Sunday, February 07, 2016

New PC Software

Once I had my new PC running, the next step was to install software. I prefer to set up new computers from scratch rather than use any kind of migration tool because I don't want to bring over a lot of old junk. It takes a little more time but I think it's worth it. And it's always interesting to review what software I'm actually using day to day, and how that changes over time.

My first install is usually Chrome. Once I sign in to my Google account and sync my browser settings I have all my bookmarks and my Gmail ready to go. I use LastPass for my passwords. I also install Firefox but it's not my day to day browser. I used to also install Safari for Windows but Apple is no longer keeping it updated.

Next is Dropbox which brings down a bunch of my commonly used files. Then Evernote which gives me access to my notes.

After that it's mostly development tools - Visual Studio Community (free) C++, MinGW C++, Java JDK, and Eclipse. The last few Eclipse installs I've been importing my addons from the previous install. But for some reason I couldn't get that to work this time because I couldn't find the right directory to import from. The directories are different since I've been using the Oomph installer. I'm sure I could figure it out, but I only use three addons so it was easier just to install them from the Eclipse Marketplace. (The three are Infinitest, EclEmma coverage, and Bytecode Outline.)

I use GitHub Desktop although both Visual Studio and Eclipse provide their own Git support. (and there's also the command line, of course.)

Although I'm not actively programming in Go these days I like to have it and LiteIDE installed.

For editors I use Scite, because it's the same editing component as we use in Suneido, and Visual Studio Code for JavaScript and Typescript. (Visual Studio Code is not related to Visual Studio. It's a cross platform application written in Typescript and packed with Electron.)

This is all on Windows, but other than the C++ tools I have pretty much exactly the same set of software on my Mac.

Thursday, February 04, 2016

New PC

In many ways PC performance has leveled off. There are minor improvements in CPU and memory speed but nothing big. But there has been a significant improvement in performance with the Skylake platform supporting SSD connected via PCI Express.

Based on a little research, here were my goals:
  • fast SkyLake CPU
  • 32gb DDR4 ram
  • 512 gb M2 SSD
  • small case (no external cards or drives)
  • 4K IPS monitor
And here's what I ended up getting:
  • Asus Z170I Pro Gaming mini ITX
  • Intel Core I7-6700K 4.00 GHz  
  • Corsair Vengeance LPX 32GB (2x16GB) DDR4 DRAM 2666MHz (PC4-21300)
  • Samsung 950 PRO - Series 512GB PCIe NVMe - M.2 Internal SSD
  • Fractal Design 202 case
  • ASUS PB279Q 27" 4K/ UHD 3840x2160 IPS
I don't do any gaming, but that was the only mini ITX motherboard I could find that fit my requirements.

The case was the smallest I could find that would fit this stuff. The frustrating part is that it could be half the size. The empty half of the case is for cards or external drives, but I didn't want either of those. It's a little hard to tell from the picture, but the motherboard is only 7" square, not much bigger than the fan. The power supply is almost as big as the motherboard.

And here's a comparison of my new SSD (top) to the old one (bottom). Higher numbers are better.

The big advantage of SSD over hard disks is the seek time for random IO. But the biggest gains here were for sequential IO. Still, some respectable improvements across the board. Of course, how that translates into actual overall performance is another question.

I try not to buy new machines too often. At least I know my old one, which is still working fine, will be put to good use by someone else in the office.

I'm not a hardware expert, here's where I got some advice:
Building a PC, Part VIII
Our Brave New World of 4K Displays