Monday, September 8, 2014

Choosing a motherboard has never been this hard for me.

So X99 came out and the 5820K is tempting me into upgrading however I've run into one major issue. No X99 board has the features I want at a price I'm willing to pay. The boards that do have what I want also have a bunch of other crap that I will never use like Killer NICs, WiFi, Bluetooth, Improved on-board audio, Power saving settings, Automatic OC buttons and similar crap that I will never use and don't want to pay for.

Really this should not be that hard. If I had to design a X99 motherboard it would have:
An 8 phase VRM with atleast 40A per phase.
Voltage read point like what EVGA X99 boards have.
PCI-e lane on/off switches.
Dual BIOS.
4 DDR4 slots with T-topology.
On-board power, reset and clear BIOS buttons.
An LED POST code readout.
5 PCI-e x16 slots arranged  to accommodate 3 triple slot GPUs or 4 2 slot GPUs.
4 or more USB 2.0 ports in the rear.
As many as intel support USB 3.0 ports with 1 header on the board.
An Intel NIC.
The ASUS OC socket. (apparently it helps a lot)

Anything I didn't mention wouldn't be on the board

I do believe that all this could be fitted on a board that cost a little more than the MSI X99 SLI because it's stuff  that has been done before and isn't very complex requiring very little development but for some reason a board with a feature set this imbalanced just doesn't exist so I guess I'll have to wait and see if  EVGA figures out that what their charge for their very bare boards is too high and they'll drop prices.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

X99 VRM Analysis

X99 has arrived and what most reviewers seem to have missed is that Intel's FIVR is on every Haswell-e chip. The FIVR stands for Fully Integrated Voltage Controller. It's job is to generate the different voltages an Intel CPU needs more efficiently and more precisely. It does both of these but also has the innate side effect of making motherboard VRM designs much cheaper since they are required to supply a voltage of 1.8+V instead of 1-2V.  Now you may think that this makes no sense. However it is very simple what does 100% of all damage and heat generation in electrical circuits is current. By raising the output voltage of the motherboard VRM the VRM needs to supply a lower current and therefore can be cheaper or more efficient. For example if you need to deliver 250W(an OCed X79 or X99 CPU) of power to the CPU from the motherboard. With X79 the board would need to supply 185A at 1.35V with X99 it only needs to supply 138A at 1.8V. That is a 25% reduction in current requirements. The other thing that X99's FIVR achieves is that you no longer need and X+Y VRM phase setup so 100% of the VRM space available on the motherboard can be used to supply those 138A at 1.8V further reducing the strain put on each VRM phases by allowing for more powerful or more numerous phases.
Now lets go to absurd land. Lets say you want to run your new Haswell-e at 1.35V all day everyday until the CPU or motherboard dies. Well at 1.35V Haswell-e will easily be pulling 300-400W and because were in absurd land lets go with the higher of the 2 so 400W since you can probably still cool that with H2O. Now then 400W at 1.8V gives a current draw of just 222A or less if you push the VCCIN voltage higher. So now lets see how a 6 phase VRM like what you find on the eVGA X99 micro would do with this. Well 222A/6phases means we would have just over 37A of current per phase which should be no problem at all because even the 100$ GA-F2A88X-D3H that I reviewed has 40A phases. Now on a 6 phase you are pushing it rather close so I would recommend an 8 or more phase board for these kinds of OC endeavors especially if the manufacturer is a little too cheap to be true. However any quality motherboard with 8 phases will be fine.
Now I just need to buy an X99 board some DDR4 and a Haswell-e CPU so I can test what raising the VCCIN does to the Vcore and I can do a fuller writeup on minizing VRM load with Haswell-e.

This is the source for Haswell-e having a FIVR

Friday, July 25, 2014

Case Review: Xigmatek Alfar

   The  Xigmatek Alfar is an ATX case and cost ~1150CZK (~57.5$) after 21% VAT.

   - ATX motherboard
   - 2 front panel USB 3.0 ports and audio in/out jacks
   - 3 5.25" bays
   - 4 3.25" bays
   - 3 2.25" bays
   - Supports 180mm PSUs
   - 6 PCI-e expansion cards can be up to 300mm long
   - 1 PCI-e expansion card can be 260mm long
   - Supports 160mm coolers according to spec but I would stick to 158mm because some 160mm
   coolers don't actually fit
   - Fan Support:
       2 120/140mm fans in the top without proper radiator support internally
       2 120/140mm fans on the side panel
       2 120mm fans in the front with no radiator support
       1 120mm fan in the back supports a radiator
       1 120mm fan in the bottom of the case
   - Tool less installation of 2.25" 3.5" 5.25" drives
   -Watercooling tubing cutouts

Build Quality:
The entire case is painted black with the outside painted in a "rough" finish that resist fingerprints and the inside an almost sooth finish. The front cover is plastic and has a rubberized coating which to is fingerprint resistant. The whole case is built of steel but is surprisingly light making it very easy to carry even with a full system inside. The case is very rigid for it's weight with very little flex to the side panels. The only major flaw this case has are the plastic feet that do not grip surfaces and make it very easy to slide the case around.

Building in the case:
Was very easy. There is plenty of cable management room behind the motherboard tray and there enough and big enough cutouts to cable manage even a dual GPU system. The biggest issue occur above the mother board with the top fan mount and my massive Phanteks Heatsink (review) because the heatsink blocks access to both fan headers and fan mounts. Cable management was harder to do than in some larger cases but still much better than other similarly priced cases.

My go to case at this price point.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Anyone intrested in an el cheapo GPU water cooling guide?

This is just a question if people would be interested in a guide for how to apply my ridiculous GTX 590 cooling system to other GPUs. Firstly I will investigate into make the solution thinner and more tower case friendly(the GTX 590  version never will).

Please comment what GPUs you would like to see explained.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Review: Razer Naga 2014



The Good
The scroll wheel and thumb-grid and Razer logo can be lit up independently.
The Razer Synapse software made it exceptionally easy to transfer
my previous Naga's profiles to the new one.
The scroll wheel now supports tilt left and right giving you 2 more buttons.
There is textured rubber on the left of the mouse making easier to hold and pick up.
The new plastic makes my hand sweat a lot less making the mouse stay clean for longer

The Neutral 
The lighting of the mouse is now green instead of blue and is dimmer than on the previous naga mice.
The left click switch is faster to trigger than on the old version and takes time getting used to if you play games where using gun jumps is very dependent on accurate timing.

The Bad
I still prefer the shape of my Razer Naga Epic over the new angular shape that the 2014 edition has.
The Razer logo has only one lighting mode and that's pulsating which is annoying and not very useful.
After some extended use I have gotten used to the bulkier shape and came to like it more because I have a better grip of the mouse.

The Terrible
The new buttons.
Yes they are easier to recognize however they are too easy to press resulting in me often pressing 2 or even 4 buttons instead of the button I want.
The side buttons feel cheap compared to the older Naga mice due to being less inlaid and easier to press making them a little wobbly. Overall the mouse just feels cheaper.
The side buttons are made of smooth plastic making my thumb slide all over the place when trying to press them.

My Suggestion:
Go back to the old thumb buttons or make the new ones stiffer and rubberize them because right now they are very very bad due to being too easy to miss press.
Make a model with 16 million RGB lighting.
Add some addon weights to the mouse and heavy ones to get it close to the weight of a Naga Epic with the battery installed.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

My New AMD Based System. (will change as I stabilize OCs)

So this is the my whole setup. The Keyboard is a Razer Black Widow Ultimate 2011 with cherry blue switches. The mouse is the new Razer Naga 2014. The Monitor is an ASUS VX239 23" 1080p overclocked to 73Hz. The headphones are Steel Series Siberia V2s 

So this is the actual computer. The case is a Xigmatek Alfar. The PSU is a Seasonic M12-II 650W that I got on sale. The CPU is an really bad FX6350 clocked at 4712 Mhz using 1.50V, paired with 2x4GB of Corsair Vengeance RAM clocked at 1606 9-9-9-27 @ 1.685V, seated in a ASUS Sabertooth 990FX R2.0 motherboard and cooled by a Phanteks PH-TC14PE. The harddrive is a 1TB Western digital blue. Finally thr GPU is my good old R9 290 from my main system.

To be completely honest I think I have the worst FX 6350 in existence because I can't even get it to validate above 5.26Ghz regardless of running 1.7V through it and only running 1 core and only 1 stick of ram.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Review: Phanteks PHTC14PE (matte black)


Mounting: 4/10
The AMD mounting system for this cooler is really really bad. If they had made the plastic O rings 1 or 2mm taller this would have been a 7/10 but no the AMD mounting kit is completely atrocious. There is simply no way that human will have fingers small enough and strong enough to get the cooler cross brace screws to reach the mother bracket. The way I got around this by loosening the bracket until the brace screws could reach them. Now aside from the too short AMD mounting hardware all the screws used to hold the cooler are hard to reach because they are between the two fin stacks making it exceptionally dificult to reach them if you have a short screwdriver (less than 150mm long). The heatsink is also very very large at 159 x 140 x 171mm it will only fit into larger cases and will block usage of ram super tall heatspreaders in the first two DIMM slots. If all your ram has reasonably sized or removable heatspreaders like the G.skill Ripjaws RipjawsX and TridentX series you will not have any issues and you can even install a 3rd fan for even better performance.
Anther positive is that it does not block the 1st expansion slot on a motherboard and is therefore a great heatsink to use if you have a lot of expansion cards.

Performance: 7/10
The cooler is capable of keeping a 5Ghz FX6350 using 1.55 volts at 69C through out multiple passes of Cinebech R11.5.

Noise: 7/10
At full tilt the fans run at 1300RPM and are of above average quality resulting in them making a moderately loud but not unpleasant hum with whirring under tone and sound deeper than many of 120mm and 140mm fans I've heard. At low fan speed they are quite but still audible from one meter away inside an open case (can't close the side panel since the coolers too big). It is however the quietest cooler I've used so I rate it pretty high.

Things I want to try:
depending on how you mount the fans the cooler is 6-11mm taller than the towers alone so I would like to try if 120mm fans would be an option to allow people to use this cooler in smaller cases without losing too much performance. I would also like to try how much more performance higher RPM fans have over the 1300 RPM stock fans. The fans I wanna try are two or three of these.