My first impressions of Dell U2717D monitor.

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I purchase a new Dell monitor, a 27 inch U2717D as part of my room revamp. I previously had a full HD TV that I used to connect with my PC and for my usual gaming needs. Now that I have transformed part of my room to a desktop set up, I had to get myself a brand new computer monitor.

I have always been fans of Dell monitors. They are well built, uses high-quality panels and their patented tilt, swivel and height adjustment stand makes it one of the most flexible monitors on the market. Their design is a no-nonsense, simplistic design and doesn’t really distract you from the main feature; the screen. Unlike other monitors, especially the gaming monitors with its aggressive colour and design, Dell monitors design ethos are more subdued, suitable for any type of use, from professional office use to gaming.

I got myself the U2717D which is the recent 2017 model. At QHD resolution, that is, 2560 x 1440p resolution, this is a step up from the usual 1080p models. It’s screen real estate is 27inch, which, personally is the perfect size of 1440p resolution. The texts that I see on the screen is significantly sharper than a similarly sized 1080p monitor. Overall, reading text on the screen on the new Dell monitor is easy on the eyes.

As for colour reproduction, Dell Ultrasharp monitors are known for its colour accuracy, suitable for semi-professional users. I have no complaints when it comes to colour and contrast, after all, it is an IPS panel. IPS ‘glow’ is there, although not as obvious, and my monitor has minimal backlight bleed or backlight inconsistency on the panel, which is a good thing.

One thing that I am most impressed about is the ultra thin bezels around the edge, even at the bottom where typically the Dell logo would be located. In the U2717D monitor, even the Dell logo is shrunken so that the width of the bezels are consistent on all four sides. And it is super thin, one of the thinnest I have ever owned.

My rig is primarily used for gaming. Although I might have gotten a monitor with GSync or FreeSync, high refresh rate monitor for my gaming needs, I realized that I don’t actually need them. First of all, I am not playing competitive e-sports, and that includes first paced shooters or other twitchy games. So the need to get a high refresh rate monitor is personally a waste of money. Having a decent monitor with the 60hz refresh rate that primarily focuses on colour accuracy is my main priority when it comes to deciding the ideal monitor for my set up and usage.

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This monitor is beautiful. Having a monitor with an ultra thin bezel makes the monitor the central piece in any desktop set up. The screen just draws you in and before you know it, you become completely immerse in it.

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Room revamp

Last week I began revamping my room. Previously, I had a sofa and a full HD tv as a computer moniter. Coupled with the Roccat Sova, a sofa keyboard and mouse setup, I played games on my PC from the comforts of my sofa.

Now, I decided to revamp my entire room and go back to using a desktop. I bought all my furniture from Ikea, some paint, and went with cleaning my room, removing all unwanted furniture, repainting part of my room and assembling all the furniture needed for my new computer desktop. Oh and I also got myself a brand new 27inch Dell 1440p IPS minitor.

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This was my setup before. With my gaming PC on the left, a pair of shelves flanking my TV. It’s acutally a very comfortable setup to game. I love my sofa. And the fact that I have a room big enough to fit a two-seater sofa makes this setup pretty unique. In the middle, the Roccat Sova, keyboard system for sofa use.

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It took me a couple of days to remove all the furniture and the the stuff you see in the first image. After emptying my room (except for the bed, which sat at a corner) I suddenly realised how dirty my wall was. I got myself a small bottle of paint but realised I couldn’t find the same original color that was previously painted. I had to choose a color that closely matches the original and got paint named ‘Mocha’. The original colour was ‘Cuppuccino’ Close enough. Oh and I had to patch up those hideous holes with white plaster.

 

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Painting done. The colour was quite close to the original. Thankfully. I had to coat the wall with white paint first for greater colour consistency and to ensure that the old paint colour does not affect the new one. The picture above looked washed out but that was because of the bright fluorescent lightbulbs.

 

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The colour is more presentative to what I personally see. The furniture is an Ikea hack. To make this desk, you just have to get a large kitchen tabletop and place on top of Alex office drawers. The drawers came in white or gray. I chose the gray, because it reminded me of space-gray found on iphones and Macbooks. I love the walnut color of the kitchen tabletop. It has this high quality and luxurious look to it, although in actauly, its not a single piece of solid wood. Rather, its actually some kind of compressed chipboard. But still, that piece of wood you see there is super solid and heavy. You definitely need to person to carry that piece of wood around.

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The cables looked messy, but trust me, it is much better that having it on the floor, criss-crossing each other. The Signum cable management from Ikea is an excellent addition to any desk if cable management is a problem. Elevating it above the floor makes the table underneath so much neater. Out of sight, out of mind. Installing the Signum requires power tools as you need to drill holes into the wood to hang as such. It is recommended to drill and install before placing the kitchen tabletop on the Alex office cabinets.

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And now comes my favourite part of the revamp. Putting everything in its rightful place. The gaming PC, the larger-than-expected speakers, PS4 console, and my new Dell monitor. After placing everything I needed on the desk, I realised that I had less space than I expected. When I bought the kitchen tabletop from Ikea, I initially thought this 1.86m long wood was super huge. However, after placing all the things on the table, I realised that it is actually perfect.

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My final set-up from different angles. Took my an entire week from purchasing the furniture, to assembly, to cleaning, moving of old furniture, and room painting. It has truly been a tiring, but hugely satisfying week. My over vision for what my new desktop should look like has finally been realised.

There are a couple of changes that I will be making in the near future. For one, the Roccat Sova will be replaced by a tenkeyless keyboard. The mouse and keyboard will be placed on a Satechi Mat and Mate base that will serve as a mousepad as well. That way, I will save more space and make the set-up even cleaner. Currently while the Roccat Sova works just as well as on the desk (simply remove the 4 paddings below) it looks rather bulky on my desk. That will change when the keyboard and the mat arrives in the coming days.

Happy one-year anniversary gaming rig!

Exactly one year ago today, I completed building my first ever gaming rig. I was an increadible experience. I learnt a lot PC gaming rigs and how to build one. It was a journey I started months ago before actually acquiring the parts. But once I did, it was a journey I enjoyed tremendously.

One year on, and I still love my gaming rig to death. It has served me well this past year without any problems whatsoever to either the hardware or software. I must have done my homework properly. Everything works fine.

I plan to keep using this as long as I can. However I have plans to build a new one. A bigger and better one. I have the confidence to really build the rig of my dreams, one that requires to graphics card with a water-cooled build. I will upgrade once Nvidia announces a new generation of graphics card sometime next year. But for now, I have no plans to change, upgrade to build a totally new rig. I am going to continue using my current set up as much as I can.

 

My friend just got his PhD!

So last week my friend invited me over to his place to celebrate a momentous occasion. He has just gotten his PhD! There for food and drinks, and lots of alcohol. It didn’t get wild or anything but it was nice to see friends over and just reminiscing about the good old days and how my friend struggled during the 5 years he spent in completing his PhD programme.

After proof-reading his thesis, I must say, he did struggle during his PhD candidature. What was shocking to me was when he revealed over drinks that he considered several times of actually quitting the programme completely. I was that much of a struggle for him, a struggle that I just wasn’t aware of. Now I know my friend. He is the kind of wouldn’t simply give up. He is patient yet tenacious, with a keen eye for detail for anything that is in front of him. He was an intense level of curiosity when something really did pique his interest, and he will investigate it till the ends of the earth. But to see him on the edge and fantasizing about quitting the programme, that is just not him.

Well, I am glad he did not. He made it through safe and sound and with a PhD to boot. I am so happy for him. I am also really honoured that he chose me to proofread his PhD thesis. It was a joy to read someone’s blood sweat and tears, the sacrifices he had to make during the five years as a PhD student all distilled in a couple hundred pages.

I may never experience what life is like doing your PhD, but what I do know, is that you need a sheer amount of tenacity, resilience, patience, and lots and lots of hard work, with an incredible network of support from your family and friends to get through the programme to really earn your PhD.

I finally completed Mass Effect Andromeda

Mass Effect Andromeda was released sometime in March of 2017. It’s August as of this writing. I took nearly 6 months to complete Mass Effect Andromeda.

Mass Effect Andromeda was one of the most anticipated video game. When it was first announced, I was beyond excited. For Bioware to bring the beloved Mass Effect franchise back to life was a bold move for them to make. After releasing three rock solid games that formed the Mass Effect Trilogy, it was certainly a tall order to meet or even exceed the standards and quality set by the first three games.

So when it finally came out, I was ecstatic. But flash forward 6 months later and it is only now that I finally get to complete the game. So why did it took so long for me to play the game in its entirety from start to finish?

Sad to say, the game fell short of expectations. When it was first launched, the game felt hugely unpolished. Numerous bugs, terrible facial and lip sync animations. It felt like a beta. Although animations can be improved through subsequent patches, (and thankfully it was improved) it is the story that ultimately fell short. The main character, Ryder, was a little two dimensional and boring. Your squadmates are no better, featuring very bland backstories and flat personalities (maybe with the exception of Peebee). At the end of the day, you don’t feel invested in spending time doing any of their character related missions or make any extra effort to gain their loyalty and unlock higher level skill set for you to level them up.

Gameplay was not bad. I had fun. Action sequences were intense and I am thankful for that. If the characters were boring and the gameplay was no better, the game would have tanked. The reviews would have come back panning the game. Bioware really came close in releasing its first ever flop. That would have been embarrassing for Bioware, masters in RPG, storytelling and world building to release an RPG that sucked for the very first time. It would have marred the entire Mass Effect franchise with the release of Mass Effect Andromeda. Generally, taking the game in its entirety. There are good moments within the story and robust gameplay mechanism. Bioware had the opportunity to truly create an epic RPG storyline within the Mass Effect universe. But it decided to squander it away.   Bioware had a blank slate to come up with a killer storyline on a new galaxy (Andromeda, instead of the Milky Way where Shepard and the rest of humanity reside in the first three games) but it squandered it away. Bioware had the opportunity to bring back that sense of discovery and exploration for gamers to experience on a totally new galaxy but it decided to squander it away. Bioware had the opportunity to run wild on a totally new set of alien species and all of its intrigues and unique characters on a new galaxy but it chose to introduce just one main alien species, the Angara (two if you consider the Kett, the bad aliens you have to fight against). In other words, Bioware missed on a lot of opportunities to elevate the franchise on a whole new level and bring a new generation of gamers to the Mass Effect universe.

Looking back, I enjoyed the game. But the reason it took me so long to finish is that I feel at times, the game to be very inconsistent in terms of the pacing and plot progression. So it was inevitable that I take long breaks before firing up the game and continue slugging it out and forcing myself to bring the game’s plot forward bit by bit over time.

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All AMD build?

In the past couple of days, there has been a deluge of information regarding AMD’s new product offering from the CPU and GPU departments. The latest monster of a cpu, Threadripper was launched to much fanfare and I really dig the review kits AMD distributed to all major influential tech reviewers on YouTube. The review kit they received was really badass! AMD also announced their new Vega GPUs for the mainstream market and so far things are looking really promising for AMD. I have heard nothing but praises for AMD from the tech community, especially when it comes to really listening to feedback and acting on that feedback to give customers what they truly want from AMD.

Which got me wondering now about my future gaming rig. And all AMD build seems an interesting prospect. It would be doubtful for me to get the Threadripper lineup of CPUs. Those are overkill, but the Ryzen 5 or even the Ryzen 7 series is competitively priced against Intel’s CPU offerings. Having an 8-core, 16-thread CPU is a bonus. Definitely still overkill, but nice to have.

As for GPUs, I’m reserving judgment over them. Vega is an interesting product, but I am more interested in what Nvidia has to offer next year. Honestly, I am still a Nvidia fan, and their recent 10 series GPUs are nothing to scoff about. But one thing is for sure, and that it I will go for multi GPU set up for my next build. I am aiming to get 2 enthusiast level GPUs to be included in my future build. More power! It could be possible that I could go for an AMD CPU coupled with a pair of Nvidia GPUs in my future builds.

By the way, in about 15 days or so, my current Dark Rage build will be official one year old! Time truly flies! It doesn’t feel like a year has passed. At. All. But believe it or not, a full year will soon pass since I first built my new gaming PC. It is still going strong and I have made zero upgrades to the PC since then. I just love my PC to death. I imposed a moratorium on PC upgrades for 2017 and I have kept to my end of the bargain. Reason being is that I personally feel a waste of money to make incremental upgrades to my current PC, when I can use that money and more as I save up to build an even bigger and better PC in the future, hopefully sometime in 2018.

The flu wiped out my stamina

Last week I was down with the flu. It was bad. I can’t remember when was the last time I was afflicted with such a terrible strain of flu. From what I recall, it usually took just a couple of days of experiencing body aches, tension headaches and the occasional fever before the whole thing blows over. But this time around, it took me an entire week, before I actually felt well enough to get out of bed for an extended period of time.

The body aches were terrible. At that moment I seriously thought that I had the Zika or dengue. But I remembered that those afflictions usually cause joint aches, rather than general muscle aches throughout the whole body. I had low-grade fever throughout the duration and occasional spikes of high fever and my throat hurt a lot. Worse of all is that the flu wiped out my stamina.

Last week was the week that I was supposed to take my IPPT and clear this year’s window. I had to cancel my appointment at the very last minute and focus on nursing my flu and getting better as soon as possible. I felt really weak throughout the ordeal and now that I have recovered, I feel that I am still not at my 100%. With my window closing in a month’s time, I am now against time to get my fitness back to where it was once, a level just enough to clear my IPPT and be done with it. It will not be an easy feat. I need to be disciplined in going for runs 3 times a week for the next month and hopefully, by then, my stamina would have returned to normal, so that I will have a decent chance at passing this darn IPPT (and hopefully get a promotion in rank along the way).