New computer hardware

I’ve had new toys to play with over the WE, here is a first hot status.

The first one was linked to installing some new computer hardware. I have ethernet sockets in my wall,  only using 4 wires (2 pairs), hence limiting to 100mbps. As I have a NAS, I needed much higher bandwidth. I tried to build custom ethernet cables (basically, Y cables using both the cables from phone and the cables for ethernet) with a limited success. So I switched to using WiFi bridge to connect the wired network for home office and the other wired network for multimedia/internet connection.

My current setup is now working fine with enough bandwidth, documenting the tricks here:

  • cablecom modem, configured in bridge mode. This modem works fine in terms of bandwidth but is crappy beyond limit for anything else (it can’t handle the load of a home network). WiFi (including guest Wifi) is disabled.
  • Asus RT-AC68U as main home router. Great router, lots of functions, snappy and reliable. Definitely a good choice (albeit pricey). Configured with both 5GHz and 2.4GHz WiFi on different SSIDs (I have older hardware)
  • Asus EA-AC87 as WiFi bridge, to connect 5GHz WiFi to office network
  • small switches

It worked surprisingly well and was really easy to setup. Basically plug, press 2 buttons and play, almost disappointing.  Main drawback is my network map on my main router appears somehow broken (devices between the bridges are not correctly identified, not that I really care as it’s a wired network).

The other additions to the home hardware were a new set of keyboard/mouse:

  • keyboard is a Roccat mk pro: I use the same one at work and I really liked it. The work one use MX-Brown, the home one uses Mx-Red. The Reds are definitley more silent and less clicky, tough keeping the typing feeling of a mechanical keyboard. I don’t really care about key latency, I’m not a professional gamer.
  • mouse is a Roccat Tyon: it’s basically the opposite of minimalist design. Main reason to change is the batteries of my 4th Logitech wireless mouse died, I had the feeling that the quality of logitech, that I trusted for most of my PC devices over the last 10 years is really sinking.

What’s great about the new set:

  • there is a prefix key (replaces capslock on the keyboard) that can be used to transofmr any button of the keyboard or mouse into a new set of functions. Great for gaming. (this gives 20+ functions on the mouse with the right hand)
  • keyboard has some macro and a very nice mechanical feeling
  • keyboard integrates a usb 2.0 hub, jack plugs for sound
  • keyboard weights 1.5+ kg and does not move. Ever, Whatever you’re doing with it. Actually, the keyboard itself is a blunt weapon made of steel. This fits with my subtle approach to computer science.
  • backlighting is great on the keyboard, nicely configurable but only blue.
  • firmware got upgraded on first connection, hopefully, more will come.
  • I’ve used the keyboard for 6+ months at work (intensive usage) and it looks brand new.
  • Despite not being wireless, the mouse is smooth and the cord doesn’t lock.

What’s not so good

  • profile switch do not display OSD, which makes it great not to get lost on all these buttons
  • mouse profile switching seems erratic (and dynamical DPI configuration can be a bit unseting)
  • it’s expert hardware, expect to spend a few hours per game to tune to your utter needs
  • Seems like the mouse backlighing is somehow flaky: each profile has its own color scheme (useful when switching profiles). However, it seems like mine is often stuck on blue. Maybe an issue with windows going to sleep ?

Overall, it’s all very pricey for non essential hardware (basically, all of this costs the same price as a cheap laptop), but it makes a great difference in user experience and feeling of quality. Hopefully, this will all last for a few years.

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