Thursday, 17 January 2013

PC Overhaul

I've decided that with my main PC being down and out, I'm going to refurbish it.  Its two years of age, and though mighty powerful has come physical problems.

You may recall I fitted silent fans to the system, well one fan system which was never silent was the power supply unit, so I am looking at replacing that, I bought a quite powerful high spec unit (an OCZ 1000w unit), but I bought it for my prior machine my old Core2 Quad, apart from the case the power supply was the only unit I carried over into my Core i7 build.  So its time for an update.

I'm looking for a modular, constant, power supply giving a constant 850w or more, I'd like 1000w for surety and the possibility of adding a third graphics card into my SLi configuration later.

The other problem is, though I added the fans, and sorted the air flow optimisation it seems I also optimised how much dust would get pulled through the machine, so I'd like to look for some micro-mesh screens or filters to go between the case and the fans to filter out the junk on the inbound side of my air loop.  The trouble is, this might increase fan noise once again.

It'll also be a good chance to look at my storage options and update some of my drives, not least as I just had a Hitachi 320GB hard drive (stamped on top with the date of Oct 2007) die on me, I don't know whether it was taken out as part of the motherboard going down, or it itself contributed to the motherboard failure, all I can tell you is plugging it now results in hearing it clunk and it get very very hot very very fast.  Its on my desk wrapped in a big red plastic bag labelled DO NOT TOUCH ON PAIN OF SMOKE ALARM as we speak.

I may look at two small (32gb) SSD drives, as they're sub £30 now.  And just put the OS on that.  Then add a larger SSD drive to host games on my Windows boot, and add other hard drives to host the Linux portion of my data and virtual machines.

I do have dual USB 3.0 external facing ports on the rear of the machine (when connected to the motherboard supporting them) so I may also look at a pair of external USB 3.0 caddies, or purpose built drives, to hold my virtual hard disk images.  This is also the new part of my way of working, I'm going to start separating my data from my programs more thoroughly, I'm often adding new virtual drive images to my Virtual Machines.  You can even mount the same Virtual Disk Image (though not at the same time) on two different Virtual Machines, so I can create a new NTFS drive, create code on it on Linux, then check the same code cross compiles correctly on Windows.  A very useful trick.

Also backing up a single (or multi-part) VMDK file is easier to manage than having to back up the individual files being controlled for code, obfuscating the work I am doing by an added layer on my subversion server.  Using an encrypted virtual disk also means I can opt to carry the whole of my work around on a virtual encrypted compressed drive image, and keep working from any device mounting it, rather than worry about multiple files or backups or importantly fragmenting my work across multiple devices; how many times have you changed a file on one machine (say at the office) think you've submitted it to your server, then gotten say home and found its still on the machine at work, and you either re-do the edits at home on your working copy or you leave the work until the morning?... I do that on occasion and it annoys me as dead time.  Now, carrying my whole virtual drive, and leaving a back up at work, and a back up at home, I can sync the two easily and bring hundreds of thousands of code changes/work alterations with me wherever I am without the risk of missing X file of Y changes... There can be only one changed file, only one latest... the oldest dated disk image, simple.

So, those images on external USB 3.0 drives... I sense a plan coming together.

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