Friday, 25 January 2013

Friday Night Chill

Feel Good Friday

I guess everyone gets that Friday feeling, even if you work from home, you only see your boss in the mirror and Saturday is an almost identical day to Friday. I have it, especially now it's gone 10PM and the working day is done. I am spending my leisure time de-RAIDing a set of HDDs to find out which one has errors in it (by formatting each one in turn), then when I find it dropping it in the bin (or getting a new one if it's still under warranty) and repairing the rest ready for a new machine build.  Oh what fun!

Lee Makes a Machine

The HDDs are currently part of a PC that I use for secondary backups from my NAS drive, which my current main machine will be fulfilling a few weeks from now. First job is to build a new machine and run it through some insane tests before it can be called my main machine. If it does not melt, I will use it.

I am sure you want to know the specifications. I have ordered the raw ingredients from Overclockers UK, and even though I selected the 5-7 day build time for the motherboard + chip + memory, I got an email less than 24 hours after I ordered to say the whole lot had been shipped. Amazing!  In addition to the basic MB bundle I also added a BlueRay writer and discs and a new 240MB SSD to act as a rapid overflow drive (to install things like Dropbox, Installer Builds, etc). The leaves my main SSD (128MB) large enough to be the core Windows drive but small enough to allow nightly back-ups of my system set-up and source code (the two things you scream about when you lose HDDs).  I also added the Asus GFX 660 graphics card, which is not the fastest puppy out the gate but very useful. When I start the Reloaded project, I don't want to code on the fastest GPU on the planet because the only people capable of playing it would be those who own the fastest GPU on the planet. Instead, I have ordered a mid-range card so I still have the feature set and power to test some advanced shaders, but can simulate each side of the fence from the GTX 650 through the GTX 680+.

The motherboard is a Gigabyte Z77 and the processor is an Intel 3770K, and Overclockers have kindly figured out the best memory to run with this combination which is are modest 8GB Patriots. The bundle can be found here:

I am sure professional system builders are laughing in their coco right about now, and I agree my attempts to build a PC are probably ham handed, but I long ago decided that I build machines to have a little bit of choice about what I use every day, but by no means do I consider myself an enthusiast in this arena.  My rigs don't have flashing lights, water tubes, ice vapour pouring out the vents, insane clocks and whatnot.

I picked this set-up because it produces a safe 4.4Ghz speed (kindly pre-overclocked by Overclockers UK), will have full SSD storage for every day use, can burn 25GB of data in a few minutes, will allow me to play around with the latest PhysX advances thanks to the GTX 660 and probably the most important, it will be utterly completely silent.  Every component has been chosen for it's insane silence, and the graphics card which is usually the worst offender, uses DirectCU II which means ultra quiet fans that only produce 21 decibels at idle and 22 decibels at full load :)

If all goes well, the delivery is Saturday morning which means my weekend has turned into a machine-building-weekend.

The Days Business

In regular news, I have successfully sent off an estimate for new work which Dave (our tireless TGC coder) will kindly undertake, and another estimate for a third party artist we use from time to time to start around July, I have made new builds of one of the AGK projects and totally updated the feedback documents of two other AGK projects, and finally I have cleared my inbox which is now empty.  The business of the week has been concluded 100% successfully and my weekend is mine, all mine!!

Signing Off

While the test machine SLOWLY formats two 1GB drives to find the culprit, I have a few things I can do now including another few levels of the Dishonoured game which I have sensibly left alone during this week's activities. As I need to be up for most of tommorow, I shall not make this a late one but it's only 11PM so the night is young! Might also do some forum reading, add a few social posts here and there, and generally muck about on the comp until I get sleepy.  What a happy day Friday has been!


  1. Good old days of Windows 3.1, the one you could install onto a 128 MB hard drive and still have room for a few good games... I guess you where right about throwing stones at sheep. :D

  2. The million dollar question for this new PC - Windows 7 or 8? I'm not sold on 8 yet, my rig boots Windows 7 to desktop in 10-15 seconds and runs like a champ.

  3. Definitely Windows 7. Win8 is far too new to have all the established drivers, tools, software and pedigree required for smooth development. Ideal for testing of final products, but I am giving it another year before I move my entire 'dev empire' over to Windows 8. I know it's cowardly, but I'll let all the other developers experience the crashes and annoying gaps, allow MS 12 months to fix them, then Johnny come lately will swagger in and take his seat ;)

  4. I'm no specialist in this, but I think your new specifications is pretty much the top.
    I built (yeah, right, it's more like a torture-puzzle-game for me) my machine in beginning of 2012 and it have characteristics bit lower yours and it still can run any game on highest settings with big reserve. So I'm sure you won't need to update your new PC in the next several years.

    Windows 8 has nothing new by the way, except the interface. Basically, it is W7, but in awkward, strange and uncomfortable wrapping.
    I don't think it will be popular on the PC. On tablets - maybe, although there already reigns Android.

  5. Bought an Alienware Aurora 2 years ago, still going strong. I can play anything I want at top (or near top) settings. Going off an older picture of Lee's setup, I believe we have (or had) the same keyboard/mouse combo (Logitech MX 5500)? recently sent that in to be replaced though.

    My computer runs with a liquid cooling system; so I can't really hear anything from it, after start-up. Paid around 2K for it; didn't want to have to upgrade for 5 years or so. ;)

  6. Amazingly I did some digging and it turns out I built my current machine April 2010, which makes it a few months shy of 3 years old. I built it high spec though so it has lasted well and provided all the speed, silence and storage performance I needed. Alienware always impress me with their build quality, as they seem to understand the demands of the high-end gamer.

  7. Update - my machine parts arrived today. Time to initiate the Saturday Night Build-a-thon!

  8. 128MB = 128GB 1GB drives = 1TB drives :-D

  9. I just got a check for $500.

    Sometimes people don't believe me when I tell them about how much you can make by taking paid surveys online...

    So I took a video of myself actually getting paid over $500 for taking paid surveys to set the record straight.