Computer Stuff

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Computer Stuff

Postby Baker » 02 Aug 2013, 08:12

I thought we might as well have a thread for miscellaneous computer stuff.

So, when I built my PC 2.5 years ago, I believe I made a song and dance about it here on the forum. Now has come the time to spruce it up a little. When I build, I aim for the best motherboard the budget will allow. The one I had can accommodate up to a hex-core processor, though I only have a quad core in it. So, that is one potential upgrade. It has 4 memory slots, which can hold up to 32 GB of RAM. I was running 4 GB in a dual channel pairing. (I've since upgraded to an 8 GB set with XMP, and the mobo allows me to very easily set the RAM timings and voltage in the BIOS to get the best out of them.) It also has USB 2 and 3, which is handy to keep up with the progression. The biggest potential upgrade factor, though, was the 6 SATA connectors which include 2 SATA3 type. I had been using 2 x 1TB seagate HDDs in a RAID 1 array on the SATA2 connectors. Platter style hard drives have read/write speeds that mean the 3 Gb/s of the SATA2 was more than adequate. SATA3 are 6 Gb/s rated. Overkill for the big platter hard drives, but ready to take a solid state drive (SSD). When I built the computer, SSDs were becoming mainstream, but they were pricey, tiny capacity, and not terribly reliable. Now, 2.5 years later, you can get them within reasonable range.

I bought a Samsung 840 Pro 128 GB model. First impression was how tiny and light it was. (See image below.) I'm used to the aluminium platter HDDs being solid, weighty articles. The SSD was a wafer by comparison. Fortunately, the computer case I bought also came with a mounting space for an SSD, because the Samsung did not come with a kit for sitting it into a conventional HDD case rack. I bought the Samsung Pro because it comes with a 5 year warranty. This is important as SSDs aren't like conventional HDDs in that they have a finite number of times you can write and erase. So, I picked the one with a 5 year warranty compared to a 3 year, in the hope this indicates longevity. I didn't buy a large capacity, since they were out of budget and I have the platter disks still for bulk storage. The idea is that you load the operating system (OS) and the programs you use most and/or for which speed is critical on the SSD, then dump everything else onto the storage HDD. When you upload photos or videos from the camera and stuff like that, it goes onto the bulk storage. But your video editing sofware lives on the SSD. I play games, and the ones I am currently playing go on the SSD, but will be moved onto the HDD when they go out of flavour.

Image

Now, it's not all plain sailing adding in an SSD. There are some optimisations that you need to do that you never have to think about with a HDD. For example, you never use disc defragmentation on an SSD. That process rearranges data on your disc: you want as little reading, erasing, and writing as possible on an SSD. Instead, you need to enable the TRIM command. There are some tweaks you need to do to your OS to get it working well with an SSD. Perhaps the most important is enabling ACHI in the BIOS--and making sure you have the SSD connected to a SATA3 connector.

What are the advantages to an SSD over a HDD? Speed. Speed. Speed. These things kick ass. I benchmarked my SSD against the HDD and it simply blows the platters away. Opening programs is noticeably faster. Another benefit is noise: the SSD has no moving parts, compared to the spinning platters of a HDD. I've set my power management to put the HDDs in standby when no in use, and when they've spun down all I hear from my PC is the faint hum of the fans.

The disadvantages are smaller capacity, price, and lack of longevity. Oh, and more involved with setting them up--especially if you are adding one into an existing system.

For those who have no idea what I'm talking about, here is a video showing a comparison between an SSD and a HDD doing things like booting up and shutting down.


Conclusion: It's a great way to pep up the performance of your computer, though the process can be less than straightforward. :-)
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Re: Computer Stuff

Postby wildlx » 02 Aug 2013, 09:02

I suspect that for you, a gamer, it is worth the trouble. In my case, even when I'm working with heavy images I still find the computer fast enough. What I am not currently finding fast enough is the internet at home. So, I am now really planning to change from ADSL to fibre-optic, which is been installed up to the entry of my building by at least two different providers for some time. I've been waiting for my current internet provider to also install the fibre-optic but apparently that will not happen so soon. I'll probably move to a package deal which includes TV and phone also.
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Re: Computer Stuff

Postby Selkie » 03 Aug 2013, 23:33

I must admit that I'm not overly knowledgeable when it comes to computer hardware. But if I thought I wanted an SSD before, I definitely want one now. :-)

I don't often game, but I'm all about efficiency.
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Re: Computer Stuff

Postby Baker » 04 Aug 2013, 08:14

Well, stricly speaking an SSD won't have a dramatic impact on such holy grail gaming criteria as frame rates (important for those who do real-time gaming): it's major impact is on read/write times. So, any time data goes from memory to disc, or vice versa, and SSD will flay a conventional HDD. Opening programs, loading data, closing programs, saving to disc, copying and moving files etc are all much faster on an SSD.
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Re: Computer Stuff

Postby Proofrdr » 08 Feb 2014, 00:28

Is anybody using Google Chrome? I've been running Firefox with Google as my homepage. They keep suggesting I switch to Chrome. I hate change unless there's a benefit. Has anyone used Chrome? Is it worth the switch?
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Re: Computer Stuff

Postby Baker » 08 Feb 2014, 07:49

I'm using Chrome on my phone--because I'd not used it before and it came installed. So, I thought I'd give it a try. I'm not an avid browser on my phone, so I can't put forth my experience as in any way more than a minor anectada. I wouldn't switch on my PC or tablet. On my tablet, I've tried Opera, Dolphin, and Baidu. All have pluses and minuses, but I have returned to Firefox. Google have an interest in wanting you to use their browser as well as their search engine. More data for them, Proof.
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Re: Computer Stuff

Postby Proofrdr » 08 Feb 2014, 08:46

That's why I hesitate switching from Firefox, Baker. Didn't want to become too connected to Google. I don't use their gmail, but I do prefer their search engines to Bing or Yahoo.
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Re: Computer Stuff

Postby wildlx » 08 Feb 2014, 09:53

I also use it on my phone and now sometimes in my computer because Firefox crashes a lot with videos. Chrome is quite fast and can be changed so that you can use it almost similarly to the search engines in firefox. I still prefer Firefox.
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Re: Computer Stuff

Postby Proofrdr » 08 Feb 2014, 10:56

Interesting. In all the years I've used it, I've never had Firefox crash. I hope I'm not jinxed now! ;)
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Re: Computer Stuff

Postby wildlx » 08 Feb 2014, 11:40

lol Hopefully not. Adobe stuff has some incompatibilities with Firefox. And I am a heavy user of Firefox with loads of tabs open.
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