Buying a new computer in 2011
I have a bunch of happy systems:
(Well, really, the e7200 and e7300 are almost too slow these days,
but they can hang on for another year.)
All my existing systems have Nvidia graphics cards...
but now I need systems with AMD and Intel integrated graphics
(since those are rapidly becoming the standard; only crazy gamers get
separate video cards anymore).
New System #1: AMD Integrated Graphics
I've got a case, power supply, and dvd-r drive on hand,
so I only need to get the basics. I need AMD graphics, but they
don't need to be stunningly fast, so the new A8-3850 APU seems like a good bet.
It's the top rated CPU at PassMark's price/performance benchmark,
and it's only a tad slower (passmark: 5310) than the i7 920 (passmark: 5566) I bought last year, for lots less money.
[EDIT: passmark now says the a8-3850 has a score of 3534. I must have been
Hardware seems to think the El Cheapo ASRock A75M motherboard is Good
Enough, so that's what I'll try.
Here's the proposed system:
Grand total: $352 including $28 tax and $5 shipping.
The system went together without incident. The heat sink is MUCH
easier to attach than the counterintuitive monstrosity that comes
with current Intel CPUs. (I originally thought it was very loud,
but silly me, the loud fan was the case fan, which I simply unpugged.)
Supposedly, one can control the fan's speed, but I couldn't find a way
to do it in Ubuntu.
Ubuntu 11.04 32 bits installed without a hitch, though I did have to
download the latest Catalyst driver straight from AMD, and
lm-sensors was unable to find any useful sensors on the cpu or motherboard.
What I mostly care about is how long it takes to build Wine.
Here's how I measured:
Results (plus or minus 20 seconds):
- installed and updated Ubuntu 11.04 32 bit
- sh install-wine-deps.sh
- got wine-1.3.38-193-g90e3bc5 via git
- time ./configure
- rebooted, logged in as ubuntu classic with no effects
- NUMCORES=`grep processor /proc/cpuinfo | wc -l`
- time make -j$NUMCORES
|CPU||Seconds to configure Wine||Seconds to build Wine|
In other words, the a8-3850 seemed dog-slow. However, as
David Kiefer informed me, that's only true with the default
cpu frequency scaling scheme. If you set all cores to 'performance'
for core in `seq 0 3`; do cpufreq-set -g performance -c$core; done
the time to do configure drops to 42 seconds (from 77), less embarassingly
slow. And the total time to do a full configure/make/test of wine (using warm
config.cache and ccache, and -O0) dropped from about 11:15 to about 8:15,
an improvement of about 30%.
New System #2: Intel Integrated Graphics
Over in Intel world, it seems the chip to get these days is the i5-2500k.
'k' for 'overclockable, and has HD 3000 graphics rather than HD 2000
A few milliseconds spent dredging newegg for cheap stuff (and reading
about sound-deadening cases)
produced this bill of materials:
Grand total with i7 2600: $468
- CPU: i5-2500k, $220
at newegg (or $180 at microcenter.com,
or maybe even the
i7 2600, $250 at microcenter
or i7 2600k, $280
- MB: Biostar H61MGC, $49
at newegg (You can't overclock H61's much, so they're a better match for the i7 2600 than the i7 2600k)
- Disk: this is hard, the floods in Thailand have cut availability and raised prices.
Everything's at least $140 now. Tempting to switch to an 80 GB SSD.
- DVD: LG GH22NS70, $22
- RAM: 2 x 4GB DDR3-1333, $37
at newegg (just to see if an extra 4G matters)
- Case: Lancool PC-K56, $70
at newegg, or maybe Rosewill R101-P-BK MicroATX, $40
- Power supply: Antec Earthwatts EA-380D, $40
Not yet ordered... still thinking.