Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Lower the YouTube video quality on a mobile data connection

When I bought the iPhone 5S a little more than a year ago, I was quite pleased with the LTE performance. Previously with 3G on the iPhone 3GS and 4S, I could hardly stream YouTube videos without frequent buffering. A 5 minute long video would take more than 15 minutes  to playback due to these pauses. Thus the speed boost enjoyed by LTE was a very welcome upgrade for me.

But the situation didn't completely improve with LTE. Softbank was artificially limiting my streaming capabilities. They used to offer unlimited data with 3G probably because they knew it would total up only a couple of GBs even for heavy users. With LTE, I only could go up to 7.5GB before throttling. It’s actually only 7GB, and the extra 500MB was because I signed up for tethering, which was free of charge in the first two years. While 7.5GB was probably a lot, with the speeds observed with LTE, it was hardly adequate. But the biggest pull back was caused by the next limitation: you could only use 1GB in 3 consecutive days before throttling occurred.

Curse you, Softbank!

The YouTube app itself wasn’t helpful either.

Since the LTE speeds were great, it was “intelligently” playing back at HD Quality, which was 720pon the iPhone 5S. That’s would be hundreds of MB for one LinusTechTips video. You could change the resolution only if you were on Wi-Fi. What kind of retarded decision is that? I guess they don't have caps in the US. :-/

Unable to change quality setting

(Click the image to see a higher resolution image)

Needless to say that this was really driving me crazy. Why aren't we allowed to use a lower resolution to save packets? I can understand it if it would adversely affect the streaming performance as people might stupidly select the highest resolution, thinking they knew better. If that's the reason behind it, giving the permission to reduce the resolution would not have affected streaming performance.

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Time for a hard drive upgrade?

This_PC_2014-12-27_00-42-04

It was not that long ago that I bought a couple of 3TB HDDs for my desktop PC. Well, it has been only 2 years, as I bought them at the end of 2012 just before visiting my home country, but two years isn't that long. But I am running out of space on them.

6TB should be quite hard to fill, but the issue is, I only have 3TB usable space. One of the drives is used as a backup drive. They are not in a mirrored RAID volume though. Still, the backups are made automatically, using Microsoft SyncToy (click here to find out how). I know, I know. There is a risk of having the backup drive inside the PC, always connected. But I don't have a NAS or an external enclosure to house it. I probably should try to get one.

If you are wondering why my hard drives have been filling up so fast, it is NOT because I had been downloading torrents illegally, but because I bought a Canon 70D DSLR just before my kid was born and I had been taking photos and videos of him in full resolution. Not only the frequency has gone up, but the size of each capture is also quite large compared to the old S95 point and shoot. While I have lost the initial enthusiasm because the rapid growth of the kid has diminished, ironically the size of each capture has actually gone up. This is because even though I started with photos, the kid now moves too quickly for the camera to keep up that I have had to switch to video. When I am capturing videos though, I capture them mostly using the iPhone 5S, but the sizes are still many times that of photos.

So what shall I do?

Logitech Gaming Software startup bug

LGS

I have been a Logitech user for many years. The first Logitech component I bought was a headset which was really bad. Then I bought a G15 keyboard from Saman, which I still use and a G5 mouse from another guy whose name I can't recall. I broke the G5 mouse and bought a G500 - many G500 mice to be precise (check here, here and here). Many broke and the one that I have is working fine except for the wear around the area where you would rest the thumb. After that I bought the G602 mouse, my first ever wireless mouse and I am currently using it in my PC, even for gaming. 

That's a bit of history but it has nothing to do with the issue I'm going to describe. Let us get into the rant then, shall we?

My G15 keyboard needs the Logitech Gaming Software for it to function as intended as it doesn't have any onboard memory to store the profiles or operate the LCD on its own. The G602 can get away with it because it has onboard memory and one profile can be flashed onto it. (Again, just one profile, which is quite limiting.)

With Windows 8.1 (but I can swear that I've had the same experience with Windows 7 and 8 too), when you set it to launch at startup from the software itself , it might not start and load the application in the system tray. If that's all that happens, then I'm fine. But that's not only what happens. We get a huge input lag when this happens. It can be as long as a second for each key press. It's unusable. If you check the Task Manager, you'll be able to find a process created by it called “Logitech Gaming Framework” although it does not show up in the System Tray.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

The G500 mouse is too noisy?

G500 vs G602
Not to me, but to my wife it appears to be too noisy.
 
Now that I have a up-to-date gaming PC after the recent purchase of the Gigabyte GTX 970 Gaming G1 card, I had been paying a lot of attention towards lowering the input lag to improve my gaming experience further. While there are few software tweaks that you can perform to lower it, ultimately the wireless-ness of the Logitech G602 Gaming mouse is causing a bottleneck. Wireless mice are and will always be lagging behind wired mice in terms of input lag; there is no getting over it. 
 
I have my old Logitech G500 mouse which is a wired one, and I wanted to go back to it to see if I would notice a reduction in input lag. Today in the morning, before leaving for work, I wanted to play a couple of Crysis 3 multiplayer games while the others were sleeping. Unfortunately for me, the primary mouse buttons - the left and the right buttons - were noisier than the G602's.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Should I upgrade from my Logitech G15 keyboard?

IMG_0339

Now that I have finally bought myself a new graphics card and SLI is also a bust, I think I am going to go upgrade-less for the foreseeable future. Well, if I have to, I can upgrade the keyboard, but a good keyboard is hard to find and are expensive! I never thought I'd have to spend in excess of $100 for a keyboard to get a good one! How the times have changed!!!

Wait... now why do I need to upgrade the keyboard?

One, because I want to switch to a mechanical keyboard, but only because everyone says that they are great. To be honest, I have never used a mechanical keyboard in my life, hence I uncertain if I would fall in love with one or not. I've seen people claim that they do prefer certain mechanical key switches over others, which makes me wonder, choosing the right keyboard is going to be a hectic task. But then again, it is not possible for me to go and try them out one by one; not because there aren't any showrooms around, but because my wife would not be entertained by that idea. But I should give it a shot the next time we visit Kawasaki. Biccamera should have few for me to try out. That's how I chose the Logitech Z623 speakers when I bought them to replace the Corsair SP2200s, that crackled like crazy.

Is that the only reason to get a new keyboard?

No. I believe I have written about this a while back, but there is a defect in my keyboard. The LShift + I and LCtrl + I key combinations don't register as inputs. Since the "I" key works fine with the RShift and RCtrl keys, I have been able to tolerate this so far. However I run into this inconvenience whenever I am writing a blog post. So, if I want to pile up the reasons to upgrade the keyboard, I definitely would count this as one.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

My 4th Gigabyte graphics card is here – the GTX 970 Gaming G1

 

IMG_0621

So here it is. The Gigabyte GTX 970 Gaming G1 graphics card that I replaced the MSI GTX 970 Gaming graphics cards with.

Even though many people were claiming it to be quite long, when you compare it with the MSI card, it is not THAT long. Maybe a couple of centimeters, which is not that much. But look at the width of it. It is quite narrower than the MSI. With the Twin Frozr V cooler, MSI has tried to make a cooler that would cool exceptionally while being ultra quiet at the same time hence have gone with just two low RPM 100mm (read: large) fans. Gigabyte, with their new Windforce cooler that they claim can handle a load of 600W, has gone with pure cooling power with three fans which run at a rather high fan speed but smaller in size. Having three fans and running them at a higher speed don't make it massively louder than the MSI, but the difference is noticeable. Funny thing is that the total fan area is slightly larger with the MSI despite its inferior cooling performance. I suppose the heat-sink design of the Windforce 600W cooler is much thought out, as it comes out at the top in every review.

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Returned the MSI GTX 970 Gaming card(s) and switched to?

MSI GTX 970 Gaming bad

The two MSI GTX 970 Gaming cards that I have in my possession are both defective. So, I have to send them back to Amazon. That means, I need a new graphics card. I can ask Amazon to send back another MSI GTX 970 Gaming card, or I can return what I have for a full refund and settle for another card.

Which route should I choose?

If I am going for SLI, I now know that the non-blower type cards are not the way to go in my small case. (Read this post for more details.) So I can use this as the opportunity to switch to cards with blower style coolers. Unfortunately, still there aren't anything with the NVTTM reference cooler and the blower style ones available are pathetic in terms of both noise and cooling. On the other hand, I can go for a couple of reference GTX 980s, as they have the NVTTM cooler, instead. The only issue is the price, which is substantially higher (50% plus) than that of a pair of GTX 970s for just 10-15% more performance gains.

But there is good news.

The gaming experience I observed with SLI was really bad (read this post to read all about it), and I might not go SLI after all. Well, it is not really a good news because SLI is the most economical approach to upgrade down the road. (Read this post to learn how I came to that conclusion.) But it makes my decision an easier one to make. If I am not going for SLI, I don't have to get blowers, therefore I don't have to spend a fortune on GTX 980s. However, since I am going with just one card, I should go for the fastest single GPU card (overclocked, that is) that I can possibly find, which is a non-reference GTX 980 card. Contradicting requirements!

An overclocked GTX 970 cannot match an overclocked GTX 980, even when the GTX 970 is a great clocker and a GTX 980 is a much poorer one.

However, the GTX 980 is just too expensive and I cannot make up my mind to buy that over the GTX 970. So it is still going to be a GTX 970.

Which GTX 970 then?

It has to be the fastest GTX 970...when overclocked...with a reasonable price tag.

Monday, December 1, 2014

Is SLI really worth it? Gaming experience with two GTX 970 cards in SLI

GTX 970 SLI

In the previous post, I described my experience with MSI GTX 970 Gaming cards running in SLI in the confines of the tiny Silverstone SG09 case. I only talked about the temperatures of the cards in that post and I have concluded that it is a bad idea to get non-reference cards in that case. This might be applicable to all Micro-ATX setups unless the case has expansion slots and the motherboard has the 2nd PCI-E x16 slot right at the bottom, giving the cards at least one free PCI-E slot in between them.

Now, let's forget about that horrible experience for a moment. What about SLI as a function? Is it any better than Crossfire, which I had a horrible experience with about 3 years ago.

I could test 4 games in the short time with SLI.

  • Crysis 3 (multiplayer)
  • Alien Isolation
  • FarCry 4
  • Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare.

The former two worked reasonably well. There weren't any observed micro-stuttering, although in Crysis there were couple of pauses which I had not observed so far with a single GPU, and sadly.in both occasions I got killed.

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