Winter Tuneup

The new year is upon us. The tech previews have been thrown out there. It’s time to turn back to programming. First thing I did, was purchase 4Gb of ram for an old iMac I rescued from my mom’s house a couple of years ago. My mom has been a lifelong “I’m a PC” person, but a few years back my brother thought it would be nicer if she got into the Mac slipstream. Switching costs between the two platforms at the time was huge. None of her apps worked, and the whole thing was just way too different.

So, I bought her an HP desktop, and carted away the Mac, with it’s 1Gb of RAM. Recently, I wanted to do some development using that machine, and I found that I needed at least 2Gb of RAM. Well, RAM is cheap, so I went for 4Gb instead, as that’s the max, and I’ll never do another upgrade on that machine again.

Then there’s this desktop machine I’ve been using for the past 4 years. AMD Phenom II X4 965 Processor, 3.4 HHz, 8GB RAM, 64-bit Windows 7. This machine has been bread and butter, with more crap installed and uninstalled than I care to remember. It could probably benefit from a fresh install of some OS or another. Possibly a combination of Windows 7, Windows 8 and Ubuntu, would be beneficial. I really don’t have any complaints about this machine, but I did recently purchase a nice wireless adapter for it. The OurLink USB dongle was giving decent performance, but it kept disconnecting and asking for the router’s password all the time.

I purchased a Rosewill Dual Band PCIE car 802.11 a/b/g/n (N900PCE). It says right on the box that it will give me 450mbpsX2. That means 450Mbps both dowload and upload! That’s nice as the ASUS router promises the same thing. So, I did a speedtest.net on this setup and:

5ms (ping>      103mbps (download)     128mbps (upload)

This is not 450mpbs, but speedtest is internet speed, not local router speed. It’s communicating to my home router plenty fast enough, and I’m getting the promised 100Mbps to the rest of the internet. So, this is a good thing. Ideally I’d be using the wired 1Gbps connectors on my motherboard, but it would not improve my internet speed at all, since that’s capped at 100mbps. I’m sure that if I’m communicating with other devices in my home network, I’ll get the fastest speeds possible, probably close to the advertised 450mbps.

One thing that was very interesting when I went to put this wireless card into the machine, I noticed tons of dust inside the case. So, I vacuumed it all out, figuring having clogged pores and fans can’t be good for the thermal profile of the machine.

One place that was particularly nasty was underneath the fan that sits atop the CPU. The fan sits atop a grill like heat sink, which in turns is thermally pasted to the CPU. Well, lifting that fan, there was at least 1/2″ of caked on dust/dirt sitting underneath the fan, and atop the grill.

Last summer I was having some problems with thermal shutdown when I was running some particularly heavy piece of code. Now I think I understand why. The CPU was just getting too hot, and it wasn’t really getting any real cool down assist from the active cooling system.

After doing all the cleanout, the machine is running quieter, as the fans aren’t trying to work so hard. That’s a nice relief.

In addition, I’m happy to not have to purchase a new desktop machine any time soon. In fact, this might be the last desktop machine I ever purchase. It may turn out that much smaller form factors, and gangs of them, will be my future instead. The only real benefit this desktop machine has is that I can place really beefy GPU cards into it. Well, given the ongoing price levels of those things, I’m not likely to do that any time soon either. So, there you go.

Well, new year, winter under way, PC tuned up, I’m ready to go!



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