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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. 😄

Edited by Tatwi
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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.

Edited by Scott Robison
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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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  • 4 weeks later...

Story time!

So, I'm running an XFX RX 580 DD 8GB card in my system. It does what I need it to do, even though the 580 line has been out since 2017 and was technically a "refresh" of the 480 line . Had it about 2 years now. Was under $200 when I got it, before the silicon hit the fan and sky-rocked in price.

About a year ago a fan started making noise, and XFX kindly sent me a set of new fans and a shroud. So I tore the card apart and replaced it, and in the process I had to replace the thermal compound as well. Put it all back together. Worked great.

Fast forward to this past week, and I start putting it under heavy load for the first time in months. Temps are pushing 85C, got the fans cranked to 2300+ RPM, so it got loud and hot. Started under-volting it to drop the temps, got them down about 5 or 6 C to just under 80, but still too hot and loud. It was running at 65C to 70C max, under full sustained load.

So... tore it apart again. Thermal compound was hard...it dried out, I used my tried and true Arctic Silver 5. Dug out the tube, checked it out, it's barely still pliable, and I picked it up new a year ago when I replaced the fans. Guess I got a bad tube, or one that sat in a warehouse forever. So, I just got 2 tubes of Arctic MX4 recently, and I like it better anyway. Put that on there and...

65C under max sustained load at 1600'ish RPM. Cool and quiet! Even more so than it was originally!

On a side note, I did discover my card can  under-volt to 1050mV and remain 100% stable, at stock it runs at 1140mV under stage 7 (max) load. May see if I can get it under 1000mV, I know some cards can, seen some people saying they got them running at about 960mV.

Lower temps, lower RPM on  the fans, a win win out of an annoying situation!

Amazes me how much heat modern hardware produces sometimes, but the level of control they give you over it is so nice. 😁

This is my card, love the look of it as well as the performance for the MSRP. NOT the current prices of hardware. These cards are going for $600 new right now. NOT worth it! lol

xfx580DD.jpg.1edc49ea56c9b609f189671891b78a9f.jpg

Edited by Strider
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On 11/23/2021 at 6:20 AM, Tatwi said:

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. 😄

I think it is fantastic how much computer you can get today for so little money. Like you say it is something that even we that grew up with computers in the 80's probably never could image or dream of.

Last year I was awaiting my new MacBook Air M1, and needed a computer quickly before it could be delivered.

I got something similiar to your computer above, but a budget machine from HP instead. I was only a two core Celeron, but with a better IPS 14" 1080p anti glare display (fantastic quality for the price and low budget). It also came with an Office 365 license free for a year.

In total a fantastic deal for just around €200. Amazing! 😄

Today I keep it in my trunk of my Tesla, and if I need to use a computer while waiting for charging (not very often) or for my family (most common), I just fetch my cheap HP portable and my car desk tray. Great as a spare computer and machine!

HP Notebook - 14s-dq0003no Product Specifications | HP® Customer Support

hp-14-dq0003-14-baerbar-dator-vit.jpg?$f

 

Product number
1E6Z4EA
Product name
HP Notebook - 14s-dq0003no
Microprocessor
Intel® Celeron® N4000 (1.1 GHz base frequency, up to 2.6 GHz burst frequency, 4 MB L2 cache, 2 cores)
Chipset
Intel® Integrated SoC
Memory, standard
4 GB DDR4-2400 SDRAM (1 x 4 GB)
Video graphics
Intel® UHD Graphics 600
Hard drive
64 GB eMMC
Optical drive
Optical drive not included
Display
35.6 cm (14") diagonal FHD IPS anti-glare micro-edge WLED-backlit, 250 nits, 45% NTSC (1920 x 1080)
Wireless connectivity
Realtek RTL8821CE 802.11b/g/n/ac (1x1) and Bluetooth® 4.2 Combo
Expansion slots
1 multi-format SD media card reader
External ports
1 USB 3.1 Gen 1 Type-C™ (Data Transfer Only, 5 Gb/s signaling rate); 2 USB 3.1 Gen 1 Type-A (Data Transfer Only); 1 AC smart pin; 1 HDMI 1.4b; 1 headphone/microphone combo
Minimum dimensions (W x D x H)
32.4 x 22.5 x 17.99 cm
Weight
1.46 kg
Power supply type
45 W Smart AC power adapter
Battery type
3-cell, 41 Wh Li-ion
Webcam
HP TrueVision HD Camera with integrated dual array digital microphone
Audio features
Dual speakers

 

Edited by martinot
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  • 1 month later...
On 9/23/2021 at 8:44 PM, 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.

I would be so happy to own even the worst, slowest automatic Datsun 240z, because they just look so cool man! That or a late 70s Volvo station wagon. Heck, it would be neat to have my 1990 Isuzu Impulse XS back, rusty and gutted as it was (I intended to put a roll cage in it and wreck it over time in rally races, but then I realized I was poor and I traded it for repairs to our minivan).

Vehicles sure are money pits! QBASIC, on the other hand, I can fully enjoy on any old piece of junk computer. Definitely a point in favour of software related hobbies. That said, there's something fun, an ephemeral euphoria, about the experience of driving a vehicle that a person has some kind of connection to. That might be trundling along in a Model T on a lazy Sunday afternoon or whizzing down the road on a recumbent bicycle or maybe even crushing junkers with a tank; It doesn't really matter what the vehicle is, it's the... duality? the sense of being more than just a person inside a machine... and that's not an experience that can be delivered through computerization, emulation. You really just have to do it to experience it.

It is nice that the Boomers got to enjoy all this stuff, with their decent jobs and utterly astounding pay to cost of living ratios. 1946 to 1986, thems were the days to be a North American I tell ya! Peak of Humanity that was. Ah well.

So yeah computers, that thing I do because it's cheap and better than staring at the wall.

Edited by Tatwi
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  • 2 weeks later...
  • 7 months later...

Random thought...

I was sitting here, letting Steam update a game (No Man's Sky), and as I was watching it download, I was once again struck by how far we've come... And my speeds are slow compared to some.

download-speed.jpg.1fdd08c524fc519299683044eac225e0.jpg

 

To  download 6.8GB of data, extract that data and patch 12.4GB, all in just a couple minutes. Growing up dealing with kilobits and kilobytes and having to wait MUCH longer makes me marvel how much has changed in my lifetime, and appreciate it so much more than most I think. 🙂

 

Edited by Strider
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On 9/24/2021 at 2:44 AM, Scott Robison said:

Kind of makes me feel sorry for the car guys who can't exactly emulate the classic cars they'd love to own.

Modern measurement techniques and CNC can enable bringing them back albeit for a price unlike software only emulators. Besides those cars will not be beholden to spare part monopoly.

On 9/25/2021 at 1:09 AM, kelli217 said:

There’ll be something crucial that is only existent in the original vehicle.

What would hinder a replication?

On 11/23/2021 at 6:20 AM, Tatwi said:

this modest and cheap computer can run thousands of genuinely useful programs/games on battery power, for hours at a time.

Will be great now that nuclear power is being shut down.. 😛

Bring out the hand-cranked generators for the laptop..

On 11/23/2021 at 6:53 AM, Tatwi said:

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.

I hope kids gets in on the free-Unix thing since both Microsoft and Google are American corporations with goals not compatible with a happy feature.

 

On 12/19/2021 at 4:42 AM, Strider said:

Amazes me how much heat modern hardware produces sometimes,

Try water cooling?

Also the energy bill might be expensive.

On 11/8/2022 at 8:29 PM, Strider said:

Growing up dealing with kilobits and kilobytes and having to wait MUCH longer makes me marvel how much has changed in my lifetime, and appreciate it so much more than most I think. 🙂

It's crazy 😉

Especially chip geometries smaller than the wavelength of gamma radiation photons. Something I thought of are the computerized phones aka "smartphones" which have like CPU ~2 GHz, RAM ~2 GB, ~32 GB storage. Maybe they can be repurposed if control of the bootloader can be accomplished and some useful wired network options can be had? Imagine a 19" rack of them..

 

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On 11/8/2022 at 5:50 PM, neutrino said:

What would hinder a replication?

Remember what I initially said: A classic car that you could recreate completely from scratch, from the frame up, using third-party replacement parts. That precludes there being an existing car to use for parts, or any new-old-stock or other OEM parts. It also precludes fabricating any parts yourself.

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On 11/10/2022 at 5:41 AM, kelli217 said:

Remember what I initially said: A classic car that you could recreate completely from scratch, from the frame up, using third-party replacement parts. That precludes there being an existing car to use for parts, or any new-old-stock or other OEM parts. It also precludes fabricating any parts yourself.

Car kits are somewhat close to this.

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