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Otaku Chat “Generic PC Hardware discussion thread.” by Frito

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Kumba 2 years ago on 02/02/12
Equipped: Most Amazing Thing Ever!!!! named "Silmarils, gems of treelight"
John Booty said:
When "enthusiasts" talk about RAID they mean RAID-0 most of the time. Very few "enthusiasts" would be mirroring drives for redundancy. :-)

I still differentiate because I run a RAID-5 array right now using 3x Seagate SATA 1-platter drives on a 3ware 9650SE-4LPML card (with BBU). 256MB wirte cache on the RAID card makes this a very fast, responsive system (except when I have to run a battery capacity test)

A friend of mine is saving some extra computer parts for me, including an SSD, but I'll be keeping the array intact because I really don't want to reinstall Windows. His suggestion is to use the SSD as a cache drive and mixing it with this software:
http://www.romexsoftware.com/en-us/fancy-cache/

Should be an interesting experiment.
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John Booty 2 years ago on 02/03/12
Equipped: Sparkledonkey's Gallbladder
Having a SSD act as a cache for one or more HDDs is, from a technological standpoint, almost the no-brainer way to go for most (most! not all!) scenarios.

I wonder how mainstream it will become. Intel's latest chipsets (or some of them?) have support for that built-in. And some laptops are starting to include micro SATA slots in addition to the 2.5" drive bay, so having two drives in a laptop is getting more feasible.

I question whether the PC industry will get it together enough to do things that way. There are so many competing business interests there. For it to really work you need Microsoft + OEMs + HDD manufacturers + SSD manufacturers getting their shit on the same page.

There's also the "put a very small amount of SSD-like storage directly onto the drive" approach like the Seagate Momentus XT, which is a 7200RPM 2.5" HDD with 4GB of cache.

I put one of those in fukkake's mom's PC. I was really impressed. Booting Windows and launching programs was fast like a SSD. Anand likes them: http://...anandtech.com/...eview-finally-a-good-hybrid-hdd

If I was building a new PC (which I'm not) I'd take a serious look at those. Maybe a medium-sized SSD for the OS and crucial apps, a 500GB Momentus XT for games and music, and a couple big 5400RPM drives for other media.
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Kumba 2 years ago on 02/03/12
Equipped: Most Amazing Thing Ever!!!! named "Silmarils, gems of treelight"
John Booty said:
I wonder how mainstream it will become. Intel's latest chipsets (or some of them?) have support for that built-in. And some laptops are starting to include micro SATA slots in addition to the 2.5" drive bay, so having two drives in a laptop is getting more feasible.

Things will probably go the way of sticking the cache onto the drive itself. That keeps costs down and hides the implementation details from the user. It also further reduces latency by placing the memory chips much closer to the drive controller, rather than far away across a bus device or such. Kinda like L2 to a CPU.


John Booty said:
If I was building a new PC (which I'm not) I'd take a serious look at those. Maybe a medium-sized SSD for the OS and crucial apps, a 500GB Momentus XT for games and music, and a couple big 5400RPM drives for other media.

I would somewhat reverse this a little. Windows is such a "chatty" OS. It is always scribbling something to the registry somewhere, and I just think that might wear an SSD out faster. Obviously, SSD manufacturers probably account for this already. Dunno...haven't really played with them yet. It would seem to make more sense to use an SSD for applications that constantly read from their own install directory, but write very little, such as games and large apps like Photoshop (or even certain databases).

Under Linux, an SSD would be a great place for / or /usr, and then applying several tuning parameters (documented here: https://wiki.archlinux.org/index.php/Solid_State_Drives).

On the hybrid drives, It's interesting to note Anand's statement about defrags resetting the drive's learning back to 0. On Windows, defrag is a must because of the way NTFS is designed, especially with spinning media. How Linux's ext3/ext4 does it, I don't know, but those filesystems almost never fragment data (e2fsck often reports ~1-5% non-contiguous in most cases). That's pretty impressive.

This still just re-enforces the point that NAND isn't the best type of flash memory for this task, however. But it's cheap to produce, so it's used for this anyways. MRAM could really fill in a gap here. Hibernation would come completely free of charge (with the OS doing some basic housekeeping before going to sleep, but no more of the hibernation file mess), very low power consumption for the device, and ridiculously low latencies.
PS: And on a similar topic regarding SSDs, modern SSDs present a very real challenge to forensics investigators and may be problematic from a legal standpoint in the future:

http://www.jdfsl.org/subscriptions/JDFSL-V5N3-Bell.pdf

The main issue is that write-blockers used today by modern forensics have no effect on the internal firmware of an SSD. Once it powers up, if that internal firmware, write-blocker or not, feels a need to shifts some things around, it'll do it in a heartbeat. And from a strictly-legal standpoint, that's an issue.

I think an easy fix via a jumper from the manufacturer. Jumper on, no internal data shifting. Off, normal. But even if that approach works, it won't be seen for a while, and there's a lot of existing SSDs out there for forensics to deal with.
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John Booty 2 years ago on 02/03/12
Equipped: Sparkledonkey's Gallbladder
I would somewhat reverse this a little. Windows is such a "chatty" OS. It is always scribbling something to the registry somewhere, and I just think that might wear an SSD out faster.

This is overshadowed by writes to the paging file by two, maybe three orders of magnitude! (That doesn't necessarily invalidate what you're saying)
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Kumba 2 years ago on 02/03/12
Equipped: Most Amazing Thing Ever!!!! named "Silmarils, gems of treelight"
John Booty said:
This is overshadowed by writes to the paging file by two, maybe three orders of magnitude! (That doesn't necessarily invalidate what you're saying)

Yeah, I forgot about the pagefile initially. That can be moved to another drive, however (I actually moved mine to a larger partition to free up more space on C:). Pity Windows can't relocate the registry hives. That would have a number of benefits beyond just saving SSDs a few write cycles.
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Creepy Stalker 2 years ago on 02/03/12
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:)
 
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SuitJamas 22 months ago on 10/17/12
I'm sooo sad this thread is lying dead for 8 months. Hasn't anyone gotten some cool new hardware lately?
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Senator Hideki 22 months ago on 10/17/12
Equipped: Technique scroll: "Stealth Hump" named "You won't even see me coming..."
So, Jesus, I just had to do a partition delete and reinstall from my XP disc because:

League of Legends began crashing during the load screen about 1 in 3 games.

Mass Effect one would randomly crash, throwing General Protection Faults about half the time I'd run it.

Mass Effect 2 would randomly crash and freeze my system even after a complete reinstall of the game.

After reinstalling XP with SP2, I now cannot:

1) manually download or install Windows updates, including Service Pack 3
2) get Firefox to install without errors or run stably
3) install Mass Effect 2 AT ALL (it throws corruption errors during install and fails out)
4) install LoL from the download installer without getting corruption errors. The install completes, but the game crashes when I run it.

I'm suspecting malware affecting the boot sector or BIOS. Next step is to borrow a Kaspersky rescue CD and see if it can find repairable errors in one of these locations.

I'm also seriously considering finally dropping in a small SSD drive for the OS and games that don't patch often anyways. Might do that and install Win 7 to it. But if the problem is in the BIOS, that won't fix my problem. Either that or dropping Ubuntu onto a thumb drive, booting from there, then running a utility to bit-wipe my HDD before trying the reinstall one last time.

If I can get the damn thing running again, I'm planning to upgrade by getting an installed sound card (currently using onboard sound, which I don't like because the sound glitches on a couple of games, mostly Mass Effect 1 and I -know- I'm not getting the most out of my 5.1 headphones).

The upshot to upgrading to Win7 is I could finally drop in another two 2-Gig RAM sticks and get something out of them (or, hell, two 4-Gig sticks, they're super cheap right now).

I'm also toying with swapping out my EVGA GeForce GTX 260 for an EVGA GTX 560, but, holy fuck, the bill from all these upgrades would run me something like $500, which I just don't have right now.

It's all moot if I can't confirm the BIOS as clean, anyways.
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WWNSX 22 months ago on 10/17/12
Equipped: Inappropriately Large Handful of Viagra
Senator Hideki said:
So, Jesus, I just had to do a partition delete and reinstall from my XP disc because:

League of Legends began crashing during the load screen about 1 in 3 games.

Mass Effect one would randomly crash, throwing General Protection Faults abou...


Sorry but I don't think that's a BIOS problem. I've disassembled and reassembled BIOS files on Socket A system's and to improve the SATA controller and even messed it up once and had to wait 3 months to get a part to recover it.

If you we're having a BIOS virus or problem I'd think you have insane problems even trying to boot up the system at all.

I haven't heard of a boot sector or BIOS virus since the days of the Michelangelo virus. Your system would have to be insanely unsecured to get something that bad.

If you're overclocking I would suggest going to default settings and see if that helps.

It honestly sounds a memory stick has gone bad. I would go here and get a a copy of memtest x86 for USB. http://www.memtest.org/#downiso

you can test one stick at a time to see which one is bad. If you bought aftermarket memory I would also check with the company about a warranty.

I would also look up any hard drive utilities from the manufacture of your hard drive and run it to check out your hard drives health as well as any other hard drive.

You should also use a completely separate system to download these utilities and install them on a flash drive or other media since your system has become unreliable. I'd also take the time to examine other components and clean them

I'm still running Dual GTX 260's and they're still okay for what I do even though I wouldn't mind upgrading to something a lot more powerful for my next build. I think SSD's are coming down in price for me to consider them being my main drive especially for a video project I have in mind but I want to see better support for RAID especially considering that I need to get something that's 512GB and up.
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Andrew 22 months ago on 10/17/12
Equipped: All-New, Portable, Take-Anywhere Llama named "With one of these, alpaca mean punch!"
I had similar issues last year with unpredictable BSODs. They persisted through reformats and everything. I struggled with my stuff for months before the power supply ID'd itself as the root of the problem by venting sparks and ozone as it died.

You'll definitely want to test your memory thoroughly, and you should also look through your Event Viewer (and maybe check out WhoCrashed and related utilities) to see if you can't find a common thread among the errors you've received. Mine seemed to indicate a faulty USB controller or memory issue, but when I tested the modules, they failed rarely and inconsistently. The improper / inconsistent power they were getting ended up being responsible for all of it.

In the end, I got a new mobo, RAM, and PSU, and everything has been fresh as a daisy since!
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WWNSX 22 months ago on 10/18/12
Equipped: Inappropriately Large Handful of Viagra
Signed up for this crazy look PC benchmark BETA program, check out the trailer.
http://www.allbenchmark.com/
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Killian 22 months ago on 10/18/12
Equipped: Spike Spiegel's Gun (Jericho 94) named "Big Bang"
I third Memtest. Most problems of random crashes I've always had on PCs was almost always a bad stick of RAM. Those install problems can definitely be caused by bad memory sticks. Either run Memtest off of a bootable cd or USB thumb drive and test one stick or pair set at a time. I've had a bad stick cause anything from random BSODs to install errors and graphical glitches in games.

Definitely check with the RAM manufacturer if you find a bad one because many if them have a lifetime warranty and will replace them for free.
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Lucifer 22 months ago on 10/18/12
Equipped: Men's Pocky named "For the man, by the man."
Is bad memory that common? Even with a reputable brand such as Samsung?
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Killian 22 months ago on 10/18/12
Equipped: Spike Spiegel's Gun (Jericho 94) named "Big Bang"
Yes. Sometimes they just go bad for no reason. I've had some work great and just kick the bed with no overclocking or anything and I've even had some be bad right out of the box.
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Senator Hideki 22 months ago on 10/18/12
Equipped: Technique scroll: "Stealth Hump" named "You won't even see me coming..."
Thanks for all the input, guys. I'll follow the various advice in this thread.

One question I've never even thought to ask before, though:

Is it possible to swap one PSU for a higher wattage PSU, or would I have to get a new case or motherboard? I've just never had a PSU be a problem source before.

Also: if I had a faulty RAM stick, wouldn't that cause issues during a "clean" Windows install? I would think the XP installer would take up big chunks of RAM at various points and be just as, if not more, likely to trip on a faulty block of memory.

Also, both of my current 2 gig RAM sticks are Crucial Ballistix. I've generally only heard positive things about their longevity, but if someone knows differently, let me know. Also, if you've got any other recommends for reliable RAM, pass them along.
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Killian 22 months ago on 10/18/12
Equipped: Spike Spiegel's Gun (Jericho 94) named "Big Bang"
I've been able to do clean windows installs with bad sticks of RAM. As for a higher wattage PSU, yea you can fit one into what ever you have now just make sure they have the same connectors and for factor as your old PSU.wattage doesn't increase their size.

I think my old sticks were Crucial but I'm not sure. They can go bad too but their warranty is great.
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Kumba 22 months ago on 10/18/12
Equipped: Most Amazing Thing Ever!!!! named "Silmarils, gems of treelight"
Senator Hideki said:
Also: if I had a faulty RAM stick, wouldn't that cause issues during a "clean" Windows install? I would think the XP installer would take up big chunks of RAM at various points and be just as, if not more, likely to trip on a faulty block of memory.

Entirely possible. However, say you had greater than 4GB of RAM, if the bad memory cells were above the 4GB that are initially allocated by the microkernel used during XP's install, assuming a 32-bit install, then XP probably would never run across them. Only if you had a 64bit XP or other 64-bit OS might you trip up on them.

Running a utility like MemTest86+ would help you isolate any bad sticks of RAM and replace them. Or you can re-use them in a Linux machine and use some special kernel features to detect the mad cell addresses and map around them so that the kernel never uses them. I think Win7 has the ability to do this, too, but I don't know how to enable it. Might be a kernel load switch you have to research and configure.


Senator Hideki said:
Is it possible to swap one PSU for a higher wattage PSU, or would I have to get a new case or motherboard? I've just never had a PSU be a problem source before.

Yes, entirely possible as long as you stick to the ATX specification. 99% of consumer-grade desktop equipment adheres to this in one form or another. There was the attempt at BTX, which moved the PSU to the bottom of the case (I think), but that never took off.

Just be careful with Dell equipment. At one point a few years ago, they were shipping desktops with ATX-compliant PSU power connectors on the motherboards, but they swapped the wires around on the PSU itself. If you tried to swap out the Dell-supplied PSU with a standard PSU, you would fry the board when you powered it on.


Senator Hideki said:
I'm suspecting malware affecting the boot sector or BIOS. Next step is to borrow a Kaspersky rescue CD and see if it can find repairable errors in one of these locations.

While boot sector viruses/malware are out there, I doubt this is the cause. It sounds more like memory corruption, so download the MemTest86+ ISO and run that for a few hours using various RAM combinations. Start with all sticks installed, first, as it sounds like your corruption happens pretty fast, so MEmTest should trip it up quickly.

Also make sure you've plugged all the power leads into the graphics card, make sure the fan spins freely (give it a twirl with your finger -- it should complete several rotations easily). If it stops quickly, you probably have bad bearings and the crashes were due to overheating. Do this test on the other fans in your system, especially the CPU and PSU fans.

It is also possible there is bad memory on the GFX card itself. Unfortunately, I know of no way to test that. You'd have to swap in a different card and see if things worked better or not.
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WWNSX 22 months ago on 10/18/12
Equipped: Inappropriately Large Handful of Viagra
Yeah swapping out a PSU is not a problem outside of the hassle of wiring. Since you have a GTX 260 I'm assuming you have a fairly current or recent motherboard.

Most PSU's now a days have a 24pin main power connector with 4 pins that can split off for the older style 20 pin connectors on the older motherboards since 24pin is the new main connector for the PSU.

My modular Corsair HX750 is pretty awesome and being able to plug in only what you need is great as well so you don't have a tangle of cables in your case.

As far as memory I too have done a clean install with bad memory as well but seeing as how memory isn't fully accessed at all times on any system you're not necessarily going to run across a bad chip on a piece ram unless you have a habit of testing ram when you buy it like I do.

Outside of ECC ram unless it's a higher tier memory not all of the memory chips on a piece of ram are tested. Higher end memory chips that go into higher end memory kits usually are fully tested and so are chips that might go into say ram that advertised for gaming or overclocking.

Anything that's value ram or more affordable might be good enough for the average consumer but it's not going to be fully tested, it might be tested for weather or not it can run at a set speed like 400MHz and then sold as such without further testing.

If you google Crucial Ballistix problems I can see problem threads with current chipsets. As much as longevity is guaranteed it'll still be subject to the electricity you put through it from your house to the surge protector to your PSU.

Power Supplies can and do wear out over time and I myself experienced this in 2008 when I had a Antec PSU blow even though I was using the same hardware for years on it. Eventually the PSU can be damaged by enough power surges besides the Capacitors aging (due to Time, Temperature, and Voltage) and in turn it will not be able to supply the system with the same power voltages it used it.

I would suggest what Kumba said about the video card besides what he said about Windows installs.

Fuck BTX.
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Senator Hideki 22 months ago on 10/19/12
Equipped: Technique scroll: "Stealth Hump" named "You won't even see me coming..."
WWNSX said:
Yeah swapping out a PSU is not a problem outside of the hassle of wiring. Since you have a GTX 260 I'm assuming you have a fairly current or recent motherboard.


GIGABYTE GA-EP45-UD3P P45 775
http://...gigabyte.com/...ts/product-page.aspx?pid=3137#ov

500 watt PSU that came with my Antec Sonata case

PS: Also also also, you guys are all awesome!
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Kumba 22 months ago on 10/19/12
Equipped: Most Amazing Thing Ever!!!! named "Silmarils, gems of treelight"
Senator Hideki said:


GIGABYTE GA-EP45-UD3P P45 775
...gigabyte.com/...ts/product-page.aspx?pid=3137#ov

500 watt PSU that came with my Antec Sonata case

PS: Also also also, you guys are all awesome!


P45 chipset, so 3-4 years old. It'll use the 24-pin PSU connectors. The original board in this desktop box was almost the same, a Gigabyte EP45-DS3R. That's now in my Linux box.

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