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The Spam Thread!

After spending a day or two researching used Macs, I have come to the conclusion that getting a refurbished Mac from any reseller besides Apple is a risky proposition. I actually have a YouTube Mac enthusiast to thank for that, actually. Tongue Luke Miani has a rather neat YouTube channel that reviews Macs, and he has done a few videos regarding shady Mac resellers. I will post links to an amusing two-parter video where he buys a used MacBook from a shady reseller, but gets something entirely different.

Part 1 - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g_dlvIri8XU
Part 2 - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NYUMpxCIOuA

There's lots of shady Macbook resellers on eBay and Amazon, and they try to confuse the tech illiterate with buzzwords to hide the fact these people are selling 10+ year old Macbooks that will perform worse than even a low-end 2019 PC.

Cost of a used Mac was also a factor. The most affordable ones are nearly 10 years old and while you can put an SSD in them for better speed, these have already shoved off Apple's mortal coil, or are just about to. For a fraction of a used Mac, I could just get a 1TB SSD, clone Pearl's current Windows install and have a much faster PC.

I'm also looking at Bluetooth keyboard and mouse sets. Pearl doesn't have internal Bluetooth, so I'd have to get a USB Bluetooth receiver. MS has some rather nice BT keyboard+mouse sets from their official store, but I will also see what NewEgg has as well.

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(01-26-2020, 05:33 AM)cpd2009 Wrote:  After spending a day or two researching used Macs, I have come to the conclusion that getting a refurbished Mac from any reseller besides Apple is a risky proposition. I actually have a YouTube Mac enthusiast to thank for that, actually. Tongue Luke Miani has a rather neat YouTube channel that reviews Macs, and he has done a few videos regarding shady Mac resellers. I will post links to an amusing two-parter video where he buys a used MacBook from a shady reseller, but gets something entirely different.

Part 1 - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g_dlvIri8XU
Part 2 - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NYUMpxCIOuA

There's lots of shady Macbook resellers on eBay and Amazon, and they try to confuse the tech illiterate with buzzwords to hide the fact these people are selling 10+ year old Macbooks that will perform worse than even a low-end 2019 PC.

Cost of a used Mac was also a factor. The most affordable ones are nearly 10 years old and while you can put an SSD in them for better speed, these have already shoved off Apple's mortal coil, or are just about to. For a fraction of a used Mac, I could just get a 1TB SSD, clone Pearl's current Windows install and have a much faster PC.

I'm also looking at Bluetooth keyboard and mouse sets. Pearl doesn't have internal Bluetooth, so I'd have to get a USB Bluetooth receiver. MS has some rather nice BT keyboard+mouse sets from their official store, but I will also see what NewEgg has as well.
Shoving in a reasonably powerful GPU on that thing along with an i5-7400 and you should be good to go. Though of course an SSD alone would be more than enough of an upgrade if having a snappier system is your thing.

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My current IRS refund estimate is only around $630 USD, but it could change once I finish my return. I should file it by Monday, and the IRS schedules the direct deposit around February 7th. I'll start with the 1TB SSD upgrade. I already downloaded the WD-branded Acronis True Image to help clone Pearl's current setup when the time comes. As for brand of drive, I'll leaning towards that SK Hynix Gold drive, but I may go for an equivalent WD Blue, whichever is more affordable. I'll also need a 2.5'' to 3.5'' bracket, unless I can find a spot in Pearl's case to attach a 2.5'' drive.

GPU video encoding, even with my current 750Ti is still reasonably fast. My current software for video conversion is Avidemux and it's built in support for NVENC. Video capture with the Vidbox is also decent enough if I stick with the stock software, but it's rather buggy of course. OBS and Movavi can use the box but I run into that frame dropping issue. I'm considering giving the Roxio Easy VHS-to-DVD setup a try. Those are sold at Walmart for around $35.

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I went back to that pawn shop, and the Dell Ryzen 7 tower is still there. I got the service tag, and from the rather confusing configuration list that Dell gave me, I can say for certain that the system has an R7-1800X 8-core CPU, 16GB RAM, and an RX 580 graphics card. There also appears to be a 256GB SSD boot drive, and a 1TB storage drive.

For $400, this appears to be a rather good deal. But as I noted before, I think I can still get some good performance out of my current setup once I get an SSD.

I'm also considering replacing old Greta. Walmart launched yet another new in-house computer brand, Motile.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xPQPFh-LhI8

This particular laptop has been getting some decent reviews on YouTube and from general users too. The bottom panel is also easily removable allowing for a little bit of upgrading... with some caveats as the video will mention.

There is also an even cheaper Windows 10 tablet from some company called EVOO. It also got a review from ETA Prime, but this may be a bit more risky.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2XABj1cCJiE

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Would it hurt to relegate Pearl as a dedicated ripping rig and use that Dell as a main PC?

Anyway, while this may seem to be like a case of encouraging piracy, I've noticed that the .CIA package for the 3DS port of Barbie and Her Sisters: Puppy Rescue weighed in at only 80 megabytes, and yet most other releases took up at least four gigabytes. Now before you dismiss the 3DS release as a vastly different game from the home console and Windows versions, it should come as a bit of a surprise that the game is apparently unabridged save for graphical downgrades like the lack of dynamic shadows, ambient occlusion and other shaders as well as muddier textures.

Which makes me wonder why did Disney Interactive choose to have Firebrand Games do a lazy port of the DS release of Cars 2 to the 3DS as opposed to having some porting house optimise the Wii edition to the 3DS? Then again they were rushing the game in time for the film, so there's that.

And in terms of performance, if the 3DS is by and large a portable GameCube with a lower-resolution screen, I'd presume it would be trivial for the Big N to port let's say Super Mario Sunshine with some optimisations to account for the 3DS. Though some sources state that the PICA 200 had half the compute power of the ATI Hollywood, so I guess that might account for the janky framerate I get with Barbie?

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(01-27-2020, 07:48 AM)huckleberrypie Wrote:  Would it hurt to relegate Pearl as a dedicated ripping rig and use that Dell as a main PC?

Anyway, while this may seem to be like a case of encouraging piracy, I've noticed that the .CIA package for the 3DS port of Barbie and Her Sisters: Puppy Rescue weighed in at only 80 megabytes, and yet most other releases took up at least four gigabytes. Now before you dismiss the 3DS release as a vastly different game from the home console and Windows versions, it should come as a bit of a surprise that the game is apparently unabridged save for graphical downgrades like the lack of dynamic shadows, ambient occlusion and other shaders as well as muddier textures.

Which makes me wonder why did Disney Interactive choose to have Firebrand Games do a lazy port of the DS release to the 3DS as opposed to having some porting house optimise the Wii edition to the 3DS? Then again they were rushing the game in time for the film, so there's that.

And in terms of performance, if the 3DS is by and large a portable GameCube with a lower-resolution screen, I'd presume it would be trivial for the Big N to port let's say Super Mario Sunshine with some optimisations to account for the 3DS. Though some sources state that the PICA 200 had half the compute power of the ATI Hollywood, so I guess that might account for the janky framerate I get with Barbie?
Having Pearl as a dedicated media rig is a nice idea, but I normally try to keep most of my computing tasks on one PC at a given time. The Dell is much more powerful than Pearl to boot. An R7-1800X would excel at video capture and encoding as well as general PC use and occasional gaming at high settings. If I got the Dell and making sure it works well, I'd probably clean up Pearl, low-level format the HDD, refresh Windows, and resell the rig as a general purpose PC. I could then use what's left of my IRS refund and the money I get off selling the old rig to get that Motile laptop or a similar low-power model for the occasional road trip. Knowing me, this isn't a concrete plan. Tongue Things can change, and it depends on whether or not the Dell rig is problem free or if I even decide to buy it.

Nothing wrong with my old laptop Greta, but compared to modern laptops, she is very bulky and Windows 10 does make her heat up quite a bit when under moderate loads. Hardware acceleration doesn't seem to work with web browsers playing video due to the age of the Intel IGP. Nvidia Optimus is also rather wonky at times.

As for the Barbie 3DS game... yeah, it is odd they just made a direct port of the DS version. In regards to that games framerate, I'd say that the lower power of the OG 3DS may not have anything to do with that. I have one 3DS LicensedGame, Moshi Monsters Katsuma Unleashed. It's a 2D platformer that also has framerate problems. I played the game on both my OG 3DS and my current "New" model.  On the "New" 3DS, the framerate remains rather choppy. This game also had a DS version like Barbie, so maybe they went the same route and did a very lazy 3DS version with poor optimization.

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To be clear the Barbie game was directly ported from the Wii; it was Cars 2 that got a lazy DS port.

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Forgot to add... the "New" 3DS does support beefier specs than an OG model, yet we don't know exactly what those are as Nintendo has never publicly stated the actual specs. I'd imagine that a Super Mario Sunshine port could be pulled off on a "New" 3DS/2DS. There are a few "New" 3DS exclusive games like Xenoblade Chronicles 3D which for a handheld, has rather impressive graphics. A "New" 3DS is also required to run SNES Virtual Console games as, apparently, the OG hardware is too slow to emulate them well.

(01-27-2020, 09:18 AM)huckleberrypie Wrote:  To be clear the Barbie game was directly ported from the Wii; it was Cars 2 that got a lazy DS port.
I didn't see anything about Cars 2 in your original post. Tongue Anyway, thanks for clearing that up.

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After some thought, I may be able to make a dedicated media capture PC work. I'll outline a few scenarios. Keep in mind that the $400 Dell isn't part of these scenarios yet.

1 - Keep Pearl for media conversion while acquiring/using a lower-end PC for day to day use.
Over the Christmas week, I got to see how Greta performs with web browsing and basic tasks like word processing and editing metadata for MP3 files. With the upgrades I have given her (8GB RAM and 250GB WD Blue SSD), she is capable of pulling off these tasks.

The main issue is lack of hardware acceleration for web browsing. A good example is this forums' top banner with the scrolling background graphic. I used the Chromium-based MS Edge, and on Greta, the scrolling background taxes her CPU to around 50% and she gets very warm to the touch. The fans kick in as well. Pearl shows no abnormal CPU usage with the same animated graphic and her fans stay quiet. There is also lack of hardware accelerated video decoding, which makes Greta heat up considerably when watching YouTube. For hardware her age, this heat isn't a good thing. Perhaps her CPU may just need new thermal paste or the fans need a good cleaning, but old laptops aren't fun to open.

As for a daily use PC. I could go for that Packard Bell all-in-one that we had a good laugh about last month. Here it is again...
https://www.shophq.com/Product/486-500

I'm a bit intrigued by this TBH. I looked at this more, and this AIO has a user-accessible SATA drive bay in the back, and the bracket and screwdriver are included. The AIO only has 32GB built-in with just a small bit left over after the bloatware, so additional storage is a must. There's also hardly any reviews on this unit other than this thread from a Canadian shopping forum https://forums.redflagdeals.com/best-buy...9-2317810/ TL;DR: Some users report this AIO has a very nice IPS screen and for basic computing, it works well. Storage space after Windows updates appears to be 15GB rather than 1.5GB that ShopHQ states. You can make the SSD drive bay bootable, but a user ran into some issues with that.

2 - Same as above, but acquire some kind of Mac for daily use.
This one is far fetched. For it to work, I'd have to find a REALLY good deal on a post-2015 model Mac. Anything post-2015 starts at around $550 minimum if you're lucky, but for pristine units, you have to spend far more. There is also the usual uncertainty about how long Apple will support post-2015 models, and replacing the computer is expensive as hell. This scenario isn't very workable for me, but I'd like to list all potential options anyway.

3 - Same as option 1, but use a laptop or tablet as a daily driver.
Greta would work for this option, but again, her heat issues do concern me in regards to her longetivity. That Motile laptop would be an excellent replacement option. It has the form factor of a Macbook, yet it runs Windows 10 and affordable. As for a tablet, I could go for that EVOO 10.1 Windows tablet. It's probably in the same performance class as the Packard Bell, but if I got a unit that didn't have any build quality issues, it would be more useful to me than an Android tablet.

If Pearl becomes a media rig, I'd move her back to Linux. The Dazzle DVC100 has better capture quality than my current Vidbox. The Vidbox has no sharpness control, which is important for VHS recordings. The DVC100 does, and Linux video capture works really well.

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Going to be running some benchmarks tonight. I used Geekbench 5 Tryout.

CPU: https://browser.geekbench.com/v5/cpu/1096992
GPU: https://browser.geekbench.com/v5/compute/470303

Now here is the scores for the Inspiron 5675 with identical CPU:
https://browser.geekbench.com/v5/cpu/1061214

And it's GPU... or something close to it. Results vary between RX 580 vendors.
https://browser.geekbench.com/v5/compute/468770

I will do a heat test on Greta next. I'm curious to see how hot her CPU gets and whether my concerns are valid.

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