Friday, May 30, 2014

[Rant] Looks like the G602 doesn't like the QCK mouse pad as well

2014-05-31 10.42.48

Few days ago I posted saying that my new Logitech G602 mouse didn't track well on Razer Sphex mouse pad and that I had to move to the old Steelseries QCK mouse pad. Guess what? The mouse doesn't seem to like it either. Still it was better than the Sphex.

I didn't feel like spending money on a new mouse pad. So threw away both (into the closet, not to the garbage can) and started using the bare wood surface. It seems to work the best. Now that I don't have much time to play games anyways, I might just keep using the mouse this way after all.

On the other hand…

The G602 has an optical sensor, hence the mouse pads made for laser sensor might not work very well with it. I just wish the wooden surface was smoother. Then it would be perfect. It is not that rough – because the mouse has those glide pads, but there is still some resistance. One of the reasons I got this wireless mouse was to reduce the drag caused by the cable, which also counts as resistance. So if I add resistance from the surface, there is not much sense in going with an optical mouse. So if you think about it, I might have to get a mouse pad after all.

[Tips and Tricks] Fix Firefox not letting you log into Twitter

I wanted to try out the new Firefox 29. But I came across a little problem when I tried to log into Twitter. Even though the username and the password were correct (I checked in Chrome), it did not let me in. I didn't get an error message or anything. It just stayed there without doing anything.

Seemed like a cookie going bad. And it was. It fix was simple.

All I had to do was to open Tools -> Options and go into Privacy Tab. There is an option in that page where you can remove individual cookies.

I searched for the word "Twitter" and removed all the cookies that came up as the search result. There were a lot!

After doing that, I could log into Twitter. Bad cookie.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

[Rant] Listed up the Maximus VI Hero board on Rakuten Auctions as well

Bye bye Maximus VI Hero

If you read my previous post, you would have felt that I had kind of decided on what case I was going to get after all. Though it can change at any time, the chances of me going with the Silverstone Sugo SG09 case is pretty high, because of the overwhelming amount of power you can house in that tiny little case. But sure, something like the Cooler Master Elite 130 would be slightly smaller - but only about 15% in terms of the volume. With the Sugo, I can have two graphics cards - which I really don't care about at this time - but you never know , have 32GB RAM and install a beefy CPU cooler of up to 165mm in height. Plus, comparable Micro-ATX boards are slightly cheaper than their Mini-ITX counterparts.

But like I said, it is yet not set in stone. I might change this whole idea all of a sudden. In fact, I would not go along with the downsizing project at all, if I cannot get rid of the Raven RV03 case.

Now, to the fun part. I listed the Maximus VI Hero board on Rakuten Auctions even before managing to sell the case. (Click here to go to the listing.) Why? Because I can buy the motherboard now and have it installed in the Raven RV03 case until I get rid of the case. You must be wondering why I didn't do this in the first place. Well, the Raven RV03 doesn't support Mini-ITX boards and I had been looking for Mini-ITX boards up until now. Understand? It's quite logical.

Monday, May 26, 2014

[Rant] Which Z97 board should I get?


This PC downsizing project is getting closer to becoming a reality. There are only  two parts of the puzzle left. First one is getting rid of the case. And the second one is getting rid of the motherboard. I've already decided on the case to get. The Silverstone Sugo SG09. If the prices of the SG10 come down closer to the price of the SG09, I would go with the SG10. As it stands today, the price difference ($30) doesn't justify getting the SG10. (Intrigued by my decision? Check out my reasoning here.)

So, what's next? I need to find a motherboard that fits my requirements. I currently have the Core i7 4770K CPU which is a bad overclocker. I would most probably be ditching it for a 4790K depending on the pricing (in Japan) and ease of getting rid of the 4770K via auctions. My aim is to overclock it as high as possible. Thus, a board made for overclocking is a good motherboard to get.

There aren't many choices in the micro-ATX segment. I checked to see what options I had but was a bit disappointed in the range of products listed and the pricing of them. It is not surprising that the initial prices will be high, because the shops want to exploit the wallets of the early adopters. I originally wanted to get the ROG Maximus VII Gene. But that's $260 - too overpriced in my opinion.

Then I checked what else Asus had to offer. The Z97 Gryphon from the TUF Series and the Z97M-Plus from the mainstream series were there but both of them carry the old Realtek ALC892 audio codec. So that's a deal breaker. If I had to choose one out of the two, I would go with the Gryphon because of the better build quality and the potentially higher overclock I can get out of the 4790K chip thanks to the stronger VRM circuitry.

But it seems that I wouldn't have to buy either of them as Gigabyte had a model with the ALC1150 codec for a little cheaper than the Gryphon called Z97MX-Gaming 5. Yes, it is still on the expensive side especially when you compare to the prices in the US. But this is only a problem for the early adopters. The prices will eventually settle down at a much reasonable level. In fact, sometimes the prices could get even cheaper than the US price.

Ok, I digress.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

[Rant] If only Silverstone made the Sugo SG09 look nicer!

fcdc24dccd5593b458a184f31a0cff7dLet’s forget about the motherboard form factor for a minute. What I really need in the end is a PC housed in a small chassis. It doesn’t really matter if the motherboard is an ATX one as long as the volume and the weight of the PC is small.

The obvious choice is a mini-ITX chassis. But there are some micro-ATX cases that fit the occasion as well. The Sugo line of cases from Silverstone is a prime example. Especially the two higher-end models - the SG09 and the SG10. They are quite unique in their internal organization like many of the mini-ITX cases. They kind of follow the design philosophies of the Raven RV03 that I currently own and am quite eager to get rid of because of the overwhelming size of it. Except for the 90 degrees rotated motherboard tray and the actual direction of the movement of air, the design decisions applied to the Sugo SG09/SG10 and Raven RV03 are pretty similar. Power supply in the front, storage area behind the motherboard tray and targeted at air cooling with a lot of positive pressure using the "air penetrator" fans.

Monday, May 19, 2014

[Rant] Back with the old Antec Kuhler 620

Kuhler 620

In the previous post I talked about how I got rid of my Silver Arrow SB-E Extreme cooler and that I went back to the old Antec Kuhler 620 all-in-one water cooler for the time being. I had thrown away most of the nuts and bolts of the Kuhler and I only had the socket 1150/1155/1156 mounting kit with me. That was fine as I don't see myself switching sockets anytime soon. And I am not even sure whether I would stick with this cooler for a long period of time either.

Mounting the cooler in the case

There are two spots in this case where you can mount a 120mm radiator. From drive bays and the top exhaust. When I cleaned up the case few weeks ago, I installed all the drive cages in the front drive bays for better air channeling. To install the radiator in the front drive drive bays, I had to take out these drive cages and it was a tedious task. So I opt to go with the top exhaust. There is an advantage of having it mounted in the front drive bays. That way you can cool the radiator with the cool air brought in from the outside of the case. If you mount it in the top exhaust, you would be cooling the radiator with the warm air that's inside the case which would hamper the cooling performance of the radiator. But I didn't think this would be a problem as there were two intake fans mounted in the front drive bays and I believed that it would have given enough cool air to breathe for the radiator.

Removing the Silver Arrow cooler

So the next step was removing the Silver Arrow cooler. Removing the cooler was much easier than the actual installation. All thanks to the long screw driver with the magnetic tip that bought for this exact purpose, I managed to remove it within 10 minutes. I cleaned the cooler a bit and safety stored it in its box

[Rant] Managed to sell the Silver Arrow SB-E Extreme cooler as well - again, Rakuten Auctions to the rescue

Couple of weeks ago I listed up my beloved but massively pain-in-the-arse Silver Arrow SB-E Extreme cooler on Rakuten and yesterday someone bid for it. I had to drop the price of the cooler down to JPY 4,000 range to make the sale. 

Actually the bidder asked me of I could sell the cooler for JPY 4,500 including shipping. After confirming that he was also from Kanagawa prefecture, which meant that the cost of shipping is lowest because I'm also in the same prefecture, I decided to sell the cooler for JPY 4,500. Since I had to ship it to him for free, I had to modify the listing before he bid. I told him that I made the changes and that it was ok for him to bid. Like promised, he placed a bid for it momentarily. Then I hit the Early Termination button and ended the auction before someone could cripple the sale. 

For the time being, I decided to go back to my old Antec Kuhler 620 all-in-one water cooler. I might actually keep using it depending on the thermal/acoustic results of it. I would probably upgrade to a H100i if I go with the Corsair 250D or keep using it if i go with the CM Elite 130. 

Back on the topic. 

I originally thought that I would be able to choose Auction Yuupack as the shipping method. It was the cheapest method of shipping as Japan Post would give a discount when using the service - howvever, I have no idea why. But I found out, after I made the sale, that you cannot use Auction Yuupack unless the shipping order was generated from a Auction site. When you choose "free shipping", you can select your own shipping method but the shipping order will not be generated from the auction site. Only when you put the tracking number, you can select which shipping method you used. But that's just for tracking purposes. So, sadly, it seemed the actual cost of shipping would be much higher than what I originally assumed. 

[Rant] Where are the highend mini-ITX boards from Asus with Z97 chipset?

Sadly, these were Z87 boards.

So, in my road to Mini-ITX series of posts, I'm now going to show my disappoint in Asus and their motherboard choices. Where are the high-end mini-ITX boards?

As the motherboards with the new Z97 chipset are available - even though the chipset itself doesn't provide anything substantial over its predecessor other than future proofing - it doesn't take a rocket engineer to figure out why one would want to go with a motherboard with the new chipset. Well, sometimes it is not so black and white. You might get a great deal on the older models. But as it is the end of the road for Z87 chipset, there is no argument there. Z97 is the way to go.

With the old chipset, Asus had a couple of killer mini-ITX motherboards - the Z87I-PRO and the ROG Maximus VI Impact. The latter was pretty much the best mini-ITX motherboard released to date by any manufacturer. Asus went overboard with the feature-set it offered and it required them to add four daughter boards because the mini-ITX board's dimensions were too restrictive. The two most important daughter boards were the VRM circuit and the sound card. The Z87I-PRO was similar but didn't have the sound card and the "ROG oomph". Still, it was a very good board for the money. In fact, now you can get it for as cheap as JPY 12,000 if you know where to look.

[Rant] Which mini-ITX case should I get? Elite 130 or Node 304 or Obsidian 250D?

Mini-ITX vs ATX

That my dear friends, is the million dollar question.
I’ve got three candidates running for the trophy. The Cooler Master Elite 130, the Fractal Design Node 304 and the Corsair Obsidian 250D. The first two are almost same size but the Corsair case is about 50% larger in terms of the “external volume”. One might ask, why I am even considering it then.
In my opinion, “small” is the new “sexy”. But with small, you get a lot of issues.
  • You don’t have enough room to work – assembly would be a nightmare.
  • You will have a very limited set of supported hardware devices.
  • The cooling performance inside the case will be very poor as you won't be able to mount as much case fans as a larger case.
Both the Elite 130 and the Node 304 support all in one water coolers with a 120mm radiator. It seems that the Node 304 can house a 140mm one as well (which would result in better cooling to noise ratio) but the radiator is almost touching the back of the video card so very few people would want to take that risk. But the 250D supports a 240mm radiator (specifically the H100i) for improved cooling. Sure you cannot fit every 240mm radiators due to thickness limitations but this is good enough for most enthusiasts.

Basically the only reason not to get the Elite 130 is cooling performance. It doesn't have any exhaust fans so push the hot air out of the case. It only has one intake fan from the front and that will have to be replaced with the radiator and fans that would bring air into the case - but this air won't be cool as they will have to be passed through the radiator. You will have to flip the orientation of the PSU to suck the hot air inside the case and throw it out the back. But this will increase the temperature inside the PSU and I don't really like that idea. But to keep the video card cool, you might have no other choice. The video card will be getting cool air from the side vents and as I don't have a video card with a stock blower style cooler, the card will dump hot air back into the case rather than exhaust it out of the back. Note to self: if you are making a small PC, going with a video card with a blower style cooler is critical.

The Node 304 doesn't have this problem. It brings cool air from the front 92mm fans and exhausts it out of the back. This back exhaust fan has to be replaced with the radiator, if we go with a water cooler. But CPU cooling performance will be lower than that of the Elite 130 because the radiator will be cooled with the hot air inside the case rather than with cool air from the outside. But on the other hand, you can mount a thicker radiator inside the Node 304 with dual fans - which you cannot do with the Elite 130 - so they probably will have the same cooling performance after all. The problem with the Node 304 has is with the PSU length. The PSU that I recently bought is 160mm and if you want to install a long video card inside this case, you have to keep the PSU length to a maximum of 160mm. So no problem right? The problem is with the modular cables. They stick outside the back. But I've seen photos of some one using the same PSU in a Node 304 build so it can fit. But it will be a tight fit. And I am worried that it might become a problem with certain video cards - such as the ones having a back plate. No, the one I currently own doesn't have a back-plate but that doesn't mean that would not change in the future. My video card upgrade is long due. But I am waiting for the Maxwell because that would give me a huge performance boost over my current video card. Besides, they are so power efficient - if the GTX 750 Ti is any clue to that - hence would fit in a SFF case perfectly.
I digress. Apologies. I love talking about video cards.
The Node 304 has another issue. The front USB ports are not in the front of the case but on the right side panel (when viewed from the front), and that is the side that would go up against the wall. That would block the access to the front USB ports and that sucks. I wonder why they couldn't just have them on the front and cover them with a, well, a plastic cover.

Since starting writing this post, I've become to understand that the HX650 Gold will not fit in this case with a long graphics card. People who had been saying that the HX650 fits, were talking about the older 80Plus Bronze model which was 150mm long. So basically, the Node 304 is out, unless I want to sell this recently bought PSU for a smaller one. 

On the other hand, the Corsair Obsidian 250D tries to become a no-compromise design. But in fact, it doesn't as it has to compromise the space for that. You can fit a full sized ATX PSU in there, an all-in-one water cooler with a 240mm radiator and a long graphics card. Perfect, right? But it is a fat bastard. I would like to have a thinner, taller case instead as it would have a smaller footprint on the desk. Yes, I am planning to place the case on top of the desk instead of underneath it. The carpeted floor is so dusty and the case would fill up with dust in no time if placed on the floor. That is something I cannot afford to happen in a SFF build, as the stock cooling performance is already crippled. 
Maybe I should ask this question in the forums. People will be able to find any other problems that I have overlooked with these cases. But before I do that, I should decide on the hardware that goes into the mini-ITX rig. That's for another post. (I will link it up here once it goes online.)

Saturday, May 10, 2014

[Rant] Devil’s Canyon?

If you are a PC enthusiast, you must have definitely heard about Devil’s Canyon. What is it? It is a CPU made by Intel, based on the same Haswell architecture that is aimed at PC enthusiasts.

What’s so special about it, for Intel to give it a special name? Intel says, it is a CPU made for overclocking. They say that the thermal interface material (or TIM) inside Devil’s Canyon is better than the “junk” that is in the current line of Haswell CPUs. So, it should run cooler because the heat will be transferred efficiently from the CPU to CPU cooler. So it should give more overclocking headroom. If you didn’t know, the current Haswell CPUs run so hot when they are overclocked – about 20C hotter than Sandybridge.

Is that all?

I sure hope not. I mean, you could do even better by delidding the CPU. One clue as to that there could be more changes in the CPU is that it requires a whole new chipset. The upcoming Z97 chipset. (The new boards will come out on 14th of May). If Intel only replaced the TIM, then there is no need for a new chipset, right?

It seems the new CPUs have a slightly different power circuitry. Look at the following two images. The one on the left is the Core i7 4770K and the one on the right is the Devil’s Canyon chip.


So, something is different. There are some components missing in the current Haswell chips. That’s good.  I hope that would result in higher overclocks. The improved TIM would give – hopefully – Sandybridge like thermals. I’m not sure if the die and the IHS will be soldered as Sandybridge though. That would be perfect. But that would also add cost.

Today, some more news surfaced the internet saying that these Devil’s Canyon chips would come out as Core i5 4690K and Core i7 4790K. Apart from the above mentioned info, the 4790K seems to be further a speed binned chip. It’s not a measly 100MHz speed bump as the other Haswell Refresh parts, but a whole 500MHz speed bump for base clocks. The first consumer chip from Intel to hit 4GHz base clocks. Woohoo! (clock on the following image to view a larger image)


Well, that’s great news, BUT, no enthusiast cares about stock clocks. For example, my 4.3GHz 4770K still is faster than this chip. This chip needs to be able to hit at least 5GHz to call this is a proper overclocking chip. Man, if you can hit 5GHz without causing a meltdown and wouldn’t cost more than $350, we have a pretty sweet CPU at our hands. Though I’m sure Broadwell will best this CPU eventually.

So what do you guys think? Would Intel be able to win back the enthusiasts’ trust? I sure am going to keep a keen eye on these Devil’s Canyon chips (a.k.a Core i5 4690K and 4790K) and would definitely replace my 4770K (which overclocks like crap and runs so hot) if it is a worthy upgrade.

Friday, May 9, 2014

[Rant] Logitech G602 tracking on Razer Sphex mouse pad

Remember me buying the Logitech G602  for a crazy low price of just $29? If not, check this article out.

So I've been playing Crysis 3 a bit with this new mouse and I had a problem. It was difficult to aim with the mouse. The accuracy went down the toilet. At first I thought it was because this is a wireless mouse and the input lag is higher than a typical wired gaming mouse. Plus, for some reason I couldn't set the USB polling rate either. It was greyed out in the Logitech Gaming Software user interface.

Gaming Software

Edit: After reading a bit, I found out that the USB polling rate of the mouse is 500Hz and it is not changeable. It is higher than most typical mice, where the polling rate is 125Hz, but most wired gaming mice can “boost” it to 1000Hz so there is a 1ms lag caused by the polling rate over my G500.

Yesterday I noticed that the mouse pointer would skip and jump while using the mouse. Skips and jumps are not caused by input lag. They are caused by bad tracking. I was using the Razer Sphex mouse pad with the Logitech G500 and I continued to use it with the G602. I also have a steelseries QCK Mini mouse pad which has a cloth surface, hence the friction is too high and I gave up using it.

2014-05-10 10.04.15

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

[Rant] Fractal Node 804 reviews are out but I might not be getting it


Fractal revealed their latest Node 804 case with dual chamber design (just like the Corsair Carbide Air 540) at CES 2014 this year. But this is a micro ATX case whereas the Air 540 is a ATX case.

Finally, NDA is lifted and we see the review sites taking their reviews online.

The following is the Hardware Canuck’s review. That site is mostly about PC chassis reviews and I highly admire their opinion.

Friday, May 2, 2014

[Rant] Decided that I should get rid of the Silver Arrow SB-E Extreme cooler

2013-06-08 08.18.45

In a previous post I wrote how I bought A-DATA XPG V2 16GB memory kit. Since the heatsink of these sticks is tall, I cannot fit them underneath my current CPU cooler, the Silver Arrow SB-E extreme. You might wonder why I bought these sticks in the first place. That was because the low profile sticks were so expensive, that I could still be able to spend less even if I change the cooler to a closed loop water cooler like the Corsair H100i. And don't forget that these sticks run at 2400MHz, albeit CL11. Plus, don't forget I still have my Antec Kuhler 620 AIO water cooler with me as well.

Just forget about compatibility with Mini-ITX boards for a second. The Silver Arrow is not compatible even with Micro ATX motherboards. It not only blocks the first DIMM slot, but also the top most PCI-E slot which is always the one connected to the CPU with 16 lanes. It doesn’t mean that you cannot plug the DIMMs to DIMM1 and DIMM3 instead of DIMM0 and DIMM2 and the graphics card to the 2nd PCI-E x16 (wired at x8) slot, but that’s not optimal, right? However, it could be cheaper than replacing the cooler.
Still, I think the best thing for me to do right now is to get rid of the Silver Arrow.

[Gadget] Bought A-Data XPG V2 2400MHz CL11 2x8GB kit


In the previous post I wrote how I finally managed to sell the old Corsair Vengeance RAM. I sold them to a total of JPY12,000. Before sending the sticks to the buyer, I had to buy new sticks for my rig.

I've written this before as well - RAM prices have skyrocketed in the past few months. So my options were pretty small. I originally wanted to get the ones with the shortest heatsinks. The shortest kit available was the Crucial Ballistix Tactical LP 1600MHz one, but the prices of it had almost doubled in the last few months and now were selling for a whopping JPY25,000 or more. They used to be around JPY14,000 few months back - ironically the cheapest kit back then. Current prices made it a no buy for me.

The other regular height RAMs were all around JPY20,000 or more, unless I went for the 1600MHz CL10 sticks which were available for around JPY16,000. Of course I didn't want to go for slower RAM than what I had before. So those options had to be cut from the list.

There were some A-DATA XPG V1 1600MHz CL9 ones for JPY16,000 or so. And then the XPG V1 2133 ones for JPY19,000 or so. But my eyes got locked to the 2400MHz CL11 XPG V2 sticks which were going for JPY18,817 at Amazon. Only thing was that they were a bit too tall. Not as tall as the Vengeance sticks that I had before but still, taller than  regular DIMMs. When I read the Kitguru review (for 2800MHz version of these sticks), I found out that the heatsink can be removed but they didn't go into detail on how to do that. But the possibility gave me hope. Not sure if I would really go so far. Removal of heatsinks will definitely void warranty, and these sticks have lifetime warranty.

Disgusted by the prices of the low profile RAM, I ordered the A-Data kit from Amazon and it arrived the next day. (Funny thing is that ever since I bought these sticks, the prices at Amazon has gone up by JPY1,500!!!)

Thursday, May 1, 2014

[Rant] Managed to get rid of the dreaded Corsair Vengeance RAM as well

Once again, Rakuten Auctions came to the rescue.
I wrote this once before, and I write it again. I had two kits of Corsair Vengeance 8GB kits (16GB in total) in my rig. Two kits mean, four DIMMs. For my SFF dream to come true, I had to get rid of them and replace them with a single kit. Sure I could sell one kit and just use one kit. That would definitely have solved the problem but I didn’t want to go back to 8GB. I had 8GB RAM almost 4 years ago as well. I should have 32GB by now. But hey, I have no need for that much RAM.
So, I had to sell the current RAM kits and buy a new 16GB kit.
When I checked the shops that I could sell the them, the most I could get for them were less than JPY10,000. At most shops, it was much much lower – around JYP6,000. Gah!
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