Ed Grochowski's Website
Newer Articles
2015
2015: Year of the Man-Bun
Half a Year with the Haswell-E PC
2014
AT&T is Out of Control
TTL Turns 50
Daylight Savings Time Fail
2013
Are Your Computers Working for You?
What is a Real Computer?
We're the Phone Company
Home PC Tenth Anniversary
Ducky DK2108 Keyboard Review
Older Articles


(c) 2017
Ed Grochowski

Half a Year with the Haswell-E PC

Ed Grochowski

Written 4-6-2015
Updated 5-22-2016

computer
The Haswell-E PC

Introduction

I have now owned the Haswell-E PC for six months.  It has been my primary workstation for all of my computing tasks: hobbyist programming, photo editing, web page authoring, income tax preparation, office tasks, and storage archive.

My experiences have been very positive.  It is great to use a computer that can overwhelm pretty much any task.  My specific feedback on the components is:

Item Description Rating Comments
Processor Intel Core i7-5960X, 8 cores, 3.0 GHz, 64-bits Excellent The Haswell-E CPU makes short work of large program compilations, multi-threaded, and multi-tasking workloads.  It offers ten times the throughput of CPUs from the last decade.  Haswell-E is also extremely good at single-threaded workloads (these tend not to be compute-intensive).
Memory 64 GB Crucial DDR4 (8 * 8 GB) Very good This is a ridiculous amount of memory.  The benefit is that the computer can cache its disk working set completely in memory.  There is no waiting for disk I/O.  One problem is that one of the DIMMs may be marginal - I once observed errors at an ambient temperature of 95F.  I will see if the problem re-occurs this summer.
Motherboard Asrock X99 Extreme6 Excellent Asrock did a great job on this motherboard.  I have had no problems over the last six months.  The only downside is that the BIOS is slow to go from power-on to the start of booting the OS.
Graphics card MSI Radeon R7 265 Fair I would like this graphics card better if the open-source drivers had actually worked.  Due to buggy drivers, I am running the Radeon with hardware GPU acceleration disabled.  This is embarrassing for a $3K computer.
Monitor Asus PB287Q 28 inch 4K monitor Very good This monitor can display two pages of tax returns side-by-side with everything readable and no scrolling.  Fonts are rendered beautifully.  The increase in productivity from having so much information on the screen is amazing.  Everyone should own a 4K monitor - you won't go back to 1080p.  The only downside is that the TN panel exhibits some color shift when viewed off-axis.  Colors are accurate when viewed on-axis.
Hard disks 6 TB (two Seagate 3 TB drives) Excellent Today, 6 TB may seem like an enormous amount of storage, but I expect the disks will fill up at some point during the computer's 15-year lifecycle.
Optical disks Two LG DVD rewriters Good These work reliably but store only 4 GB per disk (optical disks are starting to seem like floppies).
Power supply Thermaltake SP-850M, 850W Very good The power supply works well and runs nearly silently.
CPU cooler Cooler Master 212 EVO Very good The tower cooler keeps the CPU temperatures in the 50s C.  That is 20 degrees less than the radial cooler in an older desktop, and 30 degrees less than the cooler in a laptop.
Case Antec Three Hundred mid-tower case Excellent This is a very nice case.  Antec should put it back in production.  It is a classic.
Keyboard Ducky Zero DK2108 mechanical keyboard, MX red switches Excellent I can type faster and more accurately on this keyboard than on any other.  If you have never used a mechanical keyboard, you owe it to yourself to try one.  The MX red switches appear to be out-of-production.  I would gladly buy again.
Mouse Logitech M100 Very good This $10 mouse does everything well.
Operating system Slackware Linux Excellent Slackware provides a traditional Unix environment with a complete set of applications and developer tools.  I am running the current (pre-release) version of Slackware.  The Slackware 14.2 release is likely not far away.

May 2016 Update

The marginal DIMM was replaced under warranty, and the GPU open-source driver finally works.