- SSD onboard storage (not just a flash chip, propper controller based SSD)
- USB 3.0
- Decent large aperture camera, Good image stabilisation, 1080p video, 5MPxl+
- 4.65" 1280 x 720 IPS or OLED Screen
- Android 4.0 ICS
- Nvidia Tegra 3 SOC
- Metal, Plastic & Glass Thin Construction
Friday, 30 December 2011
Friday, 16 December 2011
(This may be a hidden directory)
(Or equivalent for XP)
- open client_settings.ini
It should look like this
- Add the line AntiAliasingLevel = X into the ini file
- Set X to the Level of AA you want (Eg. 2,4,8,16)
(from my quick testing 0x AA -> 2x AA is less intensive then Low --> High Shadows)
-Start the Client!
Apparently AA is currently disabled due to a bug, I have been running it fine so far as have many others.
Saturday, 10 September 2011
It was shortly after this that Sony announced the replacement Z series and the S series. The new Z series unfortunately took more of a Desktop replacement route than a complement route, somewhat spurred I fear, by the arrival of the Macbook Air (which I had ruled out on the basis of their poor battery life when running Windows. It was incredibly light and thin, but bereft of any Discrete GPU built into the chassis, instead, Sony had built a dGPU into the external optical drive and connected it with LightPeak. While a neat option, I would have my fully fledged desktop at home, so wanted a complement rather than a replacement.
Weighing up the options I intended to get a Vaio SA, with Slice Battery, 3 year warranty and upgrade the machine myself with an extra 4GB of ram and a 120GB SSD. I went to my local Sony store to go and play with one but I was told they were only available online and they didn't keep a show model in the stores. So I played with an SB series (which has a very similar chassis) and noticed that the fan vent was at the back behind the screen, which was blocked when the screen was opened. This oversight led me to Google some user reviews to which I found there were many angry users claiming if put under load for more than 20 minutes the CPU would reach it's thermal threshold and throttle itself to 800MHz. As I intended to use my Laptop for some light gaming, I decided this wasn't acceptable so looked around again.
The online pictures make it appear to have a cream coloured chassis which simply isn't the case. The model has an all aluminium case with a lightly contoured pattern around the touchpad and a smooth surface around the keyboard. It's black underneath and has a well sized opening for easy access to the inside. The battery at the back protrudes out from under the laptop slightly lifting the laptop above a surface allowing good airflow to the underneath. With it's <1" thick chassis the specs defy the size, it's a compact laptop with great specs and I quickly powered it on.
The Stock OS was rather full of rubbish. I ran some preliminary tests on the stock OS but soon fitted a 120GB Corsair Force 3 SSD and did a clean install. I also fitted another 4GB of Corsair DDR3 1333MHz RAM. Before my fresh install I created the recovery CD's which took 5x 4.7GB DVD's and took over an Hour! I decided not to even use these and installed the OS from scratch from an OEM Windows 7 Pro 64* DVD. The Install was smooth and fast and the driver install was painless, I used the supplied Driver DVD and de-ticked the options for installing all of the unnecessary gubbins that was included.
Within a few hours of the install I started getting some weird hard drive timeouts (the mouse would go slow for ~ 30 seconds and nothing would respond). Eventviewer reported IAStor errors and the problem was similar to one I had with my previous laptop, so I used the same steps as before and uninstalled the new Intel Storage driver and returned to the stock microsoft one. This seemed to work and the lag stopped immediately. However it introduced a BSOD or freeze on wake issue which I couldn't seem to fix. So after some investigation I reverted to the most recent Intel Rapid Storage drivers and made some changes to the registry which have so far, stopped the problem reoccuring. And sleep seems to be working fine too.
The Performance of the machine however is Incredible. The CPU being a fully fledged Dual Core Sandybridge is lightning quick, even when heavily throttled. The CPU is a 35W model which Turbo's to 2.9GHz when under one core's load, 2.7GHz when loaded on two cores and 2.3GHz as standard. Under maximum load the temperatures would just break 90C which is jointly because of the quite compact chassis and the soft fan profile which keeps noise to a minimum while stopping temperatures from spiralling out of control.
The Optimus GPU setup works well, better than I expected to be honest and the performance of the GT 540M 1GB is absolutely brilliant for a compact mobile chip. It heats to a max of 88C and it's 96 SP's gives it performance in the region of a 9600GSO desktop chip which is sufficient to run any game at decent settings at the stock 1366x768. I tested Dirt 2, BFBC2, Crysis Wars, Just Cause 2, Burnout Paradise and From Dust and it blasted through all of them with no problems. It runs Just Cause 2 on a mixture of Mediums and High's with 4x AA and is brilliantly smooth! It was the same story with the others with the performance being surprisingly good.
The 1366x768 screen is of average quality, it's a pretty standard LED TN panel with predictably meh vertical viewing angles but I guess it has a hinge for a reason. On my old laptop and desktop I would adjust the digital vibrance in the Nvidia control panel to give a more vibrant (but not overly saturated) picture. However because the display is connected to the Intel GPU, I have to use the Intel display options to adjust the colours manually. I've found a happy medium now which is fine, but sometimes when the machine switches to the 540M it doesn't use the same colour profile, which apart from anything, results in everything having a bluish tint. It's not the end of the world, but it's something that could do with some work.
The Keyboard is nicely laid out with a good feel even though it's not backlit, The Mousepad however is exceptional. It uses an Elan Devices Corporation Touchpad which supports multitouch and my god is it good. The two finger scrolling is superb and the three finger side swipes for forward and back feel natural and work perfectly. This is simply the best trackpad I have used bar the Macbook one. It is well sized and has a good feel to it. The buttons are shiny (which I'm not so keen on) but their motion is good and their not too noisy. All in all, these are some seriously good HID's.
The SSD itself has had really great performance, when it works, scoring 7.9 in the WEI and having read speeds of over 550MB/s. I was worried that Asus would have had the internal SATA port connected to the SATA 2 controller which would have hampered performance somewhat but luckily this wasn't the case. The machine boots really quickly and applications fly open, It's noticeably quicker than the F60 SSD in my desktop, and I'm definitely considering buying a 256GB and doing some reorganising.
Battery life is generally impressive. With Minimum Brightness, Wifi + BT off, In Battery Saver mode (which locks the CPU in it's x8 Multiplier) and just idle on the desktop, or working on word documents it really does get 10 hours of battery life. On the other end of the scale when gaming it gets about an hour and 20 minutes, mainly due to the 35W CPU + 35W GPU and 88WH Battery. Battery Scales from there with it getting 6 - 8 hours when playing videos or browsing the web.
I noticed before and after the reinstall that there were some issues with stuttery sound while watching videos which was slightly strange. This sometime got to the point where the machine would restart during particularly bad stuttering. This was concerning of course so I started googling and deploying tools. DPC latency checker identified that there was indeed an issue with a driver with the DPC latency rising to over 15000ms! (below 500 is ideal). This was exacerbated by opening Resource Monitor which proved a useful way to narrow down the faulty driver. By disabling devices I discovered it was the Gigabit LAN Driver that was causing the issue. By Disabling it when it's not in use the problem is gone and hasn't raised its head since. Still working with Asus on coming up with a full fix.
I've now begun travelling with the notebook and have found it to be light and practical. The Power supply is a 90W model, has a Blue LED and gets quite hot when charging or powering the machine, but I've yet to see it become unstable. It's of average bulk and size and of normal length and the power tip locates firmly with a 90 degree tip. The Battery seems to wear at a standard rate and came with 1% wear as you'd expect.
I've installed Ubuntu 11 under VirtualBox for my Programming and it works rapidly thanks to the VT-x Support. I'm also intending to use Office One Note for taking notes in lectures and have set up my Outlook and suchlike. The spec of the machine means it can handle Win 7 64* with no problems and with an SSD the boot times fly.
Overall I'm really happy with the machine, The build quality is solid and the price is very competitive. The Keyboard is nice and the Trackpad is immense. The performance is awesome and the spec is very good for the money. The size is just right and the machine looks very smart and definitely worth the cost. I'd advise anyone to get one without any hesitation, but maybe don't use a Sandforce SSD if you're upgrading :P
Saturday, 13 August 2011
Sunday, 31 July 2011
Tuesday, 12 July 2011
I spent some time looking over the card. The carbon fibre design really appealed to me and the overall design of the card (including the little Geforce by the power connectors) was much to my liking. So with little delay, I ripped out my old 280, wrapped it up in an anti-static bag, and dropped in my shiny new 480, plugging in the 6 and 8 pin connectors from my old card. It posted first time (which is very nice if you’re me) and with a nice whisper of idle noise I was into Windows. I reinstalled the 275.50 drivers, cranked up the digital vibrance a bit (seriously love this feature) and started up GPU-Z. Idle temps of 45C with a 44% fan speed at 1700rpm was acceptable but I made a mental note to try and lower the speed at some point (as none of the rest of the fans in my system make anywhere near 1700rpm’s worth of noise, even though it’s still really quiet).
I fired up a bit of Unigine Heaven and popped on the tessellation for the first time on my own system. At 1920x1200 the 480 made mincemeat of it, and I soon began popping on some 3dMark Vantage and Crysis benchmarks. Load temps were maxing at 88C with the fan at about 2600rpm, which while still hot was alot cooler and quieter than some people had told me 480’s ran. Over the next few days I got playing some games and found almost all of them preferred the 480 to my previous 2x 280’s. That shows you the difference architecture can make. One of the only exceptions was Vantage which gave the 280’s 4000 points more than the 480!!! O_O
Just Cause 2 was a good example. Although several of my friends swear it’s a well optimised game, I’d often had issues with performace, and got generally poor scaling from the SLI profile. No such problems with the 480 though, even with SSAO and GPU water physics Maxxed the game ran like a knife through butter. Very impressed by the performance on show here and sunk a few more hours into what is a superlative free sandbox game.
Next up Crysis, the 2x 280’s managed but struggled with everything on very high, often dipping down to 20fps (or lower) and that resulted in me having alot of the options such as shadows and postprocessing set down to high. No such issues with the 480 though! On all high’s @1920x1200 w 4xAA It posted an average of over 60fps and up at Very high posted an average of 33fps :D Think I might play through the storyline one more time when I get back from holiday.
The Witcher 2 also ate up the performance of the new card. My GeForce2 card ran it on good settings with a pretty consistant framerate (apart from large fight scenes) but the 480 just mushed through everything! I set the game up to ultra (with Ubersampling off) and it Plowed through the game like a witcher in a brothel. Even with the settings bouncing off the top the frame rate was still smoother than with my 280 and I actually reached the end of my first playthrough. I’m really happy with the performance (and the game!) and looking forward to playing through the storyline a few more times.
I also tried out the Nvidia demos for the 4 and 5 series. Design garage still ran like a raytracing application whereas the Superonic Sled demo ran silky smooth. The Endless City GeForce5 demo took the fight to my 480 though, with masses of tessalation on show. Still smooth enough framerates in this and in the Aliens vs triangles demo. The Medusa GeForce2 demo also ran without a hitch as you’d expect.
Generally I found that in almost all games settings could be maxxed and performance was much improved. The higher average framerate in games like BFBC2 and TDU2 meant that gameplay was more enjoyable on the whole, which I’m very pleased with indeed :)
Among other games I found that Assassins Creed: Brotherhood (which I’m currently playing through) could be maxed in DX11 mode and was still silky smooth. All this performance is making me question spending £1K+ on a big system upgrade before I go off to uni but I think I’ll see how it goes.
Since getting the system I’ve also moved my system to another room and unfortunately the desk it’s under doesn’t give as good ventilation as the place it was before. This, combined with some hot weather, has resulted in my CPU temps rising from 44C / 62C to 50C / 68C hot for a Phenom II, but tbh I’m not confident my Overclock is all that great anymore. It needs alot of voltage to keep it stable and the Hydro H50 doesn’t seem to be doing a particularly stellar job at getting rid of all of that heat.
Because of this hot weather I decided to try setting a custom fan profile for my new 480. In the past I’ve always used Rivatuner for custom fan maps, but it’s now long since been unsupported and I don’t know whether it was the 480 or the 275 drivers but it just didn’t give me the options to change the fan max and minimums. I decided to give EVGA Precision’s fan control a try and set about adjusting the little graph you can use to adjust the curve of fan speeds. I dropped the idle speed a little bit (to around 1300rpm) and raised the loads speeds to try and keep the max temps down.
This resulted in a hell of a lot more noise under load, but despite the hot weather, load temps came down to 81C. I’ve since put this back to stock, because having a hot room has resulted in idle temps of 60C (even though it would hit this and then cool itself)and I just didn’t find the jumping nature of the fan control ideal. I also think that it made a mistake at some point and failed to raise the fan to the correct speeds. I got a weird cut out that looked like a thermal trip, so decided it was best to go back to stock for now.
Besides the heat I’m very glad I got the GTX 480. It’s closest card is the 570 and it’s better in a lot of ways. It has 1.5GB of ram, a 384Bit Memory interface and 48 ROPs to the 570’s 1.2GB, 320bit memory interface and 40 rops. They both have 480 Fermi SP’s and both have quite similar clocks (700,1400,3696 to 732,1464,3800). The 570 of course does put out less heat and draw less power so it’s more overclockable but it also has the crazy power limiting hardware nvidia chucked into the 5 series cards which kinda spoils the fun in some games and applications. At the end of the day I’d rather take the 480 as the more complete architecture should see it hold it’s own at higher resolutions and in games going forward.
Overall I’m really impressed with the 480, It’s given me no real issues and has plowed through everything I’ve thrown at it. I’ve thought about picking up another one while I can @£199 but I think the heat and temps might just kill me / my machine. I did find getting it free a bit peculiar though :P I’m so used to planning every purchase and upgrade to such an intricate level of detail that just having a 480 drop into my lap really did come as quite a surprise! A pleasant one though, I’m very glad to be rid of my 280 which will be finding it’s way into a friend/cousin’s machine and I’m looking forward to a solid summer of great DX11 capable gaming!
About a month ago I entered the Bit-Tech / CustomPC / Asus Overclocking Summit competition on the front page of Bit-tech. To enter you just had to come up with an idea for how Asus could improve either their motherboards or graphics cards, fair enough I thought. So I dropped an email off to James Gorbold (CPC editor) about how I think Asus should try to build a stress test into their motherboard BIOS for overclock testing. And that they should look into the possibility of a GUI with clockspeed options for a graphics card bios. Since then I’ve also thought they could have one of their flash linux distros with some overclocking tools included but anyway. I entered and sure enough the deadline passed and I’d had no reply. Days continued to slip by, and I just assumed that there was no way I’d be getting a place. On the 24th of June however, I got an email congratulating me on getting a place (I think I was a reserve because the RSVP date was the 23rd :P)
We met at Gamerbase in London (An awesome place btw) and set about the day. 21 of us turned up and we were split into teams of 3 and 4. Initially we were supposed to be given a speech, but following a few technical issues connecting the Asus laptop to some tv’s :P, we started round one of the overclocking competition. Each team was given a rig with an i7 2600K, Asus GTX 560 1GB, Asus P8P67 Mobo, 4GB of Adata 1600Mhz 7-9-7-21 Ram, Adata 40GB SSD and Thermaltake: Frio, PSU, mouse and KB, all connected up to Gamerbase’s Dell monitors.
Round one consisted of posting the highest score in the Video Encoding section of the CPC Benchmark. Our team cleaned our OS of Acronis and optimised our OS for performance and then delved into the BIOS. Fans all set to max our first set of settings for 4.6GHz didn’t take, but that seemed to be because the Adata Ram didn’t like the bizarre timings it said on the side. We left it at Cas 9, and completed a run @ 4.6Ghz coming out at 3993 Points. This was a good start but we needed more, with voltages heading over 1.5v we creeped over 5Ghz. We completed a run at 5.05, 5.1, 5.15 but nomatter what we did we couldn’t get our 5.2Ghz stable. We tried silly voltages and started getting warnings from the mobo so backed off and considered our options. We had our best score at this point at around 4300 points which left us in ~3rd according to the Bit-Tech guys so we decided to try anything because we were running out of time. We eventually decided to try a 99.5*52 clock for 5.175Ghz. A bizarre clock for a sandybridge with it’s “locked” base clock but it posted so we pressed on. We were almost completely out of time when we clicked run that final time. It was our last try and the whole team was on the edge of our seat praying it would pass. We were considering waving copies of CPC at the rig to try and cool it to get it through. Our final Jesus run finished just in time and bumped our score up massively to 4403 points. That put us in 1st place overall just as time finished.
The whole team was over the moon. No one could believe we’d done it but we had. 5.175GHz. Crazy. The results were announced and we switched off our machine so it could cool before round two. In the gap we were all fed Coke and Pizza which was well appreciated by everyone, and then all sat ready for another go at the speech we should have had before. It was very interesting & the Q&A session at the end also raised some interesting questions (many watercooling related ;) which were well answered by the Asus staff present. They fielded some interesting responses about EVGA products too which was interesting, giving us a better understanding of the difference in the target market of the ROG boards and products like the SR-2 and Classified lines. After this was done, we dragged our chairs back over to the OC rigs and set about for Round 2.
Round 2 was completing a Bench run of 3DMark11 on Performance settings. Our first challenge was negotiating the Asus Smart doctor software which had a lock on what clocks and voltages you could apply. The stock clocks were 810 Core, 4008 Memory but the Asus overclocking software limited us to 910, and something else on the memory. We found the setting for fully unlocking the clocks and set to work. As a team we decided to set the CPU back to stock, figure out the limit of our GPU and then find the best settings we could get stable for the CPU. Our best solid pass was at 1035MHz, 4174Mhz with a Vcore of 1.087v which came out at 4699 points. A good start, but not good enough :P we raised the CPU clock to 5.15Ghz (optimistic :) and tried another run. We passed the first few GPU tests without problems but got a lock within seconds of the Physics test starting (which of course is CPU+GPU intensive), so we backed off to 5GHz and dropped the GPU clocks a bit and put in a score of 4802. Better but still not the best we could get. :P Once again it was Jesus run time and our best score came at 5.1GHz with the same 1035, 4174 GPU clocks. This gave us a great score of 4940 which was one of the best of the day. We spent the last 15 minutes desperately trying to get 5.15GHz and 1040MHz stable but we kept getting to same point in various tests and getting locks. We were still happy with our 4940 and were hopeful of finishing well overall.
We overheard the team next to us get a score of 4963 so we knew we were not at the top, and the Bit-Tech guys kept us in suspense as to who’d come where :) It was great fun working together and meeting new people and as much as the competition was about the overclocking it was in equal measures about having a laugh. I really enjoyed getting to know the guys on my team and we all contributed tons of different ideas without which I’m sure we wouldn’t of got anywhere near the scores we did. Finally, we were all gathered round the screens and the results were announced. Even though we didn’t get top in Round 2 we still came out top overall! (The bit tech guys attributed points to each place finish to keep it balanced) We were over the moon and being first meant we got first pick of the prizes!
On the subject of the prizes, a few people pointed out to me when we got there, that we had been told the prizes were “next gen” but as it turned out alot of the Boards and Cards were previous gen. This didn’t bother me really, as much as having some Bulldozer / Sandybridge-EX kit would of been nice, there was still a good selection of stuff. There were various Asus GPU’s including a GTX 480, a couple of 5870’s, some 6000 series cards and a GTX 560, there were also quite a few Crosshair IV motherboards, a Crosshair III, a Sabertooth P67 a Micro-atx 1155 and a Rampage/ Maximum 1156 ROG board. There was also a selection of Headsets, coolers and other bits and bobs.
As the winning team we got first pick of the kit, Since one of my GTX 280’s died I was really up for a new GPU to tide me over until the 600 series comes out. Looking over the GPU’s I decided that the GTX 480 would be the best companion for me, It may be hot and have mega power consumption, but so does SLI 280’s :P Other members of my team picked up the GTX 560, a 5870 2GB Matrix and a Crosshair IV motherboard. We were all then handed a Thermaltake T-Shirt and neck strap and then the other teams got to pick their prizes. After everyone had taken a prize there were still a few bits lying around, so they decided to pull names from a hat. It must have been my lucky day because my name came out for the Crosshair III Formula. It’s a 790FX, DDR3 motherboard which I won’t be swapping in straight away but am putting away in case my Crosshair II goes to silicon heaven or a Friend/cousin does an upgrade.
So after that it was all over! We hung around for a few minutes and chatted to the CPC/Bit-Tech guys about how we’d got our scores and then went our separate ways. Overall I’d say it was a brilliant day. To get to really thrash the life out of someone else’s kit and to make great friends along the way was brilliant. We’ve all added each other on steam and jokingly considered entering the Scan Overclocking competition (but it’s all the way up in Bolton :P) Big thanks to Bit-Tech and Asus for an awesome day. I would do it again in a heartbeat and advise anyone with a bit of experience in hardware to do the same :) I’ll add another post about life with the 480 as well but all in all, a brilliant brilliant day :D
PS. Carrying a GTX 480 and Asus ROG board on the Train is fun XD
Monday, 6 June 2011
- Faulty Cheap 400w PSU from Maplin: Didn't even return it, just replaced it with an even cheaper Sumvision POS
- Faulty Geforce 2 GTS Given to me: Give it it's due this card was the only component I brought over from my first ever desktop. It lasted a good while in my new build (a swanky Athlon 3200+ 939 number) but one day the ram just went away and blue screens ahoy it was replaced with a bargain basement FX 5200.
- Asrock CPU Upgrade board from Local Shop: I never could really pin this one down to software, hardware or just generally a bad idea. It was a crazy Asrock design where you had a daughterboard (which plugged into a 939 board) onto which you plugged an AM2 CPU and DDR2 Ram. I had endless issues with locking and crashes, seemed to have some relationship to the AMD Dual Core Optimiser but alas, I never got to the bottom of it. This board was heavy and stuck out 90deg to the motherboard so one day (while trying to beef up it's support) i switched the machine on and all the VRM's on the little board burst into flame. I swore infront of my Grandmother (who was visiting) and that was the end of that.
- Gigabyte GA-M55S-S3 from Local Shop: I bought this as a replacement for the 939Dual-SATA2 that used to have a CPU upgrade board attached to it. It lasted a good while and saw some good times, but unfortunately bit the dust (temporarily) after a bad BIOS flash. The Flash itself was fine, but the custom Boot Logo (in it's infancy back then) didn't take and so no more booting (My Fault really, it was the wrong Res). I told Gigabyte this and they kindly sorted the board out for me, for the cost of return Postage if I remember right. That repaired board is still in use with my Athlon 6000+ in a cousins machine.
- Sapphire X1950 Pro AGP 512MB from Scan: bought for my Brothers machine when it was first built, was good for a long time but eventually started heating to 100C before dying. Wasn't dust or fan damage, just weird. Was promptly replaced by Scan, impressive service which earned them more of my Business.
- Various DVD Drives and Printers, Bought from various places: Throughout my years building PC's I've never had good luck with DVD drives or Printers. Both seem to die on me at an alarming rate. My first DVD+-RW drive cost ~£90 and died in about 18 months. My next one was a Samsung which stopped reading disks, then a Lite-On which never burnt properly etc etc. All the while going through about 3 different (Probably HP) printers. Bad times
- Razer Copperhead Blue Mouse from Scan: Side button went faulty after ~ 9 months use was replaced swiftly by scan with new mouse. Still at my side today.
- Gigabyte GA-M57SLI-S4 from Local Shop: Not so much a failure so much as an incompatibility. I bought this board when my M55 died before Gigabyte said they'd fix it for me. It was a very similar chipset so it was almost a drop in replacement. It was given to my brother when I bought my Crosshair II Formula and served him well for a while (even though it never officially supported his PhenII940 and reported giving it 1.74v when OC'd) Unfortunately it was retired when it just refused to play ball with his new Sapphire HD 5870 Vapor-X 2GB. No post. No nothing, new board was bought
- Asus Crosshair II Formula bought from Lambdatek: bought this board with the hope it would better support my CPU, and would run a Pair of 260's nicely in SLI. I also hoped it would rid me of a locking problem I was having under heavy graphical load. It didn't help. I built it up and discovered it would be fine outside the case, but died repeatedly in the case. Suspected the motherboard but before I got a chance to really test it the board Upped and died on me. Took Asus 3 months to get me a new one. Spent 3 months with an ancient machine running Ubuntu. Still haven't quite recovered.
- Be Quiet! Dark Power Pro 650w: This was RMA'd after my new Crosshair board didn't sort the probelm. Found that with this PSU attached the locking was worse so I RMA'd it. Scan confirmed a fault and replaced it with a brand new unit which still (touch wood) lives today in my brothers machine.
- XFX GTX 260 192 XXX bought from Scan: This card was bought nigh on lauch day and was a very early reference PCB card with Ref cooler but OC'd clocks.Unfortunately it became the bane of my life for 18 months. It was ultimately the cause of my locking problems and it became increasingly worse over the 18 months I had it. Eventually returned it to scan (who returned it to XFX) who after some time diagnosed it faulty and had me refunded £144 which I put towards a shiny new (ultimately faulty) GTX 280.
- XFX GTX 260 216 XXX (no 1) bought from Scan: this was bought from scan for my brother it was DOA and replaced with a Gainward which still lives today
- XFX GTX 260 216 XXX (no 2) bought from VCS: was also DOA and eventually replaced with a GTX 280 which still works today (as of 7/6/2011) I don't reckon it'll last though
- GTX 280 from VCS: was bought mostly with funds from the faulty 192SP 260. Went faulty in 6 months, was replaced with another faulty card. Argued with VCS for months but eventually got a £154 refund.
- Razer Carcharias Heaphones from Scan: Mic Died after~ 8 months use. Swiftly replaced with new pair by Scan.
- iPhone 3G from O2: Not technically in my computer but very faulty hardware. First phone had faulty accelerometer from the moment it came out the box, second had faulty silent switch within 3 months, third had faulty screen (would go white until you locked it again), Sold the working one, and that has been replaced several times again by apple, so much so that apple have given my friend who bought it a new handset with warranty! bad times
- iPhone 4 from Vodaphone: Had a faulty proximity sensor from day one, apple tried to hide this as a software problem, so why did new hardware fix it then apple? replacement has survived ~ a year so far.
- XFX 8800 GTS XXX 320MB from Scan: Still lives after 44 months and it hasn't had an easy life. Spent it's infancy in my desktop before living out a large chunk of it's life folding. one the warranty was up I flashed it up to Fatal1ty clocks and it has never missed a beat. Brilliant card.
- Genius wireless keyboard from local shop: The only thing I still use from when I built my PC, it's been to more LAN parties and been chucked about more times than I care to mention but it still powers on, occassionally asking for batteries. Will retire it when it dies (the shift key has lost it's spring in the last week :(
- HP Mini 311 from HP direct: Amazing Netbook/Laptop. Specs in the sidebar say it all, trust me to have one of the only laptops in the world which has it's BIOS hacked and Hardware Overclocking added. Add to that a 9 cell battery (which I need to look for) and it's an amazing little machine. Love it to bits, will be sorry to see it replaced.
- LG Blu-Ray & HD-DVD Drive from Scan: outlasted it's warranty without missing a beat, the only reliable optical drive I've ever had. hope it lasts well into the future...
- XFX 7800GS XXX from Local Shop: Still lives today, years on. was sold to a friend and it's never missed a beat for him, now in his family machine. Great bit of kit
Saturday, 4 June 2011
-My Average spend in the last 3 years was £684.84
-Since first building it ~7years ago I've spend £3,799.81
-Of that the parts I still use cost £1,448.75
-So I've discarded (or sold) £2,351.06
-Of everything in my PC the only things not in warranty are my Blu-Ray Drive and my Mouse
-Longest warranty Period is 84 Months (Corsair HX850w Modular Power Supply)
-Most Expensive single thing I've ever bought is my Screen, £315.90
Since I built it I've had the following Graphics setups
Geforce 2 GTS AGP
GTX 260 896MB
GTX 260 896MB SLI
GTX 280 1GB SLI
GTX 280 1GB Single
Tuesday, 31 May 2011
Tuesday, 12 April 2011
This being me though things were never going to end smoothly. The esata didn't work. more descriptively, it would start and send a small chunk of data and then just stop. It would sometimes take out explorer just to add insult to injury. In the end I just switched to USB 2.0 and thought screw this for a game of soldiers. I didn't want a USB 3.0 one, I wanted ESata and it didn't work
I <3 Windows 7 (Even though it wasn't my idea :P )
Friday, 18 March 2011
A good few years ago I bought an XFX 7800GS from RL Supplies. It was an amazing upgrade at the time and worked absolutely flawlessly. I sold it to a friend and it still works in one of his machines today. Encouraged by this card I upgraded to an XFX 8800GTS 320 XXX, this also worked perfectly, overclocked nicely and is still working in as a dedicated GPGPU today.
By this point I was so pleased with my XFX cards I even themed a case mod around the XFX name.
I upgraded from this card to an XFX GTX 260 XXX (192sp). It had a deteriorating problem (instability under load) which unfortunately took over a year to get to a point where it was repeatable enough to apply for an RMA. In the meantime, I purchased a new XFX GTX 260 XXX (216sp) from Videocardshop (RL Weren't able to get them by this point) with the hope that with the dodgy card as the non primary GPU the stability issues would go away.
This new card however was, DOA (1/4/10). I RMA'd it promptly and after three weeks Videocardshop got back to me and told me they couldn't get me another one, so offered me a refurbished GTX 280 (21/4/10).
In the meantime I'd established a completely reproducible test for the fault on my original 260. So I RMA'd this and it eventually was diagnosed as faulty by the XFX RMA Centre. I got a £140 refund back which I put towards a second XFX GTX 280 from Videocardshop. (ordered 21/5/10, despatched 1/6/10)
Everything was fine for a few months, then I started getting weird colour screen locks, both when starting applications (that used SLI) and (if they started) when under heavy load. The display would freeze with whatever I was running and there would be pink squares all over the image. I eventually pinned it down to one of the two cards and RMA'd it to Videocardshop (23/1/11). They couldn't reproduce the fault. So I sent them pictures of the fault occurring with just that card.
They replaced it with another XFX GTX 280 (18/2/11) after much insistence on my part and when I received the replacement it was even worse. The replacement locks on boot to a full coloured/squares screen (when primary gpu or lone). I tested the replacement in a completely different machine at RL and it exhibited exactly the same fault.(6/3/11)
So even after months of waiting for replies and being without a fully working graphics card setup, they say "they cannot agree it is faulty" (7/3/11), because they "tested it" before they sent it to me. They have, however, offered me a £75 "trade in" for each card (9/3/11), which given they cost me a combined £330 less than a year ago I feel is a joke. Having had 3 GPU's from Videocardshop (of which only one works) I have kindly asked them for a refund for the faulty gpu and a partial refund for the working one from the original RMA. I'm not willing to go on with constant issues and get a replacement from them which probably won't work or will probably break after a few months.
They have now asked me to pay to send the card to them, saying they will test it (presumably with the same tests that didn't show the issue before) and if it doesn't show the fault they're just going to send it back to me (and I'll have to pay the shipping back as well) (I had to wait a week from my last email just to get this reply from them)
I've really lost faith in XFX Cards or more specifically Videocardshop's stock.
Thursday, 10 March 2011
Saturday, 5 March 2011
It locked on the desktop. Happy Days. So now I need to get back onto Videocardshop and tell them they've sent me another faulty card. And that I want a replacement that works!!! God only knows if I'll get one though. Really Getting fed up of all this RMAing and thinking of just buying a nice GTX 580. Forget the ~£400 I just want a machine that is reliable and works. :-( I'll keep trying anyway...
Thursday, 3 March 2011
So when the installers were done, I booted up Crysis 2 MP Demo and set about examining. It started in 1280x720 which in my opinion is a bit embarrassing for a AAA title. It should at least be able to detect your native screen size. I noticed there was no console available (or at least the old button had been removed) and then I met the menu. I liked the rotating angle aspect and thought that was not badly implemented. I changed the graphics "settings" from Gamer to Hardcore, set the right res, enabled vsync and jumped into a nice low latency 12 player game (only 12!!!). I started playing and found the frame rate was ~17fps (judged by eye) not good enough at all really , but before I got a chance to fix it, BAM! Colour Screen Lock. :( So after a reboot I quickly headed back to the settings and downed things to "Advanced" which seemed to do the job nicely. All in all though I was pretty disappointed with the demo. The graphics were pretty good, comparable to the first game with a few added post processing tweaks but nothing revolutionary.
Just tried booting with the screen plugged into the other GPU and still colour screen locked :-(
With the display plugged Into the bottom (working) card when it locked I unplugged the SLI connector and the coloured mess went but the display remained black. I moved the display back to the top card and this time it booted but both GPU's were *Disabled* O_O only just managed to re-enable them and get back into windows
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Wednesday, 2 March 2011
So I've begun refitting all my components (details on Right Hand Side) into the new NZXT M59 case that came yesterday, and I'll outline the ups and the downs for you now.
Starting with downs, out of the box there was a breakage in the cable that connects the DVD Tray LED to a Molex connector (at the Molex connector end) the cable is frayed and it's probably going to take a soldering iron to get it back attached. Bad times.
Also there has been a design oversight in regards to the top 5 1/4" Bay. The case comes with one of those cheap black plastic flaps to "hide" DVD drives, which is all well and good, it is at least removable (after all I *like* my blu-ray drive's front) but unfortunately at the top of the plastic bay slot on the front of the case the corners are rounded. So you can't fit a DVD drive all the way in. You have to use the DVD Drive Cover. Not the end of the world but a small oversight. [edit:is end of world as drive tray will not open -.- ] The only other notable thing is the very shallow depth of the back panel leaving not a lot of room for rear side cable management. Just requires extra effort on my part :)
However! We now move to the ups, the changed design of the case looks to lend itself to a massively more effective cooling setup, especially in Multiple GPU Scenarios. Each GPU has it's own "pool" of air, whereas in my old case airflow to one of the cards was severely limited and the other card had to draw in hot air from around its counterpart. This does seem improved, even if I've had to get stuck in with some fan controls to get the right Temperature/Acoustic balance.
My other hope from this rebuilding process was that, if the graphics problems i've been having were the result of a loose connection or bad joint, remaking every connection would solve my crashing problem. I even swapped the GPU's over so the recenty RMA'd one is first and ol' trusty is second. Alas it was not to be. First boot was fine (perfect case-case transition, sata ports and all) however after I came back for the second and third boot I got colourscreen locks entering windows! (they were warm boots) Fourth boot (cold) went ok and games started sweet as and ran fine for a good few hours, just wish I could pin down the cause of the locks!!! I'm tempted to say the RMA'd GPU is to blame but they tested it before the sent it and assured me it was fine. May conduct my own testing... PSU is also suspect, going to try and test with my XFX 750w at some point. Ultimately though it may be motherboard and I've pretty much decided that if, after this year's exams, it reaches summer and the system just isn't solid enough for gaming, then I'm gonna drop a load of cash and replace CPU/Mobo/Ram and maybe GPU's too. Will have to see... Anyway, late start tomorrow, Wooooo....
Case pics to follow soon :)
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Phenom II 940
Phenom II 965...
Etc etc etc
I think it is about time I just dropped a whole load of cash and replaced everything all in one go. Saying that last night I did manage to get on battlefield for a good hour and a half. When it works, it really does work, when It doesn't, it really doesn't. I just hope I can keep it alive for now. Rebuild to new case tonight...
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Tuesday, 1 March 2011
I'm currently stranded away from home with my desktop and staying somewhere without a fixed broadband line. I was however armed with my 15Gb/month Mobile Internet Thingy. I immediately assumed that attempting any sort of online fps gaming with it would be futile, and set about looking for games that would play well with a minimum of Internet connections. My first attempt was Assassins Creed 2, to which I'm sure you'll cry "Alas! This game hath no multiplayer!" to which I would cry "Right you are! But it does require an online code check every time you start the game!" so I started it and played for a while. I've completed the story line so I was left running around hunting for collectables and completing side missions. I was also on Dolby Axon at the same time, discussing the ins and outs of the new dragon age 2 demo (which I don't have, due to a lack of proper Internetz). Unfortunately my Mifi decided to conk out and I lost both voice and (upon exiting the game) failed to upload my savegame back to the server.
Following two reboots of my Mifi and a reboot of my PC things got going again, I got axon going again, and then set about deciding what to play. My friends and me settled on Battlefield Bad Company 2, which to any less informed is (primarily) an online fps. I went into it with the inclination that my 3G modem, would generally flop at uploading and downloading the required data quickly enough. But in that regard, I was most surprised. While on the server list of BF:BC2 the best pings to any server from my landline was ~35ms and in game that generally rises to 80+. I found on servers where my friends were getting 125ms pings I was getting ~190ms and it was perfectly playable! Hurrah! So I spent a good couple of hours being 1337 at Battlefield and then headed to bed. It did make deciding whether to get a fixed line broadband connection put in here a little more difficult...
Monday, 28 February 2011
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Sunday, 27 February 2011
Recently my machine has been playing up badly. And it’s really starting to frustrate me. Basically every time I start the machine when it’s been off for a while (but not unplugged from the mains) it crashes at the start of any game that uses SLI. Random. I’ll upload screenshots after this. I thought I’d isolated it down to one of my graphics cards but I RMA’d it and now it’s still doing it!!! So yeah it’s really frustrating L
My inclination is to just say screw it and drop £900 on a 2500k, 8GB of Corsair 1600Mhz 1.5v ram, a Gigabyte P67-UD4 and 2x EVGA GTX 570’s. But I have to keep telling myself, NO!!!
I’m sposed to be saving for a laptop, and I’ve found a few that I would like to get. The first is the Sony Vaio Z Series. Its everything you could want in a laptop, i7 3.33Ghz Dual Core, Lots of Ram, Nvidia GT 330M, 13.1” 1600x900 Display, 1.35Kg, 10Hr Battery Life, Just everything. Problem is its £1600. Which is a lot, but I guess you get what you pay for. The other option is a nice little ASUS 13.3” I found. It’s half the price, and has less performance and is heavier but still maintains the same maximum battery life. So for now I’m going to hang on and see what happens.
Really looking forward to my new case coming :D Keeping my old one because it has lots of sentimental value. It’s been the only constant since I First built my PC 7 years ago. How things change. Anyway, that’s all for now J