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The Rig: 2018 Edition

So the latest iteration of my “battlestation” (as Reddit calls them) is up an running and I thought I’d share the details. I was thinking about all the computers I’ve used over the years, and how the specs of many of them are lost to time, so I figured I’d start keeping track, at least a little.

my full computer setup

I’m consulting full-time, working on (mostly eCommerce) Ruby on Rails applications. I’ve geared my setup, towards making development, working with clients, and keeping track of all the stuff I need to do (both as a programmer and as the founder of Super Good Software) as easy as possible.

The Laptop

Everything runs off the laptop. It’s a little underpowered for some of the heavier Rails apps I work on, but it’s a 13” MacBook Pro from 2017, with a dual-core 2.3 GHz Intel Core i5, 16GB of RAM and a 500GB SSD.

my Laptop

It certainly could be more powerful, especially since you can now get 13” MacBook Pros with quad-core CPUs, and 15” models with quad-core i9’s, but it gets the job done.

The Displays

I’ll go monitor by monitor and explain what each one serves as.

The left-most monitor is a Dell U2515H. It’s a 25” 1440p monitor that usually just has my to-do list (Todoist) and calendar (Fantastical). I like to keep those things always visible so I don’t miss meetings and stay focused on my tasks.

my Dell monitor

The second monitor over is a BenQ PD3200U. It’s a glorious 32” 4K display that I use exclusively for code. All that’s ever on it is my terminal (currently Alacritty).

my BenQ monitor

Next is an LG 27UD68P-B, which is a 27” 4k display. I use it primarily for my web browser, but also various other things like some chat apps, Tweetbot, and various distractions hide beneath the browser.

my LG monitor

Finally, there’s the internal MacBook Pro display, which is 2560x1600. It’s just for slack, my main mode of communication for work.

The Trick

If a 13” MacBook Pro is even capable of pushing this many pixels, the performance would be trash. Even just powering one 4K display with the internal graphics I can detect the latency in some of the applications I use.

To get around it, I have a Radeon RX 580 in a Gigabyte eGPU enclosure. It’s able to push this many pixels without any difficulty, and is great for convenience.

The eGPU enclosure has 4 USB 3.0 ports, one with fast charging, and pushes enough Watts over the Thunderbolt 3 cable to charge my laptop. That means, I can sit down, plug in a single cable to my laptop, and I’ve just plugged in power, all three displays, and all my peripherals.

my Gigabyte eGPU enclosure

The Peripherals

I use a Logitech MX Ergo trackball, which I’m largely happy with, though I do miss the precision of my Kensington SlimBlade and might switch back.

my MX Ergo mouse

I have too many keyboards, but currently I’m using an Ergodox EZ. I think it’s the keyboard I’m most comfortable typing on, and it helps with my wrist issues. I was getting tired of how cheap it felt, but I recently got the tent kit which went a long way to making the keyboard feel more solid.

my Ergodox EZ keyboard

Conclusion

That’s my computer. Hopefully this official account of it deters me from trying to upgrade it again too soon. Here’s hoping.

Written by Jared Norman, published August 04, 2018