Monday, November 26, 2012

AMD HD7000 series graphics cards: from top dog to under dog then to top dog once again!

There is no official announcement of when the next generation graphics cards from AMD are coming out, but it's been almost a year since they released the HD7000 series. One would expect that the new cards to hit the market in early next year. When AMD released HD7000 series cards, the top of the line cards managed to excel the nVidia's top of the line cards by a fa. For that reason, AMD enjoyed high profits because they could sell the high-end cards at a price never seen before. The HD7970 was originally sold at $549 and HD7950 at $449. But such high price didn't stop people from buying those cards. Those cards were intended for enthusiasts and they would pay anything to own the cutting edge stuff.

There was one problem with the HD7900 series cards though. They did not widen the gap as much as people originally expected. The GTX580 was still competitive in the high-end segment. Only the HD7970 was faster. HD7950 was only slightly faster. Sometimes performing on par.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Things you can do to lower the power consumption of your PC.

If you are someone who keeps your PC running 24/7 for whatever reason, you should be concerned about how much power the PC is drawing. A PC that runs 24/7 will definitely show its presence in your monthly power bill. A typical PC would draw about 60W at idle but a high-end, all-purpose PC would draw like 100W or even more. That's when doing nothing at all. And that too, without the monitor being turned on.

You could build a pretty power efficient, but very capable PC if you did some research at the time of building it. You don’t really have to spend much money either. Only choosing the components carefully will suffice.

For example,
  • buying a PSU that suits your PC, instead of going overkill
  • buying a mini-ITX or micro-ATX motherboard instead of going overboard with and ATX motherboard with all the features you can possibly get
  • buying 2 sticks of low voltage RAM instead of 4 sticks of regular RAM
etc...

But not all hope is lost. There are still a few things you can do to lower your PCs power consumption.

Building a low power 24/7 server + gaming rig from the scratch.

If you are one of those people who want to run your high-end gaming PC as a home server as well, then you should be concerned about the power draw of the PC. In the previous blog post, I discussed about things that you can do to lower the power consumption of your existing PC. Since you have already bought the hardware, most of them were software tweaks.

But if you have not yet bought the hardware, we can do a much better job. You can of course apply the same software tweaks to this build as well. I thought the previous article was too long, so I will try to be brief on this one. (But alas, I managed to make it even longer. Sorry for that.)

Please note that I would not be talking about peripheral devices. There is too much to cover and that is way out of scope for this article. I would not even cover displays, because the main target of this article is to build a PC that would also serve as a server while consuming least power doing so - which means, you can simply turn off the display when you do not need it. Further, I would not talk about the chassis either, because it doesn't directly affect power consumption of the PC.


CPU

Buy an Intel IvyBridge CPU. Since we are building a gaming PC, it would be beneficial to buy an unlocked CPU so that you can overclock it. Depending on what you wanna do with your PC, you can either buy the Core i5 3570K or the Core i7 3770K. If gaming is the soul purpose, then go with the i5. If you do some video editing, transcoding and rendering, the Core i7 would be the better choice. "AMD" and "low power consumption" don't go well together these days - (no) thanks to Bulldozer.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Nokia Here maps are terrible if you live in Japan.

Nokia finally released their Here Maps app for the iOS. I wanted to see if it would give better results than the Nokia Maps web app. But no, it is the same. There is hardly any difference. 

It’s not really the problem. The problem is, Nokia has nothing to offer to the Japanese. There is hardly anything on the map. Searching doesn’t show up any results except for big cities like Tokyo. When I searched for Nakanoshima (the town where I live), it would bring up Nakashima which is hundreds of miles away. Should I even say anything about directions when you cannot even search a single location? :/
No wonder none of the Windows Phones from Nokia comes to Japan through official carriers. That must be why iPhone and Android phones are pretty popular here.

Here’s an example. I checked to see how each mapping app (Nokia Here, Google Maps, Bing Maps) on the iOS would show up where I lived. Unfortunately, I don’t have a way to test Apple’s mapping app because I haven’t upgraded to iOS6. (Maybe in the future, if I can make up my mind to buy an iPad Mini.)

Nokia maps:
IMG_1007
That’s horrible! I don’t see anything. It’s like living in a dessert.
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