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Strider
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So, I know we're all about the retro here, but I'm pretty sure most of also use modern hardware as well. So why not have a thread to talk about a few modern things we find amazing or fascinating, especially with our retro perspective, since we all remember how different things used to be.

A recent upgrade I did made me really appreciate how far we've come.

I moved from the B450 chipset to X570, and from a Ryzen 3600 to 5600X, this also meant I was also able to add PCIe Gen 4 NVME storage to my system. Then, as if on cue, I was sent a new Crucial P5 Plus 1TB PCIe Gen 4 NVME drive for review. So, I obviously popped it in immediately to marvel at it's speed...

With sequential reads topping 6800MB/s and writes topping 4800MB/s, I find it amazing how far we have come in my lifetime. Watching gigabytes worth of data load in seconds. Using your system RAM as cache for such a fast drive, boosting your performance even more.

I know many people these days won't be impressed by such things, but coming from cassette tape, to floppy disk, to many  different types of platter drives, to SSD, and now this latest generation of NVME SSD technology. It truly is amazing and makes  me really appreciate the technology, at least I think it's cool. 😁

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22 hours ago, Scott Robison said:

And the only reason many of us are able to enjoy the retro is because we have such fabulous modern hardware that can emulate the old stuff without breathing hard. Kind of makes me feel sorry for the car guys who can't exactly emulate the classic cars they'd love to own.

There are a couple or three types of cars that can just about be fully replicated with third-party replacement parts. The Ford Model T, the Willys Jeep, and the VW Beetle come to mind. Everything else, though? There’ll be something crucial that is only existent in the original vehicle. 

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6 minutes ago, kelli217 said:

There are a couple or three types of cars that can just about be fully replicated with third-party replacement parts. The Ford Model T, the Willys Jeep, and the VW Beetle come to mind. Everything else, though? There’ll be something crucial that is only existent in the original vehicle. 

That makes sense. We also have the benefit of being able to download free emulators. 🙂

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  • 1 month later...

I do admit, and as those on here who know me, I use my modern hardware to do a lot of retro things. Though, I do my fair share of purely modern things as well.

I am sometimes flabbergasted at the complexity of modern games, seeing why it takes an entire studio, hundreds of people, truck loads of money, and months (if not years), to put out a single "AAA" title. On the flip side I also really marvel at small indie studios who put out amazing games with both modern and retro themes, with little to no resources at their disposal. For me that's one of the main reasons I like our modern hardware, there is so much computing power available that you can push the envelope of whats possible and create ultra realistic games, create a smash hit retro game that strikes that nostalgic nerve with players, and emulate most all of the platforms and operating systems of the past, all from your desk.

That being said I am sitting here muddling through Arduino code working on making myself a portable FM radio, just becasue. Letting Steam update a long list of games, watching (more like listening) Adrian's Digital Basement work on a IBM PC 5160 motherboard, looking for some specific ROM's, and taking a bit of a break to mess around on the forums here. Multitasking! This is how I enjoy my days off work. You got to love modern technology.

😆

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I present to you my laptop, a Lenovo 100e 81CY (Gen1) "educational Winbook" from 2018 that I bought a few years ago for a $260 CAD (from newegg.ca). 

Let's just take a moment to appreciate that I was able to buy a whole real computer for only $70 more than the retail price of the Windows 10 Pro license it came with.

Yeah, it came with Win10 Pro. And a 120GB EMMC storage drive that has enough space to actually use Windows Update and your own software! Jokes aside, this computer is incredible for its price. I like to think of it as the modern day ZX Spectum, cheap yet immensely relevant and useful. Here are its specs:

  • Quad core Intel Celeron N3450 CPU
  • 4GB LPDDR4 2133MHz RAM
  • Intel 500 integrated GPU
  • 120GB EMMC solid state storage
  • 11.6" 1366x768 TN screen (visual quality sucks by modern standards)
  • Wifi and Bluetooth
  • Battery that lasts 11+ hours
  • Trackpad/mouse with actual buttons!
  • Keyboard with zero "deck flex"
  • An ABS plastic chassis that's built like a tank.
  • Webcam
  • Stereo speakers
  • HDMI, USB3, USB2, and 3.5mm headphone/mic, MicroSD slots/ports

CPU performance wise it's pretty well identical to my 95W Core2 Quad Q8200 desktop from 2008, which is amazing considering the N3450 is a 6W CPU. Of course the "graphics card" is very limited, but it's still able to play 2D games like Stardew Valley and older 3D games, as well as emulate every old computer up to a Pentium 75MHz (PCem) and every 8bit console. It also runs the full range of everyday Windows and Linux software without being painfully slow, though I don't own any of the Adobe or Sony software so I can't say how well that kind of photo and video editing software would run. Still, this modest and cheap computer can run thousands of genuinely useful programs/games on battery power, for hours at a time.

Obviously this isn't impressive when compared to the likes of a Macbook Pro, but I think we old computer enthusiasts can appreciate how amazing this machine is. It's way more capable than a top of the line laptop from even the early 2000s, yet it was literally the least expensive Windows laptop I could find. It's an incredible amount of computing power for something so small, portable, and inexpensive.

If my desktop were to disappear and I was left to compute only on this 100e for the rest of my life, I honestly would not have a problem finding fun and genuinely useful things to do with it every day. The 80's child and 90's teen in me would find this lowly "Winbook" a marvel of science fiction brought to life.

A walled garden, hardware crippled, Chromebook this is not, though Lenovo did built them in this same chassis. Nope, this computer that I use around the house and on trips for so many things is a fully fledged, inexpensive, computing platform like the days of yore, except better in almost every way; its manual sucks. 😄

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On 11/22/2021 at 9:20 PM, Tatwi said:

Let's just take a moment to appreciate that I was able to buy a whole real computer for only $70 more than the retail price of the Windows 10 Pro license it came with.

$70 more than you or I would pay for a license. I'm sure Lenovo gets a much better price than we do. 🙂

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On 11/23/2021 at 12:30 AM, Scott Robison said:

$70 more than you or I would pay for a license. I'm sure Lenovo gets a much better price than we do. 🙂

Now that Microsoft will be competing directly with the OEMs in the educational market, I wonder how that licensing will play out. Is MS going to risk alienating their highest volume customers or will they be content to be another "also ran" in the market? Quarter 4 2021 their Windows OEM licensing dropped by 3%, which isn't much but it is telling given the lead up to and launch of Windows 11. I wonder if OEM sales have become such a small portion of MS's income that they no longer care about pissing off OEMs. That and MS know that consumers will demand Windows on desktops, at least for a few more years.

Give it another 5 years and all those kids who grew up using Chomebooks in school may well demand ChromeOS/Android laptops and desktops in their workplaces and homes. I am pretty sure that was Google's long game and it may well work for them.

Had I not educated my kids on how to use Windows and MS Word/Excel, no one else would have. It's been Chromebooks since our eldest was in third grade and now that she's in 10th grade, it's the only computer she wants to use. Really, it's the only one she needs too. I wonder if Microsoft even sees this on the horizon.

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The MOST I pay for a Windows license: https://www.kinguin.net/category/19429/windows-10-professional-oem-key ($30 or less)

They have been my goto source for a long time, activation takes a few extra minutes since you have to actually call MS and ramble off codes back and forth, but after several dozen keys, they have all worked great.

Retail prices are stupid insane, and I have always bought OEM from various sources.

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On 11/23/2021 at 12:53 AM, Tatwi said:

Give it another 5 years and all those kids who grew up using Chomebooks in school may well demand ChromeOS/Android laptops and desktops in their workplaces and homes. I am pretty sure that was Google's long game and it may well work for them.

Maybe! My kids all have their own Chromebooks, and used them at school. I don't think they used any Windows machine, unless they did something with the teacher's PC. And they don't use any of our Windows machines at home, only another Ubuntu laptop I set up for them with some games, including RetroPie. It's extremely likely that they will make it to high school without any significant Windows experience, and I'm very OK with that. If Windows has lost all relevance by then, I will be really OK with that, too!

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On 11/23/2021 at 4:41 PM, SlithyMatt said:

My kids all have their own Chromebooks, and used them at school. I don't think they used any Windows machine

What do they do on Chromebook? I mean besides surfing the net. And how do they accomplish it?

I never used Chromebook, and I heard contradictory feedbacks about its capabilities. Some users happy with it, some totally not.

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The school where I teach part time (Mountain West Montessori Academy) has Chromebooks in every classroom for the students to use. They seem to work relatively well, but I have not spent a lot of time with them directly, as I am issued a Windows laptop.

My python class students use a platform called "skillstruck.com" (which I am less than impressed with) to login, read lessons, and do assignments and quizzes. Chromebooks are perfectly adequate for those tasks, and given how tough kids can be on electronics, there is much less financial risk to them using Chromebooks than many other options.

Personally, I'd like to see Raspberry Pi systems (at least for a programming lab like this) that are not connected to a network, but they are not practical for any of the other classes who only use Chromebooks for a portion of their class work. I have to use them pretty much every day.

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On 11/23/2021 at 11:28 PM, Cyber said:

What do they do on Chromebook?

We are homeschooling right now, so they are using it for schoolwork, which is all web-based, so everything is through Chrome. There are other apps they can install, but we have them on locked-down kids accounts that require parental permission to install anything.

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I have never actually touched a Chromebook, I don't even use Chrome, except at work. I'm a Firefox guy. lol

I look at Windows as a "necessary evil" because no other platform can do everything I want it to do. So, I am stuck using it for most everything, and playing around on Linux, but not really being productive with it. Not as much as I am on Windows anyway. It sucks, but it is what it is.

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On 11/23/2021 at 11:28 PM, Cyber said:

What do they do on Chromebook? I mean besides surfing the net. And how do they accomplish it?

I never used Chromebook, and I heard contradictory feedbacks about its capabilities. Some users happy with it, some totally not.

My kids mostly use them for watching shows on Netflix/Disney+ and listening to music on Spotify when they aren't doing their school work through Google Classroom (assignment/document tracking/review/submission) and Google Docs. However, there are many web based programs for content creation (graphics and video) and programming (such as Scratch and the Arduino web editor). Additionally, all Chromebooks from 2020 on can run most Android apps/games.

Years ago now I bought myself a Chromebook and I found it too limiting and cumbersome, but that's because I am an advanced Linux and Windows user who just needs to use a bunch of things that aren't in the scope of ChromeOS. A "Winbook" is more suited to my use case. That said, Chromebooks are fantastic for anything web related, including the use of both Google's and Microsoft's online office suits. For a normal person who isn't doing stuff like running virtual machines or playing Windows games, Chromebooks are totally fine as their only computer.

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