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Fast enough for me

16 May 2018

A couple of months ago, I splashed out on a new PC.

After scouring the Net for quite some time I found what appeared to be a really good deal from Dell.

Yeah, I've never really considered Dell to be a contender but when they had a "special" which offered a Core i7 8700 (6-cores, 12 threads peaking at 4.2GHz) with 16GB of RAM, 2TB of HDD, a 256GB SSD and a 6GB GeForce GTX1060 video card for around $2K I figured "what the hell".

The box also came with a year's onsite warranty and telephone support so what could go wrong?

Well that telephone support turned out to be pretty useful actually.

The first time the machine is booted it goes through the last-part of a Windows 10 install process and, wouldn't you know it, the damned thing froze -- sitting at "please wait" for several hours.

Bugger!

I rang the Dell support centre and spoke to a young Indian fellow who I'm sure had rung me just the other day to advise that all my PCs had "Worms and wiruses" on them.

However, this guy told me that this wasn't an uncommon occurrence with Win10 systems and that I should simply reboot and try again. He was right.

On its second suck of the sav, the machine completed its initial update and behaved as normal. Woohoo!

I created a recovery USB drive (since you don't get an OS on disk these days) and set about turning off all the crap that Dell throws in as a "bonus" (penalty) for buying a system.

The Macafee-burden was dispensed with and all of the Win10 spyware features I could find were disabled until the system was as "clean" as I could make it.

The first things I installed were Davinci Resolve (which I've written about before) and Fusion 9. So far, so good.

Now I was getting impressed. This is a pretty fast machine which only makes a noise when it's busy thrashing both the CPU and the GPU to render videos at almost twice real-time speeds (that *never* grows old).

Seeing a good special at Noel Leeming (and claiming on the Gold-card discount) I scored a new Samsung monitor for a pittance and added that to the machine. This dual-monitor stuff is so cool and makes video editing a *lot* easier.

I had toyed with putting the wife out on the streets in fishnet stockings to earn more money and using that cash to buy a 2.7K or 4K monitor instead of using a dual-monitor setup but I'm glad I didn't. The price-point for monitors bigger than 1080p just doesn't stack up yet and being able to organise windows collectively within separate screens just makes for a nicer workflow.

The only thing I'm not so chuffed about with this Dell system is that it comes standard with a wired mouse. Seriously? We're approaching the third decade of the 21st century and they ship systems with a wired mouse?

Apart from that, I really have no gripes at all.

So do I regret not getting a box with an 8700K instead of an 8700?

Nah... this thing scoots along more than fast enough and if you're going to do some serious overclocking then you really need a big-arsed CPU cooler (probably liquid) which would mandate a bigger case and such. I'm also not really a fan (no pun) of the type of cases such systems usually come in. I really don't need the LED-illuminated fans, the RGB-powered deep glow and a styling reminiscent of the latest Civic Type-R.

Do I regret not building my own system from parts?

No. It was so nice just to open the box, plug it in, have a chat with Mr Chopra from Dell's Indian support centre and then just use the damned thing. No farting around installing motherboards, mounting drives, etc. I'm old, these days I love the luxury of just pushing a power button and standing back. What's more, the economics of doing a build just weren't there at the price Dell was offering this system for.

Should I have gotten one of those refurbished ex-lease systems instead of buying a brand-new box?

Well I weighed that up but most of those systems are corporate machines with relatively low-spec for my primary use (video editing). I'd still have to buy a decent GPU and probably add some RAM and an SSD before getting anything remotely close -- plus then I'd only have a 3 month warranty and my luck is infamously poor when it comes to shite happening.

So no, I'd have to say I'm 100% chuffed to bits with this rather fast, very quiet and visually unobtrusive box.

I'm also very impressed, thanks to the combination of much faster hardware and much better software, at the reduced edit time and improved quality of my videos.

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