOPS for the first 20GB of data, after which it will plummet to about 5 IOPS. This is because they implement a WAFL cache.
For reads, they're just like any other hard drive.
Currently backing up 20 million files - about 5TB in total. Transfer completed, verifying now.
So do these drives have some sort of battery/supercap backup? Or do they rely on being installed on servers which likely have a UPS?
Posted by: Kayle at Saturday, July 15 2017 10:14 PM (y53xD)
I think they have a small amount of flash storage. The latest models definitely do - all of Seagate's current range of 2.5" drives are SMR. The Barracudas have 1GB flash, the Firecudas have 8GB.
The WAFL cache is on-disk; the flash is used as a level one cache and a directory for the on-disk cache. In addition to that, they have a 64MB or 128MB RAM cache.
Posted by: Pixy Misa at Saturday, July 15 2017 11:25 PM (PiXy!)
I just learned something the hard way. While Corsair power supplies do have modular cabling, the cabling is NOT the same from model to model. (My 750 watt one blew up after 5 years. Just slapped in a 1000 watt replacement. This one even has a USB port for monitoring, unfortunately I'm out of USB headers. I may have to move the pins to the other half of the header for the port for the CPU cooler.)
Posted by: Mauser at Sunday, July 16 2017 01:25 PM (TYvUn)
I have a bag full of spare Corsair modular cables, but no idea if any of them would work for you. Sucks that they can't even standardise in-house though.
Posted by: Pixy Misa at Monday, July 17 2017 12:22 AM (PiXy!)
Oh, the replacement came with a full set. It was a Refurb unit. Although the one thing they didn't check was that two tips from one cable before it was returned were broken off in the socket and had to be teased out with a micro screwdriver.
The question is should I go through the trouble to make a warranty claim on the old one (Which after 5 years is capped at 50% of the value). I don't NEED an extra PSU, and I'm not desperate for money.
Posted by: Mauser at Monday, July 17 2017 05:45 AM (TYvUn)
Had to transfer files from some old servers to their replacements this weekend, so I can shut off the old servers and save money for new toys.
First I thought I'd make sure the new servers were all up to date, so I did the usual apt update; apt upgrade dance and they didn't boot anymore and instead showed an absence of bootable drives and a kernel panic.
Which isn't possible, because without a bootable drive there'd be no kernel to panic, so I knew something else was going on. Fortunately at that point I was logged in on the console using VNC (which sucks when you have to use it from the other side of the planet, let me tell you) and was able to coax them both into booting again from an older kernel. Seems there's something amiss in 4.4.0-81 and -83 on these particular machines, though I have others running just fine.
Thankfully it was nothing worse; once I purge the newer kernels both machines rebooted just fine. Now the file transfer is running and I can just leave it to do its job; it's about 30 million files so it will take a day or so.
Update: And there's a bad drive on one of the new servers. Yay. At least I can hand that off to someone else to sort out.
Update: Went to the bathroom, came back, and they'd replaced the drive for me. These guys are good!
That's a nice-looking machine, although I wish there were more CPU options.
Weird picture you've got there. Makes you wonder where the CPU cooling is. Also, it looks like the GPU is integrated onto the motherboard--no upgrading.
Posted by: Rick C at Saturday, July 08 2017 07:15 AM (ECH2/)
Also, *sigh* I think I'm going to try again this weekend--probably an Asrock Taichi X370 + 1600X + 16GB of (maybe) G.Skill TridentZ RGB 3200 RAM: Newegg has a special.
Posted by: Rick C at Saturday, July 08 2017 07:17 AM (ECH2/)
And yeah, an option in the middle with a 1600 (and maybe a 570) would be nice. In Australia they only offer the entry level and top end models, but fortunately I'm after the top end model.
That picture is from the service manual after the heatsinks have been removed. There are two big flat heatsinks over the CPU and GPU with copper heat pipes to the fan. Not a configuration I'd want to overclock with, but it should work fine for me.
The GPU is the only thing you can't replace. The whole system board including the GPU is user-replaceable, but you'd need an exact match from Dell for that.
The other thing I like is they offer a 4-year warranty with in-home service for a reasonable price, so if it goes phut in 13 months I just call them up and use the Mac until they show up to fix it.
Posted by: Pixy Misa at Saturday, July 08 2017 01:43 PM (PiXy!)
That does sound pretty nice.
As far as OC, I got 300MHz on the 1400 before touching the voltage at all. The BIOS had an adjustable fan curve, too. I don't know how much you could get out of that blower fan (I hate those) until it got too noisy for you, but small speed boosts seemed quite effective at dropping temps. Of course, it may not work as well in a laptop-style case.
Posted by: Rick C at Saturday, July 08 2017 02:35 PM (ITnFO)
Round 3: 1600X, I wound up going with the Gigabyte Aorus AX370 Gaming K5, and 16GB of Corsair 3000MHz RGB RAM.
I cheated a bit and didn't install Windows--instead, I used the installation that was already there. I may reinstall, not sure. I didn't configure anything in the BIOS, so the RAM is running at 2133, and the CPU at stock speeds, but it booted the first time! (Next up: see if it survives a reboot.)
Posted by: Rick C at Sunday, July 09 2017 07:02 AM (ITnFO)
Update: It did survive first reboot! Also flashing to AGESA 18.104.22.168 so I could up the memory to 2933MT/s. While gaming I saw all 6 cores peg at 3700MHz, and a couple times one went to 4100.
Posted by: Rick C at Sunday, July 09 2017 01:16 PM (ITnFO)
So I'm finally ready to place an order for my new PC - I'm thinking an AMD Ryzen 1700 - and I just took a look online to see what the situation is with video cards.
On the AMD side, there are no Radeon 580 or 570 cards available, and no 4GB 560 cards either. Only the 2GB model, which doesn't have enough memory for effective mining, and the low-end 550.
On the nVidia side, there are almost no 1070s in stock, and the price has jumped on all of them, stock or not. The cheaper 1080s are all gone. The 1060s are all gone. There's some 1050s and a couple of 1050 Ti cards, and there's some 1080 Ti cards available if I want to spend $1200 on a video card.
I may go ahead and just get a 1050 Ti until the situation improves. I don't have much time to play games at the moment anyway.
Update: Wait, Newegg now ships to Australia. They have some RX 580 cards in stock at non-inflated prices, but only in bundles with the Ryzen 1700X. Hmm.
Update Part Deux: There's also this puppy:
It offers an 8-core Ryzen 1700, 16GB memory, Radeon RX 580 8GB video card, 27" 4K IPS display, and a 256GB PCIe SSD + 1TB spinny drive. It also has HDMI in so it can act as a monitor.
I checked the service manual, and memory, SSD, disk drive, and even the CPU are user-upgradeable. It does cost a bit more than building it myself, but still a lot cheaper than my iMac.
That CyberPowerPC I bought started crashing regularly while playing GW2. Also, every once in a while I'd start it up and it'd go "hey, you maybe wanna plug in a hard drive?"
So back it went. Sigh. Guess I'm gonna be ordering from Frys or Newegg, a new set of components.
Posted by: Rick C at Wednesday, July 05 2017 08:44 AM (ITnFO)
In US terms the prices between the two procs are only $50. Then again, my 1600X, while I had it, pretty much ran all 6 cores at 3.7GHz the whole time, so sans overclocking, there's probably only a 100MHz speed difference between the 1700 and 1700X.
Posted by: Rick C at Wednesday, July 05 2017 09:40 AM (ITnFO)
Posted by: Pixy Misa at Wednesday, July 05 2017 11:15 AM (PiXy!)
Man, it's driving me up the WALL.
I think I'm going to go for a 1600X again. Just not sure at all about the motherboard. Not interested in SLI, don't need a ton of SATA ports. An M.2 capable of doing 4x PCIe and a pair of SATAs will be fine. The ability to overclock even if I don't do it means I don't want the A320; and some of the lowend motherboards don't give you much control over the OC knobs--like there's some Gigabytes that don't let you set the voltages, just offsets. Onboard wifi would be nice.
And then, you know, stability, plus maybe the ability to either OC the RAM or at least run it faster than 2667.
That doesn't seem like too much to ask for!
Posted by: Rick C at Wednesday, July 05 2017 11:55 AM (ITnFO)