Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Why do these small flash drives exist?

Recently I bought two new 16GB USB flash drives. They were bought for a special purpose: to use as install media for Windows.

So, why would I need two drives?

Simple. There is Windows 8.1 and there is Windows 10 Technical Preview. Yes, I did install Windows 10 TP on my main PC, but I'll discuss about that in another post.

Which drives did I buy?

Since these were not going to be used often, speed was secondary. Price was more important. Which 8GB drives were definitely cheaper, the 16GB ones weren't overly expensive.

I did not research much because it wasn't a big deal. I ended up ordering a couple of SanDisk Ultra Fit USB 3.0 16GB drives. Since SanDisk is a reputed brand, I didn't think I would run Into much trouble.

As usual, I ordered them from Amazon although  Amazon wasn't directly selling. It was some other 3rd party but it did not bother me as everything is taken care by Amazon. Unfortunately, these flash drives weren't available at the time of ordering, thus I had to wait a few more days to actually get the hands on them.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

My GTX 970 card is here


After almost 2.5 years, I have a new graphics card in my rig. So much have happened during those 2.5 years, but the disappointing thing is that i wouldn't be even seeing a two-fold increase in raw FPS. Hence SLI would have been the better option of my current card wasn't a 2.5 slot card and the PSU, which is a 650W one, had more headroom.

Anyways, this was the 2nd best choice since the cheaper R9 290/290x cards were generating too much heat and noise. Even if I managed to install get away with a

The card that I chose was the MSI GTX 970 Gaming and I bought it from Amazon, paying almost $80 more than the U.S. price. That's the way it has to be. This includes a 8% tax as well. I actually managed to sell my old card on Rakuten Auctions for around $150, which isn't amazing but isn't too bad either. If I sold it to a shop for cash, I wouldn't even get $100. So it was a win-win deal for me.

I couldn't install the card until late that day. This is because the three of us went to paid a visit to the Ikuta Rose Garden in the afternoon and on the way we did some shopping as well. After returning home, I had to help my wife cook dinner as well. While I finished doing my part and my wife put the baby to sleep, I got into business.

Installing the card at first was not problematic. It slid into the PCI-E slot without any trouble. I sneaked in the thermal probe, which plugs into the T_SENSOR port on the motherboard, between two fins of the heat sink and this is the temperature reading that controls the speed of the front (or side) intake fan. The 6-pin power cables were rotated 180°, so when I turned them around, they protruded out more than before because they were not used to bending in that direction. When I tried closing the case, these cables pushed against the front intake fan, however because of the integrated fan grill, the cables weren't coming in contact with the blades of the fan. It was very thoughtful of Silverstone really. I also checked whether the other two fan slots were blocked but it appeared they were clear and it would be possible to install two more fans when I buy the second card. Phew!

I will write about my experiences with the card in the follow up posts. Due to family life, my playtime is very limited nowadays, thus will take a while to learn about all the issues surrounding the new purchase.

Friday, October 24, 2014

Upgraded from GTX 670 to GTX 970

MSI 970 Gaming

Previously I assessed my chances of ending up with an SLI setup and the chances came up as extremely positive. SLI requires that I get cards with blower style coolers. However, when I looked around for reviews and asked others' opinion, I found out that very few people would recommend them. I've mentioned it before as well, but the reason behind this view is that there aren't any GTX 970 cards out at the moment that come equipped with the NVTTM reference cooler because it isn't economical to produce them. This cooler is amazing but the ones that AIB partners are putting in their GTX 970s are pretty much the same as the ones that came with GTX 670 cards, which were terrible.

Those coolers are terrible in two areas. Firstly, they run very loud at higher fan speeds because the fan is small and have to work hard to push the air through the heat sinks towards to back of the card and out of it. Secondly, they don't cool really well because it is a single small fan and the cooler has small intake vents.

I can live with higher temps but I cannot tolerate noise. Noisy computers are ones that are not well thought out and properly built. I don't want to end up with such a PC. I can wear headphones while I play games and be numb to the high fan noise but I cannot say same about my wife and kid. I only get a chance to play games when the kid is sleeping so the last thing I need is the noise of the video card waking him up. 

So I decided to get a card a decent cooler that ran quiet. That meant getting  a card with an open-air type cooler. I will have issues when I go for SLI, but I hope that adding more exhaust fans will rectify the thermal issues. I can add two fans on the side panel and Silverstone recommends adding them too.