I was starting to use my last build for more things than just WoWS (making WoWS videos!), and I decided that it was too loud. It’s not that it was insanely so – far from it, even at full load – but it was noisy enough to be distracting at moderate loads. Trying to quiet the machine down of course led me down the slippery slope to what is practically a new build…
So it has come to my attention that I have too many computers (again). For the first time since college, I have four:
NUC5I3MYHE: Fifth generation Intel NUC with a passively-cooled case. Built in mid-2015, this is still my “main” machine, and still hooked up to the same Samsung SyncMaster 204Bs that I’ve been using since forever.
Samsung ATIV Book 9: One of still very few passively-cooled laptops ever made – maybe one model out of 10 to 20. The np930x2k replaced my trusty ThinkPad Yoga in late 2016, and really my only complaint with it is that it can barely run WoWS.
Pro Kwality Desktop: Built on the cheap in mid-2016 to play WoWS maxed out. Just good enough to do that, and I have had no issues with the machine despite putting the whole thing together with all used parts. Unfortunately it isn’t really portable…
Dell Precision M6600: Since the PK machine isn’t portable I bought this old Dell Precision. I was considering replacing the PKD entirely, but the Dell isn’t quite as powerful and has actually been giving me issues recently. It’s also a little too big and heavy.
At first, I was thinking about combining just the desktop and the M6600: if I could get a slightly smaller laptop that was slightly more powerful, I thought I’d be okay with that. Unfortunately anything that meets those criteria doesn’t seem to be that cheap. Specifically, I was looking at the Dell Inspiron 15 7559 (these new Dell Inspirons have really useless names) with the GTX 960M, which goes for about $500-$600 used on eBay. This isn’t too bad, but then I still have two laptops.
So I want to combine the last three machines: the Samsung, the desktop, and the M6600, but that means I need an ultra-portable laptop like the Samsung that can still run WoWS maxed out. How can that be possible? Well, technology continues to happen – the passive desktop wasn’t practical until it was, and the M6600 wasn’t cheap until it was. There is a technology that is starting to become practical and cheap, and that is external graphics.
Like the Yoga retrospective, this post is very late on account of the events described having taken place after the soft ending of Nonsense Wars, but I would still like to document my experience with this machine.
When I wrote about my original fanless NUC project I mentioned that the mSATA SSD ran into the 70s even after I attached some tiny aftermarket heatsinks. This was really a sign of things to come: in “production” all of the temps on that machine were higher than I would have liked – not dangerously so, but just enough such that I wasn’t comfortable. So I kept my eye out for a replacement.
More than five years ago, when I retired my desktop Motoko, I thought I was done with desktops for good. Reasons for eliminating desktops from the “fleet” had ranged from size to dust to depreciation, but boy have times have changed. In early 2014 I replaced my T430 with the DC53427HYE, and that addressed all the previously mentioned concerns about desktops. In fact I even upgraded that to a better version of the same thing in 2015.
In late 2015 I started playing World of Warships, and ultimately became enamored with playing with all the settings turned up at 1080p. WoWS is not a particularly demanding game at 1080p, but I still needed to borrow my brother’s desktop with the Q6700 and HD6850 to max it out; my ThinkPad Yoga with the i5 u4300 can barely handle the *lowest* settings at 1080p. I was/am also in the process of playing Tales of Zestiria on the C2Q desktop. So, in the late summer of 2016 (now) after borrowing it for far too long, I finally decided to look at rolling my own.