Elliott C. Back: Internet & Technology

A Better Gaming PC for Under $1000

Posted in Computers & Technology,Hardware by Elliott Back on December 20th, 2011.

Today in The Verge’s How-to: Build a killer gaming PC for under $1,000 they suggest putting together the following components:

Processor Intel Core i5-2500K $209.99
Motherboard Asus P8P67 Pro Rev 3.1 $144.99
Graphics Gigabyte GTX 560 Ti OC 900MHz 1GB $214.99
Memory 8GB Corsair Vengeance CL9 DDR3-1600 RAM $44.99
Boot drive Samsung 64GB SSD 830 $94.99
Storage drive WD Caviar Blue 500GB 7200RPM HDD $99.99
Power supply Corsair Enthusiast Series CMPSU-650TX $59.99
Case Fractal Design Core 3000 $64.99
Optical drive Samsung SH-B123 12x BD-ROM $59.99
    Total: $994.91

I feel that it does a few things wrong, emphasizing an nVidia graphics card that trails ATI’s mid-range offering, lacks significant RAM, and splurges on unneeded components like a DVD drive and spinning-disk hard drive. If I were to build an off the shelf gaming PC with the ample budget of $1000, using the same tricks (no peripherals, no OS, no LCD/LED monitor) as The Verge, here is what I’d buy:

Processor / Mobo Intel Core i5-2500K / MSI P67A-C43 combo $314.98 11% cheaper
Graphics XFX HD-695X-CNFC Radeon HD 6950 2GB $229.99 7% more
Memory CORSAIR Vengeance 16GB (4x4GB) DDR3 1600 $77.99 73% more
Drive Samsung 128GB SSD 830 $209.99 8% more
Power Supply CORSAIR Builder Series CX500 V2 500W $39.99 33% cheaper
Case Antec Three Hundred Illusion Black Steel $69.99 8% more
    Total: $942.93 (5% cheaper)

The motherboard/CPU are virtually identical here and they are great picks–I also don’t care much about which case to use. However, I think this build is significantly stronger in the graphics/memory/drive arenas, and benefits from a cheaper 500W power supply. When you buy the ATI 6950 over the suggested nVidia 560 Ti, you get:

  • Twice as much graphics RAM (2GB vs 1GB)
  • 30 – 50W loaded less power consumption
  • Similar performance

8 GB of RAM is OK, but when you have a 64 bit OS that can handle it all, why not put 16 GB into the system for $30 more? It’s a cheap easy win. And last, and possibly more controversially, I don’t see the need for an optical drive–everything is downloadable these days. I’d also rather have twice the SSD space than a slow spinning drive to load applications off.

Readers, what do you think? I’m sure my ATI preference will upset you…

El Yunque, Puerto Rico Rainforest

Posted in Puerto Rico,Travel by Elliott Back on March 5th, 2011.

In Spanish, “el yunque” means “the anvil,” named for the powerful lightening that sweeps the rainforest during storms. El Yunque gets up to 200 inches of rain annually, making mudslides and flash floods a potential hazard.

El Yunque National Rainforest is the only rainforest in the US Forest Service system. Located around part of the Luquillo Mountains range in Puerto Rico, it occupies only a small 28,000 acre part of the island. Some of the main features of the rainforest are Sierra Palms and parasitic plants known as epiphytes. here are 240 native tree species–23 of them found only in El Yunque–50 native orchids and 150 types of ferns.

There are no poisonous snakes, but watch out for stinging nettles plants.

La Coca Falls

Right by the roadside, this 85 foot falls provides an opportunity for lazy tourists to snap photos. The more energetic can climb the rocks to get right up to the fall’s face.

The Trails

If you enjoy hiking, you have a large number of options:

Trail Name Length Time (One Way) Difficulty Min / Max Elevation
El Yunque 2.4 miles 2 hours Challenging 2,067 to 3,445 feet
Caimitillo .2 miles 20 minutes Moderate 2,067 to 2,427 feet
BaƱo de Oro .3 miles 20 minutes Moderate 2,132 to 2,362 feet
Enlace / Spur Mt. Britton .3 miles 10 minutes Easy 2,788 to 2,952 feet
Los Picachos .2 miles 8 minutes Easy 2,952 to 3,051 feet
Roca El Yunque .1 miles 7 minutes Easy 3,379 to 3,412 feet
Mt. Britton .8 miles 40 minutes Challenging 2,493 to 3,087 feet


WordPress v.s. MT

Posted in Blogging,Computers & Technology,MT,Web 2.0,Wordpress by Elliott Back on May 11th, 2006.

After reading this article about MT v.s. WP over on Business Logs, I feel like talking about why I like WordPress:

1) I can customize it in a jiffy. WordPress 2.0 has a hook for everything which I can plug into by adding add_filter(‘some-hook’, ‘my-function’); to my code. For example, I could add a filter to fire before and after a comment is saved to say, count the hit/miss ratio of Akismet. And, basing everything off streams and filters is infinitely chainable in the future.

2) It’s fast. There’s now an object and query cache so that WordPress doesn’t have to run to and from your MySQL database so often to render your frontpage. This, combined with the ability to write a caching plugin like Digg Defender or WP Cache, makes one able to scale WordPress almost infinitely.

3) Themes. There are more themes for WordPress than any other blog engine. There are literally thousands, from the famous Kubrick to the yet-unknown Elliottback theme.

4) Active. There’s going to be a free WordPress 3.0 out in the near future, and it will continue to rock as much as it used to. Because development is active and ongoing, I remain committed to the platform.

If PHP isn’t for you, I hear Typo for Ruby on Rails is good.

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