Sunday, September 7, 2014

Haswell-E is here


Haswell-E finally hit the market on August 29 and the whole review sites went crazy. It was about time Intel refreshed its enthusiast platform, as it was catering the enthusiast community with technology from 3-4 years ago.

Intel made a few changes to the product line this time, compared to the previous two. Some are for the better, some are for the worse.

Goods and bads of Haswell-E

The merits of Haswell-E are the following.
  1. Release of the first consumer grade 8-core CPU from Intel
  2. The baseline model being a 6-core CPU instead of 4-core, but costing only a fraction above the 4790K CPU
  3. 10 native SATA 6Gbps ports
  4. Quad Channel DDR4 support
  5. Lots of native USB 3.0 ports
  6. 10Gbps M.2 support
On the other hand, we have the following deal-breakers.
  1. You have to shed $1000 to get those 8-cores
  2. The baseline model lacks full PCI-E support (28-lanes vs. 40-lanes in the other two SKUs)
  3. DDR4 is pretty expensive at the moment
  4. The boards are fairly more expensive and the Micro ATX board options are limited. (You can confidently claim that Mini-ITX won't be a reality this time either)
  5. Needs a cooler that can handle a lot of TDP, such a dual tower air cooler or an AI 240mm rad. Custom water cooling is recommended for people who are willing to shed a grand on the Octa-core model and overclock
  6. Large variation in overclockability just like the mainstream Haswell variants

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Using the T_SENSOR on Asus Maximus VII Gene board


One of the new features introduced by Asus with the new round of motherboards for the mainstream Intel CPUs was the ability to incorporate thermal readings of a user installable thermal probe for its monitoring and fan controlling software. Not all motherboard supports it and not all of them came with the thermal probe even if supported. Only the highest end boards came with the probes. Despite my Maximus VII Gene board being the highest end Micro ATX board made for this platform by Asus (or any other vendor for that matter), it didn’t came with the probe. Sadness, but at least it indeed supported this feature.

When I was moving the system from the ATX case to the Micro ATX case the other day (read all about it here), I came across an extra thermal probe that came bundled with the old Scythe fan controller that I had been using a while back. I had already sold the fan controller via Rakuten Auctions (because I moved from it to the Fan Xpert software on Asus boards) without bundling it up. Well, there is nothing I could do about it now, but I wanted to see if that particular probe was compatible with the motherboard.

And, it was!

Now, temperature of which component should it sense? I thought about the temps cooling plan of the case, and there was only one obvious candidate. The video card. The side intake towards the front of the case was simply pumping fresh air in for the video card. It doesn’t have to run at all, if the video card is idle. So I figured that I could control the fan speed of that fan according to the video card’s temperature. The top intake and the rear exhaust were directly associated with the CPU anyways.

Friday, August 22, 2014

RMAed the Logitech Z623 speaker set and got a new one


Almost 2 years ago, I bought the Logitech Z623 speaker set to replace the Corsair SP2200 speakers that developed a crackling issue in the subwoofer (read “RMAing Corsair SP2200 speakers in Japan” and “From crackling Corsair SP2200 speakers to Logitech (Logicool) Z623 speakers”). I bought it from Amazon because they had it for the cheapest offer. It cost me a little under $90 although it should have cost me about $130 if I bought it directly from Logitech as that was the MSRP.

However there was one issue with this particular set. Many of the end users were complaining about a defect with the power button. The speakers would turn on and off on its own at random times.

Not everybody was having this problem so I thought I might get lucky. Even if the problem developed in mine, I would not have a problem with RMAing as Logitech’s customer support is superb. After about one year of usage, the problem developed on my set as well. It was not irritating at first as it would only appear - if at all - at the time of powering up the speakers. But eventually it got worse up to the degree where it would lose power while watching a movie even.