Sunday, April 10, 2011

All Hail The All-Father!

As mentioned in my previous post, I (finally) got my new computer on Thursday.
I worked from home that day in order to be here to accept delivery, and wait was agonizing.
Once it arrived, my excitement turned - as is natural with computers - to annoyance, as, in order to protect the components during shipping, they'd packed foam inside of the case, which needed to be removed before firing it up.
The problem with that was that I couldn't figure out how to open the case in order to remove the foam. That thing is complicated.
Eventually I found the manual and learned about the button on the underside that pops the hinged side open, and I was able to remove the foam.
Once I hauled the thing upstairs - it weighs more than 50 pounds - I hooked up a monitor, plugged it in, and fired it up.
Except, not really.
What actually happened was that I pushed the power button - multiple times - and nothing happened.
I found that the power cord wasn't in securely, and after jiggling it a bit I saw some lights come on inside. So, with a final push of the power button, I was up and running.
Except not really.
Nothing was actually displaying on the monitor. I tried each of the different connection types - DVI, VGA, HDMI; more on that in a bit - with no luck.
After shutting down, I popped open the case and it became immediately apparent that the power connector to the graphics card had come loose when I'd removed the foam.
Once that was reconnected, I was up and running.
Except not really.
For whatever reason, I couldn't get the system to actually recognize that the keyboard was hooked up until I connected it via the USB to PS/2 adapter.
This time, really for real, I was up and running.
And man, was I ever running.
The Solid-State Drive means that boot time is as close to instantaneous as it's currently possible to get. I haven't actually timed it, but I'd say within 20 seconds of hitting the power button I'm in Windows and ready to go, and even that only takes as long as it does because the BIOS splash screen likes to hang out for a few seconds before it actually starts booting.
As mentioned, the thing is huge:

I'm going to have to rearrange things a bit, as the current resting place for the system puts it in a location where an errant move of my chair can cause the chair's left armrest to hit the power button. Honestly, I really need a new desk, but I haven't been able to find one that I like.

Above, you can see the specs on the thing. The Windows Experience Index is 7.1 (out of 7.9 total), primarily due to the SSD, which, while being faster than most hard drives, doesn't have the kind of crazy throughput of some 10,000 RPM hard drive. Most of the other scores - your final score is the lowest sub-score, not an average - are at 7.8. By way of comparison, my old system, which is still respectable, has a Windows Experience Index of 5.9. All of my other systems are in the 4.xx range, I think.
Normally* I name my primary system Hugin, with my secondary system being called Munin. The old system then becomes the new Munin, and the old Munin gets tossed, or given away, or re-purposed and renamed. In this case, given the raw power of the new system - and the fact that I'm not sure what I'm going to do with Hugin, or, as a consequence, Munin - it couldn't be relegated to a lower status, and so, it had to be...ODIN.

The new system has a CPU with six physical cores, but the "threading" technology that Intel uses essentially doubles the capabilities of each core, so my CPU Meter shows me as having twelve cores.

Here's a side-by-side comparison of Odin and Hugin. Note that Hugin is a full-sized tower and is not exactly a tiny system. Odin would positively dwarf Munin, and my home theater PC would look like a speck next to it.

So far I'm very happy with Odin, but there have been a few issues that I've run into.
First and foremost, it's loud as hell. The ginormous fans and the relatively open nature of the case makes it sound like a jet taking off.
There's also the aforementioned issues relating to its size. I really need to put some thought into the physical set up of my office.
Then there's the issue of the graphics card. There's a particular graphics card that I want to get, which supports up to six monitors. That card wasn't an option when I was configuring the system - and it's going to be a while before I can buy the additional monitors anyway, and there's the aforementioned issues of having to put some thought into the set up of my workspace - so I went with the card that offered the most bang for the buck, and which would suit my immediate needs.
Basically, ideally, I would like to have at least three monitors hooked up. With Hugin, I had that - sort of. One of the monitors was a 7" touch screen, connected via USB. It worked pretty well for my purposes, which was having some desktop gadgets loaded without cluttering my main screen, and as a repository for my tools when I'm drawing. While working with the Wacom pen in my right hand I could reach over and change the tool with a tap using my left hand.
It would be more convenient to scale that workflow up a bit by having a full-sized third monitor, which was why I bought a 20.1" touch screen monitor a couple of weeks ago.
Unfortunately, the specific version of the graphics card I got does not support three monitors. In order to have three monitors connected simultaneously I would need one of the outputs to be a Display Port (and then I'd need to get an adapter to make that work with my monitor), but, alas, I'm stuck with HDMI for my third connection option.
Right now I've got the larger touch screen hooked up to Hugin (which is set up in the other room right next to Munin while I figure out what I'm going to do with the two of them).
So that was disppointing, but not a huge deal. Eventually I'll get the card that I want, and will be able to have the multiple monitor set up of my dreams...or at least the set up that's as close as it's possible to get to my dreams.
Speaking of displays, I ran into some issues with the Cintiq as well. As there is only one DVI connection, I had to connect the Cintiq using a DVI to VGA adapter. When I first hooked it up, Odin wasn't detecting the Cintiq. Whenever I tried to force it to detect it, my main monitor would go black and I'd have no display at all.
Eventually it occurred to me to look on the back of the Cintiq where, sure enough, there is a switch for changing the input from DVI to VGA. It's always the simple things that get overlooked.
Anyway, I'm still doing some tweaking and setting up of Odin, but for the most part I've gotten it to a point at which I can actually do stuff with it.
You know, like...umm....uhh...well, I'm sure I'll think of something.

*I tend to go with a Norse theme when naming devices - and choosing usernames, for that matter - though I am somewhat inconsistent about that, as there are some devices (and usernames), such as my phone and server, where I draw from Jack Kirby's Fourth World. I was talking to Scott about this inconsistency the other day, and he responded, "I don't think anyone minds."
No one like a wise ass.

1 comment:

Merlin T Wizard said...

If it makes you feel any better, I named all my computers and servers at AOL after ATHF and Venture Bros. characters, so there were some inconsistencies there.

Also, I really couldn't help myself, that comment was sitting there staring at me with those puppy-dog eyes, just begging to be said.