Saturday, April 15, 2017

Bought a new laptop to replace the ageing MacBook Air

I finally pulled the trigger on a new laptop.

I didn't go with Apple, Dell or any other mainstream brands. I went with Metabox. Yes, you read it right: Metabox. They are also known as Clevo in other parts of the world. Gigabyte also seem to have these laptops sold with a Sager branding.

The model I went with is called Alpha N850HJ. It's cheap (for the specs) and pretty fast for what I want to use it; that is everything, but gaming. I don't plan to game on this laptops. The memory, storage and Wi-Fi options are user configurable, so I simply took the base model, upgraded the memory to 16GB and added the Intel 8265 Wi-Fi card. They had a promotion on the Hynix 512GB SATA M.2 SSD, so I went with that instead of an NVMe drive. I won't benefit from an NVMe drive; it's only for the bragging rights. I also decided not an operating system as I have a license I can use with the Windows 10 Creators Update, which just came in time for the laptop.

It ended up costing me AUD 1,487 although if you tried building it on Metabox website it would have cost AUD 1,507 + AUD 30 for shipping. I bought it from Kong Computers which saved me $50 including shipping. It took a week to get the laptop built, tested and delivered.

In terms of future expansion options, I can add another 16GB RAM card, a 2.5" SSD and replace the battery if it goes bad. Of course the existing M.2 SSD and the Wi-Fi cards are replaceable as well.

I will talk about my initial impressions about it in another post.

CPU temps of the Mid 2011 MacBook Air

I know my MacBook Air can get pretty warm, but I never measured it quantitatively. I don't know what people use to measure those in OSX; but luckily I have Windows 10 installed via BootCamp (i.e. natively) and I am familiar with the tools in Windows.

I downloaded the trusty duo: CPU-Z and Realtemp. This is the Mid-2011 MacBook Air from the SandyBridge era. The CPU is a Core i5 2557M, which runs at 1.7GHz with a max boost of 2.7GHz.

I didn't want to run any stress tests straight away. But I ran Windows Update and updated the other software installed in there while monitoring the temps. It was astonishing to see the temps hover around 85-90C with a CPU utilisation of around 50% according to task manager, while hitting a max of 95C. I have no doubt it will throttle if the CPU runs at 100%, and probably burn a hole in the bottom of the aluminum unibody chassis if I attempted to run Prime95. So I didn't. This was good enough proof that the temps were terrible in such a thin chassis. I wonder if dust has something to do with it, because it is a 5.5 year old laptop. It cannot be free of dust.

I wonder if it is worth getting it serviced at the Apple store along with the battery. It won't be cheap @ AUD 189. Honestly, I don't want to spend any money on such an old laptop.

Monday, March 20, 2017

New goal for 2017: 100wpm average in TypeRacer before the end of the year

When I was watching YouTube reviews on mechanical keyboards before I bought my mechanical keyboards (note the s after keyboard, because I had to buy two), I came across a site one guy used to test how well he could type on the keyboards he reviewed. It was called typeracer.

What you do on that site is, type - as fast as you can. You are given a paragraph to type and it shows the realtime words per minute. You have to type in the correct case, type the punctuations and type with correct spellings (correct, according to the paragraph) to finish each test. To make it fun, they have made it like a game, hence the name typeracer. While there is a practice mode which doesn't record the performance into your profile, this racing mode which you race against other people (or racers) records your performance into your profile. Of course, if you are cheap, you can close the race midway if you feel you are not going to get a good score and it will not be reflected in your profile. By default, you will be racing against some random people who are logged on like you, but you can also race against your friends by inviting them to a race. I haven't used this feature yet, but I think that is the most fun part of it.

So far I have done over 500 races and I average about 70 words per minute. There are people who can type faster than 150 wpm and you can check some videos on YouTube where they do it in real time. It is amazing how fast some people can type. Buy they have few tricks up their sleeves which I don't use. If they misspell a word, they would quickly press Ctrl + A to select all the text you typed into the text box, and type the word from the scratch. I don't do that. I use backspace to erase letter by letter and correct it. Doing the former method would save a lot of time in typeracer, but you cannot do that in real life when you are writing a document. I want to improve my real-world typing speed by improving accuracy, not by employing these typeracer specific "tricks". So I will probably continue to do it the way I do now.

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