Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Backup Puter

I recently had the MB blow in my shack computer.  I worked Palestine and came into the shack the next morning and the puter was deader than a door nail.  Everything else in the box, SSD, RAM WIFI was OK.  I had a little $80 Atom 1.3 MHZ quadcore I was using as a backup.  It has 2gb ram and 32gb SSD built in and upgraded to Win 10.  It works OK except being an $80 fanless computer its thermal management kind of stinks and the CPU would throttle back, meaning I couldn't run the full compliment of software I like to run.  SSDR worked fine but when I added DDUTIL FRStack SDR-Bridge Chrome CW Skimmer and opened a DAX channel the processor power started to throttle back.  None the less I was able to make a dozen DX contacts using the little Atom box, while waiting for the new main shack computer to arrive.  

I decided I wanted something more powerful as a backup, plus I like playing with computers, so I went to AliExpress and had me a look around.  I wanted something cheap and fanless but effective, which meant one of the i's, i3, i5 or i7.  I decided on a i3.  Next is to determine which version of the i3.  There is an older Haswell chip which has the 4000u video  chipset which was the cheapest and the model I chose which is the 5500u video chipset, the latest 14nm Broadwell version.  The price differential is only a few bucks and my experience is 5500 chips are better, so 13 5005u with the 5500 video it is.  

The spec sheet looked good.  Plenty of ports, dual monitors if desired, 2 drive options (SATA and mSATA) half length card slot for WIFI, GB LAN.  Since I already had RAM and a SSD I bought it barebone.  There was a $3 coupon so it was $125 out the door delivered airmail via DHL. I've dealt with this company before with good service.  

Here is what CPU boss has to say about the i3 5005u performance.

My suggestion is 8gb RAM if your going to purchase new RAM.  4gb is enough but the price difference between 4 and 8 is small.   The chip uses 1.35v 204 pin laptop memory.  8gb single stick (there is only 1 slot) on Newewgg is $33.  There are a little cheaper choices but this memory has CAS 9 latency which is desirable.  SSD choice is next.  I had a 32gb SATA III  on the shelf.  32gb is more than enough for this dedicated kind of back up application.  I checked Newegg and found a  64gb mSATA for $32, which fits the mMSATA slot and has 6gb/s transfer spec so if I was buying new this is what I would choose.  This leaves the SATA III slot open for expansion if you want to turn the puter into a media server or something.  Again cheaper choices exist but this would be my best bang for the buck.  I had a WIFI card so I stuck it in but I virtually never run my ham stuff off WIFI as I prefer the wire.

So for under $200 a good setup.  I loaded Win 10 pro using a genuine OEM license I purchased off ebay for $20.  So it's a fresh install and not an upgrade.  Since I had the RAM WIFI and SSD my total was $155 for an i3 5005u Broadwell homebrew computer, not too shabby.

The SSD space required for Win 10 pro plus recovery partition plus Chrome Firefox SSDR FRStack DDUTIL SDR-Bridge and CW skimmer was only about 17gb which left plenty of space for other programs if I wanted.

So howzit work?

With nothing open 0% utilization and 1.4gb memory usage (video memory is shared with RAM)

SSDR Chrome and my screen shot app 12% usage throttled back to 1.24 ghz

My typical compliment SSDR, CW skimmer, 1 DAX channel. DDUTIL, SDR-Bridge, FRStack all customized to my operating habits.  SSDR Display is set to 70 on the Rate and 30 on AVG and 25 fps.  DAX and skimmer are set to 4800.  

2 pans and 2 skimmers

  Full tilt 4 pans 4 skimmers 4 DAX channels still plenty of overhead.

My normal pileup mode  2 slices in one Pan, SDR-Bridge set to split mode FRStack DDUTIL Chrome.  I have several chrome extensions active like hangouts that also take some clicks.

The new computer in the shack is a close cousin to this one except better chip: Fanless i7 Broadwell, Iris pro video, 8gb faster memory, 254 SSD and 2 HDMI ports.  That computer runs like butter even with everything hanging out and running OBS video screen capture of one monitor.  It's kind of overkill for SSDR and I bought it specifically for its graphic performance with video capture.  At some point I may give OBS capture software a whirl on the i3 computer just to see how it flies.

73  W9OY