Monday, March 31, 2014

[Rant] Ordered the Logitech G602 wireless mouse!!!

logitech-g602

Few months ago, I wanted to buy the Logitech G602 wireless gaming mouse. This is the best wireless mouse to date, with very little input lag over a wired mouse. But the mouse costs about $70 in Japan. That's still cheaper than the US price which is about $80. However, I also have some points at Sofmap, so I could have bought it at about $15 using all the points. But even then, I felt I could use those points to buy something else - like a graphics card. I still monitored the prices for months from kakaku.com but didn’t see it drop below JPY6,700. So I gave up the idea.

Until today, that is.

I was going to take a shower and I got an email. I checked it from the phone. The email was from kakaku.com . It said that the lowest reported price of the Logitech G602 mouse that I was monitoring has gone down. I thought it would be something like $1 or 2. But no, it was all the way down to $39 (or JPY3,980). No way I was not going to jump on this deal. I quickly went into the website of the store that was selling the mouse to confirm the price. Sometime glitches on kakaku.com can cause these. But this time it was legitimate. I quickly decided to buy the mouse.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

[Rant] NVidia thinks two equals three. Prices dual GK110 at $3000!!!

NVIDIA-GeForce-GTX-Titan-Z-Official

In the last few weeks there were posts from different tech related websites that an unknown sender had sent them "stuff" with notes that muttered the same thing over and over again. "Two better than one." Many people figured out that those articles were sent to them from a marketing company related to AMD. Most people assumed that a dual GPU monstrosity is going to be unveiled from AMD in the coming days. While we haven't yet heard any concrete information about such release, there have been rumors of a R9 295x that will house two R9 290x GPUs in one heck of a dual headed monster card. The first thing that came to...must have been more than 99% of the people who heard that news is "How the heck is AMD going to cool that thing? They cannot even cool one GPU properly." But it seems AMD is bringing a hybrid cooling solution - air and closed loop water cooling - just like the iChill GeForce GTX 780 Accelero Hybrid card. Again, all this information floating around the web is just speculation.

But at GPU Technology Conference (or GTC), NVidia - out of nowhere - revealed that they are coming out with a dual GK110 based card. The forthcoming of a dual GK110 card is not surprising news as a month or so ago this news was also floating around the web. But NVidia just released the Titan Black Edition and the talk about the dual GK110 went away. And then the release of the Maxwell based GTX750 card also turned the discussion into another direction and a lot of people became more interested in Maxwell cards than a card based on dual GK110 chips. Besides, a dual GK110 card is nothing new. It's just two GK110 GPUs slapped on one PCB. You can get two GK110 single GPU cards instead. Not only the latter will be faster, they will overclock higher, run cooler, be cheaper and you can disable SLI if you need. AFAIK, you cannot disable SLI on a dual GPU card from the driver.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

[Rant] Downgrade bios to improve stability on the Maximus VI Hero motherboard?

HeroAsus has been quite busy releasing new bios updates in the last month or so. They are getting ready to welcome the "new" (*laugh*) Haswell Refresh CPUs. Intel is releasing a new chipset as well, namely the 9-series but board manufacturers are updating their boards with 8-series chipsets to support Haswell Refresh. We shouldn't need a separate chipset for the exactly same CPU architecture. Heck, we shouldn't need. A new chipset for Broadwell either. It is still going to be same as Haswell, with a die shrink.

Let's not get carried away now.

So in the last couple of months I saw about 3 firmware versions come out for my board from Asus. In addition to saying that these bring support for the newer CPUs, Asus has been putting the same string of "improve system stability" with each of them. So I updated each time hoping that it would improve the overclock of my 4770K. Sadly, it's done nothing like that. However, I didn't notice any instabilities either.

[Rant] My “realistic” dream PC

img_7857

I’m sure everyone of you knows by now what my favourite form factor is, right? Mini-ITX. (If you didn’t know, you should follow my blog! Seriously!) Even though it seems that I can use my Silver Arrow SB-E Extreme cooler in the Fractal Design Node 304 mini-ITX case, I might have to buy a new PSU because my current PSU is non-modular and I definitely will have to buy a new RAM kit because I currently have 16GB in 4 sticks. So I cannot say for sure how long this transition to mini-ITX will take, but I really want to build one.

But if I was starting from the scratch, I know what I would be building. Want to know what it is?

Here goes.

Chassis: Fractal Design Node 304

The other contender is Corsair Obsidian 250D. I would have chosen that but it about 50% more taller than the Node 304.

Motherboard: Asus ROG Maximus VI Impact

This is the best mini-ITX board out there, for one particular reason. Audio! Asus says the audio on it is as good as Xonar DG level, which is pretty sweet for integrated audio. But at the same time, it lacks one important feature some of the other boards carry. A dual-link DVI port. Why would I want it? Because the display I use – the Qnix QX2710 – only supports dual DVI inputs. Yes, of course I would be connecting it to the video card, but I would like the board to have a dual DVI port just as a backup. But you know what? Even my current ATX board, Maximus VI Hero doesn’t have a dual DVI port either. So, maybe I shouldn’t worry about it too much.

Friday, March 21, 2014

[Rant] Devil's Canyon? Seriously Intel?

 
 
Couple of weeks ago I talked about the so called Haswell "Refresh" CPUs coming out this quarter. One thing that disappointed me was that there were no K series CPUs with unlocked multiplier being introduced. So for the overclocking enthusiast, the Core i7 4770K was still the best CPU they could get.
 
But at IDC, Intel has just presented that there in fact is going to be an unlocked Haswell Refresh part coming out to serve the enthusiasts. That part is codenamed "Devil's Canyon". Fancy name, right? So what's it going to offer than Core i7 4770K didn't already offer?
 
"Better thermal interface enabling 'significant' overclocking and performance enhancements". That's Intel's own words.
 

Thursday, March 20, 2014

[Rant] Current RAM prices might make my mini-ITX dream just a dream

Vengeance[4]

In a previous post I wrote how I relieved some good news from a forum member saying that the Silver Arrow Extreme cooler will fit in the Fractal Design Node 304. It just made the mini-ITX build somewhat closer to reality than just a dream. The next question I had was whether the PSU would fit in the case with the crazy number of cables sticking out of its arse. Nothing was confirmed although more people recommended that I bought a new smaller (140mm depth), modular PSU and sell the TX850 or keep it as a backup PSU.

I haven't decided what to do about the PSU issue yet, but a new problem just came up. I have Corsair Vengeance RAM (exactly the same as the ones shown on the picture above) in my current rig. They have very tall heat sinks which don't do anything to improve the performance. They are just there for the aesthetics. If those heat sinks come in the way of the cooler, I was thinking of removing the heat sinks and install them "naked".

Great plan, right? Yes, but I forgot one important thing. I have 4 sticks of 4GB each. 4 sticks!! Mini-ITX boards only have 2 DIMM slots. So I cannot use all 16GB of them in a mini-ITX rig. Ideally I would want 8GBx2 kit. I'm not going to halve the amount of RAM just to change the form factor. Which means I have to sell these RAM and buy new ones. Oh oh!

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

[Rant] Got a BSOD on the Asus T100 Tablet

kernel_security_check_failure
I've been quite silent about the tablet lately. That's because nothing mention worthy happened with it. In fact, I've not been using it much lately. It's slow, even though it has a BayTrail CPU - the latest Atom CPU from Intel. Maybe it is not slow for most people but I'm not most people. And the app experience sucks compared to my iPhone - mostly the browser.
 
In the last few days, I felt the tablet was running slower than usual. I've been keeping the drivers and firmware up to date. No need to mention that Windows Update is set to install updates automatically. I wonder if these updates have caused issues.
 
There is a community in Google Plus dedicated to Asus T100 users. I'm a member as well. Yesterday I decided to post about the slowdowns there. I posted it fine but soon after I posted it something unexpected happened. I got a BSOD. It's as if the tablet knew that I was getting to ready to do something about this issue and it didn't like it. There is a ghost in the machine.
 

Saturday, March 15, 2014

[Rant] NVidia driver issue made the electricity bill skyrocket!

precisionx

Last month’s electricity bill was a record high for us. For the first time it went past JPY10,000. Our usually electricity bill is around JPY6,000 and even that’s because the heater is running throughout the day. Usually it is below JPY4,000. We couldn’t figure out what caused this huge increase. Even though the charge was about 70% higher than the previous month, we hadn’t consumed that much units. What caused the increase was because we went into the crossed over to the next unit pricing. Just as in Sri Lanka, in Japan too, the unit price goes up as the consumption increases, in a step by step manner.

Today I think I found the culprit. I’m not entirely sure if it is the actual cause. We’ll find out next month. But it seems that the GPU had been running at full blast all the time. Instead of using like 10-20W of power while at idle, it had been using over 100W. No idea about the actual power consumption, but I believe it is over 100W. When I checked in PrecisionX, the power usage was above 60% so it is definitely above 100W. The GPU clock was at 1066MHz instead of 324MHz.

Friday, March 14, 2014

[Rant] Mini-ITX build plans are not completely gone

900x900px-LL-5d500f0c_IOVU6

Few weeks ago I got this itch to build a Mini-ITX rig. But I had to give up that thought because It would only be a side-grade (not an upgrade) if I do it now and it sounded like a lot of money spent with no gains. If I do it when Broadwell comes out, then that's a different story.

In the mean time, I wanted to reuse as much components from my current build as possible. In the original feasibility study, I figured that I would have to give up the CPU cooler and the PSU because they would not fit in a small mini-ITX case. Quite recently I came to know that Fractal Design Node 304, which is a nice little mini-ITX case, can actually house the Silver Arrow SB-E Extreme cooler just fine.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

[Rant] Couldn't resist upgrading to iOS 7.1

iOS7.1

Only days after I jail-broke my iPhone 5S, Apple came out with the much anticipated iOS 7.1. The update is supposed to solve two big issues - fixing the sudden crashes of the OS and brining some perceptual speed improvements. (I hope they are real speed improvements though.)

Even though I didn't mention this before, I've been having frequent crashes with my iPhone 5S. It would crash about twice a week. Apps also crash - Safari being the most frequent.

The speed improvements are always welcome. All of them cannot be fixed by a jailbreak tweak. With NoSlowAnimations, it would speed up the animation but sometimes take the same time for the app to refresh its view. In other words, there is a lag between the time the animation ends and the UI is usable. Not all the time, but it's pretty frequent.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

[Rant] Had to clean up the internals of the PC

A few weeks ago I posted that ASUS's fan controlling software - Fan Xpert II on Asus Maximus VI Hero - could be causing dust to pile up inside the case. I didn't see how bad the situation was, until last Friday. I got the USB 3.0 cable for the motherboard/case combo that I ordered from eBay and I wanted to install it. Since I had to route the cables behind the motherboard tray, I had to take the case out and open it up completely to do it. Only then I got a clear understanding of the amount of dust that was trapped inside. There was a looooot of dust. The source of the dust is unclear to me. We vacuum the carpet everyday and everyday there is dust! It feels as if the carpet or the wooden floor underneath is slowly dematerializing!


Anyways, I didn't want to do a proper, time consuming clean up job. Few year ago I would have done that without hesitation but not anymore. It's not that I don't have enough time. I just don't feel like doing it. 

But I knew I had to do some kind of cleaning. I started with the vacuum cleaner. It sucked up a decent amount of dust. Then with the use of a moist cloth, I could get rid of most of the dust that didn't require me to take the whole PC apart to get to. 

There's more. All this time I didn't have an optical drive nor the front hard drive bays installed in the case. It seems that when you have the optical drive installed, some of the unwanted holes get blocked and the drive bays help channel air from the outside of the case to the inside. So I installed them as well. They sure added some weight to the case. In fact, I cannot believe how heavy my PC weighs now! It must be weighing like 20kg. Or maybe the sheer size of if makes me feel that it is that heavy. Really wish I could make a mini-ITX rig. 

I didn't take photos of the cleanup system. It isn't 100% dust free anyways as I didn't take every part out when cleaning.




Saturday, March 1, 2014

[Rant] Finally decided to Jailbreak the iPhone 5S

When I Jailbroke my iPhone 4S last time, it got a bit slow (not all the time) and the battery seemed to do weird things. One day I would get decent battery life, the next day the battery life would be so poor. I couldn't find the culprit. When Apple released iOS 7, I switched to it ASAP, which made me give up the Jailbreak.

I was never happy with the performance of iOS7 on the iPhone 4S. When I upgraded to the iPhone 5S, I immediately felt the speed improvements. But even then, the UI on iOS 7 is laggy. Actually, it is the animation part that is laggy. The fade in and out part. Sometimes it drives me insane! I like stuff that works quickly - stuff that responds quickly. Even if it is only a split second, I can very much notice that.

There is only one fix for this. Jailbreak and use a tweak that speeds up animation. But I don't know if the tweaks available on Cydia for this purpose are compatible with iOS7. Well, there is only one way to find one. It's time to Jailbreak and see.

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