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random thoughts about computer hardware

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After having left the computer hardware topic apart for a long time, lately - thanks to the brand new used PC - I found that there is still some interest in me about this... so, I want to share some of my thoughts, mainly focused on using the PC to restore movies - of course, this could also apply to other uses like surf the web, watch movies, make simple audio editing etc. but not playing games; that is another world I don't want to put my nose in...  Big Grin

In 2017 still many software don't make use of multicore CPUs and, the ones which do that, usually stops at two or four cores; so, IMHO, better to stay with the fastest (in GHz) CPUs - for example, a 4.0GHz as the old Intel i7 4790K or newer i7 7700K at 4.2GHz, even if "only" four cores, are almost always faster than 3.5GHz exa/octa/deca cores; plus, the K versions are overclockable, and a 4.8/5GHz with liquid cooling for daily usage is not that unusual.
I still prefer CPUs without integrated graphics, though. The new Ryzen 1800X seems very interesting, as the Intel X series.

Mine is TUF, and that's great; I expect it to last for a long time; also, with dust covers and forced air circulation over it, it's my preferred version. I'd go with similar features, with the most possible ports and max RAM, according to the chosen CPU.

Solid state drives still cost 8/10 times the old mechanical drives for the same size; for "mere mortals" like us, I think that 2TB SSDs at around 1000 bucks are not the best option; waiting for their prices to be similar, or better lower than actual HDDs, for the moment the best solution would be a small SSD (120/240GB) for the OS, and one or more big HDDs (1TB and more) for data. Also, they are prone to lose data when not used for a long time - someone wrote that, if put in a fridge, they will retain data for a looong time!

Still my preferred cost-for-gigabyte storage system, great to retain data for a long time - at a normal room temperature... the speed is way higher than even the most simple encoding task, so no need for SSD speed. Also, I should add that it's possible to get nearly SSD speed (sequential read/write) using multiple HDDs in RAID0; risky, but could be possible to get 10x size and similar speed at the same cost of a single SSD - or same size at 1/10th of the price... perfect for temporary files, I think I would give it a try using three old 250GB HDDs!

Video card
I'm no expert here, but again it seems no many softwares (apart games, of course) would benefit from an high end video card... for "normal" usage, a cheap new one - or an used, older generation but higher quality - that is capable of 4K would do.

Audio card
It seems that this hardware is not that important nowadays; but I think it is for us, in particular for capture, where many integrated audio chips, albeit quite good, do not have digital inputs - needed for laserdisc audio, and not only - and the ADC sometimes is not that good... still better to go with a good quality internal card - I do not like external ones, but maybe it's just a problem of mine - preferably with digital, and RCA analog inputs and outputs.

Video capture card
Old state of the art capture cards, that used to cost several hundred, if not thousand, bucks, now could be found for a tiny fraction of their original price, so I can't see any reason to not buy one; even if you have your faithful DVD recorder, remember that capture lossless and encoding later is always better than capture lossy, even without further conversions...

Still don't get it the fact I should pay thousand bucks for a relatively small monitor - albeit capable of high fps and perfect color space representation - when I could get a bigger HDTV with the same color quality, at a lower price; at the end, films are still at 24fps (rounded) and almost none at 48fps... so, I should not need a 144fps monitor.

Fianl speed/price ratio considerations
Take in account I'm still using avisynth for all my projects - even if I must admit I'm open to try new software, now that I have a powerful computer; but this considerations should apply also to other softwares.

The PC I'm using now got a fairly good CPU, a non-overclockable Intel i7 4770 at 3.4GHz/3.9GHz turbo. Not bad. The best compatible CPU with my mobo is the i7 4790K that is 4.0GHz stock, 4.4GHz turbo, and could go up to 4.8GHz and more with overclock. That is a minimum of 11% speed increase, up to more than 20%. That's for about 300 quids, but I would probably get back around 200 selling my actual CPU.

An i7 7700K stays at 4.2GHz/4.5GHz (overclockable at around 5GHz); price is almost the same of the 4790K, but I should also buy a new mobo, so add another 150/200 quids - still, could try to sell mine for half that price. Speed increase would likely be around 25%.

Is that really needed? Spend 300/500 to get a "simple" 25% speed increase, while I could spend around 600 to get a 100% and more? How? Simple, get a second PC with similar features! It's not a crazy idea, after all... I know I can run multiple instances on my actual multicore/multithreading computer - I'm doing it right now - but there is always a limit; having a second PC would double that limit...

Buy an used computer, that has a CPU with six, eight, ten cores, at lower clock, at double the price (if not more) than one similar to mine, because its fancy video card and top-of-the-line SSDs would be not a smart move now.
Buy an used computer with a 4770K/4790K/6700K/7700K, a simple video card, no SSD, would be a better move IMHO.

Just hypothetical at the moment for me, but could be an idea to follow.
Sadly my projects are lost due to an HDD crash... Sad
Fundamental Collection | Vimeo channel | My blog

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