Sunday, August 31, 2014

Using the T_SENSOR on Asus Maximus VII Gene board


One of the new features introduced by Asus with the new round of motherboards for the mainstream Intel CPUs was the ability to incorporate thermal readings of a user installable thermal probe for its monitoring and fan controlling software. Not all motherboard supports it and not all of them came with the thermal probe even if supported. Only the highest end boards came with the probes. Despite my Maximus VII Gene board being the highest end Micro ATX board made for this platform by Asus (or any other vendor for that matter), it didn’t came with the probe. Sadness, but at least it indeed supported this feature.

When I was moving the system from the ATX case to the Micro ATX case the other day (read all about it here), I came across an extra thermal probe that came bundled with the old Scythe fan controller that I had been using a while back. I had already sold the fan controller via Rakuten Auctions (because I moved from it to the Fan Xpert software on Asus boards) without bundling it up. Well, there is nothing I could do about it now, but I wanted to see if that particular probe was compatible with the motherboard.

And, it was!

Now, temperature of which component should it sense? I thought about the temps cooling plan of the case, and there was only one obvious candidate. The video card. The side intake towards the front of the case was simply pumping fresh air in for the video card. It doesn’t have to run at all, if the video card is idle. So I figured that I could control the fan speed of that fan according to the video card’s temperature. The top intake and the rear exhaust were directly associated with the CPU anyways.

Friday, August 22, 2014

RMAed the Logitech Z623 speaker set and got a new one


Almost 2 years ago, I bought the Logitech Z623 speaker set to replace the Corsair SP2200 speakers that developed a crackling issue in the subwoofer (read “RMAing Corsair SP2200 speakers in Japan” and “From crackling Corsair SP2200 speakers to Logitech (Logicool) Z623 speakers”). I bought it from Amazon because they had it for the cheapest offer. It cost me a little under $90 although it should have cost me about $130 if I bought it directly from Logitech as that was the MSRP.

However there was one issue with this particular set. Many of the end users were complaining about a defect with the power button. The speakers would turn on and off on its own at random times.

Not everybody was having this problem so I thought I might get lucky. Even if the problem developed in mine, I would not have a problem with RMAing as Logitech’s customer support is superb. After about one year of usage, the problem developed on my set as well. It was not irritating at first as it would only appear - if at all - at the time of powering up the speakers. But eventually it got worse up to the degree where it would lose power while watching a movie even.

My first Noctua product - the NH-U12S CPU cooler


The Decision

As I sent back the Silverstone HE-01 cooler due to erratic vibration issues (read about it here), after a lot of thought I decided to buy the reasonably new Noctua NH-U12S, single tower cooler. Although this is a very small cooler compared to all of the high-end coolers out there, even compared to the HE-01, it seemed to perform exceptionally well on reviews. I had the Noctua NH-D14, Thermalright Silver Arrow IB-E, Bequiet Dark Rock 3 and Bequiet Shadow Rock Slim in my mind as well. But in the end, I went with the NH-U12S because it would give me peace of mind when looking to buy a new GPU as all of the above seemed to have clearance issues if the GPU had a backplate on it. All of those seemed to have a problem with the clearance with the too most PCI-E slot in the motherboard.

The NH-U12S has two advantages over the HE-01 that I had.

  • Like I said, it's much smaller that means there will be ample clearance between the video card and the heat-sink. There were clearance issues with the HE-01 where I had to insulate the fan clip using tape because it touched the back of the graphics card.
  • While the HE-01 had to rev the fan at 2000RPM to get to its maximum cooling performance, this does it just with a silent-optimized, 120mm 1500RPM fan. A lot of reviewers seemed to praise the Noctua cooler because of its noise to performance ratio.


The purchasing

Unfortunately I could only find two stores (Oliospec and PC-Ones) carrying the product and both of them asked an unreasonable price for it. On top of that, I had to pay shipping as well. It kind of disheartened me because I was so used to buying stuff with free shipping from Amazon and some of the other well known PC stores such as Sofmap, Tsukumo and Dospara. However, as I was all set on that cooler I decided to go ahead with the purchase despite the price.  Obviously I went with the store that offered it at the cheapest accumulative price.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Sent back the Silverstone HE01 cooler


A few days ago I bought the Silverstone Heligon HE-01 cooler to replace the Antec  Kuhler  620 closed-loop water cooling unit that I had it my rig temporarily. The cooler performed well at first, but then its fan went bad. I ordered a replacement for the cooler. That fan worked fine. Or at least, it could run at full 2000RPM as advertised.

But as this is a PWM fan, the motherboard would change the fan speed with respect to the CPU temps. I kept it at "Standard" fan speed profile in Asus UEFI. When the CPU wasn't stressed, it was reasonably quiet but still nowhere as quiet as I would have liked. Then I had to think about the CPU temps too. My 4790K CPU would run extremely hot even while doing a not-so-extreme h.264 transcode.

After I bought the cooler, the PC underwent a significant change. I got a new case for the PC and it was substantially smaller than the old case which allowed me to move it to the top of the desk. While the fan noise was OK when the case was located under the desk, it was intolerable  once moved into the new location. This made me lower the fan speed setting to "Silent" profile for the day to day tasks. Now the fan speed would have a wider range of speeds. It would still reach full speed if the temps exceeded 75C (there is no way to override this behaviour) and now there was a bigger chance of that happening because the low fan speed causes temps to be reasonably high even at low loads.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Just one thing left to complete the SFF build - and it is a new GPU


My Small Form Factor build it almost done. In fact, I can even stop right there. But the PC does not look properly balanced because the GPU in it is two years old where as most of the other components are less than a couple of months old. That mean, you can anticipate a GPU upgrade happening anytime soon. But "how soon" would depend mainly on the prices of GPUs. I do not get to play games often these days, hence I do not want to spend a lot of money on it.

The original plan

My original plan was to wait for the NVidia GeForce GTX 870. Of course that is still the plan, however knowing how hard the vendors will go at milking the pockets of the early adopters here in Japan, it makes me wonder if I would actually be able to afford one of those babies this year. It would take at least 6 months to drop below a sanity margin. At least, that is what happened with the Radeon R9 290 series non-reference cards.

I presume these cards will be very power efficient if the GTX 750 Ti card which was released as the first generation Maxwell was any indication. If NVidia sticks with the same architecture, which they surely will, there is nothing that would stop me from populating my little rig with two of them. Oops. I guess there is. Money! Still, having so much power housed inside such an abysmal case would be pretty bad ass. I know, I know. I am not a proponent of multi GPU setups (read this post), but at least SLI seems to be sufficiently polished.

The GTX800 series cards are rumored to come out next month. It could just be a paper launch and the actual availability would be pushed into October. But at least, I would not need to wait for a long time. I might have to come back to this discussion in a couple of months.

I would expect a GTX 870 to be faster than a GTX 780, as was the case with the GTX 580 vs. GTX 670. But I cannot say for sure if this would be recur. Some of the rumours suggest that the GTX 870 might not be as fast as the GTX 780 after all. If such is true, I might have to step up to the GTX 880 which should be faster than the GTX 780, if its name has to mean anything.

Monday, August 4, 2014

Installation Experience SG09

The finished system

My new case, the Silverstone SG09 arrived on Saturday, August 2. I was too busy in the weekend that I could not play with it until late Sunday night. Actually, it was almost near midnight when I opened the packaging to see what is was like.

I did not plan to transfer all the components to the new case on the same day. But that is what actually happened. I had to all of the work in the kitchen otherwise the baby would have woken up to the noise.

Starting of the transfer of components

I first removed all the components that has to go in the new case, and placed them on the floor. Then I put the old case aside and brought the new case in.

Removal of the side panels was not painful despite having 6 screws to deal with. This case has a weird side panel setup. One of the side panels is actually half a panel and the other one is one and a half of a panel, plus the top area. I am not sure why they went with this design. I would not call this an elegant way to fix whatever design problem they originally had. But this could be the optimal fix because the newer SG10 case carries the identical design philosophy.

Installation of the PSU

At the first glance, I felt that the PSU was the one that should go in. (You will see that this was not the way to do it.) It does not mount itself onto the case. First a drawer like cage had to be removed from the case and the PSU had to be installed onto this cage. After that, you have to insert the unit into the PSU mounting hole. It actually went in quite smoothly.

Bought my new case for the SFF build

Now that I have finally found a buyer for my old case, it was now time to search for a good deal on a small case. I had been getting ready to buy one particular case: the Silverstone Sugo SG10. It is just the perfect case for the job; very small but supports Micro ATX boards and decent sized CPU coolers. I actually had bought all of the parts that I planned to put inside it and had been using them inside the old case until now.
  • The CPU cooler is the Silverstone HE01 which is a perfect fit for this case. (link to article)
  • The motherboard is the Maximus VII Gene which is pretty much the highest end Micro ATX board you can buy. (link to article)
  • The PSU is a 80Plus Gold rated Corsair HX650 which is modular and a modular PSU is essential to be used with this case. (link to article)

The case was the last piece of the puzzle. And that last piece is just a matter of finding a store that sold it at a reasonable price. (Well, it is not the absolute last piece, because I want to buy at least a GXT 870 when they come out to replace my aging GTX 670.)

Finally managed to sell the Raven RV03 case



Finally it seems that someone wanted to grab my Raven RV03 case. I had to have it displayed on Rakuten Auctions for a while though. I was not certain that I would be able to get rid of it because nobody wanted to bid for it despite the super awesome initial bid value I set for it.

The bidder has already paid for the case, which means, it is a definite go. My Small Form Factor build is actually happening after all. This is just great timing really. My kid is just about to start crawling, and I definitely cannot allow him easy access to the PC (because he might bump his head on a sharp edge on the case) or the cables (there is no doubt that he would want to chew them and see) lying on the floor.

First things first. I have to ship the case by Friday, August 8. Before that, I have to order a new case as soon as possible and transfer all the components from the old case to the new case. That is going to be tedious, especially when my son never naps for more than an hour straight during the day time. In addition to that, I would be very busy during this weekend which means I cannot get my hands dirty as soon as the courier service delivers the case. Not happy!

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