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greenknight

Greenknight's new computer

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Since our old emachines is not really up to running modern software gracefully - and I've upgraded it as much as possible - I bought this bare bones kit from Tiger Direct:

 

  • AMD A4-Series AD5300OKHBOX Dual-Core A4-5300 APU - 1MB L2 Cache, 3.4GHz, Socket FM2, Radeon HD 7480D (128 Cores), DirectX 11, Fan, Retail
  • MSI R5450-MD1GD3H/LP Radeon HD 5450 Video Card - 1GB DDR3, PCI-Express 2.0, VGA, HDMI, DVI, DirectX 11, Low Profile
  • 2 ADATA XPG V1 4GB Desktop Memory Module - DDR3 1600, PC3-12800, Blue - AX3U1600C4G11-SD
  • MSI FM2 mATX Motherboard - AMD Socket FM2+, AMD A55 Chipset, mATX - A55M-E33
  • SolidGear 650W Power Supply - ATX, Single 12V Rail, 120mm Nano Fan, Anti-radiation Filter, Short Circuit, Over Voltage & Over Power Protection - SDGR-650E
  • Thermaltake VM30001W2Z V4 Black Edition Mid Tower Gaming Case - ATX/MicroATX, USB, Audio, Blue LED fan

Since that didn't include an HD or optical drive, I added:

 

        LG 24X SATA Super-Multi DVD Internal Rewriter

 

and, from newegg:

 

        Western Digital WD Blue WD10EZEX 1TB 7200 RPM 64MB Cache SATA

 

I wasn't sure which PSU and case I would get - at the top of the page, it listed a Kingwin PSU and Cougar case, the detailed description below listed these (you gotta read the fine print!). Read the reviews on all of them, either way was ok. Both cases looked pretty good, and neither PSU looked too bad (you never get top-grade power supplies in these bundles, both of these had fairly good reviews - no tales of blowing up and taking the mobo with them, most complaints were about DOAs).

 

The bundle was $209.95 (after $55.00 rebate), the DVD drive was $17.99, and the HDD was $59.99 (w/free shipping). All of it was on sale. With shipping, the whole thing comes to about $305.00.

 

I chose this bundle for the 2 sticks of RAM - they've had plenty in this price range with more processor cores, but always with just 1 4GB module. I wanted a matched pair of good fast RAM modules, and enough to take advantage of a 64 bit OS.

 

Not a high-end system, for sure - the A4 APU is the bottom of the line. Still lots faster than what I've been using. Got lots of room to upgrade, too - I could put an A10 on there and have a pretty hot machine. Thinking about adding an SSD for a boot drive, just using the HDD for mass storage. Got no USB 3, either - another thing I could add.

 

Not sure about that Radeon HD 5450 video card, though - it may be a downgrade from the integrated graphics. I'll test that - it could be going on eBay!

 

I plan on getting a copy of Win 7 to install on it. In the mean time I think I'll install Linux Mint to try it out. I'm thinking of dual-booting. Got lots of space to play with! First thing, though, is to finish putting it together - just got a few more connectors to hook up...

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Well, it works! Running it now. Haven't installed an OS yet, just booted up Puppy Linux.

 

The old comp is an emachines (Gateway) T3418, Sempron 3400+ 2 GHz single-core CPU, 2 GB of DDR (the maximum it would take), Radeon HD 5450 Video Card 512 MB (a cheap upgrade over the onboard graphics). 2 WD 160 GB IDE HDDs (it does have SATA ports, but it came with one of those - added the one out of our previous machine).

 

Planning to give the old box to my little brother, who's running an even older emachines (he's on a tight budget right now). It would at least run Win 7 fairly well, if he wants to invest in that - no way his current computer would.

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I'm guessing you can notice the speed difference being on a SATA drive rather than an IDE, along with the benefits of more RAM and an x64 based CPU.

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Since I don't have Windows installed yet (just installed Mint - I think I like it :thumbsup: ), direct comparisons aren't possible - but yeah, everything happens right now! REALLY nice compared to that old machine.

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Could, easily - Steam is the first thing under "games" in the Software Manager. Still into playing Rift right now, though. Anyway, still a lot of work to do, when the Win 7 disc arrives I'll have to install that and transfer files via portable media - that's gonna take some time.

 

Still shaking this thing down at this point. It was showing only 6.9 GB of RAM in System Monitor, so I re-seated the RAM - now it shows 7.7. :hmm: Need to recheck the front panel connections, the power LED isn't lighting. Stupid little wires are such a pain. :frustrated:  I'm sure I'll get it sorted out soon, though.

 

Interesting thing about the mobo - it says it's a Military Class 4 board, on the box and the BIOS screen. Typical Tiger Direct closeout weirdness. It's certified to resist humidity, high temperatures, ESD and EMI, which is good, I guess. Functionally, the only difference I can see is it doesn't have the embedded Winki Linux the manual I downloaded shows. That would have been interesting, but I doubt I would ever use it - so no great loss.

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I will say, I wish my home server didn't die. I would have loved to learn more about Manjaro Linux. It was the first distro I liked from the start.

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Yeah, that was a shame about your server. :sad:

 

Well, the wires were hooked up right, seems the power LED just doesn't work. Too trivial to worry about, I'm definitely not going to ship it back over that! Anyway, it's got a blue LED fan that lights when you power it up, you can see that through the grills in the front and top, and though the window in the side - having another power light is just redundant.

 

That 7.7 GB of RAM reading is just Linux being honest, that's what's available. A search found a command that shows hardware info:

sudo dmidecode

In the ton of info that provided, I managed to find the maximum RAM is 8 GB, like it should be.

 

Tried to install Steam, it said there were dependencies that can't be installed :blink: . I'm installing a big load of updates now, maybe there's something in there that will fix that.

 

I can install 0 A.D. , that should be good for a test - it has state-of-the-art graphics, and a terrible problem with lag when you get too many units moving around (they're working on a new pathfinder to fix that). And it's a fun game, when it doesn't grind to a halt. I'm sure they don't have the latest version in the repository - alpha 17 was just released - but I'm not going to mess around with compiling it myself, I'll just take what they've got. [edit] Correction, alpha 16 was just released.

 

Anyway, having fun with my new toy. My order with Win 7 and a new pair of speakers (I forgot we have a dead speaker), has shipped, should be here by the 1st. Until then, I'll be playing aroud with Linux.

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Looks like you can try...

 

sudo apt-get steam

 

I'd also do a...

 

sudo apt-get update

 

Had to look it up to check though, wasn't sure if it used apt-get, yum, or pacman.

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No need, the Update Manager took care of it. After the update finished, Steam installed. A lot of other stuff appeared in the Software Manager that hadn't been there before, too. Dunno why all that wasn't in the first batch of updates I got, but no matter - I think it's up to date now.

 

0 A.D. turned out to be alpha 15, which is perfectly playable but missing some new features (current version is alpha 16). Definitely runs a lot smoother than on the old computer.

 

Now to get those rebates sent in - the $55.00 rebate turned out to be 4 separate rebates. They don't make it easy.

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Oh good to hear. I've got OpenSSL and a few other things installed on my older computer (it's like 14 years old) so that I can use Putty and SSH in any time I want to mess around with it. Always fun to ssh in and do a sudo pacman -Syu to see what updates there are.

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I'm keeping it simple, I spend too much time on the computer as it is. That's why I chose Mint MATE - it's supposed to be very user-friendly and easy for the Linux noob. It was also because this is another shared computer, and I wanted to smooth the way for anybody else who might want to use Linux.

 

Turns out I could get the latest 0 A.D. without compiling it myself. Wildfire Games. the publisher, has a PPA with packages for Ubuntu. A package for Ubuntu 14.04 (the build this was based on) installed perfectly; the Package Installer grabbed it and did everything automatically. Easy-peasy.

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Oh well, maybe I'll catch their next sale.

 

Got the Win 7 disc, it's now installed. That's doing it the hard way - if I'd installed Mint last, its bootloader, GRUB, would have automatically detected any installed OS and made it an option in the boot menu. By installing Windows last, its bootloader took over, and just booted to Windows, no way to launch Mint. Not that hard to fix, a quick search found out how. After I had booted up my Mint live disc, opened a terminal, and entered the commands to restore GRUB, I read farther and learned there was a Windows utility called EasyBCD I could have used to modify the Windows bootloader instead. Oh, well, it was good practice.

 

I'm going to try to install GRUB Customizer, which can be used to change the boot default and other settings in GRUB. Right now, if you don't do anything within 10 seconds of the GRUB menu appearing it starts Mint, which the other users might find irritating. Of course, you can do all that with the command line, but I've had enough of that for a while.

 

Took time out to try Rift on it. Big improvement - looks better, runs smoother, much higher fps.

 

Now I need to stop messing around and get the files and settings transferred.

 

 

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All goes swimmingly. GRUB Customizer installed easily, just a little apt-get action. Computer now boots to Win 7 by default, after 15 seconds.

 

Migrating data went fairly well - Windows Easy Transfer actually works, to my surprise, made pretty short work of moving the user files and settings. Can't move Firefox profiles with that, though. I just transferred files from the old profiles to new ones. Moving whole profiles requires editing the profile.ini files, which is tricky - the least error and it won't work, and it's hard to troubleshoot. Old profiles accumulate garbage, anyway, so it's better to rebuild them with just the needed files. Simple drag and drop process, not much that can go wrong, just takes a few minutes.

 

With that all done, pretty much good to go. Still got a lot of programs to install, but it's ready to browse the Internet, :yay:

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After a month, I've finally got everything set up right. It's so hard to remember all the details when you've spent years developing your custom setup, and then you have to re-create it on a new machine.

 

I set it up with Windows on a small system partition - 50 GB, which I was sure was plenty big - and a big data partition which I'll probably never use half of, 750 GB. The system partition seemed to be filling up awfully fast, though... eventually I realized I'd forgotten to move the pagefile to the data partition. With the default settings, the pagefile is big enough for a full kernel dump when there's a BSOD, which is huge when you've got a lot of RAM. Turned off the pagefile on C: , turned it on on D: , suddenly C; drive was less than half full. That's more like it. Also changed the memory dump setting to minidumps, which should be the default IMHO.

 

Of course, there are a lot of people who say to disable the pagefile, it will improve performance - but that's just a myth, it will do no such thing. It just causes problems.

 

One other thing I'd forgotten; Spyshelter Personal Free, a central component of my security set-up, is 32-bit only - if I wanted to keep using it, I'd have to buy the Premium version. Win 7 has UAC, so it doesn't need it quite as bad as XP did - but UAC is weak sauce, in my estimation, and with Premium I'd have more functions enabled. I finally bit the bullet and paid for it when the free trial ran out.

 

So, everything's ironed out, no problems so far. The power supply hasn't blown up (something that's apparently happened with a few of these Solid Gear units) and it provides stable voltage, so maybe I got a good one. I'm a happy camper. :thumb_big:

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