Thursday, September 24, 2015

Finally did the PSU upgrade: Silverstone SX500-LG

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I was delaying purchasing of the new PSU  until I could find it at a reasonable price and until I piled up enough Rakuten points. By 15th of this month, I had a total of 3700 points and sadly about 1500 points were to become expired at the end of the month. So I had to buy something else with that points or buy the PSU now.
 
I was going to buy either the Silverstone SX500-LG or the Sharkoon SilentStorm SFX Gold 500W model. I was leaning towards the latter because it was
  • cheaper (much cheaper on Rakuten, like JPY2,500 compared to the Silverstone),
  • had more connectors on the SATA power cable (4 vs. 3) and
  • had a fan that was always running (compared to semi-silent one on the Silverstone).

But the Silverstone one

  • had all Japanese caps,
  • had shorter power cables and
  • was from a well-known manufacturer (not OEM, mind you) in the field of PSUs.
 
But I decided to wait a bit longer to see if the Silverstone unit would drop in price. I could wait till the end of the month anyways. One day I noticed that there was a new listing for less than JPY14,000 on Rakuten, by a shop called EC-JOY!. Still it was almost a thousand bucks pricier than the Sharkoon unit, but I would trade that amount for peace of mind. (I’ve been burned several times for cheeping out on stuff.) So I decided to go for the Silverstone. I have seen EC-JPY!’s listings on Kakaku.com but I had never bought anything from them.
 
It was mentioned that the delivery charges weren't included in the price but it turned out to be free after all. I ordered it on Thursday the 17th and it arrived on Saturday the 19th. It could have taken longer because of the holidays. (This is the Silver Week in Japan.) It was no one day delivery like Amazon Prime, but I’ve purchases from Rakuten take more than a week.
 

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Inateck UASP USB 3.0 HDD Docking Station with Dust Cover - Review

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Introduction

I originally wanted to build a NAS to store all the data but the timing did not prove to be feasible. One of the two Western Digital Green drives I recently purchased is currently installed inside the PC and the other one is kept outside. Since that drive is only used for backing up the internal drive, there is no need to have it connected to the PC all the time.

I did have a SATA to USB converter but it only supported speeds up to USB 2.0 with a maximum read speed of 40MBps. Imagine backing up GBs of data through that narrow interface, especially that initial backup. It took me more than half a day, and that’s about half a drive. It was obvious that this converter was out of place, so I decided to buy a new one. This time, not just a cable, but with an enclosure as well, especially to protect it from my kid. He is top curious about stuff.

Criteria 

Speed was essential, however I did not care much for the 400MBps transfer speeds promoted by some of the products showcased on Amazon. Realistically, I wouldn’t need more than 150MBps because that’s the peak read speed of the drive. (You can check the benchmarks of the Western Digital Green 4TB drive here.)

There was another critical requirement. 240V input voltage support. Japan uses 100V from the mains and it is irritating. Many of the electric appliances do not work out of the box if we take them with us back to Sri Lanka. So I wanted to avoid buying something that was made in Japan as there was a high probability that it would only support 100V input. That’s when I came across the company called Inateck which is an international brand. Amazon had products from them on store at reasonable price tags. I always try to buy from Amazon, because it is easy to return unsatisfactory products, and this indeed was an unexplored field.

Which one did I choose?

I debated whether to get the two drive vertical docking station or the single drive model, and finally decided to go with the  latter because it was horizontal, hence stable, and had a cover. The price difference wasn’t large though. The model I opted for was Inateck UASP USB 3.0 HDD Docking Station with Dust Cover (Horizontal)(FD1006C). I'm sure they couldn't make that name any shorter. And the power adapter indeed supported 100-240V input.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Poor contact between the Core i7 4790K and Enermax Liqtech 120x

Liqtech 120x

Last Friday I bought a new cooler for my Devil's Canyon CPU: the Enermax Liqtech 120x. I thought it would perform better than my Antec Kuhler 620 because of its extra thick radiator. I was wrong. It doesn't perform better than the Kuhler 620, at least In my case.

First of all, I used only one fan because both fans wouldn't fit in the case. I knew this beforehand. I used the Gentle Typhoon AP29 initially, the exact same thing I had used with the Kuhler. It shouldn't have any difficulty cooling the radiator at least when running at full blast. The grills in the radiator didn't seem as  dense as the Kuhler's so I doubt so I don't think having the two stock fans would have made much of a difference, except pushing all that warm air that's trapped inside the case out easily. Later on, I switched to one of the stock fans because I started hearing a weird noise from the AP29 when it was installed after the radiator as pull. I was using it as a push fan on the Kuhler 620's radiator.

Anyways, I have a feeling it had nothing to do with the fans because as I found out, there is a very simple reason for the cooler not performing well. There isn't a very good contact between the water block and the heat spreader (IHS) of the CPU. It is concave in one direction. The water block is perfectly flat. The heatsink doesn't touch the IHS at the middle of the CPU and that's where we should get proper contact.

When I applied thermal paste using the spread method, the cold plate had no contact with the IHS like in the following photo.

Friday, September 4, 2015

Is overclocking Skylake easier than overclocking Haswell?

Skylake

Ok not THAT Skylake.

This one.

6700k 1

Skylake is Intel’s latest mainstream platform. Intel initially released the unlocked K series CPUs to the market and that means they were targeting the enthusiast crowd from the very beginning. But what is the point if it doesn’t overclock well?

It has been more than a month since the release and I believe we have a good idea about the overall overclockability of the CPU. Most CPUs are capable of hitting 4.6GHz which is better than Haswell. Does this mean the 14nm process shrink worked? Or is something else making them overclock more consistently higher than Haswell?

I believe the biggest difference is the removal of the Fully Integrated Voltage Regulator or FIVR as it is often called. FIVR in Haswell made overclocking difficult in two ways.

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4790K on the left (FIVR is the small dots you see to the left side of the die) and 6700K on the right.

Firstly, it is additional circuitry. This means there will be additional heat that is generated inside the CPU, although it is not inside the die. This made Haswell CPUs to run super hot when overclocked. (Yes, the biggest culprit is the thickness of the thermal paste that was applied in between the die and the heat spreader and that is a well documented issue. Skylake suffers from the same thing.)

Secondly, it is another component that can cause instability and thus fail the whole system. Before FIVR, you only had to play with the Vcore (unless you are playing with the RAM). With the FIVR, you had to tune the Input Voltage too. So you had to play with two voltages and each of them had somewhat of an influence on the other one. And the quality of the FIVR circuitry would also affect the stability, not the voltages.

So with Skylake you don’t have the dreaded FIVR and every enthusiast should be relieved.

Not just every enthusiast: every motherboard maker who makes high-end motherboards. With the FIVR, the quality of the VRM on the motherboard didn’t play a significant part overclocking. But with Skylake, their importance is pronounced. In a way this is bad for the consumers because if you want to overclock your CPU as high as possible, you will need a good motherboard. And good motherboards don’t come cheap.

But hey, enthusiasts seem to have deep pockets.

That said, would I upgrade to Skylake? Sadly my pockets are empty these days.

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