PC Build Guide–The things they don’t tell you about RAM

There are lots of PC build guides out on the web. There are lots of things they do not tell you, too.

So what are these things?

Let’s break it down to the main one.

How to choose fast RAM.

Your CPU is the foundation of everything else. If it is slow the rest is slow. Get the fastest CPU you can afford. Less cores is okay unless you are using well optimised programs with extensible mult-threading.
What does that mean?
Can you software use all available threads? If yes, then lots of cores and threads will be fine. If no, then it won’t help much having a 16 core 32 thread CPU.

The first bottle-neck!

Between your CPU and RAM is the first bottleneck. This is overcome with "True Latency".

True latency is measure in nanoseconds for RAM. We want to get this under 10ns.

"But nanoseconds don’t matter. You won’t notice them!"

"We will when the difference is multiplied by a billion – which is the number of CPU cycles per second!"

The rule-of-thumb with RAM Is getting the best true latency for your dollar. Ideally this is under 10, or under 9.

How to figure out true latency.

The back-of-napkin calculation will be given but first we have to define some terms.

RAM speed is often referred to in MHz.

RAM CAS latency, or CL, is given in number of cycles. This is usually a value between 14 and 20.

So if we pick some ram it might have these attributes.


CAS (or CL) 16.

…and a bunch of other things we will ignore.

The steps

3200Mhz is the speed.

16 is the latency.

To figure true latency:

1) Divide speed by 2.


2) Divide that by 100.


3) Divide CL by the figure at number 2.

4) If it’s equal to 1 then you get 10 nanoseconds.

Otherwise use this formula.

frequency/200 = a
cas = c
1/(a/c) = true latency

So here’s some examples:

3200 C14.

16/14 = ~1.14

1 / ~1/14

8.75 nanoseconds.


3600 C16

18/16 = 1.125


8.8888* nanoseconds


4200 C20

21/20 =  1.05

9.5 nanoseconds

PC Build Guide–The things they don’t tell you about RAM

Troll Build Notes and Jokes pt. 1

I bought a Surly Troll in Pea-Lime Soup green colour and am building it up to be a Trohloff; that is, a Troll with a Rohloff. It’s been a funny and frustrating process so far.

First, I assumed I didn’t have disc rotor bolts for the front rotor and went to buy a pack from the local bike shop. Tore open the rotor packet and there were six shiny silver disc rotor bolts. Ah well, I wanted black anyway. At least it was only $6 for the bolts. Although that was an annoying process. They originally said 50 cents each; $3.

Next, I’d previously assumed, for some weird reason, that I had a 203mm rotor. It was a 185mm that I purchased and a 200mm rotor that I got in the pack of stuff second-hand with the Rohloff.

So I went to put the 185mm rotor on the Rohloff because that is what the Big Dummy is currently set up for. The axle plate screws were in so tight I stripped out two heads of T20 torx M4 screws. Bugger.

Next purchase was a Sutton Easy Out. This ought to do it. Nope; it snapped after I cautiously and patiently drilled the hole into the M4 screw – there’s not much room to do that without error and by hand-held cordless drill. On top of that I hoped to use my Ryobi One+ Impact driver. The Easy Out doesn’t fit its chuck.

So I bought a set of Speed Out bits. They were useless as well, but at least they didn’t snap. Also they didn’t fit the Ryobi One+ Impact driver.

Thankfully a good friend was a fitter and turner and I asked him about solutions. Impact screwdriver. A hammer driven screwdriver. I was worried the Rohloff Speedhub would be fragile in the threads but reluctantly went ahead. That was my last chance before I’d have to take it 35kms to Commuter Cycles. I’d already spoken to Huw about it and he was happy to give it a cracking good try. My friend was a lot closer at only 8kms. The impact screwdriver worked. One of the axle plate screws was a hex head, and only 2.5mm, so tiny noodle-like piece of steel. That one sheared off and then the axle plate was loose since it was the last screw meaning all tension was removed. It was easy to twist the sheared screw out as well (no more tension).

Happy that the axle plate was off I gingerly removed the little plate of steel and took off the ex-mech box. Underneath the paper gasket was torn. I thought if I don’t mess with it then it will just tighten back up with the new screws and be fine. Well, to get the new screws I had a choice. 6 axle plate screws for 2.99 pounds or 6 axe plate screws with paper gaskets for 2.99 pounds. I chose the latter and then the axle plate was remounted. Not wanting to over tighten them I left them loose until I could get my hands on a torque wrench. So of course the hub started to leak. I had not tightened the axle plate so the gaskets weren’t doing anything except absorbing a bit of Rohloff Speedhub oil. Hand tightened them so they were cinched up but not cranked hard. The leak was sorted; oh, and I had the 185mm rotor mounted.

That leads to the next part of the funny story. Since I thought I had a 203mm rotor I went ahead and ordered two 203mm IS to PM adapters thinking I could fit the Rohloff between the Troll and the Big Dummy; not having to purchase two Rohloff hubs (yikes)! Well, that turned out to be wrong. I did not have a 203mm rotor at all. I had a 185mm and a 200mm rotor I completely forgot I had at all. Plus the 160mm rotor that was on it but I had already changed that.

The rear of the Troll uses a 55mm spaced IS disc brake type mounting arrangement in the dropout. The supplied Surly IS to PM adapter only handles 160mm rotors. I was stuck with two 203mm adapters coming in the mail. Was it going to fit? Will I have to change the rotor back to the 160mm?

Eventually the adapters arrived and in the time before I figured, “You know what, the 203mm might just work with a 185mm rotor on this weird 55mm spacing.” I was right! It fitted just fine and has no rub at all. Easy, perfect, rear wheel disc fit and brake alignment. So 203mm standard rear adapters will let you put a 185mm rotor, with plenty of room, on a Surly Troll; which also means on a Surly Ogre.

Only waste has been $6 in disc rotor bolts, $15 for the Easy Out, $5 for the Speed Outs (but they might work on wood screws), and $3.50 for the extra 203mm rear disc adapter. Not quite as bad as it sounds in the above roller coaster of errors.

Now with the front rotor it half rubs and half clears, but that will be part of further tales of Erring-do and Dashing Assumption.

Troll Build Notes and Jokes pt. 1

Lugs, wool, belt-drive and disc brakes

Often I have conflicting tastes. In bicycle chic there seems to be the old-school camp. Steel, lugs, merino, leather and canvas. Hipsters are a subset of this with steel, fixed/single, and tiny little handlebars. Then there’s the mountain bikers. Lycra, fat tyres, shocks, lots of gears, big straight handlebars. Roadies: lycra, carbon, weight-weenies, etc.

I swing between them all. I guess more like commuter-grognards. Wool works, steel is as real as carbon and aluminium, lots of gears is nice for lots of hills, and leather looks cool but ain’t that water-resistant. I like disc brakes, carbon blade forks, trekking bars, belt-drives, rohloff gear hubs and dura-ace groupsets. I’d love a Rohloff in a Trek District Carbon with Avid Juicy road brakes and a rapid-fire type shifter (don’t exist, yet). For the saddle a Selle Anatomica would be fine but the problem is the carbon can’t hold racks and has no eyelets for mudguards. So I’d be quite happy with a lovely lugged frame with all the eyelets and braze-ons you can think of. I’d use’em. One bike to rule them all (roads, trails and tracks). I think Rivendell are close to the point but they don’t like discs or internal gear hubs (from what I’ve read which is most of the site). Their frames are as beautiful as they are overpriced (about the same as a titanium frame).

Guess I’m in the too small a market-niche to exploit category… and that’s okay with me. I can’t afford it anyway.


Lugs, wool, belt-drive and disc brakes

Sound Recording and Guitar

The oft-neglected equalizer is the secret of tone. I don’t know how many times I’ve seen friends, journalists and reviewers talk about finding tone with a specific stompbox, amp, or other signal processor. Once the signal has left your guitar the first thing you ought to do is equalize it for the environment, be it recording or performing. EQ is the first thing that should happen to a guitar signal and also the last (if you want) to take care of unforeseen frequency introductions along the signal chain – also to manage the acoustics of the environment.

In recording mixes EQ is what will sort out your takes and make them sound great. Mid-scooping for metal rhythms, mid-boosting for lead breaks, and cutting annoying ‘not quite right’ resonances. Quite frankly I’m amazed that EQ is not talked about more, until I think, “Cui bono”. Who benefits?

All the businesses that sell magic-tone-oil devices benefit from the market ignoring EQ. It’s a cheap (enough) way to alter your tone to get what you find the sweet spot. Even 31-band parametric EQ’s can be had for under $300 if you look hard enough, and parametric are the better devices.

So all you tone-freaks, here’s the unvarnished truth. You want tone? Control it with an equalizer.

Sound Recording and Guitar

Uni Ball Insight 0.7mm Orange

A great rollerball with very nice smooth writing flow. Ink is legible on white, no mean feat for an orange inked pen, and it leaves a lovely line width. It contrasts well against a good black ink like the Smoothie 1.0mm from Bic. It is light without losing control and has an accurate feel. Like many pens it is better balanced with the cap posted and I found it much more preferable to write like this, yet without the posted cap it was still usable just a little more twitchy. I prefer heavier pens, though, so caveat emptor on that description.

The paper in the sample is a cheap diary from Aldi, cost $2, yet no bleed through. You can make out some lateral feathering from the paper grain in the high-res photo (click on it below) however I did not notice it before viewing the digital image.
Cons: cap leaves a gap between pen body and edge. No contours on the grip part of the barrel.
9/10 – overall a good budget pen.
$2.67 from Officeworks.

Uniball Insight Orange 0.7mm rollerball
Uniball Insight Orange 0.7mm rollerball
Uni Ball Insight 0.7mm Orange

Rohloff put off (delay)

Procrastinating on the Rohloff install for the Big Dummy. Got a long weekend coming up where I can fit it in so finally will get it done! Not sure why but I’m expecting it to take all day. Setup tandem-length cables in ex-mech & shifter, remove derailleurs, install OEM2 plate, install cables, install shifter, install chain-tensioner, install 185mm disc rotor, fit wheel, and test run.

Maybe some “brake noodles” for the shifter and on the ex-mech. Something like these:

Rohloff put off (delay)

Sound upgrade for PC

My audio commentary has a lot of background hiss. I suspect it is the onboard sound card gain method adding noise. So considering an upgrade to this sound card:

And, if required, this microphone.

The Zx has an excellent SNR of 116db. The microphone is a cardioid condenser so should highlight all the warm notes in my voice (or anyone else).  I like the brushed aluminium one; ideally in a shock mount with a pop filter/screen.

Sound upgrade for PC