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Poll

Mark your preference(s)

  • Gaming station full monty (complete with elaborate hardware controls and sound system)
    1 (7.7%)
  • Home workstation full monty (printer-scanner, music instruments and/or home cinema)
    2 (15.4%)
  • Modest homebox (just the absolutely necessary peripherals)
    1 (7.7%)
  • Laptop/netbook (hardware keyboard separate from the screen)
    3 (23.1%)
  • Big-screen tablet (software keyboard)
    1 (7.7%)
  • Smartphone
    2 (15.4%)
  • Gaming console with internet connection
    0 (0%)
  • Different devices on different occasions and for different purposes (specify in the thread)
    3 (23.1%)

Total Members Voted: 8

Topic: The Hardware Thread (Read 9801 times)

  • ersi
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The Hardware Thread
The point of the poll was to include here the technology used to access the forums. For a while I thought of expanding the list with for example e-book readers, because these too sometimes have internet access, but I guess there are enough options already.

Discussion about e-book readers is  is still welcome. And about printed books (obvious hardware). For some people, wristwatch is the kind of technology they need most. All this is hardware subject for discussion in this thread. And of course computer parts.

  • Shandra
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Re: The Hardware Thread
Reply #25
Ok, personal wishlist - 3 items

On-the-Edge Server (Applications/Virtual Machines, Media-Streams)
Client1: High-End Desktop - Client for Apps/VMs from Server, minimum 3Monitors (Resolution and "Colourrange" as High as Possible), better more + MatroxGraphicCard(s)+additional StereoscopicDisplay for RemoteSensing/GIS Applications + DwarfFortress should run smoothly on large maps (xy+z) with maximum population+enemy army with megabeasts besieging the fort whilst catplosion is somewhat faster going then the flooding from the caved in aquifer :cheers:
Client2: Laptop minimum 2cores at >3 GHz each, Display that is at least 1200px in Vertical Resolution, AR 16:10 (NOT 16:9 even 4:3 is more practical IMHO)

And as I welcome a descent ebook-reader (not kindle), tablets are IMHO a NoGo - SmartPhones, well - with real keyboard and Nethack ok&nice, but not really needed & who needs a gaming console if Dwarf Fortress is Desktop Only :spock:

  • Frenzie
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Re: The Hardware Thread
Reply #26
Sounds pretty cool. What's Debian's performance like?

  • Macallan
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Re: The Hardware Thread
Reply #27

Sounds pretty cool. What's Debian's performance like?

Assuming you're talking to me :right:

Didn't play with it much, loading xfce is rather slow but that's more than likely the flash memory and filesystem than anything else. I'd have to hook up a USB disk and compile some crap in order to get an idea. I'd expect it to be somewhat faster than a pair of - say - Cortex A15 cores at a similar clock speed but that's just a guess. In fact there's not much information about the actual CPU cores out there other than "it's MIPS32r2 compatible". Even gcc 4.8.4 doesn't know them but for now -mcpu=mips32r2 will do.
The rest of the SoC is more or less what you'd find on a comparable ARM SoC - DesignWare USB, Davicom Ethernet, PowerVR SGX540, a multichannel DMA controller that can be abused as a blitter ( this one even supports alpha blending to some degree ), a bunch of timers, GPIOs etc., HDMI output, Wifi/Bluetooth chip via SDIO, and a bunch of image processing ( filters, scalers, etc. ). The image/video codec is actually a MIPS CPU without an MMU but with a specialized coprocessor. Now where did we see that before? :left:

  • Frenzie
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Re: The Hardware Thread
Reply #28
Assuming you're talking to me

Whoops, not noticing that I'm not on the last page when using "show new posts" seems to be a bit of an ongoing error between keyboard and monitor. :P

  • Belfrager
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Re: The Hardware Thread
Reply #29
I'm in the process of "reactivating" a beautiful workstation, a HP Proliant Ml 110 with Windows Server 2003.
Already installed windows 7 in a new partition, maintaining all the previous system and data but what I really need is a good graphic card able to fit on those old PCI slots.
That's a complex thing and probably finding drivers for it also not easy.

My idea is to transform it into an acceptable machine for playing EVE Online, a demanding hardware game.
A matter of attitude.

  • Frenzie
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Re: The Hardware Thread
Reply #30
Old PCI slots? PCIe isn't that old, while at the same time PCI itself is far too old to be able to do any gaming. :)

  • Belfrager
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Re: The Hardware Thread
Reply #31
Yep, I changed my mind. I'm going to build a new computer part by part.
Interesting exercise, makes one having a better understanding how to achieve the best price/performance ratio looking to the computer as a whole assemblage.
A matter of attitude.

  • krake
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Re: The Hardware Thread
Reply #32

I'm going to build a new computer part by part.
... makes one having a better understanding how to achieve the best price/performance ratio ...

A puter made in Portugal, so to speak.
Let us know when it gets finished. ;)
I would be mostly interested in the price, assuming that you are not intending to buy the pieces on the flea market.

  • Belfrager
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Re: The Hardware Thread
Reply #33
Let us know when it gets finished.  ;)
I would be mostly interested in the price, assuming that you are not intending to buy the pieces on the flea market.

I'll promise to be a very productive worker - German style - which means around three months to do it. You understand, I have to respect all German originated bureaucratic procedures, ISO's 9000, certifications, audits, formations and the sort...

All components from top manufacturers, no more than 350 euros for a normal shop 600-700 euros model. No monitor or OS included.
May I candidate to EU funds? :)
A matter of attitude.

  • ersi
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Re: The Hardware Thread
Reply #34
Introducting the MintBox Mini

Not sure from the post if it will start shipping in Q2 2015 or merely be announced. It says "will be announcing" in the blog post but isn't the blog post itself the announcement? :confused:

Anyway, looks pretty and methinks about getting one somehow.

  • Frenzie
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Re: The Hardware Thread
Reply #35
On the linked page it says "will introduce" (to the market, one presumes).

  • ersi
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Apple Watch???
Reply #36
Looks like some totally big buzzing innovative tech news is going past me. I have tried to comprehend this phenomenon of Apple Watch, but it's very hard to suppress my absolute indifference to it. But let's quote a fan:
Quote from: Daring Fireball link=daringfireball.net/2015/04/watch_apple_watch

Much of the criticism of Apple Watch is being driven by the question "Do you need an Apple Watch?" And that is simply the wrong question. It's not useful for evaluating the watch as a product or platform, and it's not useful to answering the question as to whether you or anyone else should buy one.

[...]

The right question is simply "Do you want one?"

How can you argue with a believer? And in this case, the iThingy doesn't even make any sort of difference to be worth arguing over...
  • Last Edit: 2015-05-20, 14:06:34 by ersi

  • Barulheira
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Re: The Hardware Thread
Reply #37
He is right. People that buy things are people that want things.

  • Frenzie
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Re: The Hardware Thread
Reply #38
I have tried to comprehend this phenomenon of Apple Watch, but it's very hard to suppress my absolute indifference to it.

Actually it's a bad watch. You wear a watch for quickly glancing at the time. Try doing that on an Apple Watch and the screen is still turning on by the time you'd be well on your way already. It's more like a piece of jewelry, except it won't retain its value in a year.

  • ersi
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Re: The Hardware Thread
Reply #39

I have tried to comprehend this phenomenon of Apple Watch, but it's very hard to suppress my absolute indifference to it.

Actually it's a bad watch. You wear a watch for quickly glancing at the time. Try doing that on an Apple Watch and the screen is still turning on by the time you'd be well on your way already. It's more like a piece of jewelry, except it won't retain its value in a year.

Seems to be a bad watch indeed. Here's another review:


The interface flaw in Apple's latest gadget -- and how to fix it.

Here's how it plays out in practice: if you have tapped your way into the details of a voicemail message off of your notifications screen and you want to get back to the "home screen" of apps, you need to push the Digital Crown three times: once to get back to the notifications summary, once to get back to the "watch face," and then finally once more to get back to the app screen. But if you happen to push too rapidly on the button, you'll be taken directly to the "most recently used app" screen, which is triggered by two quick presses on the Digital Crown.

Imagine trying to explain this to your grandmother: if you want to get back home, press this button, unless you're reading an email or listening to a voicemail, in which case you should press the same button three times, but slowly. (But not so slowly that you accidentally launch Siri, which is triggered by pressing and holding the Digital Crown button.)

[...]

Pressing the Digital Crown should simply toggle you back and forth between the "watch face" and the "home screen." (Its other functionality could all be achieved through other means; for instance, you can already re-orient the "home screen" simply by dragging your finger across the Watch's screen.) That's still more complicated than the iPhone home button, but it's the kind of thing most users would pick up in a matter of minutes using the Watch. And it has a conceptual clarity that is sorely lacking in the current design.


  • ersi
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Re: The Hardware Thread
Reply #40

  • ersi
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Re: The Hardware Thread
Reply #41

This is how my desk looked for a while after I bought a new huge monitor.

What is there to look at when buying monitors? The thing that occurred to me was to verify if it can be connected to my lamest computer, but surely there are things like resolution and other things that I don't know how to interpret...

  • Belfrager
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Re: The Hardware Thread
Reply #42
You need a good GPU to use bigger monitors with higher resolutions (or more than one monitor).
If your computer is that thing at the right, it will not probably work well.
A matter of attitude.

  • ersi
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Re: The Hardware Thread
Reply #43
GPU is a completely dark area for me. However, the little netbook's GPU must be good enough. When I send a video to the big screen, it may flicker, but when I turn off the compositor (compton), everything works fine.

I have another bigger laptop too. No issues with that one.

A thing I noticed is that the way the screens are handled depends on the window manager. Openbox and i3wm apparently won't make the kind of panorama screenscape that I intended, not seamlessly anyway, but Cinnamon does.

  • Frenzie
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Re: The Hardware Thread
Reply #44
The most important aspect of a monitor is obviously how it is to look at.* Compared to my UHD monitor all other monitors I come across are almost unbearable, including such seemingly minute things as not being able to turn down the brightness sufficiently much. I also generally don't care for glossy monitors, although e.g. the iMac 5k seems to be alright. (Except the idea that you wouldn't be able to use the monitor with a different computer in a few years once the iMac's hardware becomes outdated is enough to turn me off right then and there.)

* Distilled down into specifications, that's:

  • sharpness (i.e. pixel density), a lack of it makes me get tired of reading on-screen fonts really fast and often makes scanned PDFs borderline illegible
  • brightness (i.e. not bright; my 2004 LCD was actually sublime in that area, only in direct sunlight a little more brightness couldn't have hurt)
  • color accuracy and consistency -- maybe I should split this up into viewing angle and color accuracy, but if viewing angles are bad color accuracy necessarily is as well


Me, I think anyone who says increased pixel density is worthless is lying or borderline blind. When a scanned PDF is clearly legible on my ereader and phone, reasonably legible on my 24" UHD monitor, and practically illegible on any traditional monitor, the difference couldn't be more obvious. Oh yeah, and my eyes tire less doing what I do with higher pixel density. I'd say higher pixel trumps most other concerns.

Oh yeah, and my screen has a "C" energy rating (although that's for "standard" use at unbearable brightness). Guess what? It still only uses like a quarter of my previous display... and seriously, just turn it off when you're not using it. That does, however, lead me to one final point: HDMI and DisplayPort's hardware and/or software implementation sucks. In spite of that, imo it's worth it.

PS You need a fairly decent GPU with the right connections to send UHD over DisplayPort to a monitor. When I obtained my current GPU last year it was partially to be able to play newer games, but mostly with an eye on buying my current monitor (or one much like it).

  • ersi
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Re: The Hardware Thread
Reply #45

The most important aspect of a monitor is obviously how it is to look at.* Compared to my UHD monitor...

Well, UHD is not part of the specs of my monitor. It's something that didn't occur to me at all. Also, it's completely obscure to me how to quantify the "look at" aspect. It looked just fine in the shop. I made the effort to imagine it on my desk. The result is how I imagined it, so I guess it's good enough.

Looking up things on the net now, I see that when UHD is added among the requests, it nearly doubles the price for the thing. Maybe it will be worth it some day.

My monitor is 27" Samsung. I filled the screen with terminal in my ordinary font and I could read it quite comfortably. Apps and windows seem to scale okay. I have found nothing to complain about.


Oh yeah, and my screen has a "C" energy rating (although that's for "standard" use at unbearable brightness). Guess what? It still only uses like a quarter of my previous display... and seriously, just turn it off when you're not using it.

In my monitor, there's a feature called "Eye Protection". It dims everything down a bit. I doubt it protects anything.


That does, however, lead me to one final point: HDMI and DisplayPort's hardware and/or software implementation sucks. In spite of that, imo it's worth it.

I wanted HDMI because this is the current standard (available in my bigger laptop) and VGA because this is how other computers in the house, including the one pictured on the desk, can connect. Is there such a thing as a UHD monitor with VGA connection?


PS You need a fairly decent GPU with the right connections to send UHD over DisplayPort to a monitor. When I obtained my current GPU last year it was partially to be able to play newer games, but mostly with an eye on buying my current monitor (or one much like it).

If games were my concern, I would have considered the purchase much more carefully. And for games I should have upgraded RAM and GPU and whatnot ages ago. But I don't do games.

Next thing I am eyeing is one of these things.


  • Frenzie
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Re: The Hardware Thread
Reply #46
Well, UHD is not part of the specs of my monitor. It's something that didn't occur to me at all. Also, it's completely obscure to me how to quantify the "look at" aspect. It looked just fine in the shop. I made the effort to imagine it on my desk. The result is how I imagined it, so I guess it's good enough.

Sure, that's all that matters. Me, I've never liked text on displays, but UHD at least makes it somewhat bearable. I think text on displays may actually have been more pleasant on CRTs, although my recollection in the matter is fading. I wish I had a bigger version of my H2O ereader. It's about the same quality as a cheap newspaper, which superficially sounds negative but it's the biggest compliment I could possibly give any kind of digital display technology.

Looking up things on the net now, I see that when UHD is added among the requests, it nearly doubles the price for the thing. Maybe it will be worth it some day.

It's personal, but to me quality peripheral equipment is worth much more than whatever nonsense I've got in my computer (although obviously I'd never go with a cheap PSU). I know people who buy a € 500 GPU and then combine it with a the cheapest monitor and keyboard you can find. On the other side of the equation, I picked up a used GPU for € 100 (which is still selling new for over €200 right now) and I spent the remainder on my monitor, so to speak. My monitor won't age even a fraction as quickly, and the GPU was a total steal compared to a video game console.

Is there such a thing as a UHD monitor with VGA connection?

There might be, but then you couldn't use it at the UHD resolution (3840 × 2160). The maximum resolution for a VGA connector supposedly lies at QXGA (2048 × 1536), but that resolution may not even be achievable in practice by modern GPUs nor with lower quality VGA cables. Also note that the version of HDMI required for UHD isn't on any GPUs yet (except perhaps the very latest), so DP on a GPU from the last three years or so is probably the only realistic option for the moment.

If games were my concern, I would have considered the purchase much more carefully. And for games I should have upgraded RAM and GPU and whatnot ages ago. But I don't do games.

Actually the 4 GB RAM I've got in this '09 computer is sufficient for almost all games; it's in regular use (opening a whole bunch of browser tabs and PDF documents and whatnot) that I sometimes feel its limit and miss the 6 GB I had previously.

Next thing I am eyeing is one of these things.

My Kensington Expert Mouse Pro (don't be fooled by the name; it's a trackball) comes with my highest recommendation for pointer use, but be forewarned that its scroll ring is badly designed and will break. I don't know how it compares with the cheaper model pictured.

  • ersi
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Re: The Hardware Thread
Reply #47

Is there such a thing as a UHD monitor with VGA connection?

There might be, but then you couldn't use it at the UHD resolution (3840 × 2160). The maximum resolution for a VGA connector supposedly lies at QXGA (2048 × 1536), but that resolution may not even be achievable in practice by modern GPUs nor with lower quality VGA cables. Also note that the version of HDMI required for UHD isn't on any GPUs yet (except perhaps the very latest), so DP on a GPU from the last three years or so is probably the only realistic option for the moment.

Aha, I'm finally understanding what these things mean.

My monitor is Full HD a.k.a. FHD, which is shorthand for ratio 1920x1080 px. Your monitor is UHD, which is shorthand for 3840x2160 pixels. So the difference of quality is double, and the requirements for GPU also differ.

Considering that my aim was to upgrade the face of my netbook without upgrading anything else on it, it looks like I made the best possible choice. To buy a fancier monitor, I indeed need a better GPU. This is for another time.


My Kensington Expert Mouse Pro (don't be fooled by the name; it's a trackball) comes with my highest recommendation for pointer use, but be forewarned that its scroll ring is badly designed and will break. I don't know how it compares with the cheaper model pictured.

Oh? So when the scroll ring is not mentioned or pictured, then those models indeed miss the scroll function? How does that work? How do you scroll then?

  • Frenzie
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Re: The Hardware Thread
Reply #48
Considering that my aim was to upgrade the face of my netbook without upgrading anything else on it, it looks like I made the best possible choice. To buy a fancier monitor, I indeed need a better GPU. This is for another time.

There are plenty of fancier monitors that can work with regular VGA or DVI connector with a 1440p resolution (2560x1440) if you so desire. That's probably what I would've gone for a few years ago, but luckily my old monitor didn't start malfunctioning until the second generation of UHD monitors was on the cusp of release. I do, however, think that my Dell P2415Q (€460ish atm; a touch less when I bought it at the beginning of the year) is not only the bang for your buck on the regular consumer market right now, but also the second best monitor all around. It's only surpassed by the iMac 5k (upward of €2100). However, while the iMac is in fact a competitively priced 5k monitor, you can't actually use it as a monitor. In other words, you can't upgrade your computer and keep on using the monitor when the time comes. A "regular" 5k monitor currently requires silly hacks like two DisplayPort connectors at once, so I'd stay away from it for at least another year. Same reason I waited for the second generation of UHD monitors -- the first generation used MST (pretending to the computer to be two monitors) while the second generation uses SST (just a single monitor).

Oh? So when the scroll ring is not mentioned or pictured, then those models indeed miss the scroll function? How does that work? How do you scroll then?

I've remapped the buttons.
Code: [Select]
$ cat /etc/X11/xorg.conf 
Section "InputClass"
Identifier "Kensington Trackball"
MatchProduct "Kensington Expert Mouse"
Option "SendCoreEvents" "True"
Option "ButtonMapping" "0 1 2 4 5 6 7 3"
Option "EmulateWheel" "True"
Option "EmulateWheelButton" "1"
EndSection

Note EmulateWheelButton. It's a button you hold down and then mouse movement scrolls instead of moving the cursor. It's like click to drag in some applications, except with any pointing device.

Besides that, I've always preferred to use the arrow keys, Page up & down (and Home and End, depending), and dragging the scrollbar. I tried scrolling using the scrollwheel for a bit when I first got a mouse that did it, but it quickly hurt my finger. The scrollring on the Expert Mouse was actually quite nice while it worked, though.

NB The Kensington Slimblade does not have a scrollring, but it has some built-in mechanism where twisting the ball scrolls. But I wouldn't expect the cheaper Logitech and Kensington trackballs without a scrollring to be able to scroll on Windows. I have been thinking about buying a Slimblade to replace my 7-year-old Expert Mouse, not so much because of the scrollwheel malfunction but because it has the sensor on the side and a hole at the bottom for stuff (like cat hair) to fall out of. I reckon it would result in having to do less cleaning.

  • Belfrager
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Re: The Hardware Thread
Reply #49
You're both doing a lot of confusion. What matters is the resolution your GPU is able to deliver in what concerns to "image quality".
The bigger a monitor the higher resolution you'll need.

Then, and speaking about Windows, there's the software and drivers that allows you to tweak a lot of details. Around 350Mb for Nvidia drivers.
As for Linux, I don't understand, it seems to exists some "generic drivers", with almost no options, but that fits any GPU brand.

As for real gaming, you'll need GPU, Processor and RAM memory at the top level industry can sell you. Not to speak about watercooling and such. And Windows. Or Wine in Linux if you like to suffer.
A matter of attitude.