Monday, February 21, 2011

One digit upgrade. HD5770–> HD5870

I finally got a new video card. The long waited birthday present. Well, let’s say it is split gift with the Vertex 2 50GB SSD.

This is the card I got.

Sapphire HD5870 Vapor-X 1GB

(click to go to official product page.)

It is a second hand one. Yes, I wouldn’t buy brand new anymore, if the price different is huge. The Vapor-X retails for around 25k yen, and I bought mine for 17k yen. That’s a 50% less. It was in very good condition as well.

Why I bought the Vapor-X was because the cooler performed much better than the reference cooler. Less noise as well as better cooling performance. That was a big bonus. There are still a lot of second hand HD5870’s going for same price, but they are all reference design. Not only this comes with a custom cooler, but the PCB is also non-reference. And it comes with a factory overclock of 25Mhz on the core and 50MHz on the memory, so giving the final clocks of 875MHz/1250MHz. Sofmap was showing a rev. 1 card on the image, but they shipped the rev. 2 card. The popular word about this card was that it couldn’t be voltage tuned, but it seems that Sapphire’s own overclocking software, TRIXX, can increase the voltage up to 1.3V. So I’m not that disappointed about it.

Like I would do with everything else, I tried to find the maximum stable clocks this baby can operate at. It is so hard to find the max stable clocks on a video card. The memory doesn’t seem to overclock at all. 1275MHz wasn’t stable, so I dropped it to 1262MHz which seems to give no issues. The core seems to have much more promise. 940MHz @ 1.2V is stable, but I am trying if I can get it past 950MHz. Sad thing is, it is stable at 1GHz in 3DMark11, but it would fail in Crysis and intriguingly in COD:MW2. 950MHz at 1.2V wasn’t stable, and I cannot get past 1.25V on the core because the card would lock itself after a while. (They say the VRMs seems lower quality on the rev. 2 compared to rev. 1.)

Anyways, I’m getting 40fps on average in Crysis 1.2.1 32bit. (That FPS is different from scene to scene though.) Over 4600 3DMark11 points as well. Decent for a HD5870. Some people are breaking 5k, but that’s with a 4GHz+ CPU and 1GHz+ core clock speed, neither of which is with me.

So, it looks like this will be the last upgrade for the PC for a foreseeable future. Windows Experience Index gives 7.8 for the card. Wish I could break 7.9 with the overclock, but looks like it isn’t getting there. Maybe due to the lower tessellation performance, I don’t know.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Measuring PC power draw

I measured the power draw of my PC a few days ago. I wanted to know if I can really install two HD5850 video cards with this power supply.

How did I measure the power draw? I turned off everything in the house and kept only the PC running. Well, not just the PC, but I also had the router running as well. Wasn’t deliberate – I forgot to turn it off. XD

I measured the time it takes the meter dial to go one round. 600 rounds mean 1kWh. I The following table shows what I calculated from that time.

  Real power Power draw from the PSU (82% efficiency) – without the monitor

PC: Idle with monitor off (GPU@2D clocks)

117W 96W

PC: Idle with monitor on (GPU@2D clocks)

152W 96W

PC: Watching an HD movie (GPU@2D clocks)

177W 117W

PC: Playing COD6 (GPU@854/1350)

262W 187W

PC: Stressed max CPU (GPU@854/1350)

390W 291W
Laptop: Watching a 720p video 19W -

 

I think I need to use the laptop more often. XD

Sunday, February 6, 2011

The Vertex 2 isn’t lonely anymore

I was running out of space in the SSD. I had few games in the hard drive, and I was careful not to install big apps if I didn’t really need them. It was time to get a second SSD. Actually, it would be my third, because I already had one in the laptop.

There were few options. I could buy a second Vertex 2 50GB model and pair it with the one I already had, and make a RAID0 volume. It would give great performance and I would have one big 100GB partition to play with. The downside would be, I would lose TRIM functionality and SSDs are still expensive.

The other option would be to wait for the Vertex 3 or Intel’s new 510 series SSDs and get one of them, move the Vertex 2 to the lappy and sell the Kingston 40GB. Even though it seemed like the best option, it is not. First, selling a used SSD would be pretty hard work, because it would be considered as “degraded”. Second, Vertex 3 and Intel 510 would utilize SATA-3 interface and the one I have in the motherboard is a Marvel chip which doesn’t do a great job. So I might not get the fullest performance out of the new drive. Besides, the new drives won’t be any cheaper. They would still cost an arm and a leg. One more thing; two Vertex 2s RAIDed will perform as fast as a Vertex 3, and it seems Intel drives won’t be that fast anyways.

Note: Sandforce drives don’t need TRIM to bring back the lost performance. It has garbage collection stuff built into it. So RAIDing two Sandforce drives wouldn’t be a problem. (Read here and here)

So I decided to get a new Vertex 2 and RAID0 with the current drive. I missed an opportunity to get one for JPY9980, which was pretty cheap, and the next lowest price was 12900. Dang! I wouldn’t pay that much. Last Thursday I saw Amazon list one for 10900 (same thing was at 13600 or something before that), so after thinking, rethinking and more, I decided to hit the order button. It was supposed to come on Saturday, so it was fun. But it was delivered to me after 6pm. Stupid delivery morons!

It came with an old firmware version. I had the latest in the drive I had. So I plugged it in and upgraded the firmware to the latest. I managed to grab a ATTO score before I RAIDed the two drives.

This is the new drive

OCZ Vertex 2 drive 2 ATTO 2.46 2011-02-05

This is the old drive.

OCZ Vertex 2 ATTO 2.46 2011-01-17

Old drive is a bit slow, but it could be due to degradation, or because OS is installed in it and stuff is going on in it, or both.

And THIS is the RAID0 performance. w00t!

Untitled_-_ATTO_Disk_Benchmark-2011-02-06_03.06.39

So does it boot Windows faster? Nah! it is pretty much the same. Does it load apps faster? Slightly, but you would need a stopwatch to see the difference. So what did it give me? More storage! More SSD storage. Now I can install the games in the SSD. Oh and it loads games pretty fast. COD6 levels load pretty quickly. I am almost always the first to load the map. Open-mouthed smile

P.S.

If you look at the performance of the 0.5k, 1k, 2k performance, it is more than twice as fast as a single drive. That is because I have enabled Write Back Caching, afaik.

Intel_Rapid_Storage_Technology-2011-02-06_16.23.38

The Windows Experience Index score for the hard drive is now maxed out at 7.9. One down, 4 to go. hehe

Performance_Information_and_Tools-2011-02-05_23.22.22

Logitech G500 to replace the broken G5

I started playing Call of Duty Modern Warfare 2 multiplayer quite recently, and the result was a broken Logitech G5 mouse. The middle mouse button broke. It lost the clicking noise. Not just the noise, but I couldn’t feel the click. It was like trying to press a button on a resistive touch screen phone with just the skin of the thumb without using the nail. It was definitely not usable in games, nor was in browsers and other places where I extensively use the middle mouse button.

Not just that, the middle mouse button of the G5 is utter crap. It supports tilting and when I would press the middle mouse button, there was a good chance that I would tilt the button. The design of it wasn’t helping this either. It didn’t feel stable. Also, it was wearing out on the skin as well.

Mind you, it was a great mouse. It fit my hand pretty well. But it was time to throw it away. Well, I can give it to someone.

So what did I replace it with? Simple. It is in the title. I bought the new G500. It is pretty much same shape as the G5 so there wasn’t a need for getting used to the shape. But I had to get used to the new button placement. The realtime CPI changing buttons were on the left click button towards the outer edge, instead of the top middle. The button at the top middle would lock and unlock free scrolling which is used for scrolling long pages. And now there are three thumb buttons instead of two in the G5. Most of all, it supports a maximum of 5700 CPI instead of the 2000 in the G5. That is the hardest thing to tune. I still don’t know which speed is the best. I am still experimenting. BTW, the middle mouse button is much more stable in this. I hardly mistakenly press the tilt buttons when pressing the middle mouse button. But I have to tell you, the software doesn’t detect COD6 MP exe. That is a bummer. I am still trying things to get it to work without me needing to manually change the profile.

logitech-g500-gaming-mouse

I am not using the weighs yet. I think I should play with it a bit more and make use of all the features of the mouse. I didn’t use all the features of G5. I need to use all the features of G500!

P.S.

I disassembled the G5 to see if I could fix the middle mouse button issue. I had to remove all the gliding pads underneath the mouse to get to the nails. Sucks! Now it is a mess. I would need new pads if I want to use the mouse again. Well it works without the pads, but it does not give the same smooth feeling. Anyways, when I checked how the middle mouse button would work. I couldn’t understand how it could have made the click sound right from the beginning, unless there was “something” and it is not present anymore. There is just a spring and a touch button. Nothing that could make a click noise. Hmm….oh well.. I talked to Logitech as well, and they said I couldn’t get warranty because it was bought from another country, Am I supposed to wait till I get to Sri Lanka to claim warranty? It might even not have any warranty left! lol

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