Most of this year I've been working on building a computer. To introduce the "Normandy" here is the full spec sheet:
CPU: Ryzen 5 1600
GPU: Nvidia GTX 1050 ti
RAM: 16 gigs of corsair vengeance
Motherboard: Asrock mini-itx B350
Power supply: Athena power flex-atx 400W
Case: Geeek case A20 mini-itx (Link)
Storage: 120 gig PNY SSD
This is a huuuge upgrade from the last computer I had. The GPU is approximately 300% faster at a similar power draw (see GT 640). The CPU is a six core twelve thread monster compared to the core 2 duo quad I've been using for the past five years. Blender rendering is so much faster. XCOM 2 was the game that made me decide I needed a new computer, and it runs beautifully on the normandy at 2560x1080 at 60hz.
I did run into a huge hiccup you can see in the first picture. The RAM I got originally was not a compatibility tested even though it was DDR4. Throwing the current 16 gig corsair kit in it let it power on into the BIOS almost immediately. I screamed when that happened.
To give you an idea of how much emotion was invested in this little guy (and it is a very small computer) I started planning and saving up for this guy in April of this year. I didn't get it working until the last week of October after an initial failed build attempt. That's most of this year spent day dreaming and researching the construction of this diminutive monster. But I couldn't be more glad he's on my desk and going to be powering my life for the next few years. This CPU is such a great value and so responsive (I haven't even overclocked it yet, some thermals need to be addressed).
Overall I'm pleased with the machine. Once I drill a few ventilation holes for the CPU and power supply it will run much quieter and cooler. This 40 mm fan on the power supply when it goes full jet turbine is hilariously loud. A piece of advice for anyone else building in this case: covering the vent holes near the top forces more cool air down into the lower chamber decreasing temperatures for the other parts. I do plan on getting the A30 from the same seller (it's brand spanking new, and a much better case) at some point, probably in the first part of next year.
(Boring Linux stuff to follow)
In regards to the operating system I originally installed Ubuntu 17.10 which uses Gnome as the default desktop environment. It was snappy, responsive, and sleek. Installing my favorite GTK theme "Paper" it was up and running smoothly except for one issue that caused me to revert to 16.04 LTS, my steam controller wasn't recognized as a USB device and even when steam was open I couldn't configure it. After reverting to 16.04, these issues disappeared. I've noticed some slight other bugs, but there were so minuscule and have gone away after several updates and restarted the computer.
I do like Gnome, Ubuntu's integration is sleek and I'm glad it's the future going forward. I also plan on trying my hand at an icon set for 18.04 (they're running a contest online). Unity is good and what I'm used to, but I feel like with a week of consistent curious usage I would feel just as home as I have with Unity for most of my linux life. Gnome 3.26 is different, but there's a lot to like.
I'm Brian Whetten, and I'm very interested in Animation and Visual Effects. This is my blog where I write about my current projects, current events, as well as the software and techniques I use.