Monday, March 6, 2017

Technologies for my 2017 PC build

So, I have embarked on a mission to build a new pc after 10 years. This blog post is to capture some considerations for my choices. I think in 10 years time, this will make for fun reading. :)

What has surprised me in 2017 is the amount of awesome new technology that is now available at the consumer level. Here are the ones that I "must"(ahem) have.

CPU: Intel vs AMD

This used to be a no-brainer. But, AMD's recent Ryzen 7 platform has got me seriously thinking of switching over to the dark side.

My choices are:
  1. Intel Platform - Kaby Lake (4 cores / 8 threads) or Broadwell-E (10 cores / 20 threads) 
  2. AMD Platform - Ryzen 7 (8 cores / 16 threads) 
In order of preference:
  1. Broadwell-E: Has everything I want. Just way too expensive. Also, current chipset that it runs on is a bit too old already. Read below.
  2. Ryzen 7: Great price for the performance. But, gaming benchmarks aren't that great. Also, drivers aren't optimized yet as it just came out a few days ago.
  3. Kaby Lake: Great overall. But should I settle for another quad core? I was already on quad core 10 years ago! Grrr!

Platform: Intel X99, Intel Z270, AMD X370

There are a few interesting platforms to choose from. Here are the main points for me:
  1. Intel X99: Broadwell-E Enthusiast platform with quad channel memory. Only single M.2 and no support of upcoming Optane drives.
  2. Intel Z270: Kaby Lake platform with dual channel memory, support for dual m.2, and future proof with Optane support. Great performance numbers for gaming.
  3. AMD X370: Ryzen 7 platform. No dual m.2 boards (yet). Reduced future proofing due to lack of Optane support.

Graphics: Nvidia GTX 1080, Nvidia GTX 1080 TI, AMD Vega

Here are some thoughts on video cards:
  1. Nvidia GTX 1080: Awesome card! Now $100 cheaper due to TI version.
  2. Nvidia GTX 1080 TI: 30% faster than GTX 1080. Announced but not yet for sale.
  3. AMD Vega: Rumours for now. No official details yet.

Drive Performance: Dual M.2 PCIE x4 NVME SSD 32Gbps RAID 0

I'm going to squeeze the maximum I can from my drives to make this machine usable the many years to come. So, the fastest I can get to now is by using 2 M.2 drives in RAID 0 configuration. Here are the numbers I'm hoping to achieve.

Graphics Performance: 2-Way SLI or Crossfire support

Single super card is still best for now, especially for my plan to do VR gaming. However, I expect they'll find a way to make two cards work even better in the future. (Come on engineers!!!)

Connectivity: USB 3.1 Gen 2 + Bluetooth LE + Wifi 802.11 ac

Yup! I'm gonna want to connect a bunch of devices to this. I'm thinking NAS, USB drives, wireless headphones, and a VR device. But nothing special really.

Other considerations

  1. Quad Channel Memory: Nice to have. Having 8 DIMMs seems too prone to hardware failure in my opinion. I think I can make do with dual channel.
  2. U2: Nice to have. But adoption not there yet. I can use an Add-on card in the future.
  3. Optane Support: I'm not sure if I need this. I imagine the bottleneck will be the interface. So, having a different type of drive might not make that much a difference. Also, I'm sure an add-on card (even if it took a PCIE x16 slot) will probably be created if this technology took off.
  4. 10 GB Ethernet: No other 10GBE yet at home. Will probably look to 802.11ac and 802.11ad. 
  5. PCIE Lanes: For future-proofing.


... Nope! I haven't made up my mind yet. Maybe I need an Intelfuze model to make this decision. :)

Up next, research how to install Windows 10 without a DVD drive. Because my next machine probably won't have an optical drive.

Sunday, March 5, 2017

A better public DNS for FREE


Instead of using your ISP's DNS, use the faster and more reliable Google Public DNS instead: and

Your ISP's DNS

Like most people, I defaulted to using my ISP's DNS. For the most part, this works just fine. Until recently, we encountered various problems such as:
  1. Problems connecting to a specific website - This worked fine when I used my mobile network to connect instead.
  2. Slow to update - I made changes to my personal domain's DNS settings. It took forever to resolve to the right one. However, other parts of the world were already resolving this correctly.

Use Google Public DNS

Then my research pointed me to Google Public DNS here:
  1. Google DNS is faster 
  2. It claims to have more security
  3. It's free! And nothing beats free.
  1. Yet another way Google is tracking you. But I'm sure you know resistance is futile.
  2. Ah, nothing else yet. I'll revisit this post when I think of another one.

How to use it

To try it out, I suggest configuring a single machine to use it. If you want all your machines to use it, simply change you router's DHCP settings to dispense these settings below. (Yes, I'm make a lot of assumptions here. But if I'm sure you know what I mean.)
Here are Google DNS servers IP addresses:
  • Primary DNS:
  • Secondary DNS:


I'll try this out myself for a while and update the post as necessary. If you do have any feedback, please feel free to let me know. Thanks!

Thinking about assembling a new PC after 10 years

Hello! It's been a long time.

I'm writing this blog post from the machine I assembled 10 years ago. It's still alive and kicking as it has had it's share of upgrades throughout the years. But it's time for me to build a new one! Yehey!

Here is my current setup:
  • Intel Q6600 2.4GHz Quad Core (Passively watercooled with a Zalman Reserator)
  • MSI P5K-E Wifi motherboard
  • 8GB DDR2 memory
  • GeForce GTX 680 video card (Passively watercooled with a Zalman Reserator. Yes! Two of them in separate loops.)
  • Seasonic X650 (I think) 80 Plus Gold PSU
  • Vertex 3 256GB SSD 
  • Dell U3011 monitor
What I use it for:
  • Facebook (Of course!)
  • Web browsing / Work - Since most of my work is mostly over the web.
  • Light gaming (ahem!... Diablo 3, Civilization, This War Of Mine, XCOM)
  • Photo editing with Adobe Lightroom
What I want to build my next machine for:
  • VR gaming with HTC Vive
  • 1 or virtual machines for experimenting
  • Basically the same as before
And so the hunt begins! Stay tuned. :)