There was an opportunity to start a new PC project based on some spare parts I had just doing nothing. I already have a well configured Windows 7 PC I use for editing photos, editing HD videos and gaming. My second PC acts as a file server for archiving purposes; it does have a decent AMD CPU and a 560Ti GPU but it doesn’t really see much action other than when I need to backup my commercial photos. My third PC is just something I built just for fun but it didn’t see much use other than playing a few games in the spare room so I wanted to give it more purpose by moving it into the living room to serve my 46″ TV. I also wanted a small mobile case so I could transport it to LAN events or hide discretely within my living room.
The case it was in was a cheap no brand case that merely served a purpose but it was too big for my sparse living room so I needed something much smaller and discreet. The motherboard is a Micro-ATX format board, it’s not as small as mini-itx but I didn’t want to buy any new components so the new case had to accommodate that. After extensive research I came across Silverstone’s Sugo SG09 priced around £90 new in the UK. Because I didn’t want to spend that much on a case I waited until it popped up on Ebay for £50! A bargain I thought and snapped it up.
As soon as it arrived I pulled apart the old PC case and set about putting all the components into the Sugo SG09. I had read a few reviews saying it was a tight squeeze when it comes to cable management and they were right! After a bit of trial and error I just cabled up the back with plastic ties but it still leaves a bulge when you put the case on. I had to put some of the cables underneath the PSU by literally shoving it in there. All this cabling is right next to a 120mm on the side.
One thing I didn’t like was the 120mm fan on the left side panel as I felt it served no real purpose; other than the cables I shoved in there, there was no component that needed cooling so I removed it. The rest of the build was very easy like any other case.
The internal specifications are as follows:
- 8gb Ram
- MSI GTX570 GPU
- Crucial 120gb SSD
I overclock the GTX 570 to 850mhz which produces quite a bit of heat so this was a real test for the SUGO SG09 to see if it really could exhaust the heat properly and to my amazement it handled it fine!
I’m sorry if this doesn’t seem very scientific, I just wanted to share my experience with this wonderful little case. I can totally recommend it to anyone who has a Micro-ATX motherboard. I am going to EPICLAN 10 in a months time, and this little case is perfect for taken to LAN events!
I have used it several times to watch videos using PLEX and played several games of Battlefield 3 without any issues at all!
Being a photographer, storage is incredibly important; storage that can expand and offer protecting is crucial.
When it comes to direct access storage devices that offer built in disk failure redundancy features and multi drive capabilities the biggest name is Drobo by Data Robotics.
However, I lived with a Drobo V2 for just over a year. This version had the USB2 and Firewire 800 interfaces. In the beginning it was great. Drobo was small, quiet and kept my files safe and protected. But I was soon wanting more from the diminutive device. I needed faster random access, faster sequential data throughput and finally I wanted an transfer interface that wasn’t based on 10 year old technology (USB and FireWire). So it was time to move on and I sold it.
18 months later there was a Drobo shaped space next on my desk. I still wanted all those features which the Drobo couldn’t offer. I looked at the Drobo’s newer siblings; the Drobo S and Drobo FS but reviews slated them for the slow speed and their inadequate ability to maximize their eSata and USB 3 interfaces. Plus they were notoriously expensive.
The search continued for many months when I stumbled on a small device from MediaSonic for around £100 (approx $160 US).
The device has a very silly name, it’s called the HFR2-SU3S2. Even with the silly name it does have a lot features. It has an eSata and USB 3 interface, 4 drive bays and a choice of RAID 0, 1,5 and 10.
This is how I’ve configured it:
- Three 2TB Western Digital drive at 5200RPM
- USB 3 interface
- RAID 5 configuration giving me 4TB of usable storage
Using the USB 3 interface it’s as speedy as any SATA drive in my PC; I was hoping it would be faster since I have it configured in RAID 5. I was expected higher performance since the data is spread across the three 2TB drives I have installed but without doubt the results are faster than the Drobos.
There is no software provided and the instructions are short; however this was not an issue for myself as I have a lot of experience with these devices, but I can imagine it would be a bit intimidating for the absolute beginner.
I have read other comments about the HFR2-SU3S2 being quite noisy; I have found it to be very quiet. It is by no means silent. I would describe the noise level to be on the ‘very quiet’ scale. I set the fans on auto and it just does the rest!
In the box, you get a USB3 and a eSATA cable. Both are quite short so if you plan on having the unit on your desk and your computer is underneath your desk, then you may have to purchase a longer lead like I did. I got a 2m eSATA cable for only £2.00
The lights on the front are bright but not distracting. When the drives are being accessed the activity lights turn purple. There have been comments from other users saying it’s too bright but I disagree. While they are noticeable on my desk they don’t annoy me.
Overall, this is a magnificent little device that has little compromise when compared to the more expensive Drobo. The only limitation I see is all the drives have to be matched (you can mix up manufacturers and sizes on the Drobo).
Buy it, it’s cheap and offers an expandable means of storage with redundancy.
Since I upgraded my processors over year ago I’ve often wondered what the full abilities of my Mac Pro was in a 64bit test. I’ve recently purchased the full version of Geekbench, and I’m very happy with the results!
I do intend to write a blog about all the software tools I use to make my job a little easier, but for now I want to talk about a little utility I use daily called Dropbox.
Dropbox is probably the best file synchronisation and ‘cloud’ manager there is. I can work on any file on my Mac (or PC) and I know that file will be automatically saved online every time I change that file. Not only that, but the synchronisation is fully automated.
The free version starts off with 2gb so the it’s not massive. Even the biggest version of 100gb isn’t enough to hold all my photos which currently a stands at 2.7TB. But it’s not all about size, besides I wouldn’t want to hang around waiting for 2.7TB to sync!!
Dropbox is about simplicity and having your previous files up to date, always available and minimises duplication of projects.
Dropbox Case Study:
I’m a professional photographer, so that means I deal with thousands of photos any given month, but I don’t use Dropbox for all those files. I use dropbox when I’m working on larger single images like a Photoshop file of a large Magazine cover composition. These files are typically a manageable 100mb. I use Dropbox to keep that file always backed up every time I change the file by saving. Not only that, with Dropbox it stores previous versions of the same file so if I make an irreversible change in Photoshop I can go to the Dropbox website and retrieve the previously saved version up to a few days! Think of it like an online version of Apple’s Time Machine.
Another advantage is I can work on that file on my Macbook Pro when I need to work remotely, but when I am home I can work on the same UP TO DATE file on my Apple Mac Pro without having to copy from the Macbook Pro. Also because I’m working on virtually the same file I don’t need to worry about storing duplicate files; I just need to store and manage one file which is always up to date and backed up.
Once my Photoshop file is complete I can then use Dropbox as a delivery method. I simply move the file onto the Public folder within the Dropbox folder, right click, copy the unique dropbox link then paste that link to send to my clients as you would send any link; by email, online chat etc.
You can try out Dropbox for free with the standard 2GB, but if you click my referral link then we both get an extra 250mb for free!
It’s crunch time for everybody because of the recession. I looked at my equipment which was surplus and unfortunately it was my iMac that was on the list. I already have enough Apple products to start my own Apple Store so even though I was sad to see it go it did go to a good home. I get to see it from time to time, but it’s used more often now.
While looking for ways to make my very old PC to run faster, I purchased an Asus GT 430 graphics card. The first few tests are great, but it’s not fair to publish my results yet as it’s in an old Asus A8N motherboard with an AMD 3200 processor; it’s old tech so until I get a new system to build I won’t do any proper testing.
At last, the guys from Virgin arrived today to install my “Big Boy Broadband” as someone chose to call it. Darren and Paul; they came and went within an hour but not after alot of banter! Mind you, I wouldn’t blame them!
There was a small hitch after they had gone; they left me to do the activation via a website. The modem was supposed to reboot after the activation but it didn’t. I manually rebooted the modem by unplugging it from the mains. After the restart things still weren’t up and running. However, I gave it sometime to settle. The LAN IP ranges were 192.168.0.1, whilst I had been using 192.168.1.1 so I went around making sure all my devices picked up the new LAN range.
I came back to retest the modem and things were looking good. I did an immediate speed test, I only got okay results:
i put it down to the time; it was 4.27pm, nearing the time when national ‘net traffic is quite high. I left it for a bit then did another test and BINGO!
I’m very pleased so far. I know I won’t get consistantly 50mb/s but I don’t care, it’s the upload I need. Being a photographer I upload alot of media online or send alot of data to clients.
I will let you know in a month or so how I get on with Virgin XXL Broadband.
Just a quick post. I’m in the process (still) of deciding which new broadband to get; in the UK there are only two choices, BT Infinity or Virgin Broadband.
Virgin are rolling out 100mb down and (more interestingly) 10mb up speeds as we speak. During my research I found this very useful PDF from Virgin about their UK 100mb rollout schedule. I hope you find it useful.
It is shocking how many people still do not have a computer backup system in place. Fair enough, when it comes to complaincency I’m terrible at business administration (my filing is way behind), but in my mind backing up critical files is something that cannot be delayed.
If you are a Windows user, Microsoft has a nice robust system imaginatively called WINDOWS BACKUP AND RESTORE. It can be automated, and your data can be backed up onto a network location. I am currently archiving an old Windows 7 PC to my Synology DS1010 NAS. I hit a small problem when my PC went to sleep in mid backup, but I started it backup again without any hitches.
For Apple users there is Apple’s TIME MACHINE. It is a very simple and elegant archiving solution. But it’s greatest trick is the ability to go back to several different versions of the same file. What that means is not only can you retrieve the latest version of, for example, your Photoshop edit but you can retrieve various versions going back as only as several months providing you have the storage space.
These two products are free, easy, automated and should give some peace of mind. I could go on and on about this, but I believe everybody knows backing up your information is important but not everyone does it.
For home users, it may not be “critical” to archive, but with so many precious photos of family and friends stored on computers these days, there is nothing worse than your computer developing a virus or hardware issues.
For professionals, it is bad business to not have a backup solution for your computers. It’s irresponsible not to invest in hardware to store important data somewhere off the main computers.
Finally, we are at the very beginning Cloud computing. Storing your valuable data on the internet, as opposed to local hard drives, will become common place so perhaps the need for regimented archiving may not be necessary. But until that time, backup your work people! Don’t make me come over there and sort you out!!