Category Archives: Hardware Reviews

We are constantly getting a wide variety of hardware and software to test and exercise under a range of conditions. As you might expect, some work better than others, some play nicely with others (or not), and a few are genuinely pleasant surprises. Here you’ll find a collection of reviews on a range of products. We’ll be updating this section frequently as we run across new stuff, so come back soon and often!

Pondering Amazon Fire HD vs. iPad

Today’s disquisition is a bit off the beaten track and brings Windows 10 to bear only tangentially. My family is in the market for another tablet, primarily for reading and media consumption. I’ve already owned an iPad 2 (now retired) and currently own an iPad Air 2 (2014 vintage). You’d think I’d buy another iPad, right? But the model I want (iPad Air, 256 GB, cellular) costs a whopping US$879 at the Apple Store right now. And then, there’s a new generation of Fire HD tablets about to arrive, at less than half that cost. By the time I add in a cover and keyboard, it’s more like a 2.5:1 cost ratio. Frankly, that’s what has me pondering Amazon Fire HD vs. iPad.

Price Provokes Pondering Amazon Fire HD vs. iPad

On the plus side, the iPad offers more power, lighter weight, and higher screen readability. On the minus side, it ends up costing $700 more for more or less the same capability, most of the time. At 12 hours versus 10 hours of battery life, the Amazon Fire HD comes out ahead on untethered operation, too. Then too, the Fire HD Plus Pack costs under US$300. The device even accommodates a MicroSD card for added storage capability (which the iPad does not, though you can attach storage through its input port, using a special US$13 to 20 adapter).

What’s fascinating to me, though, is the front-and-center add-in on the Fire HD of a Microsoft 365 subscription. Though it means you can use the unit for web-based Office right away, I’m also convinced it will be usable as a Cloud PC client (as will the iPad also, no doubt) when that comes out later this year. Thus, either platform will serve as a “thin client” for my Windows 10 stuff sooner or later.

To me that raises the very real question of why I should spend 333% more to get an iPad? Shoot, it looks like Fire HD can do most of what I need for substantially less. For a lot of people, I’m thinking that’s exactly what Amazon wants. I may just try it, and see what happens!

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Thunderbolt 4 Is Getting Underway

OK, then: first things first. Thunderbolt is a joint technology effort from Intel and Apple. The first iteration appeared in 2011, and version 4 (aka Thunderbolt 4) is just showing up in the marketplace. Intel’s 11th gen processors and supporting motherboards are the first to provide native Thunderbolt 4. And of course, add-on PCIe cards for Thunderbolt 4 are also starting to trickle out (see this ASUS item, for example). Hence the assertion that heads this story: Thunderbolt 4 is getting underway.

I’ve had recent experience to show me that the speed advantages it can confer are measurable and tangible. At the same time, I’ve learned that the right cables can — and do — make huge differences.

What Thunderbolt 4 Is Getting Underway Really Means

The following table sums up the differences among Thunderbolt 3 and 4, and USB 3 and 4 versions. Basically, it offers more and faster capabilities, but is limited to special, certified cables no more than 2M in length. It can also handle either 2 4K displays or 1 8K display, and works with the latest PCIe 32Gbps lanes. It is, in fact, a pretty strong argument for all-around hardware upgrades (mobo and ports, cables, and peripherals) all by itself. Check the table for details, please.

. Thunderbolt 4 Thunderbolt 3 USB4 USB 3/DP
1 universal port
40Gb/s cables up to 2 meters
Accessories with up to 4 TB ports
Min PC speed requirement 40Gb/s 40Gb/s 20Gb/s
(40Gb/s is optional)
10Gb/s
MinPC video requirement 2 x 4K displays
or
1. x 8K display
1 x 4K display 1` display (no min resolution) 1 display (no min resolution)
Min PC data requirements PCIe 32Gb/s
USB.3.2 10Gb/s
PCIe 16Gb/s
USB 3.2 10Gb/s
USB.3.2 10Gb/s USB 3.2 5Gb/s
PC charging port required At least one
PC wake from sleep w/TB dock connected Required
MinPC port power for accessories 15W 15W 7.5W 4.5W
Thunderbolt networking
Mandatory certification for PCs and accessories
Intel VT-d based DMA protection required
USB4 specification Compliant Compatible Compliant Compatible
Source: Table from 11/20/2020 Liliputing story about Thunderbolt and USB versions.

What I Plan To Do About Thunderbolt 4

I’ve got a new PC build in my relatively near future (as soon as finances allow). I’ll be making sure to pick motherboard and CPU with Thunderbolt 4 support. I’m looking around right now and while some cases do offer USB-C support, none of them have caught up to Thunderbolt 4 capability just yet. I may end up waiting for that to occur, and go ahead and recycle the trusty old Antec 902 case I recently reclaimed from my sister. This may take some further thought and research. Stay tuned!

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Tiny 1TB SSD Toshiba Technology Triumph

Yeah, I know. They’re not called Toshiba anymore. it’s now Kioxia, but Toshiba’s the name on the stick-on label. It’s stuck on a teeny tiny 2230 M.2 SSD I just installed in my Dell Optiplex 7080 Micro SFF PC. And in this case 2230 means it’s a package that measures 22 mm wide and 30 mm tall. It’s not much bigger than an SD card. It’s also reasonably fast and amazingly compact. That’s why I call it a tiny 1TB SSD Toshiba technology triumph.

What Makes for a Tiny 1TB SSD Toshiba Technology Triumph?

It just blows my mind that one can buy a 1TB SSD that’s so darn small. It uses the PCIe Gen3 x4 NVMe 1.3b interface, so it also runs surprisingly fast. The specs page says it runs up to 2.3 GB/sec. I observed speeds of just over 2.0 GB/sec on CrystalDiskMark in the Dell 7080 Micro.

I confess I had to go to eBay to buy this device. In fact, they’re not currently for sale directly to end-users through conventional online outlets. That said, I paid under US$200 for the unit, which I consider an amazing deal given how much demand there is right now for such compact, capacious storage devices.

Seems Rock-Solid, But We’ll See

Having just received it in yesterday’s mail and installed it today, I can’t claim much experience with this unit just yet. Recalling issues with the Sabrent 2242 unit I tried out earlier, I’m reserving judgement. But I am stunned. It’s so small!

I’ve haven’t been this excited about miniaturization since I visited Madurodam in the Hague back in 1964 as a Boy Scout. There was a lot more to see there and then, but this little SSD definitely rocks the storage in today’s world. Stay tuned for more info, stats, and such as I get to know this little powerhouse better with time.

Interestingly, Dell doesn’t provide a hold-down screwport on the 7080 motherboard. I had to tape the drive down with some electrical tape to hold it in position. I have a nut I can superglue to the mobo at some future point instead. I’m still pondering that, as I get to know this device better. Stay tuned for more deets next week!

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A Tale of Two USB Ports

I’ve been troubleshooting a vexing M.2 2242 NVMe drive this week. If you look back over my recent writings here at edtittel.com, you’ll see this adventure has led me to some interesting places. Yesterday, it led me to recognize that not all USB-C ports are the same. I found myself confronting the profound difference that current-gen Thunderbolt support can make. Thus indeed, a tale of two USB ports follows.

Telling the Tale of Two USB Ports

On the one hand: a 2019-vintage Lenovo X390 Yoga. Its fastest USB port is described in its tech specs as “USB 3.1 Gen 2 Type-C / Intel Thunderbolt 3.” On the other hand: a 2021-vintage Lenovo X1 Nano. Its fastest USB port is described in its tech specs as “USB 4 Thunderbolt 4.” I must confess, I was curious about what differences might manifest between these two technology generations.

It made a significant difference. Thus the story’s lead-in graphic shows. CrystalDiskMark output from the Nano is on the left, the X390 on the right. It shows the speed-up varies somewhat. It is better than 2:1 on the big-transfer items (upper 2). But the more important random 4K reads/writes fill the bottom two rows. There,  we see 17-18% (read-write) for random with queue depth=1. That jumps to 42-50% with queue depth=32.

In practice, I believe it’s what allows the X1 Nano with an i5 processor to work much like my older i7-6700 on my desktop PC. It also makes the X1 Nano faster than the X390, despite an i7 on that older machine. I/O is indeed a  powerful performance factor.

Is USB 4 Thunderbolt 4 Worth Buying?

If you’re in the market for a new PC or laptop, you will get a performance boost from using the newer USB technology. If the ability to complete backups (and other big file transfers) twice as fast is worth something to you, factor that into the price differential. If better overall I/O performance of at least 18% in accessing peripheral storage has value, ditto.

Only you can decide if it’s worth the price differential. For me, the answer is “Heck yeah!” I’m not sure that means I’ll buy an X1 Nano. But I am sure it means my next laptop will have USB 4 Thunderbolt 4 ports.

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Strange Sabrent Rocket Adventures

Last Friday, I blogged about swapping out my review unit Lenovo Thinkpad X1 Nano SSD. I purchased a US$150 Sabrent Rocket Nano (Model SB-1342 1 TB). It replaced a Samsung OEM 512 GB SSD (NVMe PCIe 3.0 x4). Check the Friday post for details on performance, installation and so forth. Today, I’m writing about the strange Sabrent Rocket adventures I’ve had since taking that device out of the laptop. Frankly, it’s a continuing and wild ride.

Strange Sabrent Rocket Adventures: Drive MIA

First, I used Macrium Reflect to clone the original Samsung drive. Then, I made the swap, ran some tests and replaced the Sabrent with the original SSD. Things got intersting after I plugged the drive back into the Sabrent NVMe drive enclosure (EC-NVME). The drive was MIA: it showed up as 0 bytes in size and generated a “fatal device error” if I tried to access it. Ouch! I immediately reached out to vendor tech support.

Sabrent Tech Support quickly coughed up a link to a terrific tool, though. The name of the tool is lowvel.exe, and it performs a complete low-level format of the drive, zero-filling all locations as it goes. That turned out to be just what I needed and put the Rocket Nano back into shape where DiskMgmt.msc could manipulate it once again.

Then, I initialized the drive as GPT, and set it up as one large NTFS volume. For the next 12-14 hours, I was convinced this was a final fix. But my troubles are not yet over, it seems.

More Strange Rocket Adventures

The next morning, having left the device plugged in overnight, I sat down at my desk to see it blinking continuously. When I tried to access the device, it was inaccessible. It’s not throwing hardware errors to Reliability Monitor, but I have to unplug the device and plug it back in, to restore it to working order. Something is still weird. Temps seem normal and the Sabrent Rocket Control Panel utility (shown in this story’s lead-in graphic) gives the device a clean bill of health.

I’ve got an intermittent failure of some kind. I need more data to figure this one out. I’m leaving the Control Panel running on the test laptop where the Rocket Nano is plugged in. We’ll see if I can suss this one out further. It’s not inconceivable I’ll be going back to Sabrent Tech Support and asking for a replacement — but only if I can prove and show something definite and tangible. Sigh.

Info Added March 25: All Is Quiet

Who’d have thought a Sabrent NVMe enclosure and a Sabrent NVMe drive might be ill-fitted together? Apparently, that’s what ended up causing my intermittent failures. On a whim, I bought the cheapest NVMe enclosure I could find — a US$26 FIDECO USB 3.1 Gen 2 device — into which I inserted the Sabrent Nano SSD. It’s now run without issue, pause, hitch, or glitch for a week. I did not insert the device pad that normally sits between the case and the device (already present in the Sabrent enclosure). I’m inclined to blame some kind of heat buildup or connectivity issue resulting from an overly tight fit in the Sabrent enclosure, which I may have avoided in its FIDECO replacement. At any rate, it’s working fine right now. Case closed, I hope!

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Swapping X1 Nano NVMe Drives

OK, then. I went and sprung US$150 for a Sabrent 1TB M.2 2242 NVMe drive at Amazon. It is depicted in the lead-in graphic above. The high-level sequence of events is as follows. Ordered on Wednesday, received and experimented on Thursday, reported on Friday (today). Alas, I seem to have hosed the drive and have started RMA negotiations with Sabrent. Along the way, I learned most of what’s involved in swapping X1 Nano NVMe drives.

Be Careful When Swapping X1 Nano NVMe Drives

As is almost always the case, there’s a YouTube video for that. It showed me everything I needed to do. Disassembly/reassembly were easy and straightforward. I had no mechanical difficulties. But once again, my US$7 investment in a laptop screws collection saved my butt. I mislaid one of the two NVMe holder screws (found it later during  cleanup). I lost one of the 6 battery restraint screws (fell on the floor into neutral brown carpet). Both were easily replaced from the collection.

Cloning Works, But Proves Mistaken

For whatever odd reason, the Sabrent drive shows up pre-formatted. The disk layout is MBR and the primary partition is ExFAT. Both of those got in my way as I cloned the original drive to the replacement. First, I had to clean the drive, convert to GPT, then format it as a single NTFS volume. Then, I used Macrium Reflect to clone the contents of the Samsung OEM drive to the Sabrent. Along the way Reflect told me it had turned off BitLocker and that I would need to re-enable it after boot.

Replacing the Samsung with the Sabrent, I went into BIOS and turned secure boot off instead. This let the X1 Nano boot from the cloned drive just fine. I was able to run CrystalDiskMark to compare their performance. Here’s what that looks like:

Swapping X1 Nano NVMe Drives.side-by-side

Samsung OEM results left; Sabrent results right. Best improvement where it counts most!
[Click image for full-sized view.]

What do these results show? Indeed, the Sabrent is faster on all measurements, and more so on the most important random 4K reads and writes (lower two rows). It’s not a night-and-day difference, but IMO the added capacity and increased speed justify the expense involved. It’s a good upgrade for the X1 Nano at a far lower price than Lenovo charges. Also, performance is somewhat better than what their OEM stock delivers.

Here’s a summary of performance row-by-row (count 1-4 from top to bottom):
1. Read speeds increase by <1%; write speeds by >28%
2. Read speeds increase by >7%; write speeds by >36%
3. Read speeds increase by  >52%; write speeds by >21%
4. Read speeds increase by >14%; write speeds by >51%

Where Did I Go Wrong?

Cloning was a mistake. I saw it in the disk layout, which showed over 400 GB of unallocated space. Better to have done a bare-metal backup using Reflect with their Rescue Media. Next time I’m in this situation, that’s what I’ll do.

Something untoward also happened when uninstalling the Sabrent drive. When I stuck it back in my M.2 Sabrent caddy (which fortunately handles 2242 as well as other common M.2 form factors), it came up with a fatal hardware error. None of my tools, including diskpart, diskmgmt.msc, MiniTool Partition Wizard, or the Sabrent utilities could restore it to working order. I suspect that removing the battery, even though the power was off on the laptop, spiked the drive with a power surge. It’s currently non-functional, so I hope my warranty covers this and I’ll get a replacement. If not, it will prove a more expensive lesson than I’d planned, but still a valuable one.

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Pondering Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Nano

It’s not often I get to step back from day-to-day work items and pause to think about something. I’ve had a Lenovo X1 ThinkPad Nano since Tuesday, February 23 (I wrote a First Look piece the next day). Since then, I’ve worked with that machine daily. I’ve even used it in place of my iPad Air for evening reading in bed. All this has me pondering Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Nano further. I want to position and present it properly to readers so they can decide if what it offers is what they want.  .  . and if they want to pay for it, too.

When Pondering Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Nano, Use Cases Rule

To justify the cost, one really needs strong use cases for a thin-and-light laptop. It weighs 381g more than my iPad (906 vs 525g). But it’s still comfortable on my lap. As a pretty serious touch typist, I actually prefer constant access to a keyboard. I do now wish, though, that Lenovo offered a touchscreen option for the X1 Nano for simple tablet-friendly activities like web surfing and reading e-books.

Over time, I’ve grown even more impressed with the X1 Nano’s performance and capability. It really does run on par with my older (2016) desktop PC. That’s true despite 32GB RAM and an i7-6700 on that PC vs. 16GB RAM and an i5-1130G7 on the X1 Nano. To me, it’s a telling illustration of how fast technology marches ahead. I didn’t expect an i5 to be able to go head-to-head with an i7 (even a 5-year-old model).

Blast from the Past…

The lead-in graphic for this story comes from Sergey Tkachenko’s WEI clone. He calls it the Winaero WEI Tool. For those who don’t remember — or who never knew — WEI stands for Windows Experience Index. It’s been around Windows since Vista came out in 2007. You can still run the equivalent functionality in Windows 10, in fact, with this command winsat formal. I like the Winaero tool because it presents the same look’n’feel as in Vista and 7.

What you see in that graphic is a rough-and-ready assessment of hardware components on the PC it’s run on. Those numbers show values from 8.9 (CPU, RAM) to  9.2 for the SSD and 9.9 for 3D business and gaming graphics. The only outlier is the desktop graphics — Iris Xe in this case — which come in at a relatively low 8.0 value (the primary reported value as well, because WEI uses the lowest number to desigate overall capability).

FWIW, the only area in which my older desktop beats the X1 Nano is on the desktop graphics category (it’s got an NVIDIA GTX 1070 card). All the other metrics are within 0.1 of one another, so neither machine obviously beats the other by any kind of margin.

Desktop graphics performance notwithstanding, I’ve come to appreciate the X1 Nano quite a bit in the 10 days I’ve had it in hand. It runs acceptably when surfing the Web, using Outlook or Word (my two most frequently used and important desktop apps). To be honest, I am seriously considering buying one of these with my own money. I can’t give a laptop a better endorsement than that.

What’s the Ideal Package?

If you, like me, decide to buy the ThinkPad X1 Nano, I recommend buying the i7 model with the 16 GB RAM configuration. Because the SSD is the only user serviceable part (RAM is soldered), get the 256 GB SSD, which you’ll want to replace when something like the Sabrent 1TB Rocket 4 becomes available in a 2242 form factor.

If you absolutely have to buy something now, the Sabrent 1 TB Rocket is available in a 2242 package. While it’s a bit slower than the Rocket 4, it’s faster than the Samsung OEM parts Lenovo uses in the Nano. You’ll also want to buy a Thunderbolt/USB-C dock, because the Nano is pretty short on ports (2xThunderbolt + 1xheadphone is all you get). As a backup fiend, I’ve already got a 5TB 2.5″ drive enclosure hooked up for extra storage and Macrium Reflect’s use.

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X1 Nano First Look

Sometimes, you just get lucky. This Monday, I saw Rich Woods’ review of the Lenovo X1 Nano laptop at NeoWin.net. Immediately thereafter, I emailed my contact at Lenovo to ask for a review unit. Yesterday (one day later) I had that unit in my hands. That’s lucky! This mini-review is my X1 Nano first look report. Also, I’ll be writing about this light, compact, and powerful unit one or two more times in the next couple of weeks. Then, alas, I must return it.

Impressions from X1 Nano First Look

I’m a fan of the more compact X series ThinkPad laptops. I currently own an X220 Tablet (2012 vintage), 2 X380 Yogas (2018) and an X390 Yoga (2019). I like the portability of the 13″ form factor. I like the ease with which I can throw a unit (or two) into a carrying sleeve, a briefcase, or a backpack. On family trips especially, I’m used to taking two small laptops along. Thus, I can still keep up with email and post blogs while on the road. And my wife and son can use the other laptop when their smartphones aren’t enough.

I came into this review thinking the Nano would be a great candidate for family laptop on the road. I came out of it thinking that it would make an excellent (if lighter duty) candidate for work laptop on the road. I’ll need more time with the unit to suss this out further.

X1 Nano First Look.speccy

PiriForm’s free Speccy tool shows the basic components in this review unit.

X1 Nano Review Unit Speeds & Feeds

OK then, it’s got a Tiger Lake (11th generation) i5-1130G7 CPU, which runs at 1.10GHz on four cores and eight threads. Burst mode goes to 1.80 GHz for single-threaded tasks. It also comes with 16 GB of surprisingly fast LPDDR4-4266 RAM. It’s the first laptop I’ve used with Intel Iris Xe graphics. (Once again: these are surprisingly fast and also capable.)

There’s a Samsung OEM 512 GB SSD (NVMe PCIe 3.0 x4) that’s reasonably fast (NotebookCheck calls it “entry-level to mid-tier by H1 2020;” one year on, it’s pretty much straight-out entry level). It’s got a non-touch, 2560×1440 (2K), 450 nits, 16:10, sRGB display that’s crisp and readable at default resolution. The only ports on the device are two Thunderbolt 4 USB-C connections: one labeled for power-only, the other labeled for power and data.

It also sports a speedy Intel AX201 Wi-Fi chipset that meshed quite nicely with my Asus 802.11AX router. (Access speeds of 400 Mbps and better, in a busy, signal-rich office environment.) Oh, and it has a fingerprint reader and a 720p Windows Hello capable integrated Webcam, too.

What’s missing on this unit for those who don’t have a Thunderbolt dock handy? (I have several.) At least one USB 3.0 Type A port, and  a micro SD port for added, onboard flash storage. With even high-capacity uSDXC cards now pretty affordable, I do indeed wish Lenovo had found a way to squeeze one in somewhere.

What Makes the X1 Nano a Standout?

It weighs only 906 grams (1.99 lbs). It’s got a carbon fiber top deck and a  (nicely coated) magnesium bottom deck.  The keyboard is about 10% smaller than the one on my other X model ThinkPads. Even so, it feels (and works) so much like those others that I can’t tell any difference. And for somebody like me who makes his living by typing on a keyboard, that’s a big thing.

The display is also pleasingly bright and clear, and the Iris Xe graphics are fast, crisp and powerful. I’m no gamer, but I couldn’t make the display choke up even by throwing graphics pop-ups at it. Working with my usual mix of multiple Chrome, Firefox and Edge windows, plus MS Word for writing, I was impressed. It works and feels just like my now-aging but still capable i7-6700 Z170 desktop (32 GB RAM, Samsung 950 Pro SSD, GTX 1070) on my typical in-office workloads. Even comparing CrystalDiskMark 8.0.1 results for the two primary drives, they’re almost identical.

More to Come in Days Ahead

Right now, my response to this PC is an enthusiastic “So far, so good.” As equipped, this unit’s MSRP on its Lenovo product page is US$1727.40. That makes it about $100 less than a 10th generation,   i7-equipped, non Iris XE (Intel 620 UHD) touchscreen ThinkPad X1 Yoga Gen 5.

Were I myself to buy one of these, I would spring the extra $120 for an i7 CPU. It uses an M.2 2242 NVMe drive, of which 1 TB units are not yet readily available on the aftermarket. Thus, I would probably buy the 256 or 512 GB SSD and then do a swap myself, when higher-capacity, higher-performance options go up for sale.

Other than that, it’s a delightful little laptop. I recommend it highly, subject only to my reservations. Those are: few ports, no SDXC slot, and a mildly painful ouch factor on price. But that’s how it is for “thin-and-light” laptops, isn’t it?

 

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Insane GPU Prices Make Recycling Old Tech Sensible

It’s time for me to refresh my desktop PC. The old motherboard runs a Z170 chipset with a Skylake I7-6700 processor. The former made its debut in August 2015 and the latter one month later. If memory serves, I built this machine in mid-2016. That makes the technology more than 5 years old, and the PC closing in fast on that age. I’ve been planning a new build for a while now. I just went back to check parts prices. For me, given a still working Nvidia GTX 1070 card in the current build,  today’s insane GPU prices make recycling old tech sensible.

What Insane GPU Prices Make Recycling Old Tech Sensible?

If memory serves, I paid around US$500 for my GPU when I bought it over 5 years ago. Guess what? That same card costs costs US$500 now! A more modern Nvidia 2070 card goes for around US$1,000. And the latest generation, top-of-the-line 3080 cards cost US$1,800 and up. I’m serious: these prices are really nuts!

Wait and See Is All I Can Do

I’d already planned to re-use my case. Other items in my planned bill of materials include a Ryzen 5 5600X 6-core CPU (US$420), Noctua NH-U12A cooler (US$150), MSI Meg X570 Unify mobo (US$400), 32GB (2×16) DDR4-3200 (US$155), 2xSabrent PCie 4.0 M.2 1 TB SSD (US$340), and a Seasonic Platinum PX-850W PSU (US$170). Total price, sans GPU: US$1,635. That’s more than I spent on my last build, but includes two fast, sizable SSDs and a beefier power supply.

As for a new GPU, it’s on hold until prices come down. I can live with the 1070 GTX until 2070/3070 prices recede from 4 figures. Or, I can wait for a windfall — or a wild hair — and take the plunge at another time. There’s no hurry.

For the moment, I can really and truly assert once again that current GPU prices are just crazy. Sigh. It’s always something, right?

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Best Holiday Wishes For 2020

Dear Readers:

You may not celebrate the same holidays that we do here at Chez Tittel. That’s perfectly OK. But whatever joys and remembrances you can find as 2020 gives way to 2021, I hope you’ll savor and find pleasure in them. We’re gearing up for a nice long holiday weekend right now. Today, I’m sharing an image of my wife Dina’s magnificent rumcake with one and all. I wish you could smell it (heavenly!) but even as a photograph it’s a pretty tasty image. And please: accept our best holiday wishes for 2020, and our hopes that 2021 will manage to improve on this year in every possible way.

After Best Holiday Wishes for 2020, Then What?

I’ll be posting sparely and sparsely until January 4, when I’ll resume a normal working schedule. We’ll be off to a new year of Windows 10 adventures and misadventures. I’ll keep chronicling them as they come my way, so please stay tuned.

High-Tech Goodies from S. Claus

I’d been looking around for a battery pack stout enough to keep our iPad running for the best part of the day. I found it in a RAVPower Xtreme RP-PB41 charger (26800 mAh). My son, Gregory opted in for a Schiit Modi3+ D/A Converter to sweeten his headphone audio. The boss has take over custody of the Dell Optiplex Micro 7080 I’ve been writing about lately as her daily driver. Like her, it’s a boss machine! We’ll have plenty to play with after the formal exchange of gifts tomorrow morning.

Of all the toys I acquired this year, my favorite remains the Sabrent NVMe drive enclosure with an ADATA XPG 256 GB NVMe SSD inside. It’s what I use to store my library of ISO images for use with Ventoy (or ready mounting and rooting around inside). Still peachy!

And again, best holiday wishes from all of us to all of you. May 2021 be a vast step up from 2020 for everyone.

 

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