I’ve been off my bike for the last month recovering from an ankle injury. During that time Zwift have released a pretty serious update containing the new New York area.
This update includes some futuristic courses set round Central Park. These include transparent roads and flying cars.
Unfortunately all these new fancy features proved too much for my old Acer Revo that I was using to run Zwift. The Acer Revo was released back in 2009 so the fact that it’s 1.6Ghz Intel Dual Core Atom and Nvidia Ion video chip set sharing 4gb of RAM had lasted this long was pretty impressive.
So it was time to look for a new machine to use for winter training. Small footprint media server type machines have come a long way in the last 9 years and the “standard” seems to be the Intel NUC range of machines.
NUC’s come in 2 main form factors, both are about 4″ square but the difference is the hight of the unit. The low hight version only support M2 SSD storage where as the higher units support both M2 and 2.5″ SATA drives. I opted for a NUC7i5BNH with 8gb of RAM and a 240gb SATA SSD. This should meet the current Zwift recommended spec.
Assembling the machine was remarkably simple, just 4 screws in the base allow full access, lifting out the drive tray reveals the 2 memory sockets. Once the memory is fitted just slide the drive into the tray and secure with the supplied screws before reseating the tray and base, fastening the 4 access screws again.
I initially intended to install Windows 7 as I had a ISO image and a license already, the only problem is the NUC only has (externally) USB 3.0 ports and the Windows 7 install image only have USB 2.0 drivers, so while the NUC will boot either from a USB CD/DVD drive or USB key, it can’t access the keyboard/mouse to start the install or read the rest of the installer files from the drive. There are instructions about how to patch a USB key install image, but after lots of messing about trying I finally remembered that my Windows 7 image and license were for the 32bit version and Zwift needs 64bit Windows. In the end I bought a Windows 10 license key and downloaded a new USB install image.
The Windows 10 install was relatively painless, until it got to the part where it forced me to create a online Microsoft account just to log into the local machine and wanted me to opt into a load of tracking for advertising. I fully understand why people are more than happy to stick with Windows 7.
Anyway everything is now up running so on with the winter training plan.