Friday, June 28, 2013
Windows 8.1 Preview installation experience on my DELL Latitude 10 Essentials tablet (part 2: Success!!!)
Thursday, June 27, 2013
But let's beat them to it, shall we? We'll make a very high-end PC with all the Corsair components, less the CPU, motherboard, HDD, video card and display. Sure, those 5 components comprise of pretty much 75% of the cost of the entire PC. But it's not Corsair's fault.
Case: Carbide Air 540
This case comes with a unique design and is fully optimized for cooling your toasty components.
CPU cooler: H110 close loop liquid cooler
This is the only closed loop water cooler that doesn't compromise noise for cooling performance.
SSD: Neutron GTX 240GB or 480GB
RAM: Vengeance Pro DDR3-2400 CL10 16GB
The new Vengeance Pro RAM gives high performance without sacrificing looks. Comes with many colors to match your own color scheme.
PSU: AX760i digital 80Plus Platinum PSU
The least expensive all digital power supply unit from Corsair. We are going with the least expensive one because we don't need a lot of power. If you intend to use multiple GPUs in your rig, go for 860i or even 1200i. For a single GPU, even a 760i it more than enough.
Keyboard: Vengeance K95 mechanical gaming keyboard
Mouse: Vengeance M95 laser gaming mouse
Corsair's highest-end laser mouse that comes with lots of buttons.
Headset: Vengeance 2000 Dolby 7.1 surround wireless headset
Wireless headsets is the way to go when you are buying one for gaming. With 7.1 "virtual" surround, you can easily pinpoint where you enemy is coming from.
Corsair AF series fans are also amongst the best case fans out there.
The rest of the components are for you to decide really. But since these are all high-end components from Corsair, you should match them with high-end components as well. I'll recommend some for you. (I'm keeping the number of different brands to a minimum, hence I chose Asus because they make displays as well. Nothing against Gigabyte, MSI and the rest.)
CPU: Intel Core i7 4770K
Motherboard: Asus Maximus VI Hero
GPU: Asus GTX780 Direct CUII
Display: Asus PB278Q 1440P display
HDD: Seagate ST3000DM001 (x2)
CPU: Intel Core i7 3930K
Motherboard: Asus Rampage IV Formula
GPU: Asus GTX780 Direct CUII
Display: Asus PB278Q 1440P display
HDD: Seagate ST3000DM001 (x2)
I don't understand why Corsair doesn't make Corsair branded PCs yet. Maybe they don't see too many margins in that business?
Windows 8.1 Preview installation experience on my DELL Latitude 10 Essentials tablet (part 1: things going horribly wrong)
Wednesday, June 26, 2013
NVidia released the GeForce 320.18 WHQL drivers with the release of GTX780. But in the past people in the forums started talking that these drivers were crap and breaking the GPUs. They were getting lockups, BSODs, micro-stuttering, rendering artifacts and all sorts of stability issues. I also noticed some micro-stuttering, but luckily not anything else.
Seems like NVidia concurred and they have finally released a new driver that fixes these issues. It’s the 320.49 beta. Yes, it is a beta driver after all. They didn’t release this driver just to fix the issues of 320.18 driver, but because they just released their new midrange king, the GTX760. Luckily, it is slightly slower than a GTX670, but way cheaper. Only $250. (Read a review here)NVidia is really messing with the prices. Their enthusiast cards are way too expensive and their midrange to high-end cards are way cheap. It’s not my loss. I am not looking to upgrade my graphics card anyways. I only play one game and that’s Crysis 3 and I can just do fine with my existing card.
OK, I digress. You can download the 320.49 beta driver from GeForce Experience software. That’s what I always do. I download it and then launch the installer as custom install and then uncheck everything other than the driver (you cannot check or uncheck it) and PhysX driver. Everything else is just bloat. I don’t usually do a clean install, because for some reason it messes with the Creative X-Fi drivers.
Or if you are still too lazy to download GeForce Experience, you can download the new drivers from the following links
Monday, June 24, 2013
It's been a while since I tested for stability of my CPU's 4.5GHz overclock. I ran the blend test of Prime95 of more than 6hrs back then and I felt that was sufficient. However, PC has been giving random lockups in the past couple of months and I didn't want to accept that the reason for this instability was because my overclock wasn't stable enough. For some reason, it was so hard to find the settings that made my PC stable, and I didn’t want to go through all that again. It could be because I wanted to both overclock and save power at the same time. That's not something that's easy to achieve, obviously. Or it could be because the motherboard is not the best when it comes to overclocking. Or it can even be that this CPU is a bad clocker. Or I could have been doing something wrong in the first place.
Thursday, June 20, 2013
I got a Windows 8 activation problem yesterday. All of a sudden, the Windows Action Center was telling me that Windows is not activated and I should do it soon. When I checked the system properties, it was telling me that the activation will be expired on 19th of July. I was like “what the hell”! That’s in a month. And I have a legit copy of Windows 8.
I tried few things, but I got the same error message every time. When I checked Microsoft help page, it seemed that the serial number I was using is not valid for the edition of Windows I had installed. I have a key for Windows 8 Pro edition as well as Media Center edition. I was supposed to have installed the Media Center edition because I used that key, but apparently I had forgotten to update the Pro edition to Media Center edition. I did, and upon restart, Windows was completely deactivated! When I tried to activate, it didn't let me. This time I got a different error code (0xC004C4AA).
AMD vs. NVidia - which one is better?
This is a sensitive matter. You cannot go wrong with either brand. Here's a comparison between the two, and I suggest that you match up your requirements with those and see which one suits you best.
Advantages of going with AMD
- Gives better performance for the money you spend. (Might not be true in some parts of the world.
- You get an amazing free games bundle with the card.
- Has less performance drop when Anti-Aliasing is enabled/increased the level as well as resolution is increased.
- All next generation consoles are using AMD GPUs, and the games will probably be more optimized for AMD's GCN architecture. This is just an assumption.
- Usually overclocks a bit better than NVidia cards.
- Has much better general purpose compute performance.
- SLI works much, much better than Crossfire (at least as of now)
- Adaptive V-Sync support
- Ability to overclock the Pixel Refresh Rate of your display (how far your can overclock, depends on your display. I've managed to increase it from 60Hz to 69Hz on my Iiyama 27" display.)
- Has a little bit better power efficiency.
- People believe that NVidia drivers are usually more stable. But both companies put out buggy drivers every now and then.
Wednesday, June 19, 2013
Remember those days when overclocking the CPU was considered dangerous and only a few people would even attempt it, and those people were treated like gods? Not anymore. Anyone can overclock their CPU if the CPU is overclockable and necessary hardware is available. Getting a modest overclock is easy, but if you are trying to squeeze all that extra juice from your CPU, you might need more than just luck.
Overclocking is not dangerous if properly done. Know your limits and obey by those limits. For example, don't insert a lot of volts to the CPU because it will damage the CPU. Keep it within the manufacturer recommended/commonly accepted volts for your particular CPU. Also be wary of the temps of the CPU as well as other components like VRM heat sinks of the motherboard.
Here are some tips.
1) Prepare a separate environment for overclocking if possible. If you have a spare drive lying around, install a free copy of Windows in it and don't install anything else - not even Windows updates or driver updates. Why this is important is because when your OS crashes while stress testing because your overclock is not stable, it can corrupt the files and settings and that alone can give a BSOD when you stress test with different settings the net time. You might think the CPU is unstable, but in reality it could be a corrupted driver or corrupted software that is running in the background.
2) Stress test for a couple of hours at stock settings. This will rule out any issues that might be present in the original hardware. No point trying to overclocking broken hardware. You'll only waste your "precious" time. Running Prime95's blend test should do the trick.
3) Don't overclock your RAM at the same time. Overclock only one component at a time, otherwise you won't know the culprit of the instability if you discover any. Overclocking RAM doesn't give any tangible benefits anyways. You will get better performance by overclocking the CPU. So, if you have high speed RAM (i.e. faster than 1600MHz), I would suggest that you drop the speed to 1600MHz CL9 timings. That would rule out the memory being the culprit of a crash. This is not needed, but just to be sure
4) Make a target. The target should not be in terms of clock speed, but in terms of max CPU temperature or max Vcore, whichever is reached first. For example, max Vcore = 1.4V and max CPU Temp = 85C. First, try Vcore = 1.4V at stock clock speed and run a stress test while monitoring CPU temperature. If you are below 85C, then you can simply try increasing the CPU clock speed. If you hit 85C, then stop stress testing and lower the CPU Vcore until your max temps are below 85C.
However, please note that when you increase the clock speed, the temps would increase a bit more even without increasing the Vcore. So try to stop about 5C below your suggested max CPU temps (i.e. 80C) to give some room for the temps to increase due to clock increase. Now that you have found your max voltage, it is time to increase the clock speed.
5) Be patient. Don't try to rush out thing. If you know that the CPU model you have usually overclocks to, say, 4GHz undoubtedly (all the current generation CPUs do), that would be a good place to start. You don't have to start from the stock speeds. That's not necessary. However, only increase clock speeds one step at a time.
For example, when it comes to Intel, the only way to effectively increase the clock speed is by raising the multiplier. Increase the multiplier one step at a time. That means, if you were starting from 4GHz, which means the multiplier was at 40x, increase to 41x, then 42x and likewise. At each step, stress test for like 30 minutes of Prime95's blend test. That should be enough for the intermediate stress tests. Once you find the maximum overclock, stress test for 24hrs (at least 12hrs) to make sure that is completely stable. If the stress test fails while doing the extensive stress tests, you'll have to drop the multiplier by one level. Then it is 24hrs of stress testing again. (Overclocking takes times. Don't rush it.)
6) Now that you (hopefully) found out your max CPU clock, you can revert to the original RAM settings or even try to overclock it. Remember that when you overclock your RAM, you might have to increase the VTT (memory controller voltage) to make it stable.
7) If you want to overclock further and you were limited by temperature, it is time to invest in a better cooler.
8) If you are having some particular issues, such as crashes at idle, take a look at this thread.
Those were some common guidelines and all that they do is make your life easier, even though at first it might seem like time wasters (preparing a separate environment just for overclocking, for example).
There are more extensive instructions on the forums such as Overclock.net, Techpowerup.com and XtremeSystems.org so read the guides posted there, ask questions and participate. You will learn a lot by doing that.
Monday, June 17, 2013
Things got worse with iOS 6 update. It would work well as soon as I restored or updated the OS, but eventually get slow.
When Evasi0n released the Jailbreak for iOS 6.1, I went ahead with the Jailbreak. I didn't feel that the phone got any slower, but the battery went down the hill. After a few months, I gave up the Jailbreak. But disappointingly, I didn't get better performance nor battery life. I only lost the Jailbreak tweaks that I really loved. At this point, I was using iOS 6.1.3, the latest as of this day.
Then WWDC2013 happened. iOS 7 was introduced and I managed to install the developer preview on my phone without paying for a developer account. (Click here to find out how to do it.) But it ran so horribly slow on my phone. Restarting fixed it for a certain degree, but it was slow - much slower than the slowness I talked about at the top of this post. People with iPhone 5's were not feeling the slowness. Sure, the iPhone 5 is twice as fast as mine, but if people didn't feel the slowness, that's either because it is not slow, or because people are numb. I wanted to believe it was the former. So what I did was, I cleared out all the junk from the phone.
・I had all 1000 pics from Photo streams and disconnected it from the phone.
・I removed all the photos there were in the camera roll.
That's all really. I had already removed the unnecessary apps and I only had the apps that I frequently used.
But it didn't get any faster. Not only that, it was crashing few of the apps that I really needed. One of them was the Pocasts app. Commuting without the Podcast app would be a nightmare. So I wanted to go back to iOS 6.
But I made a mistake this time. I could not restore the backup via iTunes, because the last backup was done from iOS 7 and it was incompatible with iOS 6's backup format. Yes, I believe the older backups were still there in the PC and I could have chosen one of them instead. I only remembered that the next day. But I do not regret what happened. I had to start over from the scratch, BUT for some reason, the phone is very snappy now. I think it was the junk that was in the backup that was causing the lag. I had all the SMS history and call history and the settings of apps that I don't use anymore all copied back to the phone. That junk must have been the cause of the slowness. I have been using the phone for 3 days and there isn't the slightest hint of it running slow. Sure, it is not iPhone 5, but I don't feel that it is laggy anymore. I'm pretty sure that it is not my mind playing tricks.
So what I am going to do from here onwards is, I'm going to keep my the call history clean, SMS history clean (only keep the ones that I want to keep, and delete the rest), sync only 50 emails, clean up the camera roll every day when I get back home and not connect to photo streams. Basically, I'm gonna keep the phone as clean as I can. I'm sure it will become an obsession eventually, but at least I will have a fast phone.
Check this HARDOCP article to see how Sandybridge, IvyBridge and Haswell all stand against each other when overclocked to 4.5GHz. This article also mentions all the pitfalls of overclocking Haswell. It's a good read. You should read it if you are planning to get a Haswell CPU and want to overclock it.
BTW, if you are planning to get a non-K CPU hoping that it would allow you to overclock at least a few hundred MHz, you would be disappointed. Only K-editions are overclockable. Others will be stuck to their stock Turbo Boost algorithm. You can try increasing the BCLK, but it won't get your much farther.
On top of that, you don't get VT-d and TSX instructions support on the K-editions. They are only available on non-K editions. Intel is messing with the Overclocking community it seems. It clearly shows that they don't want use to overclock, because it handicaps their sales because people might not upgrade if their current CPU overclocks pretty well and is faster than the new CPUs. (This seems to be the case with a lot of SB and IB users against Haswell)
Sunday, June 9, 2013
In the previous post I mentioned that I bought this super cooler and now it is time to install it. A lot of things happened while installing the cooler, so someone who is looking to buy this cooler might find this information I’m going to write in this post. It’s a long post, so read it all slowly, if you are interested in the topic. Important notes come up at different places, whenever necessary.
First things first. I had to remove the old CNPS9900MAX-B cooler first to get going. Since I reseated the cooler a few days back, I could quickly take it off. Then I cleaned the thermal paste residue from the CPU.
Then it was time to install the new cooler. Here’s what was inside the box.
Saturday, June 8, 2013
I couldn't take it anymore. So I went and ordered the Thermalright Silver Arrow SB-E Extreme cooler on Thursday before going to sleep. Before that I did some serious assessment as to whether I should go with this cooler or the Noctua NH-D14. Since the NH-D14 is a bit more expensive and the non-Extreme model is almost identical to the Noctua in terms of performance. But the new Extreme edition, thanks to its high CFM fans, can cool it much further. Some reviews say the difference is about 5-8C. Having that option is good I guess. Of course it will depend on the airflow inside the case.
- This is a tall cooler, because of the sheer side of the fans and the heat pipes that protrude from the top. But on the official Thermalright Silver Arrow club page on OCN, I found several people who had cooler installed in the Raven RV03 without any issue. (Although the height of the cooler is 165mm and the max height of the cooler supported by the case is 163mm. I guess the protruded nature of the window helps?)
- Will it fit with the Corsair Vengeance Memory modules? It was mentioned in a review that the heat sink itself didn't protrude over the memory slots. It was the fan that caused the problems. So what that reviewer proposed was that instead of having the fan in the front, move it to the back. Instead of push-push orientation, you have to install it as pull-pull. It should not hurt the cooling performance especially since there are two intake fans directly at the bottom of the case. But it was still doubtful whether I could fit the memory module closest to the heat sink fine. The Vengeance sticks are not only tall, but the sinks add additional width to the naked sticks. Anyhow, the worst case would be me having to remove the heat sink on the memory module closest to the CPU. I was ready for that possibility. But I hoped that I wouldn't have to do that.
- Then I had to see if the VRM sinks on the motherboard would cause problems. I didn't expect this would cause problems but I had to make sure anyways. It seemed that there were people having the cooler installed on the same motherboard as mine, the ASRock Z68 Extreme4.
Friday, June 7, 2013
Remember I recently upgraded the firmware on my Samsung 840 series 250GB SSD? Even though the release notes said that I would see some performance improvements with the DXT08B0Q firmware, I didn’t see any. Then I upgraded the Intel Rapid Storage Technology drivers to see if it yielded in any improvements.
I originally had version 220.127.116.113 installed. This was what I had when I flashed the firmware. There was a newer version out when I checked it a few days ago. Version 18.104.22.1686 (download from here). I don’t know what happened to version 12 though. Maybe I didn’t check for a new driver in a while. I only got to know that there was a newer driver from OCN forums.
I first uninstalled the old driver and installed the new one, just to be sure. Updating drivers doesn’t go really well most of the times. Ironically, I always update the NVidia drivers, never uninstall the old one and install the new one. I do that because I haven’t had issues doing so in the past. Sorry, I digress.
BTW, I downloaded the floppy driver, not the Windows drivers. The floppy driver comes with… just the RST driver. But the Windows driver comes with their monitoring and management software as well. Since I don’t use Smart Response Technology or RAID in my PC, there is no need to install them. No need to add more junk to the PC. I want to keep it as clean as possible.
Here are the benchmarks, before and after the update. Both were done after I updated the firmware to DXT08B0Q. For the entire specs of the test rig, click here.
So you see, there is nice speed bump after the driver update. I don’t think that is a noticeable difference. Heck, you cannot feel the difference between two SSDs to the naked eye, without running benchmarks anyways. I just got this SSD because it was the cheapest 250GB one available back in January. not because it is the fastest.
Wednesday, June 5, 2013
Samsung released a new firmware for the Samsung 840 series (Pro and non-Pro both) few days ago. I didn’t upgrade that instant, because I saw on OCN forums that few people were having issues with the new firmware. I don’t want to end up with a dead drive. I don’t have a spare SSD lying around. Wish I kept that old SSD with me just in case something went wrong with the new one. But I didn’t and there is no point regretting about it. Have to move on.
But today I gave in, and went ahead with the update. What made me confident that something bad might not happen is because Samsung hadn’t pulled the firmware. That means there is nothing wrong with it to begin with. The people who got bad outcomes must have done something stupid. Just to be safe, I killed all the apps running in the foreground as well as background before starting the firmware update process.
I had DXT07B0Q firmware before update. You have to use Samsung SSD Magician software to do the firmware update. Even without me checking for an update manually, it automatically detected that there was a newer firmware available and highlighted in the UI of the software. Nothing amazing. That’s the way everything should work these days anyways. Just wanted to say that it is working as if should.
Everything went smooth. It didn’t take long, and once done, the software told me that it needs to shutdown the PC to finish the update. What I didn’t know was that it would not automatically reboot. It was a clean shutdown, not a reboot. Some people might be confused by how it happened. With the previous drive, all that was required was a reboot. Anyways, now I know how it works in the future.
So did I see any gains with the new firmware? No! None at all. I recorded some benchmark scores on AS-SSD before and after the firmware update. Before running the test, I optimized the drive using the Magician software. Here are the results.
Note: Both tests were run with Intel Rapid Storage Technology ver. 22.214.171.1243 drivers.
Before update ( ver. DXT07B0Q )
After update ( ver. DXT08B0Q )
As you can see, the scores are identical. The difference would be attributed to measurement error. Well, at least the performance didn’t go down. That’s a relief.