Saturday, March 10, 2018

Mac To Windows Part 6

Yes, I know I said there wouldn’t be more, but there is . . . . and I can’t resist putting this out there for anyone else who is looking at the idea of going from Mac to Windows. 

I realised something today, something so bleeding obvious that I feel a bit stupid for not getting it before. I was previously going on about how in Mac OSX you can shove files around in a folder window to arrange them for things like planning projects - or in my case, creating a story path from the pictures. I said “but there is nothing like that in Windows” but I was wrong.

This is how you do it in Windows: First, get all of those aliases/shortcuts to programs that you use, and pin them to the taskbar. You do this by starting each program, then when the icon appears in the Taskbar (at the bottom of the screen), you right-click it and choose the item from the menu that appears to "pin" it there. Then you can trash all of those shortcuts and you have a desktop clear of everything except for the trash bin. Note that with all of your apps in the taskbar you can open them with one click, not two. This is pretty close to the Apple “dock”  - and you can make it disappear too like the dock - close enough for me, and now here;s the good part . . . .

Maybe you can’t arrange files in folders, but you CAN on the desktop – and it will keep that arrangement. Not exactly the same as OSX, but still workable for organising a project. Oh- and the desktop icon layout is singular. No matter how many desktops you have, it’s still the same layout.

Actually, I have never used the desktop for anything much on my computers before - except for locating drives on a Mac.

An update to the preview issue – the Windows app to replicate "Quicklook" is called Seer. It is a mini-app that can be set to load at startup and you can even get it to preview by tapping the spacebar, same as OSX. This trick also works with files on the desktop - so finally the answer is “Yes, I can organise my pics in something like the way I do on the Mac” - even though there is still no colour coding possible as in the OSX "tags".

Last weekend I played Dr. Fankenstein – I transplanted the workings of my PC into a new case. It actually wasn’t very hard, I took pictures of the plugs before I started and the folks at Kenjun where I bought it had kindly sent me the box the Mobo came in along with all of the documentation for Mobo, CPU etc. so it was easy to identify what went where.

Having seen some Youtube vids by “DIY Perks” I thought that I would try making a quiet vertical airflow computer. For this I found the Silverstone FT05B case which is designed for this purpose. It was not cheap ($400) but I didn’t care: it is very good and already fairly quiet. The real test is what it sounds like under load – The Mac Pro under load is quite loud and I don’t want to repeat that.

Next stage is to get rid of the liquid cooler and replace it with what looks like the best air cooler available, The Noctua NH-D15 (I am getting the D15S as it is slightly shorter and thus will fit my case). After that I will try the most difficult part- fitting another Cooler to a GPU card. Then I will see if I can run it with only the two huge 180mm fans in the bottom of the case without it getting too hot . . . . based on the theory that these fans will be quieter than three or four smaller ones . . . . . but we’ll see. Since the GPU is a GTX1080 Ti I am not sure that it will be happy with no fans blasting on it when running full speed, but that is to be seen too.

Network Connections
I thought that there was something funny about my home Wifi – the PC just doesn’t seem to be getting very good net performance. It has a tiny USB plug sized thingy for wifi. 
The Mac Pro, on the other hand, has built in Wifi.
I tested it with an online tester:

Down 11.2 Mbps
Up 6.73 Mbps

Down 1.2 Mbps
Up 1.27 Mbps

No wonder the Youtube vids are so grainy!
Now the question is what to do about it.
I am confident that the teeny weeny wifi thingy is to blame as I have connected the PC to the network via the Mac Pro and it then gets everything just fine. It looks like I need to spend about 75 bucks for a decent PCIe Wifi card. I’m not really pleased about that but there is little choice in the matter. 


Today I put the NH-D15S in and it was easy. There was one tight spot which was plugging the fan into the motherboard but I took the radiator off first, then plugged it in with the fan sitting on the case then refitted the cooler and all was peachy. This thing is huge – here is a pic of it installed:

Thos two grey things are the tops of the radiator's two ends with the fan between. it's HUGE.

Putting the cooler on the GPU card: I have measured the space and opted for a smaller radiator unit, the NH-D9L which should leave about 17mm of space between it and the Power supply. I hope that it is narrow enough to fit above the PCIe slots – but maybe I can fiddle this when I work out the mounting if necessary.
I expect that I will need to do some metalwork to make a mounting bracket for the radiator on the card.

The one disadvantage of this is that it means I can only ever fit one GPU card in.
This is a bit of a shame as the point of the build was to make something that would render crazy fast - and two would definitely be faster than one. Still, maybe I can figure out a clever way to achieve both . . . .

It looks like the Wifi PCIe Card is short so it won’t touch the cooler anyway as the GPU cooler will be below it. 
Once the box is closed all of the wires go out a hole in the back top while the air goes out through a sort of square grid piece:
 I am just a little concerned that dust will fall into it when it is not running (which is the majority of the time) so maybe I will make a flat plate on stilts to sit above it  . . . . but it would also spoil the design a bit - and will it even matter?
More parts coming next week, followed by the fun of getting them all jammed in the box.  I am also considering getting better cables - it's a bit of a nightmare in there -  there are lots of plugs that just make it hard to fit cables in. I also need to find the fan control software and get control of the fans too.

Results (Tested using a phone app for measuring sound levels):
Original performance:
CPU max temp – 70deg
Sound when CPU rendering in Blender: 49 Db
Note that this registers as 100% CPU usage.

New performance with NH-D15S cooler
CPU temp - same as above.
Sound when CPU rendering in Blender: 39 Db
This does not tell the whole story though: the sound is also lower and less of a “noise” - but a whole ten Decibels is pretty good I think.
The Noctua fan cooler is everything people on Youtube said it was: it wasn’t cheap but it was worth it for the quality. I liked it enough to put the Noctua badge on the case - and I normally don't like badges or logos on anything.  

More bits arriving next week . . . . .


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