Hardware Tech

Consumer Tech roundup

Its been an eventful announcement week. For those who can afford to spend.

AMD detailed the new Ryzen 3 3100 and 3300x. These are both quad core, 8 thread CPUs. Along with the long awaited B550 and A520 chipsets, this brings PCIe gen 4 to the mid and low end enthusiast market. Speak about spoiled for choice.

The total domination move would be to finally release the rumoured Ryzen 3 1200AF.

Canon announced their new high end mirrorless camera, the EOS R5. This time around it looks like Canon aren’t going to break our hearts by deliberately ham stringing their own product.

The EOS R5 will be capable of 8K RAW uncropped up to 30p. 4K uncropped up to 120p. Dual PIXEL AF across the board. 4:2:2 10bit Canon Log (H.265), 4:2:2 10bit HDR PQ (H.265). In body image stabilisation.

It also takes pictures. In case you cared. 12 fps mechanical shutter. 20 fps electronic shutter. I’m going to assume that it has DVI out, audio in and out and it doesn’t overheat. Because these are table stakes at the price Canon are likely to charge for this.

The new iPad Pro Magic Keyboard also arrived with reviewers. So the slew of Youtube reviews were hard to miss. There were plenty of breathless reviews about how wonderful it is.

But I think I’d land at the same point of view that Marques has.

Just as a counterbalance. There have also been a ton of Youtube videos aimed at the budget end of enthusiast / gaming PCs.

The highlight video was looking at the RX480 / 580. A pair of four to five year old GPUs that are still supported by AMD. Both punching well above their weight class in terms of value.

Hardware Tech

Potato Computer

The super budget computer made from second hand parts is always a great bang for buck option. Not to mention good for the soul in keeping used parts in service.

With computer hardware supply chains an issue currently. There is some scarcity and prices have gone up. This isn’t helped by a poor Australian exchange rate and the huge push to work from home.

Mid to high end components are available but at their usual punishing prices.

Purchasing carefully, a solid computer can be had for not a lot of money. The biggest costs of current computers are the CPU, GPU and memory. This is where the most savings can be made depending on how far back you go.

Monitors can be a sticking point depending on whats acceptable. New and used 720p and 1080p monitors can be had cheaply enough.

No surprises, the key requirement is to know what the use cases are. Even the cheapest new or second hand computers are well able to handle general computing.

Skylake and Haswell i3s can easily handle general use like web browsing and productivity. Add a GTX970 or RX570 for a solid gaming experience.

Just know that older hardware has its limitations. They can be a maze of hardware and software incompatibilities. Software support will get harder as time goes by as manufacturers stop bothering.

A perennial example is the used office desktop. These can be had cheaply but compatibility can be tricky. Especially for GPUs and wifi cards.

At the time of writing in Sydney, used GPU prices on Ebay and Gumtree were exceptionally high for later hardware. Demand has pushed Rx580s, GTX1070s and the like, into the pre pandemic low end new GPU ($200AU – $300AU) price bracket.

A new laptop might be the better option as its less temptation to fiddle and will arrive ready to go. Or the budget has blown out where new gear might be a better choice.

Gaming and streaming can have the highest requirements. If the aim is to just play older games at low resolutions then a low budget computer can be a great option.

However if the need is to play the latest games, especially multiplayer, and / or streaming. Then older hardware will start to show its limits.

This is where the price premium for current hardware wins out. Chiefly because it hasn’t reached its shelf life.

Check out any tech Youtubers build videos to see that they’re currently ending up with a lower end AMD Ryzen CPU and B450 motherboard. If they haven’t gone with an APU (like the Ryzen 3 3200G) then its either an RX580 or GTX1600 series GPU (for the streamers).

Typically this is the $600US ($900+AU) target they all seem to hit. Problem is that usually excludes the monitor, key board and mouse.

Using this as a base, a good range of upgrades is then possible. Switching to a newer CPU or GPU as budget permits.

Where this falls down at the moment is that even APUs are not that cheap.

A second hand build can be a great adventure in itself. But its not the only route available to potato.

Movies TV

Thank you, Tim Brooke Taylor

Where to start. Tim Brooke Taylor was an integral part of the late 60s and early 70s English comedy scene.

My childhood was spent voraciously watching the Goodies and Dr Who daily on the ABC. Avidly waiting for Monty Python movies. Listening to Monty Python records and the Hitchhiker’s Guide on CD.

Tim excelled at surreal comedy as part of the Goodies. Poking fun at anything and everything. The key was it was never mean spirited.

Episodes went anywhere in time and place as long as it was filmed somewhere near the studio and what the BBC had in the wardrobe department.

All the better as they were on a shoe string budget.

TBT and the Goodies put a smile on my face. Then and now.