Monday, April 24, 2017

Thinking about that tech again


A big thought in my brain at the moment is looking at what the next tech acquisition is going to be. And that could be either laptop or desktop.
So this post is going to be all about what I particularly want in my computers.

Personally, if it wasn't about the games, I would be quite happy just using a good laptop and the smartphone. Laptops are very flexible beasties and their only drawback that you can't work around is the upgradeability. You can add monitors, sound, keyboards and mice to them to turn them into a desktop replacement, some even support external graphics acceleration and network storage makes them have higher capacity. And you get the portability as well. You just can't fix them easily if something goes wrong. (Like my Macbook Air with faulty wifi).

That said, I wouldn't drop the desktop for gaming with or having as an always on machine. I got tired of moving the desktop around a long time ago though, I rarely even synchronise files between the two like I used to. (Outside of the desktop being an iTunes backup).

That makes :

Laptop for internet browsing, email, music, occasional streaming of Sports channels to the telly.
Desktop primarily for gaming. But I'll also heavily use it for internet browsing, video watching and stream viewing.

Laptop screens are a bit small for comfortably watching a TV episode. And while it is possible to continually connect it and disconnect it from peripherals, I really can't be bothered to do that frequently. Things stay connected to the desktop and I use wireless when I can with the laptop.

The laptop has a while to go because .... I'll basically try and run it until it breaks or it runs out of hard disc space. It's a Macbook Air with a 250GB drive and there is 57GB free space remaining. Loads more music can go on there.

My next laptop will be something like the following :
14 to 15 inch screen. At least 1080p and preferably an IPS display. The screen dominates everything else in a laptop, 13 inch is ok but bigger is usually better. And IPS displays (as demonstrated by my desktop one) are super high quality.
A keyboard and trackpad I can get on with. The Macbook Air has excellent examples of both, it's actually one reason I switched over. You can have external keyboards and mice for laptops but it's pretty essential that the ones that come with it are good. Your typical external keyboard is usually heavy and won't fit in a laptop bag.
Sound ? Meh. Bluetooth is an excellent substitute for sending the music across to your hifi or there is the Apple Airport Express Airplay system.
Lots of ports that don't interfere .... the Macbook Air fails pretty hard here. There are only two USB ports and they are both too close to other ports to support wide USB devices (like my wifi widget which Apple locked out anyway).
Light weight - if you're having it on your lap a lot then you don't want a cinderblock impersonating lava.

And the rest is pretty much of a muchness. Some processors are better than others but .... does it really mean that much at the end of the day ? One thing I'd say for processors though, look out for the laptop spec ones. The Intel U or T processors. They're designed to run cooler and you won't notice the performance deficit outside of games.

Ok - what laptop ?
I haven't mentioned Operating System yet. My next laptop is likely to be Linux. Yep. Maverick time .... Apple are increasingly going anti consumer and I really don't trust the way Microsoft are going with Windows 10. I don't want to be fed advertising by the Operating System .... That's abuse of users. Especially when the system itself is becoming less stable with each update. Win10 was really good when it first went on my machine but has become less so with Anniversary Ed and now Creators Ed.

Oh and it adds £92 to the cost. Here's an example from PC Specialist (at this link). I'm curious about PC Specialist. They seem to offer great laptops at decent prices but I haven't actually seen one to evaluate quality and that keyboard and trackpad. There's no substitute for putting your own eyes on stuff like this. And your fingers. But yep. That one with an Intel i5 processor, 8GB memory and a 500GB Hybrid SSD drive. Cut Windows off so you can put Linux on it and it comes out at an affordable £495.

About those popups - Linux and Mac will always be far more secure than Windows simply down to how they are built. The trouble is finding suitable software. Everyone designs for Windows, although more people are designing for Linux these days.

And I'll need a competent way of getting iTunes on the machine or a replacement that offers the iTunes DJ / Party Shuffle automatic playlist system which was removed in iTunes 11. Also iPhone integration, although Android integration would be better.

Desktop ?
The rapid list of bits would be (and this will be jargon heavy for brevity) :
AMD Ryzen 5 1600 cpu - £225 + Noctua cooler for £45.
(big expensive coolers are worth the money, they make machines go silent)
16GB DDR4-2400 and an Asrock B350 mainboard (the better one) - £124 + £105
And that's actually all I'd get. I would be reusing everything else from my current machine. That makes ... £505 for a core upgrade. I don't need to be spending that at the moment.

Adding in the other items makes :
Case - £35. Shop around for one you like.
Gigabyte nVidia 1060 graphics card (the not as good 3GB one) - £186. Personally, I don't think you get sufficient performance boosts from even the next one up - the 6GB 1060 for £240 (Gigabye one again for fair comparison).
Drives - a 250GB Crucial SSD for Windows to go on plus a 2TB drive for everything else to go on. That's £94 + £59
And a 650W power supply for £65. You don't want to skimp on the power supply, if it's working too hard then it'll overheat, break and probably break more stuff too when it dies.

With Windows at £89, that's a total of £1035. Nope.

Not doing a full machine upgrade any time soon, I don't need to. That's actually + £200 on my usual ! Looking at the prices, it looks like a general set of small increases across the board, although that cpu is +£50, the graphics is up a bit, the memory is + £80 on the 8GB in this machine and the drives look more expensive.

That's the real question you have to ask - if what you have fits your need, stick with it. There is no need to spend money on shinies that you don't really need.

Buy when you have to, not when the sales make you think there's a bargain to be had. You save money not by having discounts but by not spending it in the first place.

And as this machine still runs Mass Effect Andromeda (despite being below minimum spec!), I'll hang on to it for a while ! Time to clear that Scan shopping basket before a misclick happens ....
Now where did I leave those Easter Eggs and the Mini Eggs .....

No comments:

Post a Comment

So much for anonymous commenting ... If you would like to leave a message and don't have a suitable account, there's an email address in my profile.