Hugsies Blog!

November 16, 2014

The elusive ASUS STRIX GTX 980 and Amazon

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , , , , — Hugsie @ 3:28 am

Amazon never had any ASUS STRIX GTX 980 in stock since mid October. They started pre-orders around October 30th, which is when I made my pre-order. Nvidia started a new free game promotion when you purchase a GTX 980 card the following week. Amazon is participating in this promotion.

Since the promotion started after I made my pre-order, I asked customer service if my order will qualify for this promotion, since I technically hadn’t bought it yet since it hasn’t shipped yet, nor was I billed yet. They said it wasn’t because I made the order (a PRE order) on the 30th outside of the promotional period. I was TOLD by Amazon customer support I had the option to cancel my original order and re-pre-order it again to qualify for the free game. They offered free 1 day shipping as compensation. So reluctantly that’s what I did on November 8th.

Now a week passes and my video card has finally shipped! (yay!) Only after waiting over TWO WEEKS since my original October 30th PRE-order, but I didn’t get my free game code. I asked Amazon customer support AGAIN about this and they simply said it wasn’t apart of the promotion simply because the item listed on amazon isn’t marked with that promotion. WTF?

This is bullshit. Amazon is participating in this promotion, I bought the video card FROM amazon, BILLED by amazon on November 13th. Nvidia lists Amazon as one of the vendors participating in this promotion. I almost bought an eVGA GTX 980 card because they were in stock, and I was getting tired of waiting. Granted the STRIX GTX 980 didn’t display this promotion in it’s item listing but that’s ONLY because they never had this video card in stock for the past four weeks, long BEFORE the promotion started. You could only pre-order it. Even now it’s still NOT not in stock, but now you CAN’T pre-order it anymore. All Amazon shows now is a 3rd party store selling the card WAY OVER PRICED.

The only compensation they gave me was free 1 day shipping, but it shipped on a FRIDAY I’m not going to get it till MONDAY. They offered this only if I canceled and re-ordered it so i could get my free game, but that was all for nothing.. What a waste of fucking time dealing with Amazon customer support for something I clearly qualify for but I do not due to some stupid technicality. Even my “compensation” wasn’t even worth the time and hassle.

TOTAL BULLSHIT AMAZON! I think i’ll stick with NewEgg when comes to PC hardware purchases, but keep buying mundane commodities like toilet paper from Amazon.

October 5, 2014

Jonesing for an ASUS STRIX GTX 980

Filed under: Gaming! — Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , — Hugsie @ 5:30 am

Last month Nvidia released the new 900 Maxwell series of GPUs  Asus also released their new non-reference designs of the 900 series called STRIX 980 and 970s. These video cards sold out faster than anything since the GeForce 8800 GTs back last decade. These cards are so revolutionary that they actually have “less” under the hood vs the 780 ti cards, yet the performance is identical.

The GeForce GTX 980 reference cards have lower CUDA core count, 256bit memory bandwidth (vs 384bits), lower clock speeds, and lower thermal rating (TDP) than the GTX 780 ti. It’s performance is on par with the 780ti but those cards cost $200 more than the GTX 980 reference cards. Nvidia has truly optimized and refined what their CUDA cores can do since the Kepler series.

Now if you consider what ASUS has done with their version called Strix, a non-reference design, then you’re dealing with an overclocked video card, with a better and quieter HSF assembly and high end power regulation to extend the lifespan of the card when it goes into overclocked modes, and better performance over the 780ti.

The only card faster than the GTX 980 are Kepler-based TITANS which simply have large CUDA core count, but that costs upwards of $1000 which is ridiculous. Imagine what a TITAN version of the Maxwell GPUs could do?

There is no reason why I would want a last-gen GTX 780 when it performs slower than the GTX 980, and performs identical to the GTX 780 ti while the GTX 980 is much cheaper. The GTX 980 has less but does more with what it has compared to the GTX 780 ti, AND runs cooler and requires less power, so you don’t need a massive 1000watt PSU to use it.

I’m hoping to order one by sometime before Halloween, assuming I can get the money together in time when they become available again since they sold out so fast some vendors have hundreds of these cards on back order. I may have to wait longer even after the next batch of STRIX 980s ship out to stores. The  video card I have now is a GeForce 550 ti, which is really showing it’s age now.

May 22, 2013

It WORKS!

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , , , , , , , — Hugsie @ 9:02 am

Finally after months of dealing with retailers over the internet and waiting weeks for parts to ship back and forth, which added up taking months figuring out what it’s not working 100%. My new i7-3820 PC is finally working as it should. Yay!

So lets take a trip down the past few months. In January 2013 I started budgeting and pricing out hardware and began looking for cheap deals online. I planned on buying non-critical parts, which is anything other than the CPU, Mobo, or RAM. At Amazon I ordered a Corsair Enthusiast Series TX 750 power supply (PSU) and a super cheap-o ATX black computer case.

The PSU arrived with no issues, and works fine ablit it’s was probably overkill for my needs. It has way too many connectors than I needed. I have no plans to go SLI, yet this PSU has four video card power connectors, and two CPU power connectors, Whoa! But it was a good deal and it works fine, but the cables aren’t modular so i have to stuff all the extra cables that are braded under the DVD drive it’s not neat inside this cramped PC case but it’s not blocking airflow.

The ATX case I got arrived completely broken. The condition of the box it came in was old and worn. The cardboard was soft as if it was out in the weather for months. It was likely old stock that was passed around from vendor to vendor which was probably why it became damaged. I don’t think it was damaged when it shipped to me. The case it self is cheap anyway. It’s extremely light, no folded metal, and extremely flimsy. Looks sexy as hell though.

This case was apparently dropped on it’s bezel as it was broken completely off the chassis. After sending a bad review on amazon about this, they sent me a replacement right away before I knew it for free. I had already went a head and got some krazy glue and repaired the case on my own, and then a new case (an exact duplicate) arrived free and undamaged. Even the box the second one came in was soft weathered cardboard. Which verified this was old inventory stock that was shipped and passed around a lot between shops.

I also ordered a few misc parts like a DVD-RW with litescribe SATA that I picked up for like $27. Which is a dead technology since everything is too large to fit on a DVD anymore but they are still useful.  In March I ordered heatsink fan (HSF) I ordered a Cooler Master Hyper 212 EVO. A MASSIVE beast of a HSF it barely fit inside the cheap-ass case I ordered but it works!

Towards the end of march I ordered RAM PNY RAM from amazon, the i7-3820 CPU from Portatech.com, and an ASUS P9X79 motherboard from Ascendtech.com. This mobo wasn’t retail, it lacked everything including a manual, I/O back shield, drivers (like I need those). It did come with four SATA cables, the Q-connector (love this) and that’s it. The critical thing it didn’t have was the plastic cover over the LGA-2011 CPU socket. All motherboards come with a plastic cover to protect it from dust and getting the pins bent.

I was having issues with RAM on this motherboard. The PNY ram I got from Amazon I returned (painless process) and ordered G.Skill RAM from NewEgg. With that RAM I had the exact same issues. One slot of the motherboard would read the RAM as “abnormal” while the other three RAM SIMM worked fine. Rotating them to other slots showed the issue was with THAT SLOT. Returning the motherboard to Ascendtech they reported the motherboard was fine, and tried to tell me the ram I used was crap not just both PNY and G.Skill were bad quality. But I’m very familiar with G.Skill is I’ve used it on my old Core 2 Quad (8x2gb) for years with no issues. Then then offered to sell me RAM with the motherboard, even though I already have ram sitting here. So i didn’t wanna give them more money so, I requested a refund (and paying bullshit restockfees). So don’t deal with Asendtech.com

I ordered the same exact motherboard (retail this time) from Portatech. Portatech is also where I got my CPU from, so I figured I was doing okay now. But their web site is so lack-luster and basic that it didn’t even know they were out of stock of the motherboard. I found it going though searches on PriceWatch which linked me over to PortaTech which is also how i found my CPU. A week goes by and i get an email asking me to write a review on the product i ordered a week ago, even though i never GOT it. I posted a review i never got it, never got shipping info, nothing. So Portatech emailed me saying they were outta stock with no ETA on when they will restock yet the website took my money for something they didn’t have?  Hell even the most basic website TELLS YOU what is in stock and isn’t for FUCKS sake.  So people avoid Portatech.

But keep in mind at the time the issue could have been the motherboard ram slots, the CPU socket, or the CPU it self since the memory controller is on the CPU. So i was contemplating returning the CPU back to Portatech after ordering the motherboard. But I’ve had the CPU for so long now at best I could only exchange it for another one. After the fiasco with the motherboard no longer in stock, I really didn’t wanna deal with them anymore.

So Portatech refunded my money the next day, and i went to Tigerdirect.com to buy the motherboard. Week later (why does everything take a week to ship?) and it WORKS.  so to sum it up.

Amazon – easy to shop and return stuff.

NewEgg – also easy to shop, faster deliveries, plus i have to pay tax.

Tigerdirect – Easy to shop but slow deliveries but no tax

Portatech – poor website, doesn’t keep track of what’s in stock, and it takes your money for products they don’t have. Will not shop there again.

Ascendtech – Nice tech support but they were probably trying to squeeze more money out of me, and I do believe they LIED to me that the motherboard I returned was fine when it didn’t work for me, since the retail one I bought now works flawlessly. Bottom line don’t get open-box or used stuff.  Plus I won’t shop there again.

So my new PC now consists of

Intel i7-3820 Quad Core CPU 3.6ghz, LGA 2011
Cooler Master Hyper 212 EVO
Asus P9X97 motherboard
G.Skill 4x4GB DDR3 1600 RAM
Asus GTX 550 (from old PC)
Western Digital Veloceraptor 150gb HDD (from old PC)
Samsug 1TB HDD (from OLD PC)
Samsung DVDRW 22X with Litescribe
Corsiar TX750 Enthusiast PSU

April 24, 2013

Linux Mint don’t like me

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , , , , , , , , — Hugsie @ 6:51 am

So while I’m still dealing with building my new i7 PC, I still have my old rig which now consists of:

  • CPU: Intel Core 2 Quad Q9300 (2.5ghz)
  • Mobo: Asus P5Q, LGA 775, P45
  • RAM: G.Skill 8GB (2GB x 4) DDR2 1066
  • Video: Asus GeForce GTS 520 (DDR3 1gb) (low profile, fanless)
  • HDD: Western Digital 160GB SATA HDD
  • PSU: Antec Basiq 500w

This is basically the same PC I’ve been using for the past 6 years, except I had “downgraded” the video card and HDD by replacing it with a smaller, and slower 160gb “green” WD drive.  I’m keeping the Geforce GTX 550 Ti, and my Velociraptor drive for my Sandy Bridge-E rig that I’m still trying to build for over a month now. I just shipped back the motherboard after using two different sets of ram with different brands, and different CAS settings this stupid mobo keeps seeing “abnormal” on any simm I place in slot D1, so it must be an issue with the motherboard.

So back to my old PC; I tried installing Linux Mint Mate 14, so I created a boot USB drive using an ISO-USB type loader, booted it and the login screen comes saying that it will login the user “mint” in 10 seconds. 10 seconds pass, screen kina goes weird, login screen comes back. This repeats over and over. If I manually logging as “mint” with a blank password, same thing. If i keep doing this enough times i get a message that X server has failed too many times.

Apparently looking at the log files, the X server (which is the GUI shell linux uses) keeps crashing. I have no idea why. The video card I have in this PC works fine, windows has no problems at all with it. So whatever default drivers Mint comes with just crashes Mint’s X server so there is no way I know of on how to install it. I’m far too clueless to use the command line to install the OS and manually install a nvidia driver to bypass X crashing. When I do get to the command line, I type startx and it just crashes again anyway.

I just tried a Ubuntu on a boot USB drive and it worked perfectly fine. I even watched a YouTube video that played fine; no issues at all. So is it just a bad nvidia driver in this Linux Distro? This little GTS 520 video card is slow, but it isn’t faulty. I’m gonna try some more Linux distros and see how they fair on this humble PC.

April 8, 2013

Asus P9X79 motherboard

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , , , , , , — Hugsie @ 10:51 pm

Something I did learn about the Asus P9X79 motherboard is that it’s really picky about USB flash drives that you use to store the ROM files when you wanna update your bios.

I made a USB boot drive with windows 8 pro ISO, so I can install windows 8 off the USB drive. You can also copy other files onto it as well like drivers and whatever else if you have the room. I figured I could also drop the ROM files for my bios, rename it and use the Flashback functionality on my mobo.  Nope. So to update my BIOS I ended up using some other USB drive formatted FAT-32 and I was able to update the BIOS. I never could get the Flashback function to work mostly due to newer Flash ROM files being incompatible with my older Bios version. So I had to download a special ROM file that updated the motherboard (almost like updating your OS) which then allowed me to use the most recent version.

Flashback is a very cool function where you can update/change the BIOS with only standby power connected. You just pop in a USB drive with the ROM file on it, press a button at the back and after a moment, bingo! You can even do it with out a CPU or RAM installed on the motherboard. Kind of mind boggling but it makes sense.

I once restored a corrupted BIOS by hot-swapping it into another motherboard already booted and forced a rom flash to get it working again. This was back over a decade ago, on an AMD Athlon XP motherboard, I had a bios update go BAD and the mobo was totally useless. I read on the web about this trick where you use another motherboard that has the same BIOS chip type that’s removable but it’s a completely different brand/make of mobo.  The trick is you boot up in DOS with the working mobo, yank out it’s BIOS chip while the machine is running (GASP!) snap in the BIOS chip that isn’t working into the mobo that’s already booted, running DOS.  Run the BIOS Flash utility with special command line switches that forces the ROM flash even though it’s not meant for that motherboard. Powered down, swapped the BIOS chips back, and it WORKED! I was totally shocked! So Flashback really isn’t that amazing when you consider this, but it’s still fucking cool.

So my P9X79 mobo’s bios is all kosher now, but I still can’t use the PNY Ram I recently bought for it. I paid only $92.99 for this PNY ram, but now when I look on amazon it’s $144! So I’m gonna return it back to Amazon, and order G-Skill F3-12800CL8Q-16GBZH from Newegg. While this ram is NOT listed in Asus’ compatibility list, G-skill’s website DOES list the P9X79 mobo as compatible. Plus there’s many other G-Skill models listed on Asus’ compatibility list, unlike PNY which no PNY model is listed at ALL for the P9X79. Also I’m using G-skill my old Core 2 Quad PC right now so I know it’s good. PNY I’ve never used before, it’s a brand name I’ve seen many times, but I will never use PNY again because of this experience.

Just goes to show if I spend the extra $40 you get what you pay for. Also always RTFM before you buy RAM for your mobo!

UPDATE:

Two weeks have past and my order for this ram has arrived, and I STILL have the EXACT same problem. Why are the PC gawds doing this to me? I don’t know if I should buy a third set of RAM or replace the motherboard. I’ve already emailed the folks where i bought my motherboard from so hopefully I can get some guidance.

New PC partial fail :(

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , — Hugsie @ 8:38 pm

Finally got all my parts delivered only to find out that the RAM I ordered isn’t compatible with my Asus P9X79 motherboard. The RAM I have is a  DDR3 16GB kit by PNY; a decent brand name. But looking up the ram compatibility list for this motherboard, not a single PNY module exists on the list.

So my first though was to update the BIOS in hopes some compatibility was added.  The BIOS download page did mention that more RAM compatibility was added, but I had no luck getting my PNY ram to work fully.

The BIOS version on this motherboard was very old, so old that the new format of the ROM files were incompatible with the BIOS I have. So I first had to flash the BIOS with a special update that actually rebooted and ran some sort of updater which reminded me of Windows update, with warnings about not turning off or resetting the PC. After it rebooted it let me update the bios again with the newest version that was released last month.

I’m actually using this incompatible RAM to type this post, but it’s not fully working. The ram is running at 1333mhz, single channel and with all four ram modules installed but the one module in D1 slot appears “abnormal” to the BIOS. So I’m only running 14gb instead of the full 16gb.

I’ve tried swapping the ram modules around into diffident slots, but which ever module I put into D1 always came up abnormal. This slot D1 is apparently the “master” slot you need to use if only had one ram module; which oddly is the 6th RAM slot out of all eight. So if I only put in one stick of ram into D1, it won’t post. RAM in any other slot just won’t be seen by the motherboard, as if it was empty.

So it seems all four ram modules are fine, just not kosher with my Asus P9X79 motherboard. So I’m gonna return them and order some ram that IS on the compatibility list. Perhaps some Corsiar Vengeance? Or G-skill Ripjaws? I’m not exactly looking for high end performance, just something that fully fucking works!

Fortunately the new i7-3820 works fine, and I also got a Cooler Master Hyper 212 EVO HSF which is a friggin MONSTER! It barely fits in the cheap-ass case I bought a couple months ago. It looks exactly like the Hyper 101 I have for my old Core 2 Quad rig, but at least 2.5x bigger. Then again the 3820 is a GIANT CPU with a double latching deal on the LGA 2011 socket and built-in screw hole mounts for your HSF so there’s no need to mess with a backplate since it already has one stock.

It did take me a while to figure out how to mount the Hyper 212 Evo, and it did come with the extra parts needed for a LGA 2011, so I’m happy with that. I just need fully compatible RAM.

March 2, 2013

In the market for a PC upgrade

Filed under: Blogroll — Tags: , , , , , , , , , , — Hugsie @ 12:36 am

I’m trying to do homework on a new system upgrade. I’m basically going to replace mobo, CPU and go 16gb of quad channel ram (1600 or better). For the longest time I thought Sandy/Ivy Bridge was Intel’s name for motherboard chipsets, not the code names Intel uses for the core architectures.  Problem is that most of the stuff I’m reading is about a year old. Back when LGA 2011 CPUs were really expensive (upwards of $600) but that isn’t the case anymore. It’s really hard to find up-to-date information. I’m getting really confused about Ivy Bridge, vs Sandy Bridge. LGA 2011, and LGA 1155, and reading they are some how compatible?  How can a chip with nearly TWICE the pins of the former be compatible at all? Just look at this image, they are entirely different sizes.

So I’m assuming what’s going on here is that Intel is creating the newer Ivy Bridge based CPUs in LGA 1155 for older Sandy Bridge based motherboards. I’ve read that LGA 2011 is the newest socket that only a few Sandy Bridge chips are using.  The CPU I’ve been wanting to get is a LGA 2011 i7-3820 but its a Sandy Bridge CPU. Intel’s page doesn’t say this CPU is Sandy nor Ivy bridge but it does show a 32nm lithography which implies Sandy Bridge (vs 22nm for Ivy Bridge).

I assume the LGA 2011 is the newer generation for sockets on motherboards over LGA 1155, and Ivy Bridge based CPU is the newer-gen core because it’s a newer smaller 22nm die processes.  But why does Ivy Bridge seem to only exist on LGA 1155, and only supports dual channel RAM with most of them at slower clockspeeds? Even slower than the i7-3820 I’m thinking about buying, which IS an Sandy bridge-E CPU not Ivy. WTF is Sandy Bridge-E then? Quad Cores with HT? Really, that’s it? It’s quite confusing as to what is new/current tech when you can see the so-called NEW stuff has less performance, and using OLDER specs, than the old stuff.  >sigh< WTF Intel?

Searching Ivy Bridge on amazon, the i7-3820  appears right at the top as if it IS an Ivy Bridge CPU, but it isn’t. This of the lower-end CPUs of it’s “Extreme” performace line. It has the FASTEST “normal” clock speeds of *ALL* the Ivy Bridge and Sandy Bridge CPUs. Has 10mb L3 Cache compared to maximum 8mb for Ivy Bridge. It supports Quad channel RAM, and is semi-overclockable (not fully unlocked like the K series). I read one guy overclocked his 3820 chip to 4.5ghz!! Daamn! Why is the new stuff so inferior Intel?

The motherboard I want is the Asus P9X79 with Intel’s X79 chipset. There are four different versions, the LE, WS, Pro, and the plain “P9X79” with out a suffix. The LE is the cheapest, and I’m not into SLI video card setups anyway so I’m likely going to snag the LE. All I really want is Quad Channel memory which requires four sticks of the same ram. But this motherboard has EIGHT ram slots four on each side of the CPU socket that maxes out at 64gb, but I only want 16gb. So could I run eight 2gb sticks of ram in each slot in Quad channel mode? Does DDR3 even come as low as 2gb? LOL! Seems like a 4x4gb configuration is my best bet.

Every time I spec out a new computer parts I always think about having an upgrade path (or future proof) for what I’m building. But lets face it. I’ve realized that the next time I upgrade my computer I’m going to replace everything again anyway. So what’s the point future proofing, or having an “upgrade path” when tech gets outdated in 6-12 months anyway? Plus add to the confusion when the specifications for the “new”stuff performs less than the old stuff did.

That said most of my hardware I keep using years after it’s technically declared to be outdated, and really don’t upgrade it much more than a new HDD or more ram. Hell I’ve had my Core 2 Quad system for about 5 years, even my Mac BookPro is over 2 years old now and the only upgrades I’ve done to them was give them both 8GB ram from 4gb.

The best thing I (and everyone else) can do is buy what is affordable (avoid the over priced $600+ enthusiast XTREME!!!! crazy stuff) and find what looks good to you. Weigh the pros and cons of the tech, make sure the items you want match up and are compatible. Take with a grain of salt of what you read in forums, especially if the posts are a year old or more.  Buy and build your new PC, and stick too it for about 5 years and then worry about your next upgrade then when we drool over 10mn Skylake CPUs.

So for now this is what I’m thinking about getting:

CPU: Intel Core i7-3820 BX80619I73820
Mobo: P9X79 LE
RAM:4gb x four (16gb) Quad Channel DDR3 1600 <– Brand subject to change since ram prices change often
HSF: Cooler Master Hyper 212 EVO (Intel doesn’t include a HSF)

I’ve already got a new PC case, new Corsair 750w PSU, and DVD burner drive. and I’ll just slap in my old WD VelociRaptor 150gb drive. Yeah I might go Solid State some day…

July 15, 2009

Windows 7 bugs

Here are some issues I’m having with Win7

I use an Asus P5Q motherboard, and I’m using Asus “6-Engine” software for controlling the speed of my PC, and noise levels.  I can overclock my PC for gaming performance, and underclock my PC to keep the fan noise down while doing idle tasks.  I also use Windows Media Center extended to my Xbox 360 so I can watch videos and movies on my big 37″ HDTV.  If I’m playing a video over WMC and my PC is in “underclocked” mode, the video hiccups about every minute or so.  I have to set my PC speeds to normal clock speeds, or overclocked, it to get rid of the video hiccup, which isn’t really desirable since even at normal clock speeds, my fans run noisy.

Synergy is also problematic since if your remote PC is running windows 7, synergy won’t work until you’re already on the desktop. So if you get a login screen after boot up for Win7 you can’t use Synergy login (which you can do with Linux if you tweak Synergy).  Plus every time Win7 demands some sort of administrative notices (like installing an app), all network connections are halted, and Synergy can no longer function on the remote PC.

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