A $400 HTPC Build: Part 2

A $400 HTPC Build - Part 2

Remember that $400 HTPC build that I spoke of last week? Well, it’s now a reality. The parts have been ordered.

CPUAMD Athlon 5350
MotherboardASRock AM1H-ITX
MemoryKingston HyperX Blu 4GB DDR3-1600
CaseAntec ISK 310-150
NetworkingTP-Link TL-WDN4800

After taxes, the build above totalled up to approximately $333. Not too shabby. Like I said before, I will be supplying the solid state drive and operating system. I’m looking to a wireless keyboard and mouse combo as well. I’m leaning towards the Logitech K400. And finally, there will be no optical drive included in this.

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The Apple A7 is amazing

posted in: Technology News 0

apple-logo.pngAnandTech put up their iPhone 5S review today but I’m not interested in the phone itself per se. I’m interested in the new phone’s SoC more than anything else (the new fingerprint scanner is a distant second).

AnandTech’s analysis was fascinating. If you’ve got the time, I suggest you read the analysis in its entirety. If you don’t have time, here are some of the highlights which I thought were noteworthy.

  • 64-bit dual core CPU
  • 1.3 GHz clockspeed
  • 1GB LPDDR3

The move to 64-bit may appear premature but AnandTech has a good theory:

The more I think about it, the more the timing actually makes a lot of sense. The latest Xcode beta and LLVM compiler are both ARMv8 aware. Presumably all apps built starting with the official iOS 7 release and going forward could be built 64-bit aware. By the time 2015/2016 rolls around and Apple starts bumping into 32-bit addressability concerns, not only will it have navigated the OS transition but a huge number of apps will already be built for 64-bit. Apple tends to do well with these sorts of transitions, so starting early like this isn’t unusual. The rest of the ARM ecosystem is expected to begin moving to ARMv8 next year.

Even though Apple isn’t utilizing the additional address space at the moment, the move to 64-bit does bring a smidgen of benefit elsewhere:

As A64 is a brand new ISA, there are other benefits that come along with the move. Similar to the x86-64 transition, the move to A64 comes with an increase in the number of general purpose registers. ARMv7 had 15 general purpose registers (and 1 register for the program counter), while ARMv8/A64 now has 31 that are each 64-bits wide. All 31 registers are accessible at all times. Increasing the number of architectural registers decreases register pressure and can directly impact performance. The doubling of the register space with x86-64 was responsible for up to a 10% increase in performance.

Apple took steps towards the inevitable 64-bit future by converting every one of their own applications in iOS 7.

As always, Apple takes its GPU performance seriously. The GPU included in the A7 is the latest and greatest from Imagine Technology. The doubling of performance wasn’t evident across all the benchmarks but it did manifest itself in game scenarios. And because of its inclusion, the iPhone 5S may remain relevant for longer than before.

I cannot wait to see this A7 in the next iPad.

Reactions to the iPhone 5S

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Another year, another iPhone. I’m not being cynical; I just want to emphasize that it’s only been a year since the iPhone 5 debuted. I’m

In that time, many phones were unveiled; the HTC One, the Samsung Galaxy S4 and Lumia 1020 are chief among them. I disregarded the Samsung Galaxy S4 and believe the HTC One is the finest Android device on the market. But in the end, it’s the next iPhone that I’m looking forward to the most.

Why is that? Apple’s phones aren’t always the winner on the spec sheet. I look forward to Apple’s iPhones because they always set a trend. This year, the iPhone 5S brings a brand new 64-bit A7 processor and a fingerprint reader.

The new A7

Double the CPU and GPU performance of the A6 and doing without sacrificing battery life. What’s Apple secret? This is the first among many questions that I have concerning Apple’s new processor. Apple also included support for Open GL ES 3.0 as well. This brings it up to speed with Android’s top phones including the HTC One and Samsung Galaxy S4.

As impressive as it is to have the A7 in the iPhone 5S, I’m really looking forward to seeing how it will fare inside the new iPad and iPad Mini. With the ability to pair controllers and the new A7, a new era of tablet gaming could be upon us.

Fingerprint reader

I’ve been using fingerprint readers for over 7 years already. My experience with them have been less than stellar. As the years rolled by, the readers we’ve implemented at work have gotten better but it’s a less than ideal experience.

As always, implementation is key and Apple seemed to have got it together with their iPhone 5S. I knew it would be useful for signing in but I didn’t think about passwords in general. I have a complex Apple ID password so it’s a chore to enter that each and every time I download something. This fingerprint reader will enable security and ease which is something we can all get behind.

I just cannot believe that this simple feature wasn’t included by any other manufacturer before now.

2013 PC Build Impressions

posted in: Gadget Impressions 0

I finally finished my building the 2013 PC. It officially belongs to my brother but I had the pleasure of putting it together. Here are some of my impressions of the build and the build process itself.

ProcessorIntel Core i5 4670
MotherboardASUS H87I-PLUS
MemoryHyperX 10th Anniversary Edition 16GB DDR3-1600MHz CL9 Dual Channel Kit (2 x 8GB)
Video CardPowerColor PCS+ HD5770 1GB GDDR5
OS DriveSamsung 840 120GB
Storage DriveWestern Digital Caviar Black 1TB 7,200 RPM
CaseBitFenix Prodigy (White)
Power SupplySeasonic G Series 550W
CPU HSFSwiftech H220
Additonal FanScythe Slip Stream 120mm (SY1225SL 12L)
OSMicrosoft Windows 8 64-bit
MonitorASUS PB278Q
KeyboardMicrosoft Comfort Curve Keyboard 2000
MouseRazer Death Adder
SpeakersBose Cinemate Series II
OtherMicrosoft Xbox 360 Wireless Gaming Receiver for Windows

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