But at the same time there is great value in old computer hardware.
In my opinion around 2006-2007 we basically hit peak computing. The biggest restrictions I see on older machines is memory sizes, and disk speeds. And for the most part these can be taken care of with ease, although many chipsets and formfactors of the time seem to have these incredibly tiny 8Gb/16Gb/32Gb limitations that just really are annoying in the distant future of 2019 when you may want to run a few things at once.
So I bought this used i640GA6-BDO, an i7 machine oem’d by mouse computer. Yes the name of the business is the same name as the 2nd most popular peripheral of all time. From the blurb:
From the “NEXTGEAR series” with high cooling and excellent maintainability, Intel® Core™ i7-4790K processor, dual channel 16GB memory, 1TB hard disk (7200rpm), DVD super multidrive, NVIDIA ® GeForce® GTX™ .970, 80PLUS® BRONZE certified700W power supply, pre-installed Windows 8.1 Update i640GA6-BDO” is 149,800 yen.
I paid just over 20,000 yen for this machine. So losing some 120,000 yen, or about 80% of it’s value over 5 years is certainly not a good investment proposition. It seemed like a good bargain.
Finding the corporate website was NOT easy, but thankfully they own mouse-jp.co.jp so one of those wild guesses turned out being right. They seem highly influenced by the ‘idol group’ thing that is popular and japan, and they have an extensive YouTube channel over at MouseComputer2010. And an extensive ad gallery.
(the original video was taken down and made private… ?
https://www.youtube.com/embed/mPd-vUSsAAo very strange)
They even have the making of videos. I could find so much about the advertising and various talent, but the machines… that was much more difficult than I could imagine.
The build quality however left a bit to be desired, when I turned it on and jumped into the BIOS the first thing that I noticed was that it ran HOT.
So yeah 75c in under a minute is not a good thing. The water pump was making a weird noise as the bearings were clearly shot, and it’s just not circulating anywhere near fast enough.
Although I didn’t take a picture I was able to find one online, that shows that despite the bottom of the case has a big slot for the PSU fan, but the fan was pointing up into the case, not venting to the bottom.
I guess that the original owner got rid of the machine as it was overheating, and/or thermal throttling. I ended up going back out looking for a new cooling solution, and I was torn between a cheap fan thing for $10 or another all-in-one liquid cooler for $50. I decided to go with the all-in-one, as this machine was originally liquid cooled anyways.
The machine also had no storage, so I also picked up a M.2 drive, and a spinning rust disk. I have to say that even for this ancient machine, it’s great it had a M.2 slot, and WOW I thought SSD was fast, but this positively blows it away!
While I was out I see this former holy grail of GPU’s a Nvidia GTX 980 for ¥12,000. Now granted the machine I picked up has a GTX 970, a nice touch as I wasn’t expecting anything, but I can always use another DVI capable card back at home, so I’m probably taking that along with the i5 back to my HK office.
Now the real killer is that the card is a ASUS GTX, and looking around online it’s the STRIX-GTX980-DC2OC-4GD5 model.
I look around and find it on Amazon, and if the ad thing is to be believed the new price on this thing was ¥70,900! Looking around on that part number also shows kakaku.com with a list price of ¥73,480!
So granted the card is 5 years old now, but wow what a drop in price! It’s one more stop away from the junk piles that the other 9xx’s currently are (I’ve seen boxes of Zotac 750’s and up).
Naturally of course, like the i7, this card also had issues the moment I put it into my PC. The screen was flashing with garbage, and it’d eventually lead to a system freeze after a few minutes. What a pain, bad memory I suppose. And like the PC, I took the card apart, cleaned up the old thermal compound, and added some new generic stuff, put it together, and left it running The Outer Worlds at ultra high settings just fine. Who knows, maybe it’ll break later on, I don’t know, but I now have a ‘high end 5 year old’ gaming system for about the same or slightly more than a PS4. And I could be wrong but i’d like to think an i7/980 would crush a PS4. Although I could be wrong.
Naturally running cinebench 14, basically shows that the 970 & the 980 perform so close to each-other it makes no real difference. Although the fan setup on the 980 is far more aggressive, and it runs much more quieter. So that’s a nice bonus.
And if userbenchmark.com can be trusted, the performance difference from the 980 to the 1080, isn’t all that bad. It’s unreal that now even with 2nd generation RTX 2080’s out there, the 1080 is still an expensive GPU.
So, sometimes it may be worth looking at the junk piles. Although at the same time if you have nothing, the new/lowend stuff like the 1030’s/1050’s really aren’t so bad either. But for some reason I always seem to like yesterdays powerhouse.
The GTX was probably a pull from an old Bitcoin mining rig. Nvidia has been creating artificial scarcity for a while now on that generation because they’ve got warehouses full of them, thinking that the Bitcoin mining boom would continue. Then it became effectively impossible to mine new Bitcoins except on a geological timescale, and people dumped their rigs on the market, tanking the price and leaving Nvidia with a huge amount of cards that absolutely nobody would buy at the price they needed to avoid losing gargantuan amounts of money.
My newest computer is 4 years old, my primary control laptop that I use the most is about 6 years old, both i7s (one generation apart). Processor speed plateaued around then and everything Intel has added since has just been gimmicks that aren’t useful outside of extremely specialized applications. The real development has been in graphics cards and storage, but both of those are diminishing returns because only the high end cards have the features, and only the early adopters buy them, so companies have no reason to put the effort to take advantage of those features. The storage innovations are only useful for servers.
I thought the 980s would be too old for the bit coin insanity. Although the 1080s still fetch crazy dollars, and despite all the 1030,1050,1060 and variants there is no 1080 anything.
For home I picked up a RTX 2770, which I even feel is overpriced, but that raytraced quake 2 is amazing.
Oh yeah and we surely hit peak computing 2006 or so. My 2006 Mac pro after a Xeon refresh, cleaning out and now a 1050 and the latest windows 10 with a SSD is just fine. The m.2 storage on my Japanese i7 is insanely fast. I’m probably next time going to get some pci express cards and m.2 all my old stuff. I only have one machine with one slot that is in current use.
I don’t think we are going to have anything as significant as the 386 or first Gen amd64 in a long while. Although 256bit++++ fpus would be nice.
You got a really nice deal on that system, but that Intel SSD you bought afterwards is another story… It’s a QLC flash drive, these are cheaper per GB but won’t last as long or perform as good as other drives with better flash. Apparently they have a section of flash set aside as “pseudo-SLC” cache, and once you run out of that (does happen in certain workloads) the drive becomes slower than spinning rust. But if you felt a positive impact in the system’s performance, I guess it’s fine.
These older high-end parts still do great, in spite of the current core count wars. I’m writing this from my main system, an i7-6700 non K, which I have nothing to complain about despite running quite a few CPU-heavy workloads recently. Of course, Intel’s stagnation meant that back then, you could go straight for the current i7 model (only one!) if you wanted *the* best desktop CPU available, and now you have to pick between Intel, AMD, 8, 12 or 16 cores… But competition is good.
I find that once you hit 3Ghz, even on a 16 year old machine, that it’s “good enough” to be honest. Throw in a modern GPU, and some kind of solid state storage, and it performs pretty well. My maxed out 2006 MacPro is honestly fine enough for day to day tasks, where my newer dual Xeon really shines is video encoding and parallel builds, it’s where the 16 cores / 32 threads really get a chance to do their job.
If anything it really goes to show that CPU’s for the most part really haven’t improved all that much, although going wider at least helps with some things. It’s almost embarrassing how poorly Intel has let AMD run ahead with honestly far superior data centre processors.
I don’t think we have hit peak computing performance yet… I think we did have a lul for a while though.
EUV Lithography combined with new packaging strategies will be able to boost performance. Once software starts being written specifically for these systems will it will be painful to go back to 2006 era hardware… It’s just life.