Personal Rig Introduction and Some Brief Personal PC History

computerhistory.jpgAs part of this website I want to keep my personal rig sort of up to date for you all to know what I am running at any point in time. You may know if you were curious enough to look throughout the blog here that the blog’s name (redbluegreen.ca) is sort of a play on the colours of the main pc chip makers and the three main game consoles. I am firmly on the red team to what is most likely to some of your dismay.

I have been on the AMD train for some time though I will admit that back in the day I used an Intel Pentium 233MHz powered system for quite some time. In fact I would be remiss to say that I do not own any intel powered systems. I do. I own two systems powered by Pentium 4’s. Yes, still ancient to todays systems but one system is more of a test platform for software and the other is currently in the process of being made in to an old gaming machine for games that just will not run on Windows 10.

Introducing my new system really requires me to go through a lot of my history as a computer enthusiast. I learned at a relatively young age that tinkering with computers was so much fun. I never really got in to programming per se but I always enjoyed tinkering with Windows and the computer hardware itself.

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The aforementioned Pentium MMX 233MHz computer was actually an old office computer of my parents’. I remember once that I discovered that I could install Windows95, over Windows95. I couldn’t believe that Windows would not check if there was a previous installation of itself before installing, so I went ahead doing so and in the process borked my parent’s office computer. Yeah they weren’t too impressed.

Out of the office we also had an old machine my aunt had given to us. It was an old DOS based system that booted to an OS I had never heard of before. It was little more than a menu front end for the computer called PFS First Choice. All we did with the system was play a game that my aunt has installed. It was a golf game and even though the computer only had a monochrome yellow display and an admittedly dull golf game it brought back memories to play it all the time.

From there I actually took a slight step back to the future. My high school was selling some old computers and I picked one up. It was an old all-in-one Compaq with an Intel 386 cpu running Windows 3.1. That was interesting delving in to the world of DOS and Windows 3.1.

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From there I eventually graduated from high school and for school my parents bought me a Toshiba Satellite A10 sporting a Pentium 4-M 2GHz. I could finally game on something up to date! It even ran Windows XP! As a side issue though I had the fan replaced in it several times as that Pentium 4 tended to actually melt the fan assembly. Yep, melt. You thought your MacBook Pro got hot… I still have this laptop today. In fact I didn’t realize I still had the laptop until I found it while doing some cleaning at home recently. As luck would have it the power supply was still with it. It even turned on and booted to Windows XP. It was a supreme delight to see it still running.

After college I purchased an Acer Aspire 3620… it had a 1.6GHz Celeron M. One of the worst PC purchases I have ever made. That Celeron was just terrible. Underperformed at every possible avenue and eventually the thing just stopped working altogether. Around the same time I bought an Acer desktop. It sported an AMD Sempron processor of which I cannot remember the speed. What I do remember is that it blew that Celeron piece of junk out of the water. Of course only after I removed all the Acer bloatware that was installed by default.

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Moving on from that Acer I ordered a custom Dell desktop. It had an AMD Athlon 64 running at 2GHz at it’s core. It even ran a discreet graphics card from nVidia. An 8300GS. Oh yeah! Until I opened the case I realized in all horror that the card barely had a heatsink. Eventually the fan seized and I put in an Asus 8600GT. Now that was an impressive card. It played World of Warcraft pretty darn decently. Then the power supply blew…

So I ordered a new Dell this time powered by a Core 2 Q9450. A quad core!!! Man this system was great. I actually forget which video card this had now, but it’s power supply went as well. Sigh.

After this was a dark time in my PC life. I lived on several cheap laptops from HP. Don’t get me wrong. They did a good job for what they were meant for and even played World of Warcraft. But I desired more.

So in early 2014 I vowed to build my own PC. You see for a few years prior to this I was a system builder and computer technician for a company and I had a real desire to build my own. At the time I contacted a buddy of mine and he encouraged me to go ahead.

So I started researching. Intel certainly was and is at the time of this writing at the top of the game but their cpu’s were just too expensive (and really still are). I decided right away to go AMD. The choice was whether to use an AMD FX cpu or go with their newly released A10-7850K Kaveri based APU. I chose the latter.

Thus the system I dubbed CAPSUPREME (a character I play on World of Warcraft) was born. It had an A10-7850K which I immediately overclocked to 4.5GHz being cooled by a Corsair H60, 8GB of 2133MHz memory (now 16GB), a Samsung 850 EVO 250GB (that was something my friend convinced me to use as my main booting drive and I’ve never regretted it), a 1TB data drive and all of it if plugged in to an ASUS A88X-PRO motherboard. I planned on running with just the APU graphics which are equivalent to a R7 250. It played World of Warcraft and Guild Wars 2 fairly well but I soon found myself wanting more. So a few months later I purchased an XFX R9 280 3GB video card of which I currently have stable overclocked to 1200MHz. Pretty snazzy.

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So CAPSUPREME has been my daily driver desktop for about a year and a half. Sadly unlike so many others I recently discovered Twitch. I say sadly as around the same time I also discovered Forza 6 Apex. CAPSUPREME, Twitch streaming and Forza 6 do not play well together. It has to do simply with the fact that the A10-7850k while supports native h.264/5 encoding it simply could not keep up with encoding and playing Forza. While playing Forza on its own it was flawless. I have recently upgraded the system to an A10-7890k though sadly I can’t get it to overclock anywhere near as high even with a new H80i v2 strapped to the CPU to keep it cool.

This all made me start clicking around on PC PartPicker and I tinkered around with a new AMD build named FARPOINT (also named after a character I play but also an homage to the first episode of Star Trek The Next Generation – Encounter at Farpoint). I sat on this build for quite some time. There were things I could do to improve CAPSUPREME’s performance for Twitch like installing a capture card and let the card do the encoding and I am still planning to do this but first I plan on testing the new system for streaming.

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So what are the new specs? Well I settled on an AMD FX 8320e, ASUS 970 PRO GAMING/AURA motherboard, 16GB of 1866MHz memory, Sapphire R9 290 at a factory overclocked 1000MHz, another Samsung EVO 250GB SSD, a 1TB 5400RPM 2.5” drive out of a laptop I had hanging around and I put it all in the brand new IN-WIN 303 case (which is a pleasure to build in).

The plan right now is to get this system setup to stream directly to a capture card in Capsupreme and then to Twitch. I am currently waiting on a couple RX480 cards from XFX to finally ship and this system will be complete.

At the moment I do not get any more performance out of the new system in single-threaded tasks and that doesn’t surprise me as the FX8320e doesn’t have the newer steamroller core that the A10-7850k has. The performance does improve when overclocked but my 8320e is not a real performer. While others have been able to get this chip all the way up to 4.8Ghz I can’t get mine to overclock stable past 4GHz. While this is not a bad overclock considering it’s regular clock speed is 3.2GHz it still is disappointing. I may down the road swap it out for a FX8350 and see where I get with that. One thing I will say there is no way any overclocking would be safe without a really good air cooler or water cooler. I paired the 8320e with a Corsair H80i and I am very happy with the performance. It certainly isn’t thermal issues preventing the overclock going higher. I guess I just lost the silicon lottery.

This FX powered system is really a tribute to the last few months of the AM3+ platform. It’s been a rocky journey for AMD the last few years but the glint of Zen over the horizon I am excited to see what it will be able to do. In fact I wouldn’t be surprised if I go for a Zen system next year some time.

Do you have fond memories of a computer?

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