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Type of Computer?


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#21 Servant of the Lord   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 20304

Posted 22 August 2013 - 04:11 PM

Mine's similar to minibutmany's.

 

An incrementally modified Dell Dimension E521:

(Added a GB of Ram, installed Win 7, got a better videocard and a second harddrive)

  • Windows 7 Home Premium 32bit
  • 64 bit Athlon dual core
  • 3 GB Ram (wish I had at least another two in here, but the 32 bit OS won't support any more)
  • One 350GB harddrive and another 500GB one (broken into four partitions).
  • AMD Radeon 4670 w/ 512 MB video ram (this has served me very well, but is somewhat outdated now)
  • Monitor res is 1680x1050, and it's ~22 inches, maybe 21", I forget.

 

Computer's getting old, but has been functional for six years now.


Edited by Servant of the Lord, 22 August 2013 - 04:13 PM.

It's perfectly fine to abbreviate my username to 'Servant' rather than copy+pasting it all the time.
All glory be to the Man at the right hand... On David's throne the King will reign, and the Government will rest upon His shoulders. All the earth will see the salvation of God.
Of Stranger Flames - [indie turn-based rpg set in a para-historical French colony] | Indie RPG development journal

[Fly with me on Twitter] [Google+] [My broken website]

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#22 Ravyne   GDNet+   -  Reputation: 7744

Posted 22 August 2013 - 05:06 PM

Setting aside specific components, I'll share my general strategy for buying a computer -- I've always been well-served by buying just behind the bell-curve of price/performance. Aside from a few specific components I've picked up when feeling lavish (and generally also when gainfully employed and well-compensated), I've never bought the absolute best-of-the-best. Computer components, like most other goods where a "high-end" market exists, can rather easily cost you 2-3 time more for top-tier components that are only marginally faster (typically 15%, give or take). It really doesn't make sense to buy thosoe unless you're working in a profession where time is money, where such components represent a bottle-neck in your workflow, and where freeing up that (up to) 20% of time will actually pay for the massive different in cost. This is especially true of "professional-grade" components like workstation GPUs or processors, but its even true of consumer-level components.

 

A good, fast, core i7 can be had for around $300, but you can easily spend $600-$1000 for the very fastest models, or the "extreme" versions -- for that extra $300-$700, you probably get 400Mhz base clock-speed, and a few more megs of cache -- or, maybe you get two more cores (but lower clock-speeds) and the ability to host more memory. GPUs are interesting, in that performance actually scales close-to-linearly in the higher-end range (owing mostly to near-perfect SLI scaling and SLI products that are basically 2x their single-gpu conterparts) but down in the more main-stream ranges its again not difficult to find GPUs that cost half as much as another but give you 75-80 percent of the performance. RAM is different in another way -- you pay dearly for higher-clocked lower-latency modules that make almost no perceptible different in actual workloads -- in any real-world choice scenario, it's pretty much always better to take 2x slower RAM than 1x of much faster RAM.

 

In this way, you can very easily spend right around $200 per major component (CPU, Motherboard, GPU, RAM) and have a very nice system rounding up to an even $1000 for the rest of the components -- all the better if you have an old case, power-supply, or disk drives you can make use of.



#23 swiftcoder   Senior Moderators   -  Reputation: 10235

Posted 22 August 2013 - 05:15 PM


in any real-world choice scenario, it's pretty much always better to take 2x slower RAM than 1x of much faster RAM

I'm not sure I agree with this. RAM is so damn cheap these days that you can easily afford more than you can actually used.

 

I have machines at work and home equipped with 16 GB of RAM, and that tends to work out to 4 GB of useful RAM, and 12 GB of dubiously helpful disk cache...


Tristam MacDonald - Software Engineer @Amazon - [swiftcoding]


#24 latch   Members   -  Reputation: 762

Posted 22 August 2013 - 05:21 PM

Here's a blurry pic!

8-core

8gig

2tb

3 monitors(2 19s and a 27)

blur.png

The forth monitor on the left is connected to a headless laptop I've been playing Cave Story on.



#25 Ravyne   GDNet+   -  Reputation: 7744

Posted 22 August 2013 - 06:58 PM

 


in any real-world choice scenario, it's pretty much always better to take 2x slower RAM than 1x of much faster RAM

I'm not sure I agree with this. RAM is so damn cheap these days that you can easily afford more than you can actually used.

 

I have machines at work and home equipped with 16 GB of RAM, and that tends to work out to 4 GB of useful RAM, and 12 GB of dubiously helpful disk cache...

 

My main point is that the faster RAM will make literally no difference in your workflow -- It barely shows up in benchmarks that simulate workflows (2-5%) maybe -- and that's without the human factor, wherein every sip of coffee you take is on the same order of time as the difference the faster RAM will make on a job that takes a handful of minutes to process. The only caveat is if you're sharing your RAM with a modernish integrated GPU (like a Haswell CPU or AMD APU), then it can make a measurable difference to gaming or multimedia. Otherwise, faster RAM is only of use to overclockers.

 

My experience with RAM usage is quite different (its bound to be) -- My work machine has 12 gigs, and if I have one or two spartan VMs running on 3GB each, the 6-9 GB that's left over is actually quite painful to deal with. I pretty commonly have Visual Studio, MSWord, Outlook, and 1-2 dozen chrome tabs open (Chrome is a pig, frankly), alongside at least 1 VM, and Windows usually informs me that I should close some programs because I'm running low on memory at least daily.

 

In my experience, more RAM is the single best investment you can make in your computers performance up to 12-16GB (at that point, get a good SSD if you don't yet have one). 8GB is a practical minimum today, 16 is better. If you run VMs, add 4GB for each one you might need to run concurrently. My laptop actually has 32GB because I sometimes am dedicating half of that to VMs.

 

Anyhow, I wasn't really suggesting OP should go crazy and get 32gigs of RAM -- 8 is workable, 16 is more than enough, and future-proof for most. I was just saying don't go out and spend 2x as much getting the fastest 8 or 16GB you can find, because there's precious little difference between that and stuff that runs at slightly more pedestrian speeds. I'd rather not spend the money on negligible performance, and get 16GB instead of 8GB, put that money into other components, or pocket it.

 

I'm also not advocating for getting the cheapest RAM one can find. In my experience, inexpensive RAM has been the source of more of my hardware troubles than any other component. There's plenty of cheap, poor-quality RAM in the market, and there's also some less-expensive "performance" RAM that's actually just standard-grade RAM configured to tell your motherboard to clock it higher and feed it higher voltage (a factory-overclock basically, rather than actually being a more-capable part to begin with). The last three times I've purchased RAM, I've bought G.Skill and haven't had any problems -- I have had problems with Kingmax and Crucial -- RAM seems to have come back up a bit in price since a year ago when I bought my laptop, but back then I paid just a little over $200 for 4x8GB DDR3 SO-DIMMs that were actually quite fast still, but there were still higher-speed, lower-latency kits by G.Skill and others that were running $250+ for 2x8GB.


Edited by Ravyne, 22 August 2013 - 07:09 PM.


#26 swiftcoder   Senior Moderators   -  Reputation: 10235

Posted 22 August 2013 - 08:27 PM


I pretty commonly have Visual Studio, MSWord, Outlook, and 1-2 dozen chrome tabs open (Chrome is a pig, frankly), alongside at least 1 VM, and Windows usually informs me that I should close some programs because I'm running low on memory at least daily.

There are increasingly many days when I'm really glad I don't have to deal with Windows :)

 

A dozen tabs in Chrome, Eclipse (talk about a memory hog), a large Java-driven build system, GIMP - I'm rarely able to commit more than 4 gigs all told on my Ubuntu box. Apart from its annoying habit of using the remaining 12 GB for disk cache...


Tristam MacDonald - Software Engineer @Amazon - [swiftcoding]


#27 BGB   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 1554

Posted 22 August 2013 - 08:42 PM

 


in any real-world choice scenario, it's pretty much always better to take 2x slower RAM than 1x of much faster RAM

I'm not sure I agree with this. RAM is so damn cheap these days that you can easily afford more than you can actually used.

 

I have machines at work and home equipped with 16 GB of RAM, and that tends to work out to 4 GB of useful RAM, and 12 GB of dubiously helpful disk cache...

 

 

disk cache is useful in that it makes frequent HDD based tasks go faster, as then they don't have to go all the way back out to the physical HDD to read/write data.

 

this can make things like recompiling ones' project or copying files around, or loading up apps and similar often go faster.

and is generally much cheaper than buying an SSD...

 

also, in cases where programs suddenly need a lot more RAM, then stuff can get pushed out to disk and the RAM is there and ready to use.

 

of course, if one does have an SSD, then maybe it is more plausible to have less RAM and instead have a really big swap file.

 

but, OTOH, if one doesn't have enough RAM, and they are using a traditional HDD, then regularly having everything go really slow and grind the HDD isn't really a great experience... in this way, having a lot of RAM is sort of the price one pays to not have their computer grind...

 

especially, say, if a person has the tendency to very often nearly always leave FireFox running, where it itself has a tendency to eat up a good 3GB or so (and push other things out of RAM), ... say, allowing playing a game with FF still running, ...



#28 Shippou   Members   -  Reputation: 1689

Posted 22 August 2013 - 09:08 PM

 You don't need high end computers to learn programming.

 

 Started coding on a Pentium 2 ( 450 MZH ) with a massive 75MB RAM card, and 640x480 graphics. I also had a sound blaster card !

 

Last dev laptop I had had single core 1.8 GHz processor, with a 128 MB graphics card and 512MB ram. Had no issues, even when video editing.

The current dev laptop I have has duel core 2.8 GZh, 512 MB Intel graphics card and 4 GB ram. Again I have no issues with it.

 

 All work environments are Windows, with Linux emulators for when it is absolutely necessary.


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2. Anything that's invented between when you’re fifteen and thirty-five is new and exciting and revolutionary and you can probably get a career in it.
3. Anything invented after you're thirty-five is against the natural order of things.

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#29 Dexterbaxter   Members   -  Reputation: 114

Posted 23 August 2013 - 12:42 AM

Thank you everyone for your feedback. I learned so much, which definitely gave me assurance. I'm targeting an i5/i7 and a good amount of ram.



#30 swiftcoder   Senior Moderators   -  Reputation: 10235

Posted 23 August 2013 - 04:57 AM

disk cache is useful in that it makes frequent HDD based tasks go faster, as then they don't have to go all the way back out to the physical HDD to read/write data.
 
also, in cases where programs suddenly need a lot more RAM, then stuff can get pushed out to disk and the RAM is there and ready to use.

 

Recent versions of Ubuntu seem to be shipping with a pretty iffy disk caching policy. Not only will it use the entire set of available RAM as disk cache, but it'll then starve running applications of memory, rather than release portions of the cache. Every time I run a full build of our source tree, I'll end up with a nice, full 12-14 GB of disk cache, which will then persist till next reboot.

 

Thank god for sync; echo 3 > /proc/sys/vm/drop_caches, but I'd rather they made the disk cache policy tunable, and/or gave it sensible defaults...


Tristam MacDonald - Software Engineer @Amazon - [swiftcoding]


#31 BGB   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 1554

Posted 23 August 2013 - 10:47 AM

 

disk cache is useful in that it makes frequent HDD based tasks go faster, as then they don't have to go all the way back out to the physical HDD to read/write data.
 
also, in cases where programs suddenly need a lot more RAM, then stuff can get pushed out to disk and the RAM is there and ready to use.

 

Recent versions of Ubuntu seem to be shipping with a pretty iffy disk caching policy. Not only will it use the entire set of available RAM as disk cache, but it'll then starve running applications of memory, rather than release portions of the cache. Every time I run a full build of our source tree, I'll end up with a nice, full 12-14 GB of disk cache, which will then persist till next reboot.

 

Thank god for sync; echo 3 > /proc/sys/vm/drop_caches, but I'd rather they made the disk cache policy tunable, and/or gave it sensible defaults...

 

 

fair enough...

 

I was mostly thinking Windows here, where it seems to work fairly well, though it does have the tendency to push programs out to disk after a while, so even with a lot of RAM it still grinds occasionally, but usually this is when switching back to an app which has been left in the background for a while.



#32 Servant of the Lord   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 20304

Posted 23 August 2013 - 01:47 PM

Thank you everyone for your feedback. I learned so much, which definitely gave me assurance. I'm targeting an i5/i7 and a good amount of ram.

 

Techy game developers who are fans of good hardware aren't an accurate measurement of the average gamer (Unless you're making software for game developers).

Instead, check Valve's publicly available automatically collected monthly hardware survey that they get from their pool of millions of average PC gamers.

 

[Valve Hardware Survey]


It's perfectly fine to abbreviate my username to 'Servant' rather than copy+pasting it all the time.
All glory be to the Man at the right hand... On David's throne the King will reign, and the Government will rest upon His shoulders. All the earth will see the salvation of God.
Of Stranger Flames - [indie turn-based rpg set in a para-historical French colony] | Indie RPG development journal

[Fly with me on Twitter] [Google+] [My broken website]

[Need web hosting? I personally like A Small Orange]


#33 SeraphLance   Members   -  Reputation: 1438

Posted 23 August 2013 - 02:29 PM

 

Thank you everyone for your feedback. I learned so much, which definitely gave me assurance. I'm targeting an i5/i7 and a good amount of ram.

 

Techy game developers who are fans of good hardware aren't an accurate measurement of the average gamer (Unless you're making software for game developers).

Instead, check Valve's publicly available automatically collected monthly hardware survey that they get from their pool of millions of average PC gamers.

 

[Valve Hardware Survey]

 

 

FWIW, most people have been right on the money.Consider that you need a tier or two above the average gamer in order to be a very productive developer (assuming you're targeting those specs, obviously).  RAM is particularly important.



#34 PeterStock   Members   -  Reputation: 392

Posted 23 August 2013 - 02:36 PM

Shippou has the right idea - I think any computer will do. In fact something low spec could be viewed as better, since if your game runs well on that then it will run on anything. My old computer broke a few years ago (fried capacitors made it rather unstable ;) ) and I upgraded to a dual-core Celeron with 1GB memory. It's really all I need. I suppose I'm making a fairly small game.

The only thing that I think makes a difference is a big monitor (or even 2), so you can see more code. But isn't widescreen worse than 4:3 unless you can rotate it? I'd rather see more lines and less of the blank space to the right.

#35 Servant of the Lord   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 20304

Posted 23 August 2013 - 03:27 PM

The only thing that I think makes a difference is a big monitor (or even 2), so you can see more code. But isn't widescreen worse than 4:3 unless you can rotate it? I'd rather see more lines and less of the blank space to the right.

Sometimes it's nice to have two applications side by side (Win key + Left arrow / Right arrow), especially if your IDE of choice lets you split the IDE to view two source files in parallel, or when moving files and organizing them between two separate folders.

 

I actually wish I had an ultra-wide monitor. I have a ~22" 1680x1050 (16:10), but I wouldn't mind another two inches (with accompanying pixels) horizontal length. A 24" 1920x1200 (also 16:10) monitor would probably suit me a bit better.

 

I wonder if the current multi-monitor setups will eventually give way to larger (~2 feet) and wider (~3.5 feet horizontal) monitors with slightly curved screens that curve towards you on either end?


It's perfectly fine to abbreviate my username to 'Servant' rather than copy+pasting it all the time.
All glory be to the Man at the right hand... On David's throne the King will reign, and the Government will rest upon His shoulders. All the earth will see the salvation of God.
Of Stranger Flames - [indie turn-based rpg set in a para-historical French colony] | Indie RPG development journal

[Fly with me on Twitter] [Google+] [My broken website]

[Need web hosting? I personally like A Small Orange]


#36 swiftcoder   Senior Moderators   -  Reputation: 10235

Posted 23 August 2013 - 03:54 PM


I wonder if the current multi-monitor setups will eventually give way to larger (~2 feet) and wider (~3.5 feet horizontal) monitors with slightly curved screens that curve towards you on either end?

You mean like the newest crop of OLED TVs?

 

I'm pretty happy with my 27" 2560x1440 IPS panel, from South Korea by way of ebay. It's a metric ton of pixels, so you would need one hell of a GPU to run the latest games at full resolution, but that's not what I have it for - it is absolutely amazing for throwing up walls of text.


Tristam MacDonald - Software Engineer @Amazon - [swiftcoding]


#37 Ravyne   GDNet+   -  Reputation: 7744

Posted 23 August 2013 - 04:39 PM

Having big monitors is a nice proposition, though it can get expensive. At home and at work I have a 30" Dell U3011 as my primary monitor, which is 2560x1600. I have it flanked by 20" Dell 200nFPs (One 2001FP on either side at home, One 2007FP to the right at work) in portrait mode as secondary monitors with 1200x1600. The screen size and dot-pitch is such that the extended desktop is essentially flawless (just a couple millimeters off -- you can't notice because of the bezels).

 

Its begins to border on extravagance for sure, but its really nice to be able to have VS open in the main monitor, a bunch of chrome tabs in the screen to the left (research), and Outlook on the right. The primary monitor is plenty wide enough to diff two source files side-by-side, even if they lines might extend out to 120 characters. A screen that large is also nice because you can have a 1920x1200 remote desktop session open without taking over the screen entirely. A large monitor, or a pair of 1920x1200s is probably one of the bigger things you can do for your own human productivity, right up there with a comfy chair and good ergonomics.



#38 swiftcoder   Senior Moderators   -  Reputation: 10235

Posted 23 August 2013 - 05:05 PM


Having big monitors is a nice proposition, though it can get expensive.

When I picked mine up, it was $275 shipped.

 

People get a little worried about buying overseas via ebay, but it's a pretty good deal.


Tristam MacDonald - Software Engineer @Amazon - [swiftcoding]


#39 Ravyne   GDNet+   -  Reputation: 7744

Posted 23 August 2013 - 05:55 PM

Yeah, I've heard alright things about those Korean monitors, they generally work from what I hear, and they're far cheaper than their American, brand-name counterparts. However, they do use panels that are imperfect (perhaps a few dead pixels or out-of-band color reproduction -- not every monitor of theirs has these defects, but they won't replace one that does under warranty), the backlighting and color reproduction is often not of the same caliber as the name-brands, they have far fewer inputs by choice and by numbers (mine has axDisplayport, 2x Dual-link DVI, 2x HDMI, 1xVGA, 1xComponent, 1xS-Video/Composite, 7.1-channel audio out (via TOS-Link or standard mini-jacks), audio in over Displayport/HDMI/Tos-Link, a bunch of USB 2.0, and an SDHC card reader. The on-screen-display is better than the Korean ones, and has more options too.

 

$275 is an amazing price of entry to be sure, even $350 would be good, but you do get what yo pay for, to a certain extent. If you're happy with the out-of-the-box experience with those, Don't need every port under the sun, and willing to risk a few minor panel defects, they're a great deal.



#40 swiftcoder   Senior Moderators   -  Reputation: 10235

Posted 23 August 2013 - 06:03 PM

They have another often-overlooked advantage: no scaler.

 

It's incredibly hard to find an IPS panel in the US without a scaler, and for a computer monitor, I'm not sure why you would ever want one. They add ~8ms of latency to the display, and your GPU is capable of scaling to the full resolution anyway.


Tristam MacDonald - Software Engineer @Amazon - [swiftcoding]





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