Someone said something to me the other day that makes a heck of a lot of sense. The PC today is now “fast enough.” Case in point, the gains made by PCs in the last few years have not been about speed but power and cooling. They are “fast enough.” The person also said that the sweet spot for speed/cost is actually a Core 2 Quad. I looked up some benchmarks and he’s got a great point. I’m using an AMD Athlon 64 4000+ as my main PC, and it’s not bad. It’s got lots going for it, and it runs very smoothly. It bogs down now and again when ripping/encoding music and playing godawful Youtube videos @ 720p. (Big deal, folks. I am not impressed even at 1080p).
This AMD is an old Optiplex from Dell, so it’s a nice small form factor and most of all it’s quiet. It’s no speed demon, but it’s almost “fast enough.” (I keep putting that in quotes because it’s a good phrase to focus on, and I didn’t come up with the insight on this one.) I am not under any delusion my old PC is going to wow anyone rendering real-time wrinkles and human hair at 1080p. But considering the idea of that is pointless to me. I want worlds created that don’t exist in the real world. I don’t need “realism” in my games. I need fantasy worlds so awesome I want to live there. And by “awesome” I don’t mean 1080p realtime drop shadows and smoke effects. That’s for kids who don’t know better. I have more fun with a game that has 0 graphics (nethack) than I do with the Witcher 3 and all its shaded glory.
This wasn’t supposed to be about games and tech. It was supposed to be about my soon-to-be new (to me) $88 Intel Core 2 Quad PC with 8GB RAM and a mini tower case. Whatever Intel graphics it has, I’ll most likely use my GTX 750 video card, since it’s nice, PCIe and not doing anything right now (because my optiplex is too thin.) If the PSU is weak, I’ll just use my GT 730. It works fine with nouveau driver and Debian 8 (my GT 610 is running right now, and it’s quite nice.)
Let’s dwell on that for a moment. I just paid $88 for a PC. Of course I’ve already said my $5 (plust $29 shipping) current PC has been wonderful (and will continue to be a main PC since I still have a nice KVM), so a recent PC with a Quad core processor for $88 is a steal. Most people want i7’s and whatnot. I want the “fast enough” PC. When you run Linux, fast enough is far far less powerful than you’d think. Even with Gnome 3 (something I’ve grown to like recently) my Athlon here is not hiccuping at all on the graphics. I turned off some of the stupider effects that just show the desktop off (and have no practical value), but for the most part I can switch between apps faster on Debian than my A10 Windows machine. That’s more an indictment of Windows than the A10 (a nice APU.) I have no qualms about being cutting edge. Heck, my retired Dell Outlet Inspiron with Athlon Dual core 4300 with 6GB of RAM was a workhorse that I finally retired when I got my ill-advised Quad Core monster PC that is now as dead as Disco.
There’s “fast enough” and “better than good enough.” And as far as I can tell with the Core 2 Quad, you get both. I’m looking forward to my 2nd Debian machine running Gnome3. 🙂 I think I’ll resurrect the name Nostromo, to go along with my Optiplex’s Sulaco. My AMD Athlon 1st gen is Binky, and my Windows game machine is Spiff.
I’m not that creative with names. I just like Nostromo and Sulaco. They are awesome names, from an awesome franchise (Alien), taken from an awesome author (Joseph Conrad.)