Friday, February 26, 2010

ig33ku's: Hardware Review - Intel D510MO

A re-done review of the Intel D510MO motherboard.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

ig33k's: D510MO 1080p and game test.

Testing the Atom D510MO on several 1080p files and Soulstorm.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

ig33ku's: Unboxing - Intel D510MO

Just unboxing the D510MO with I exchanged with a D410PT.

ig33ku's: Hardware Preview - Intel D410PT

Just doing some quick testing since I bought the wrong board. Hopefully the seller will replace it with no or small charge (not counting the balance owed) for the Intel D510MO which was what I need now since that's the board they have with mini-pcie.

Friday, February 5, 2010

ig33ku: Guide - How to oil your PC fan.

A quick vid for oiling your fans as I remember some people asking me how to do it (RL).

Monday, February 1, 2010

A present I would REALLY LOVE TO GET.

Is the new Dell Inspiration Mini 10. This version I saw on a flyer has, get ready for this, X4500MHD graphics. OMFG. This makes tons better than any other netbooks out there. For 1299MYR it is really cheap compared to the GMA 3150. To check it out type in this E-Value Code T510149MY. Remember, if you can't find it try the Malaysian Dell site.

If anyone wants to give me this as a present I will love you long time soldier boy.

The new Atom Mobos.

Trying to get some funding so I can get hold of the new INTEL D410PT Mini-ITX Mainboard. Let's see if the GMA 3150 can deliver where the GMA 950  utterly failed. The best part is we'll try it with the single core Atom. If all else fails I'll have a good excuse to get Broadcom's HD Crystal Mini-PCIE card since the new Atom mobo's all come with a mini-PCIE socket.

The board costs 235MYR so here's hoping for some luck.

So I got bored writing up my articles.

I was getting bored writing up my reviews of Scythe and Cooler Master case for Tech&U that I decided to watch some Tekzilla. Idle hands are the devil's workshop proves true when I saw episode: tekzilla 0122 naughty. I blame Veronica for that blouse. It is all her fault for making me this way.

To all the Tekzilla fans that might stumble across this: please don't hate me. I have a very bored and sick mind.

All you ever want to know about PCs: Graphic Cards

There has not been much excitement until recently with graphic cards as they finally manage to play even the most demanding games on the highest details with decent frame rates. Just right now I throw a bunch of gamer jargon at you. Frame rates are the number frames per seconds. Just like picture frames in a movie, a game draws the most 60 frames per second on the screen. A movie only uses 24 frames per second which is the bare minimum before the film looks choppy. Games on the other hand are not like films, since the images present differently than what is captured on film the minimum comfortable frames per second for us is 30. Anything above 80 frames per second will actually have not meaning and will affect gameplay. A little more on that later.

The real actual bottleneck to your gaming pleasure is not your graphic card, RAM or CPU. No, it is really your monitor. You monitor’s maximum resolution and refresh rate (Hz) should determine the graphic card you are going to get. In that sense benchmarks by reviewers give a good indication. If your monitor resolution is 1680 x 1050 and the card you are looking plays your favourite game at 120fps on the same system specs do not expect to see 120fps on your screen. If you monitor has only 60hz then out of that 120fps it will only 60fps as 1hz is considered 1fps. This can cause screen tearing when you move a lot in the game along with some dropped frames that looks like lag. So choose carefully on just how much juice you want to squeeze out of the card and just how much you can really drink.

Another thing to remember is that the newest generation of graphics cards although more power efficient than the last will still use about 100watts of power at least when gaming. So calculate your total system requirement to see if you need to purchase a new PSU just to support your new card. You can use this PSU calculator from Thermaltake to get a general idea of what you may need.

Next you need to make sure your motherboard supports the format of the graphic card you are interested in. There are 3 main formats for graphics in use; PCI, AGP and PCI-E. As you may know PCI is the oldest and is still in use for mainly CCTV recording and other video recording activities. AGP is the old standard that has been replaced by PCI-E. PCI slots are generally white in colour while AGP slots are brown with PCI-E being less colour restricted.

Graphic cards have a huge variety of output ports that they can work on. It is surprising but there are 6 main ports for graphic cards. DVI and VGA are the current main ouputs for PCs while DisplayPort and HDMI are the newer replacements for S-Video and Composite Video for TVs. Out of these 6, DisplayPort and HDMI are the only ones that carry both audio and video out of the card with DisplayPort slowly replacing HDMI.

Like all PC devices graphic cards tend to fail in 3 years. The main cause of failure is usually heat. Fans slow down as oil evaporate or leak from momentum and heat. Heatsinks get coated in dust and oil from no maintenance and thermal paste turns into thermal dust doing its job.
Heat also affects components near the source which is usually the GPU of the graphic card. While GPU can cook at 80C to 90C happily, capacities and mosfets distaste the high heat and go boom. This causes your graphic card to become unstable and shortly stop booting.

Other than heat power surges are another cause for alarm. If your graphic card is powered directly from the PSU and not from the motherboard any power surge that kills the PSU will likely take out the graphic card with the motherboard.

Although we cannot do much against power surges except getting better regulators to put in-between the PC and the wall socket we can get 3rd party coolers that provide better heat dissipation then the stock cooler that comes with the card.

The final way to kill a graphic card is a by-product of our greed/curiosity; overclocking. Just like CPUs pushing higher voltages and not cooling the card adequately either cause the card to overheat and cook GPU or/and RAM or it will quicken electromigration which shortens the card’s lifespan considerably.

That being said the graphic card is the most frequently upgrade item in a PC system and the most expansive, with that in mind when the newest hottest game does come out and you do want to play consider lowing the resolution and details a bit and see if you can live that performance. If not google your card and find out how other have overclocked it successfully and see if that sits well with you. But should all else that fail only then you should whip out the leather bag of money to fulfil your gaming needs.

All you ever want to know about PCs: Motherboards

Now that we knocked on CPUs a bit let’s go to Motherboards. Motherboards are the support structure for your whole system. Today’s Motherboards come with a lot of features as compared to five years ago. You got Gigabit LAN, onboard 7.1 sound chips, graphic chips and even rudimentary RAID for your hard drives. Additional features are BIOS overclocking options which will mostly interest those who want to overclock their CPUs. Only useful BIOS features that concern everyday users are the power saving features called Speedstep for Intel and Cool ‘N Quiet for AMD. With that enabled in the BIOS your Operating System can utilise speed and voltage throttling so that your CPU does not ran at full speed all day long. This actually has considerable savings in terms of power consumption because a standard Dual Core CPU will consume about 65W of power while higher end Dual Cores and Quad Cores will chew 100W-165W of power.

On all motherboards you should find 4-6 SATA ports for your hard drives and DVD writers, PCI-E X16 slot for your graphic card and PCI-E X1 for additional sound, LAN or TV Tuner cards. For legacy support you can still find the good old PCI slot and an IDE port for that old hard drive or DVD writer. You may be wondering why there are still Serial and Parallel ports; these are for programmers that want to program code into microprocessors.

Since, the Motherboard is the support structure of the PC it is usually the first that goes bust due to age, power surges through the power line or telephone line, overheating or short circuits. Motherboards are not built to last and the capacitors, those cylinder things you see on the Motherboard, are the first to go. They have a life expectancy of 2-3 years. Manufacturers consider this long enough as you would have upgraded your PC by then. None the less, all Motherboards have only a 1 year warranty. Capacitors do not only burst due to old age but also because of heat or power surges. Fortunately, it is an easy fix. You can buy capacitors and solder those on if you are handy with a soldering iron. Unfortunately, capacitors are not the only ones to go when your PC get a zapping. Mosfets and chipsets on the Motherboard will likely bite the dust. These are unfixable but can be substituted depending on which chipset are dead. LAN and sound are separate chips so getting a replacement card to slot in is no problem. If video is a problem then you will have to replace the Motherboard as the graphic chip is part of the Northbridge or main chipset of the Motherboard. Any damage there, no matter how little, will lead to stability issues sooner or later.

If you do face random shutdowns and hanging while just doing everyday tasks like emailing, web surfing, etc; check if your CPU or Motherboard chipset is overheating. A simple finger test of touching the heatsink for both is enough to determine this or you can download and run applications specialise in monitoring temperature readings. Normally, your Motherboard comes with these utilities but you can try SYSTEMPS or CORETEMPS.

If it is not a heat problem then you should check your capacitors to see they have become deformed or have powdery residue at their top or base. Any capacitors showing these symptoms need to be replaced. And if everything else is tip-top than you will have to take a look at the PSU preferably changing it with another one and see if your system is stable. Should you enter beeping check out PC Hell for what those beeps mean.

Choosing the right graphic card.

Now my All You Ever Want To Know About PCs: Graphic Cards got published in the Tech&U but as usual the editing has something to be desired. So I better get it out here before you guys read the edited version.