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  • ahhh good find - I'm not in London anymore but that's a good resource

  • Might be worth posting in the Raspberry Pi thread too for recommendations.

  • Thanks very much for the links.
    I had a look in the case and it does indeed have a hard drive, and having switched on again to remind myself of the prompts onscreen, it says "hard disk drive not ready" ahead the disk boot failure when you put the system disk in, Having had a further rummage online, it sounds like it is an HDD issue, so I might well be spending time on a duff machine. Bah.

  • This does not surprise me somehow. I actually got a stack with the system disk, so I think I'm good for retro storage. Oddly, NIB disks seem to go for reasonable money these days if you had such things.

  • Morning all (just about). Is there a forum-approved way to wipe an old laptop before I give away to charity? Windows 10, SSD, it’s an old ASUS UX305F.

  • apologies for the luddite enquiry here - but why is my bloody PC so slow?!

    Not that old Dell Desktop, use for web and MS Office inc Teams. A year ago it was nice and slick, now it runs like shit, always background processes grinding away, noticable lag in lots of basic applications. info below, and suggestions greatly appreciated.


    2 Attachments

    • Task Manager.png
    • System.png
  • Can't tell. Do a clean reinstall of Windows. Possibly thermal issue if issue persists.

  • Anyone selling a chromebook or something similar any time soon, or spotted any killer deals? Something cheap but not too fucked for my missus to browse web & google docs.

  • I'm guessing a slow disk but can't see your specs

  • Motherboards? I normally treat them like wine in a restaurant and buy the second cheapest but I feel that I should actually put some thought into it. There's a huge array of prices but I can't really see what the difference is.

    Beyond the obvious (memory capacity, type of USB, number of ports, etc) what should I be looking for? Will be paired with Ryzen 5600G, no intention of overclocking but it will be on 24/7.

  • In your case, chipset first (lower-end Ryzen chipsets don’t support PCIe Gen 4 on all slots), which will dictate cost somewhat.

    Then slot configuration and spacing; will the board physically and electrically support the cards/drives you’ll want to use? This will also dictate form factor (ATX/ITX/mATX).

    You mention the system will be on 24/7; will it be a server? If so, Asrock Rack make a great mini range of server boards for your CPU platform, with proper out-of-band management etc and no budget wasted on stupid flashing RGB LEDs or Darth Vader looking heatsinks.

  • Beyond the obvious (memory capacity, type of USB, number of ports, etc) what should I be looking for? Will be paired with Ryzen 5600G, no intention of overclocking but it will be on 24/7.

    Things you'll regret not having in future when there's no chance of ever changing the motherboard without starting over.

    You've chosen a non-Intel CPU and so immediately: support for Thunderbolt over USB-C. It's very rare that AMD motherboards support Thunderbolt, but a lot of peripherals are Thunderbolt and you're only going to get the most out of them with Thunderbolt. You've no idea what you might want to plug in over the life of the motherboard, so I'd put this one quite high on the list.

    Example of an AMD motherboard with Thunderbolt support https://www.gigabyte.com/Motherboard/TRX­40-DESIGNARE-rev-10#kf and even then you need to use the bundled card to achieve it.

    For the basics I look for:

    • Enough fan power ports for however I choose to configure the thing.
    • An M2 slot for the primary disk.
    • At least 1 SSD / HDD connection (I have a NAS so I just want a data drive so the primary disk is the OS).

    But what are you using this for? You mention 24/7 uptime, if you're building a NAS just keep things simple and look for low power and heat on the components you choose and don't worry about much else as you're unlikely to upgrade things, just swap drives, etc. If you're building a gaming PC go for connectivity as you're likely to upgrade and swap things over a 4-5 year ownership. If it's media, then more questions arise about how you want to use it (and why you didn't choose Intel when most media programs natively support hardware offloading fully with Intel chips based on the chip extensions).

  • mATX seems to be kind of shunned compared to mITX, can I ask why you went that route?

    I've had mine since 2012, don't think mITX existed then (I don't even know what it is!).

    Fractal are great though, good quality stuff.

  • I went with mATX in the end, backordered a Define Mini from OCUK along with a Noctua DH15 and MSI B550M mobo. Hopefully I can reuse the rest of my parts. Thanks for the suggestion.

  • Cheers and @Velocio

    Machine will mainly be used as Plex server with NAS with various other stuff like radarr, sonarr, etc and a few other similar always-on stuff. Lots of drives so will be in an ATX case.

    It will occasionally also be used for a bit of office and other random shit (through remote desktop). Ideally it would be two machines but I don't really have the space for that.

    I don't anticipate changing much on it over the years. It won't be used for gaming/have a graphics card and, given it will likely be in a cupboard or similar, I won't be plugging much in.

    The ASRock Rack ones sound interesting but I'm struggling to find much about them (or many places selling them in the UK).

  • https://www.scan.co.uk/products/asrock-x­570m-x570d4u-2l2t-amd-x570-am4-ddr4-pcie­-40-dual-m2-dual-gbe-plus-10gbe-usb-32-g­en2-micro-at

    https://www.scan.co.uk/products/asrock-x­570m-x570d4u-amd-x570-am4-ddr4-pcie-40-d­ual-m2-dual-gbe-usb-32-gen2-microatx

    There’s also this ASUS WS-PRO model that I’ve built many workstations with:

    https://www.scan.co.uk/products/asus-pro­-ws-x570-ace-amd-x570-am4-ddr4-pcie-40-u­2-m2-2-way-sli-3-way-crossfire-gbe-usb-3­2-gen2-aplus

    This one is unique due to having an 8-lane PCIe 3.0 slot connected via the chipset, which itself is connected to the CPU via 4-lane Gen4, resulting in three 8-lane slots at full bandwidth.

    There’s no other Ryzen board which does this, so if you need to run multiple GPUs, HBA cards, capture cards, 10/25Gb Ethernet adapters etc, this is the one.

  • Machine will mainly be used as Plex server with NAS with various other stuff like radarr, sonarr, etc and a few other similar always-on stuff. Lots of drives so will be in an ATX case

    Would move to a low power Intel CPU, and a fanless heatsink (or just a very very quiet large fan), and just a few big fans in the case to shift heat away from HDD.

    Would also prioritise motherboards based on number of HDD connections and unless you're buying a RAID card something with an onboard RAID.

    But mostly... the Intel CPU. Any recent one. I'd want to 100% know that hardware offloading of the encoding happens, and your best bet is just to buy a modern Intel CPU.

  • most media programs natively support hardware offloading fully with Intel chips based on the chip extensions

    Can you explain anymore about what this means in practical terms. I was looking at building a new rendering machine in the next year around a Ryzen CPU. Is it more relevant to things like Plex than, say, After Effects?

  • Can you explain anymore about what this means in practical terms

    Plex involves a lot of encoding and decoding of multimedia formats, and these can be done in software or natively in hardware. Everything defaults to software, which is CPU intensive and which is why watching 4k on devices that do this in software will mean fans spin up and get noisy, etc.

    With modern CPUs, certain codecs and operations can have circuits implemented within the CPU to do that work. The difference is that if you hand the job directly to the CPU it is significantly less work overall... and even with multiple high resolution streams playing at once in Plex barely a few % of CPU is used.

    Software like Plex can do the hardware offload, and it means they ask the CPU if it supports certain things... and if they do, great... don't run the software decoder and instead tell the CPU to do it in hardware.

    This is the CPU in my Plex machine: https://ark.intel.com/content/www/us/en/­ark/products/126686/intel-core-i7-8700-p­rocessor-12m-cache-up-to-4-60-ghz.html

    Note the TDP: 65W... could've got it lower but I didn't know what I was doing at the time and err'd on the side of caution by getting a slightly hotter and more capable CPU.

    Also note this: "Intel® Quick Sync Video" this is the feature that is effectively the hardware encoding: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Intel_Quic­k_Sync_Video

    The software needs to support detecting this and interacting with it... hence Plex understands this well, as does most video and audio software precisely because of Intel's dominance... check this one feature in the CPU and gain a huge % of people it benefits.

    The problem with AMD is that the support isn't as consistent or universal. AMD have had 3 different engines in the same time and not every CPU feature it, and it was already niche in the wider market. They used to have separate encoder and decoder circuits, and then combine to create something called Video Core Next (basically does the same as Intel Quick Sync Video). But as not all software knows how to look for it and may not support it... it's more of a crap shoot as to whether it will work for you.

    And that CPU I use... I have it fanless, literally a huge heatsink that requires no fan is on it. One of these things (I have an earlier model) https://www.scan.co.uk/products/nofan-co­pper-icepipe-cpu-cooler-80w-fanless-for-­all-intel-and-amd-cpus

    So in my setup... low power usage (low electricity bill), totally silent (no fans), and yet very high performance (I couldn't play games on this, but I can stream a lot of high-res content).

  • It will occasionally also be used for a bit of office and other random shit (through remote desktop). Ideally it would be two machines but I don't really have the space for that.

    It sounds like you should look at virtualisation. Your desktop OS does not need to dictate your NAS OS.

    UnRAID is probably the easiest way to do this, a lot less hassle than Proxmox or ESXi.

    Unless you want actual RAID?

  • Thanks for that, I don't think it's relevant for my next computer purchase, but good to know.

  • Interesting. I didn't realise the hardware decoding for Plex was Intel specific, I thought it was about shifting onto a graphics card.

    Makes sense, my current Plex server is an I3 with one of those same fanless coolers and it transcodes more than the processor power suggests it should.

    Will have to consider how much transcoding I do compared to other stuff.

  • Well the other reason I favour Windows is I know it well.

    I've run various other stuff but it always involves a lot of pissing about with permissions and things.

    What would the benefit of running unraid and Virtual machines?

  • Ability to use an appropriate OS for the different server and desktop use cases.

    It sounds like you mean Windows 10, which is not designed to run headless 24/7. How will you handle updates which require user input and restarts?

    I guess you can run Plex as a service though. And I may be overthinking your '24/7'... ;-)

  • It sounds like you mean Windows 10, which is not designed to run headless 24/7. How will you handle updates which require user input and restarts?

    I have a Windows machine running 24/7.

    It's no longer the case that an update will require me to login and push buttons. Does require Windows Pro for remote desktop though.

    There one catch to everything... If you start programs in headless mode it will disable video cards, etc. And things like hardware offloading mentioned above. But I just have things start on boot and don't try to do more than basic maintenance by remote desktop.

    It's been up for about 2 years, with reboots automatic as part of Windows update. Works fine.

    Yes my Linux servers offer more peace of mind on this, but I've not actually had an issue with the Windows machine (beyond discovering that headless quirk).

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PC Tech Thread

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