I Started Woodworking

There is a silver lining with the whole COVID-19 pandemic, at least for me there is. My work finally allowed us to telecommute. For the time being, I no longer have to commute into the city. I gained so many hours back daily. I get to eat breakfast with my kids. I feel my mental health has improved. It’s unfortunate that it took a global pandemic for them to realize the possibilities. I’m a programmer/developer and can work 100% remotely – it only makes sense. So, with the extra time, what can I do?

We bought our first house a couple of years ago and I have many ideas of DIY projects and home improvement. It’s a good time to start. So I decided to look up videos on power tools on YouTube. I instantly fell in love. So many skillful people out there. I’ve always wanted to take up carpentry if I didn’t have a 9-5 job or once I retire. I wanted to learn about different types of wood, cutting, joining pieces together using different joints. It’s a whole new world and it’s very interesting.

I’m a bargain hunter and have purchased tools before. The first tools I bought was a set of Dewalt Impact Driver (DCF787) and Drill Driver (DCD777). Both came with bits, cordless, and uses brushless motor (they say these are better). I was able to get this set for $149 back in 2017. It has been a great tool so far. The battery holds up well and chargers fairly quickly.

DeWalt Brushless Drivers
DeWalt Brushless Drivers

One of the first things I did after moving into the new house is built shelves for the many different video game consoles we have. I looked around Pinterest to get ideas. So I went to Home Depot and picked out some lumber. I didn’t want to spend too much money since I am inexperienced so I just got the “basic” ones. I didn’t have any cutting tools, so I had them cut it for me. I already had the dimensions in mind. The taller consoles I was able to use 2×6 wood as the ends while the rest, 2×4 worked well. I used MDF board for the shelf itself. It’s very primitive but it worked.

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Video game console shelves

The cuts were not perfect and neither was the measurements but it works well enough. I had left over paint from a previous project, that’s why it’s blue. If I were to do it again, I’ll repaint to white. I looked around for a simple shelf like this but couldn’t find any. So I built one.

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Back side with an attempt of cable management

One of the things I wanted to solve was cable management. It was a lot worse than the photo. I ran strips of wood and used cable clips. All consoles are wired to the network to help with download speeds and lessen the WIFI traffic.

With this idea, I wanted to build a computer stand. One of my computers is on the floor – carpet. This is very bad. I wanted to lift it a few inches off the ground. I looked around and all I found was standing desks when you search for “computer stand”. I found one through Ali Express and got it but it wasn’t great. Again, why not build one so I did.

Computer stand
Computer stand

The shelf itself is MDF and I used 2×4 wood as the feet. I added one in the middle for extra support. The case is a Fractal Design Define R4 and at that time served as my NAS back up so it had 8 hard drives – very heavy. Simple yet it solved my problem. Not sure why they don’t sell computer stands anymore.

This new hobby has enabled me to build things that I can’t find or don’t exist. I’m not great at it but I’m learning. I can’t wait to start on the next project.

2020 Ryzen 3900X Quarantine Build

For many weeks now, there have been some discounts on the AMD Ryzen 3900X CPU. More than likely, the cause would be the Ryzen 3950X and possibly the release of the Threadripper 3000 series CPU. I’ve been bouncing bettween building a 2000 series Threadripper or Ryzen 9 3000 series. Even thoughts of Threadripper 3000 series. The prices are very reasonable and the performance is outstanding. I eventually went with the 3900X 12-core CPU because of a Best Buy deal. For $450, you get the processor and 500GB Western Digital SN750 NVMe drive. Not bad in my opinion.

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Ryzen 9 3900X, Gigabyte X570 Aorus Master
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Western Digital SN750 500GB NVMe

Next was the motherboard. I was torn between the Asrock X570 Taichi and Gigabyte X570Aorus Master. I spent the extra money and went with the Gigabyte board. This was the board that many reviewers got from AMD as part of their press kit. For what I was looking for, both motherboards were close but I preferred the look of Gigabyte more than Asrock. My older Intel 5820K build used an Asrock motherboard – cost and features were great but software experience was lacking.

Finding ram took longer than expected. The cost at time of purchase was not bad, it has been rising a little bit. I have decided that I wanted 32GB capacity. I think it will pair nicely with 12 cores. I will mainly be developing on this machine and using virtual machines. Deciding what speed and CAS latency took some thinking. I could save money and get 3200MHz and CAS 18. Or was it worth getting 3600MHz and CAS 16 for my use case? I will hardly game on this machine and if I do, rarely will I play FPS (first person shooter) and recent games. I decided to get a 3600MHz with CAS 18. I ended up with TeamGroup T-Force Dark ZA.

Next is the tower. I wanted a tower that had good air flow, cable management, and 5.25″ bay. All of this has a starting price of $150. Fractal Design just released their new Define 7. I have a 4 and 5 and really like the series. They are just heavy and if you lose parts, they are not available (drive cages). I don’t need it to be heavy and durable. It’s just going to sit on the floor and I can do without the 5.25″ bay. I’ve been interested in the NZXT H510. I really like the cost and features. Only down side is the air flow. Well, I decided to go close loop water cooling – that takes care of that.

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NZXT H510
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3x 3.5″ drive cage, nice cable management in the back
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Removable radiator mount on the front makes installing easy
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So fresh and so clean

I was very surprised at how great this tower is for only $70. It’s been a while since I built a computer using more recent cases. Lots have changed. The cable management in the back is really nice. The removable plate for front mounting the radiator is a nice touch. The power supply shroud is nice. The three 3.5″ HDD drive cage on the bottom is great. This case really has a lot of functionality at a great price. It is also light compared to the Define R series. This case also has a USB3 and USB Type-C port on the top of the case.

Next is cooling. There have been many reports of difficulty with dual 140mm coolers. To avoid this, I went with the Corsair iCUE H100 Pro XT dual 120mm cooler. I don’t care for RGB and wish they made coolers without them.

Finally, the power supply. I really like EVGA and have used them in the past. I also wanted modular. I picked up the Supernova 850W Ga 80 Plus Gold.

You can check out my complete build at pcpartpicker.com.

Here are some other parts from old builds and some new I bought.

  • RAID5 drives
    • 2x Seagate Barracude Green 2TB
    • Hitachi Deskstar 5K3000 2TB
  • 2x Noctua NF-P12 redux-1300 120mm case fan. I wanted to get quieter fans.
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Mount 3x 3.5″ hard drive

Shout out to @edgarcreates for hooking me up with the featured image.

It Took 2 Months to Get My Tesla Model 3

I placed my order for a Tesla Model 3 Long Range on October 19, 2019. Here’s what happened while waiting for the car. Here’s the video I made.

New Owners Workshop

After a few weeks, I received an invitation to attend a new owners workshop held at the dealership where I placed my order. If you decide to go, you will be able to get a more detailed look at their cars’ features. There is a dedicated person for each Model. Aside from the cars, you will also learn more about their solar roof products, batteries, and home chargers. I did not really benefit from the presentation. I have already done a lot of research into the car which made me decide to purchase one. We already have solar on our house.

What was helpful was meeting a specialist to help me complete my Tesla profile. Your profile needs to have the following.

  • Copy of your driver’s license
  • Copy of your insurance
  • Delivery location
  • Payment method
  • Trade-in information (if applicable)

I had most of the information provided. I planned to finance the purchase through Tesla. This part was a bit weird because my car would not be ready until 6-10 weeks. Generally, pre-approval for financing is only valid for 30 days. The specialist informed me that they have “in house” partnerships with banks and the validity of the pre-approval can be extended without running additional credit checks. He was able to get me pre-approved.

I got more information regarding my trade-in. I planned to trade in my 2016 Prius. He updated the mileage information and VIN. I was able to get an estimate within a few hours – it showed up on my profile. Because Tesla is the dealer, the prices are the same across the board. They are able to give me my final price along with the trade in. Simple!

Rebates

In California, there is the Clean Vehicle Rebate Project. It is a rebate for owners of electric vehicles and hybrids. Prior to December 3, 2019, the amount was $2500. Afterwards, it was lowered to $2000 and less vehicles are eligible. Luckily, the Model 3 remained on the list, but I “lost” $500 because I still didn’t have the vehicle.

You also get a Federal tax credit. Below are the amounts and expirations.

  • $7500 up to December 31, 2018
  • $3750 January 1, 2019 – June 30, 2019
  • $1875 July 1, 2019 – December 31, 2019
  • $0 after December 31, 2019

It was important to get my vehicle delivered before December 31, 2019 or I won’t be able to get my Federal tax credit. If for some chance I don’t get the credit, I would still purchase the car. This was not the reason why I buying the vehicle.

Soft matched to a VIN

In the morning of December 21, 2019, I come to find out I was soft matched to a VIN. This means the vehicle is in pre-production and has been assigned to me. There is a small chance that it doesn’t pass quality control and I can get a different VIN, this is why it’s a soft match.

That night, I received another notification informing me that the car is in transit and that I will be scheduled for my delivery date. Very impressed that within a day, the car is in preproduction and that it’s in transit to the dealership.

I was scheduled for delivery pick up Christmas Eve 2019 the following day. I called to confirm this on December 23 and found out that slots were available that night. Rather than waiting for the following day, I took the slot and got my car.

Why did it take long?

I found out by talking to different people but it turns out that in October and November, Tesla only built cars to fulfill orders for outside the United States. This put a major delay on my order. They started fulfilling orders for the United States on December 1. Even then, they focused on non-west coast orders because it took longer to deliver the cars to the other states. The factory is in Fremont, California. They need to deliver cars prior to the Federal tax credit deadline. In addition, I ordered the white interior and Long Range. Tesla builds their cars in batches. The most common order configuration is Standard Range and black interior.

The video linked above has more details. It is a 21 minute video but I shared timestamps to different sections. Take a look if you have time and/or are interested in more details.

If you are in the market for a Tesla, please use my referral link so we both get free super charging miles credit https://ts.la/sherwin24159.

I test drove the Tesla Model 3

Test driving Tesla Model 3

Back in October, my son and I went to the Tesla dealership in Buena Park to check out a Model 3. I didn’t have an appointment but they were able to schedule me for a test drive. I have heard about experiences with Tesla dealership. How there is no middleman. You are buying straight from the company. The price is publicly shown and everyone pays (for the most part) the same. But I didn’t expect the events that lead to the test drive.

Buena Park Tesla
Buena Park Tesla

We checked in and the sales associate (SA) greeted us. He was working with another customer at the time but he gave me an iPad to sign some liability stuff for the test drive and he copied my drivers license. So far, every thing seems normal. He came back and told us to hang tight, he’s going to get the car. A few minutes later we meet him in the front with a blue Model 3 Performance. Very nice looking car.

He had us get inside. I sat in the driver seat and through the window he went over some basic features like how to change the gear from park, reverse, drive, etc; where the turn signals are; adjust seats. Again, every thing seemed normal. After this, I expected him to get in the passenger seat and off we go. “Alright, go ahead and take her for a spin. Be back in 15 minutes. Someone else has scheduled a test drive”. Whoa! I asked, “You aren’t coming with us”? He said, “Nope, I still have to finish with another customer”. Apparently, this is how test driving works with Tesla. They literally give you the car and you experience it on your own. I figured, many who are interested have already done the initial research of the car and it’s just the matter of driving it. It frees up the SA to help other customers as well.

So my son and I went on the test drive and it’s an awesome experience. This is the fastest and most technologically advance vehicle I’ve ever driven. We drove around Buena Park. I can’t begin to describe the accelaration. The cameras around the car detected other vehicles, people, bicycles. The suspension is hard and stiff – it’s a sport sedan. But the ride isn’t rough, at least for me it wasn’t.

The interior is minimal. It has two stocks on each side of the steering wheel that controlled various things like turn signals, changing the direction of the vehicle (to put it in park, you press a button on the end of the stock). Most of the functionality is on the huge screen in the center of the dash. It felt like a giant iPad and the interface is similar to iOS. It’s a touch screen with menus that activate with slide gestures and long presses.

I couldn’t get on the freeway because it’s traffic. He didn’t explain autopilot so I didn’t get a chance to play with it. I think this was good as I would’ve wasted my time playing with it rather than just taking in the driving experience.

We went back to the dealership and the SA was just finishing up with the previous customer. We hung out and waited for him.

Afterwards, we sat in front of a computer and we talked about what the next steps are. At this point, I wasn’t planning to buy one, just test drive. My wife doesn’t even know what we’ve done yet haha. He configured the vehicle I was interested in and showed me the price. In October 2019, you can reserve a Model 3 for a non-refundable $100. The SA suggested to reserve it and if I change my mind, I will only lose $100. I really like the car and after doing some calculating, I would save money in the long run with my commute and expenses – even compared to my Prius. It’s not a lot of savings, after all the configuration I chose is quite a few pennies. But the longer I keep the car, the more I’ll save. I don’t plan on trading in the Model 3 after 3-4 years and/or 100K miles. There’s a lot less maintenance and the battery is supposed to last 300K+ miles. With Tesla always updating the software, the car will continue to “feel new”. So I reserved it for $100 and had to think of a way to tell my wife what I just did haha.

I usually take photos and video but I wanted to focus on test driving. My son did do a Facebook live during the test drive. I found the file but it’s compressed and I’m not sure how well it will play in full screen. I do plan on sharing the video, I just haven’t put together something for it. It’s very shakey. So stay tuned for more content on the Tesla Model 3.

Finally, if you are interested in purchasing any Tesla vehicle, please use my referral link https://ts.la/sherwin24159. We both could get free car charging.

I built an AMD Ryzen 2600 PC in 2019

AMD Ryzen 2600 and MSI B450 Tomahawk

Yes, the Ryzen 2000 series CPU was released in 2018. Why have I just built one in 2019? Prior to building this computer, I primarily was using the Intel 5820K as my main computer. Recently, I started feeling its age. I noticed lag when playing some games even after upgrading my EVGA 780 to an EVGA 1070 card. I also started noticing just slower performance with every day tasks. Initially, I thought my NVME drive had issues but I ran some diagnostics and it reported no abnormalities.

Then the Ryzen 3000 series CPUs released and the previous generation processors went on sale. I figured this would be a good opportunity to check out the AMD chips for a more than reasonable price. I was able to find the Ryzen 2600 about $126 (back in July 2019, it is now available for a cheaper price at time of writing this). I don’t plan on overclocking so the stock heatsink works fine.

AMD Ryzen 2600
AMD Ryzen 2600

It runs at a modest base clock of 3.4GHz and has a boost clock up to 3.9GHz. I paired it with a MSI B450 Tomahawk. One of the biggest benefits of the AM4 socket is the huge compatibility between the Ryzen CPUs. It’s compatible with the 1000, 2000, and 3000 series processors – with the correct BIOS version of course.

MSI B450 Tomahawk
MSI B450 Tomahawk

This motherboard is priced just right for the features it comes with. It’s one of the more popular choices. The VRM should be able to handle faster, more capable processors, should I choose to upgrade in the future. I will have to upgrade the heatsink though. It’s a plain board with no RGB. It has M.2 x4 slot and 2 SATA ports. An additional 4 SATA ports are available through the chipset. However, you lose 2 of those when using the M.2 slot. My only complaint is the number of USB ports. There are 2 USB2.0 ports, 2 USB3.1 Gen 1 and 2 USB3.1 Gen 2 type A and C. I would like more. It doesn’t have to be the fastest, just more. There is a USB3 header I have connected to the front of the case. I am using an old case and not all the ports work on the front panel. I plan to add a few more ports using the USB2 header.

The ram I chose is the Corsair Vengeance LPX 16GB (2x8GB) 3000MHz. It has pretty good timings at C15. Setting the profile in the UEFI, it’s not exactly 3000MHz but around 29xx something – close enough. Not a big deal for me and my use case. People recommend using 3200MHz ram for Ryzen 2000 series. So far, it’s been running well for me. I plan to double the ram once prices go down.

Corsair Vengeance LPS 16GB (2x8GB) 3000MHz
Corsair Vengeance LPS 16GB (2x8GB) 3000MHz

For the case, I used my old Fractal Design R4 case. These cases are great. They are well built. I have the R4 and R5. My only complaint is they don’t sell the replacement drive cages separately. I also wanted a case with a 5.25″ drive bay since I have a bluray drive. I had it in an external enclosure with my previous computer but hated having cables and another thing to plug in. As I mentioned before, one of the front panel USB port is broken and I’m worried that the others will soon follow. I have considered looking for a new case but many of the cases no longer come with a 5.25″ bay – well there are not many good cases with the big bay.

Fractal Design R4
Fractal Design R4

I used a Noctua NF-P14s for the rear intake and Noctua NF-F12 for top exhaust. These bad boys circulate a good amount of air and they are near silent. The only time I hear them is if I stop and actually listen for it and it’s a faint sound. The CPU temp is about 41-43*C on light load, like creating this post and having Photoshop running to crop the photos used here. I also have a VM running Ubuntu 19.10 (not server) on Virtualbox.

I have done some transcoding with Handbrake. While only having this program run, the temps reaches around 77*C and 100% CPU load. Wattage goes up to about 140-142W. This definitely runs more efficient than my previous Intel 5820K and 3930K (I know, it’s a newer architecture).

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Not final result…

So the picture above was taken before I swapped out the video card and power supply. I ended up putting the Cooler Master PSU and EVGA 780 with my older 5820K build. I took the EVGA SuperNova 1000 G2 PSU and EVGA 1070 video card.

I didn’t take a photo of the latest build since the tower is in its place and I’m lazy to pull it out and take a pic haha. Maybe when I do my annual cleaning – follow me on Instagram.

Finally, the drive I’m using for the OS is a Sabrent Rocket NVMe 512GB drive. Nothing fancy but faster than the usual SATA SSD.

Sabrent Rocket NVMe 512GB
Sabrent Rocket NVMe 512GB

I’ve been using this PC since end of July 2019. I’m just posting about it now in November because I have been having a great time with it. No issues at all and performance is great.

I generally use it for development. I’m running one or two VMs, playing video games, light photo editing, and the usual internet stuff. I’m very happy with the set up. I am considering adding more ram so I can allocate it to VMs. I may even wait to upgrade to the Ryzen 3900X (12 Core) once the prices go down. But as for now, it does more than what I need it to at the speed that exceeds expectations and at much better cost than my last two Intel hexacore build.

DIY Computer Stand

Are computer stands no longer available or do they call them something different? I am going to sound old, but in my day, computer stands are what we set computers on when we put them on the floor. Why? Not only does it provide better air flow (for power supplies with down-facing fans) but it also lessens the dust build up. You should still dust your computer at least once a year if you are setting it on the floor.

I tried looking for “computer stand” and all I get are standing desk and laptop/monitor stands. If you scroll through pages, I eventually find what I am looking for, but not many.

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Searching for “computer stand”

I gave up. I figured I’ll just make my own. I don’t need anything fancy. I just need something to lift the tower off the floor a few inches. I took a 2″x4″ piece of wood and cut it 12″ in length. I then used MDF (medium density fiberboard) and cut it to 12″x24″. The 24″ length is based on the case I have which is a a Fractal Design Define R4 case. It is 20.5″ in length.

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Sanding and lining up the wood

I sanded the pieces just to smooth the surface. I haven’t decided whether I will paint it or not. I took 3 pieces of the 2×4 and lined them up on the edges and the center for support.

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Wood glue

I applied wood glue to secure the legs. That way when I predrill, the legs won’t move around. I don’t have a table or clamps to keep them in place. This step isn’t necessary if you can keep the legs in place.

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Predrill 3 holes per leg

I predrilled 3 holes per leg. I just used #8 screws at 1 3/4″. Be careful when buying screws. Pay attention to the head. I picked ones with a double-square (star-shaped) head rather than a Phillips (+) head. Luckily, I had a torx bit that works.

Be careful when driving in the screws with power tools. MDF is pretty weak and you can easily drive in the screw below the surface of the MDF plywood. Below are some photos of the finished stand.

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Side view
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Front view

This stand lifts the computer off the floor by 4.5″. If you want to go higher, use 2″x6″ studs instead. But depending on the length of the plywood, I would probably do 4 legs instead of 3.

You can also  run cables or wires between the legs. There’s also room on the sides of the plywood to run cables. I like using these cable clips. It has a pretty strong adhesive if you want to mount them on surfaces.

Not A Fan of Dell Inspiron 7386

dell inspiron 7386

Recently, a deal came out for the Dell Inspiron 7386. I bought it from Dell but here’s a Best Buy product page if you want to check out how it looks and see the specs. On paper, the specs are impressive.

  • Intel i7-8565U
  • 16GB DDR4 2400MHz ram (soldered, not upgradable)
  • 256GB M.2 PCIe NVMe SSD (SK Hynix BC501) – I believe this is replaceable with the usual 2280 size.
  • Intel Wireless AC 9560 with Bluetooth 5
  • Goodix fingerprint sensor– supports Windows Hello
  • TPM 2.0
  • 4K UHD touch screen
  • HDMI port
  • USB 3.1 Gen 1 type A port
  • USB 3.1 Gen 1 type C port – supposedly supports display port and power delivery but I did not try it for reasons I shared below.
  • Micro SD card reader
  • Universal audio jack

All in a 13.3″ laptop form factor. I was able to get this for $699. It is a 2-in1 laptop where I can flip the screen 180 degrees and it becomes a tablet. It also comes with its own pen. I’ve read that the pen acts similarly as the Surface Pen – same drivers, same technology.

The storage drive has pretty good performance for a laptop. Of course, you can get faster performing drives but at a cost.

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Crystal Disk for Dell 7386 – SK Hynix BC501

The drive is also configured in a RAID. You can go into the UEFI/BIOS and see it. Below is the partition setup that disk management reports.

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Partition details using Windows Disk Management
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UEFI/BIOS RAID configuration

The partitions contain the default configurations that Dell installed to help the user manage their device. It also has an image of the operating system with the Dell drivers included. It is there for convenience but takes up space nonetheless. You can wipe delete the partitions and have a more traditional setup but you will need to delete everything and download Microsoft’s version of the Windows 10 installer. The license is attached to the device so you won’t have to worry about losing it. If you need to factory reset your laptop, you will need to download Dell’s restore image. It is best to do this with the device so it can detect your tag number and provide the correct version. Dell’s website has a detector that can load on your internet browser.

So why am I not a fan of this laptop? Well that’s exactly the reason, the fan. I believe that the combination of the i7 processor, 4K screen, and small size that it cannot keep the components cool enough. Within five minutes of booting up and loading the desktop with nothing running, the fans will turn on. And it’s fairly loud. This was meant to be used in bed at night. My wife will not appreciate the noise, neither will I. Also, the bottom gets a bit warm as well so my lap will not appreciate it either. I can use a pillow between my lap and laptop but that will make it worse since there are vents on the bottom that will lose airflow. The power brick (45W), though small, gets warm as well.

There is also a weird anamoly with the touchpad. It happens randomly and seldom but when left clicking, the cursor moves up a bit. When this occurs, you will miss what you intend to click since it moves upwards. This happens in the UEFI for sure, 100% of the time. Could it be driver related? But does not happen all the time when Windows is loaded. It did happen a few times. Restarting solved it.

Many of the complaints I’ve read online deals with battery life, it’s poor. It is a 3-cell, 38Whr battery. The website says it’s integrated so it might not be replaceable. You can also read many of the reviews on the product page. You will see plenty of battery life complaints.

And finally, there is light bleed on the top left of the screen.

I would love to keep this machine for its hardware. But the fan, weird touchpad issues, battery life, light bleed – I will have to send it back. Hopefully I don’t have to pay a restocking. What if they say that the fan is a feature and is expected to work that way? It’s really a bummer. Well, the other issues mentioned is definitely not a feature.

Surface Pro 6

surface pro 6

Every year during back to school time (July to September), stores would have great deals on laptops and mobile devices. This year was no exception. One of the best deals I’ve seen this year is the Microsoft Surface Pro 6. Costco is currently offering a price discount plus they will include both keyboard and pen. This deal starts at $799 for the i5, 128GB version.

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Costco deal starting at $799

You would have to be a member to see this price. The higher model is also on sale for $999. I couldn’t justify the extra $200 for double the storage capacity from 128GB to 256GB plus the exclusive matte black color. I would have considered it if the storage performance was quicker. But through searching online, the performance of both for read speeds were identical. The write speeds however, is faster on the higher model. I was after the faster reads not writes though.

I have tried the Surface Pro 4 a few years ago. I love the form factor but there were some things that prevented me from keeping it. You can read about my post on the Surface Pro 4 here.

Anyway, the price made me want to check it out again. I went to a Microsoft store and checked them out. Externally, there has been no changes from the older models. All of the changes are internal. The big changes for me, are in the Intel processor. It is now using an i5-8250U chip (i7 model also available). This chip is now a quad-core processor with 8 threads running at only 15W. The base model also uses this chip and includes 8GB of RAM – unlike in the previous generations you would get a core-M with 4GB of RAM. These variants are not available for this generation. The i5 models are also fanless so you won’t hear any fans spinning.

Once again, I’m in love with the form factor. But as soon as I try to put it on my lap while in bed, the same issue occurs. What makes this form factor great is also what makes it not great – at least for my use case. That kickstand is a bit uncomfortable as it digs on my legs. The corner of the screen is now starting to be felt on my legs as well. One solution I found while using it in bed is rather than have my legs flat with the kickstand holding the device up, I raised my legs up and started to use it as the kickstand itself. I adjusted the Surface kickstand so that it’s almost 180 degrees from its normal position. This way, the kickstand is almost flat and not have to dig in to my legs. This works for some time until my legs start to get tired but it is a solution for me. This was one of the deal breakers last time I tried the Surface Pro.

I did a quick benchmark on the hard drive because I was curious to see the difference between the 256GB model. Here are my results from CrystalDiskMark.

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128GB benchmark result

According to the Windows Central article, their test on the 256GB drive resulted in a 1632MB/s read and 814MB/s write. If they’re both sequential speeds then the read speeds are identical while the write speeds are slightly faster on the higher model.

I have been playing with it for a few weeks now. I installed my usual software and set up my development environment. I mainly use it for web development. Using Virtualbox and Vagrant to run a virtual machine. My IDE of choice is PHPStorm. I also run MySQL Workbench to connect to a database server running on the VM or on a remote server. With this workflow, the Surface handles it with no issue. PHPStorm does load a little slow but once open, it’s fine. The VM uses 2GB of RAM and it runs headless. Everything runs exceptional. And I could do some coding while in bed.

The hardware, in my opinion, is acceptable. The resolution it runs in is perfect for its size. The battery life is no issue for me although I tend to plug in whenever I can. While running on battery, the device still performs as well as plugged in. You can feel the back side getting warm but not too much. The weight is perfect. It is very portable and the form factor is just the best of its kind. There are other devices that are similar but I think Microsoft’s version is the best out of all of them. This is the PC version of an Apple product. Microsoft made the hardware and software and is fully optimized.

I am still on the fence of whether I should keep it or return it. Don’t get me wrong, but the device is a great. The sale price makes it even greater. But for my workflow, I would prefer to have more RAM and USB-C that allows me to charge the device. This is a 15W CPU so it shouldn’t be that difficult to do plus the port itself is small. I’ve seen 13″ laptops with full-size HDMI. I would love to run Ubuntu on this and after searching the Reddit community, people are having driver issues. My previous Dell Inspiron was easy to run Linux. Dell devices are mostly supported.

I have a Dell Inspiron 7386 on the way. I found a really good deal but I think the battery life stinks on it. Hardware specs are better and it’s cheaper. But we’ll see which one I’ll keep. Stay tuned for that post.