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The Official PC building thread - 4th Edition

Discussion in 'Building a new PC' started by ddp, Sep 13, 2010.

  1. omegaman7

    omegaman7 Active member

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    Just bought the 850 Evo
    Not the best SSD technology has to offer, but it is a step up in size(from 256GB to 500GB). The specs suggest roughly the same as the Vertex 4 I have. I don't believe the Vertex 4 ever ran beyond 60% of it's rated speed. I'm on vacation next week, so I'll be able to play :D
     
  2. Estuansis

    Estuansis Active member

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    Samsung's SSD aren't always among the best in performance, but they most certainly are among the best quality. I would recommend Samsung SSDs every time.

    I depend on a 128GB 850 Pro for solely my OS and software. No games. It's FAR more than enough space for my needs and never feels cramped. 70GB free right now with Win 7 x64 Pro and I'm not really being mindful of my space usage. Very, very quick in Windows and great boot times. OS performance is by far the most significant benefit of SSDs. I might be inclined to upgrade to a 256GB 950 Pro though for a little more freedom and performance. I simply have too many games to realistically run a second SSD for them, too expensive for too little benefit. And even the 2TB FZEX is a little tight on space. Loading times are already freaking excellent with the FZEX so I don't feel much urge to upgrade.
     
  3. omegaman7

    omegaman7 Active member

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    The warranty was a big deciding factor. Similar performance claims, were another. Quality seems to be pretty clear as well ;)
    Samsung has certainly earned my respect over the years. It was a no brainer ;)
    I eagerly await it's arrival! Lol
     
  4. sammorris

    sammorris Senior member

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    Now that OCZ are gone, SSD reliability rates are pretty high across the board, but Samsung are still towards the top of the charts, scoring an average return rate of 1:360 both this period and the one before, with Intel having recently dropped from 1:550 to 1:300, though still a respectable score compared to the typical 1:100 failure rate of mechanical disks (especially with the potential risk of picking one of the odd few models with a 1:40 failure rate).

    The 'bum brand' in SSDs is now Corsair. Nothing like as bad as OCZ used to be, but their average failure rate is definitely on the rise, from 1:370 a year ago, to 1:105 six months ago, to just 1:50 now - mostly skewed by a 'defective by design' product I suspect, the Neutron XT 240GB scoring just 1:13, with all their other products scoring 1:50 or more.
     
  5. Estuansis

    Estuansis Active member

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    So short story time. Maybe someone can give more intelligent input on this as I am stumped as to what truly happened.

    Sound card started acting weird as HELL. Like I was seriously convinced I was getting a motherboard grounding issue. At first the mic input port on the card simply stopped functioning. Dead as a doornail. Totally unresponsive. No software setting would affect it and everything else on the card worked fine and sound was clean and clear. Switching slots not feasible because my top video card blocks the second PCIe x1 slot and the bottom fullsize slot shares bandwidth with the video cards. Absolutely no idea what changed in the system to cause it. Windows update maybe.

    Was troubleshooting the card and cleaning the system, testing stability, etc. and the weather was hot so I turned my OC back down to stock. The heat output into my room when gaming is much less, woohoo. Now here's where it gets weird. After turning my OC back to stock, it acted up even more. Why would my OC even affect it??? Turn off CrystalVoice mic management and there's loud static that changes with volume. Not reactive to the system at all as it would be with EMI, just static. Turn CrystalVoice on, static disappears but I could hear everything through my beamforming desktop mic no matter what setting I used. As if it was it was always set to listen and the mic boost was cranked all the way to +40dB. Was kinda freaked out by this.

    Breathed a sigh of relief when I uninstalled the drivers and suddenly no static but perfectly clean sound. If it were a hardware issue, drivers would not affect it at all or at least not in that way I'd think. Ran CCleaner, reboot, reinstall drivers. Now everything works as intended. Even the mic port. What the actual crap. I had the card in and out over and over, turned integrated audio on and off. Nothing would fix it. But it reacting to playing with the drivers means it was likely the software. What confuses me is if it were a software related issue, as software fixed it, then why did the OC settings affect it?

    So the theory is this: IRQ conflict. Somehow the software confused the PCIe slots and was getting mixed signals from the hardware. Changing the OC reset the IRQs(hardware device detection and hierarchy) turning the original software issue of a dead mic port into a much bigger glitch. I have this theory because even with the latest series of Creative sound cards, they are historically very sensitive to hardware and software changes. Famously, X-Fi cards can't run properly in overclocked PCs. Always intermittent issues with OCs that disappear with a stock system and all auto clock control turned off. It's not the same case with the Z series cards, but they still are a bit sensitive.

    So any theories, or am I as close as I'm going to get to a diagnosis without a Creative tech to help me?
     
    Last edited: Jul 8, 2016
  6. sammorris

    sammorris Senior member

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    Sounds like you've covered all bases there. I'll be honest, reliability issues like that are why I stopped using dedicated sound cards. I couldn't find a brand that produced them with half-decent software so just gave up :p
    It does rather sound given the issues with Creative cards and overclocking (which I think I remember hearing a few years back) that you'd be better off running stock if you want to carry on with it...
     
  7. Estuansis

    Estuansis Active member

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    Overclocking with the Z series cards is nowhere near the issue it was with the X-Fi cards. I think on the lesser models, it might even be a non-issue. Though considering what just happened, I might be entirely wrong. The Asus Essence STX II is probably your best bet to avoid Creative's pitfalls, but is just as expensive and comes with its own set of caveats. I honestly think this was caused by a more peculiar set of circumstances, and would be very hard to replicate.

    Sound reproduction is kind of a black magic to begin with. Dedicated cards, even with the software layer on Vista and newer, still do all of the actual decoding and encoding. As these are very timing sensitive tasks, it doesn't take a whole heck of a lot to interfere with the card. X-Fi cards in particular like to drop right off the face of the planet until you reset the BIOS or force a hardware change through software. The ZxR has even more dedicated hardware than the average card, so there's a lot of room for weird shenanigans to occur.

    --------------------------------------------------------
    For the average gamer or for dedicated HTPC usage, you really can't get better than HDMI, especially with bitstreaming enabled for DTS and Dolby formats. Completely digital and depends on the receiver to produce the final sound. Modern games ALL use digital audio so it's a total non-issue for brand new games. Better than integrated in the vast majority of cases, however it takes a pretty nice receiver to match a high-end sound card in output quality. My $600 unit is excellent and would impress any average sound enthusiast, but its internal processing hardware is just not as good as the card.

    For the music-dedicated audiophile, optical digital or USB digital to a DAC, then to a headphone amp or stereo receiver is the magic solution.

    Modern digital methods are more reliable than a sound card. However, digital audio like that is not as flexible and powerful for audio processing. A sound card can do everything a receiver does AND everything a dedicated DAC does, plus recording input, plus PC-specific hardware mixing, then output its own analog signal, with no DAC or receiver needed to further decode the sound. The integrated headphone amp is kind of the clincher for me. I am replacing about 3 or 4 pieces of dedicated hardware with the sound card, while rivaling or surpassing most entry to mid consumer hardware in final output quality. The only thing my receiver does now is power the speakers, which it works awesome for.

    Even if I had better dedicated equipment, I'd likely stick with purpose-made sound cards. They are the ONLY way to get proper hardware mixed audio ala EAX. They also simply have better capabilities than anything else when handling the myriad of PC audio formats and modes. Even a very high-end receiver isn't optimal for PC usage.

    The ONLY downside in usage for a sound card, is that DTS-HD Master Audio is not normally able to be decoded through software. All other surround formats are fine, but DTS-HD has licensing issues still. However, some paid software has the required files to do it, and those files can simply be copy pasted over for other software to use. That's what I chose to do. Otherwise the ONLY way to get it is to bitstream it.
    ------------------------------------------------------------------

    TL;DR - Analog audio is the most powerful and flexible solution, but relies on the sound card having good hardware to make it sound good. Digital is more reliable and much simpler, but is only really optimal for stereo, or encoded surround signals like DTS and Dolby. Digital is somewhat limited for PC surround, and older digital such as optical can't do PCM surround or the HD versions of Dolby/DTS at all. HDMI totally outlcasses Optical/Coax in that regard as it CAN do PCM and HD surround, but still has no hardware mixing capabilities.

    With the my current software and hardware setup, there is no type of audio I cannot play with full capabilities.
     
    Last edited: Jul 8, 2016
  8. sammorris

    sammorris Senior member

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    My main reason for using Optical is not because of any perceived quality increase, but more that receivers that accepted 5.1 analog inputs were more than double what I paid for mine, with no immediately obvious extra features other than higher-rated amps - 50W per channel is ample for me. Especially at the time when I bought it when I earned less than half what I do now, going from £250 to £550 just for analog surround inputs was out of the question.
     
  9. Estuansis

    Estuansis Active member

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    Optical is a perfectly good interconnect if you care to do a little fiddling with your receiver. The actual quality is such that I keep some very nice cables around for it and still use it for a lot of my hardware. HDMI has much better capabilities with similar quality, but lacks the sheer compatibility of optical. If I didn't play games at all, I'd be interchanging HDMI for movies and optical for music. Digital sound has some distinct advantages.

    Most integrated sound chips are kind of funky with analog output anyway. The Realtek on my Z97 board has very quiet rear channels for example, which is a known issue and a design problem with the hardware. It also has no 4/5ch stereo option which is totally unforgivable. Instead it has a very poor surround mixing mode that simply puts odd echoes in the rear speakers. My friend with an identical board confirms the same thing with his.

    The ZxR, on the other hand, has a Pro Studio Surround mode that dynamically works as 5ch stereo and a ProLogic style surround matrix decoder depending on the signal it receives. Very useful for different types of sources. Very balanced on all speakers with stereo, and clear positional with actual ProLogic sources. I use the 4ch stereo plugin with Foobar or disable the center in the Sound Blaster CP though because I dislike using my center for music.

    For integrated sound, optical is really the only option unless you care to use HDMI.
     
    Last edited: Jul 8, 2016
  10. redice

    redice Regular member

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    @sam @Estuansis

    whats your views on this ssd?
    SanDisk SSD PLUS 2.5" 480GB SATA III MLC Internal Solid State Drive (SSD) SDSSDA-480G-G26
     
  11. redice

    redice Regular member

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    @omegaman7

    hows the samsung 850 evo working out for you?
     
  12. Estuansis

    Estuansis Active member

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    With a 3 year warranty the Sandisk is probably a decent drive. The Samsung is likely going to be faster and more durable by default though as it's a newer design.
     
  13. omegaman7

    omegaman7 Active member

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    Working pretty good so far. Windows 7 didn't like being cloned via the process I used (Samsung Migration). A lot of talk suggests it having to do with drive letter association. It said it wasn't genuine after the process.
    I dunno...
    But I have everything running exactly as it was before. The speed test I ran on both drives, is highly similar. I find that very curious. Both running slower than their specifications call for. I suspect either my Sata controller chip, or driver is the culprit. It is very likely that my board is outdated. In many regards lol (MA-790XTA-UD4)
    [​IMG]
     
  14. Estuansis

    Estuansis Active member

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    Omega, very likely your board haha. Particularly old chipset. Nearly vintage now. That Phenom II never fails to get the job done though does it?

    My 850 Pro benches within stated specs or thereabouts. I use MiniTool Partition Wizard to clone drives never had an issue. Even cloning from HDD to SSD and vice versa. For drive letters I have a basic system in my head that seems to work okay. As long as they're the same it shouldn't care in that regard.
     
  15. omegaman7

    omegaman7 Active member

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    Yeah, my Phenom II 1090t performs so well, I haven't seen the need to update yet. But it's becoming clear that my board is very long in the tooth. I read not long ago, that AMD may have something up their sleeves coming out in the next 8 months-ish. I'll make a determination around tax time, if it's worth it to me ;)
     
  16. redice

    redice Regular member

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    would i see that big of a difference over the SAMSUNG 850 PRO 2.5" 512GB than
    SAMSUNG 850 EVO 2.5" 500GB?
     
  17. Estuansis

    Estuansis Active member

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    For most users doing basic desktop stuff the differences will be unnoticeable.

    AMD's new CPUs look promising.
     
  18. redice

    redice Regular member

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    @omegaman7

    thanks and glad to see that you like the 850 evo.
     
  19. Estuansis

    Estuansis Active member

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    Made a new personal discovery while organizing and cataloguing my digital music collection. Vinyl-to-CD Reissues. Basically they take the original vinyl master and record that to CD. Some of these Reissues have too much digital noise reduction and this leads to cold and tinny sound. They tried too hard to get rid of the vinyl noise, and ended up compromising the sound quality.

    The large majority, however, seem to be very subtly cleaned up re-pressings of the original vinyl masters. Just enough noise reduction to drop the noise floor a bit, but leave the sound untouched. They sound excellent, and easily outclass my vinyls. They are the same analog master as the vinyl, with the same dynamic range, and the same warm and smooth sound, but with the excellently clean signal of digital. I'm still clinging to my vinyl, but many mid-80's digital re-issues of vinyl recordings are quickly becoming my sound quality reference.

    Long story short, CD is actually a lot more capable on the technical side of things than vinyl. It just so happens that during the era of vinyl, mastering techniques were much more purist, and resulted in better sound with higher dynamic range. There were no automated tools and everything had to be done by hand, so more effort was put into each individual album.

    During the era that the music industry was adopting CDs, mostly the mid 80s to early 90s, the loudness war started. Music lost its dynamic range and quality for the sake of sounding better on cheap speakers and being easier to master. A lot of digital era music is mastered far too loud, and TONS of subtle detail is drowned out. Fortunately, some artists care about how their music sounds, and were careful to avoid the major pitfalls of mastering for CD. This resulted in unexpectedly awesome versions of some very old albums.

    Remasters are a different subject from Re-issues, but can be just as hit and miss. They are usually a completely new mastering of the music from the original source recordings. Some material is Remastered WAY too loud, with squashed dynamic range. Other Remasters are very faithful to the vinyl, simply cleaning up and remixing the original recording. Others still are a completely fresh shot at mastering the album, and use more modern techniques to get their own kind of sound quality, so are hard to compare to the originals.
    ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Examples of Different Remasters and Reissues:

    1968 - Deep Purple's "Shades of Deep Purple" (1989 CD Re-issue)

    This reissue is VERY faithful to the original vinyl, and the sound quality is awesome. Very subtle digital noise reduction, and much of the vinyl noise is left intact for the sake of preserving sound quality. Mastering volume has been left alone, so dynamic range is preserved. Better than the vinyl in every way. Simply the same recording on a technically superior medium.

    1975 - Steely Dan's "Katy Lied" (2008 SHM-CD Remaster)

    The remaster is a whole different beast from the vinyl. This particular album is infamously a bit inconsistent because the analog noise reduction machine used in recording was malfunctioning. It has great dynamic range, and sound quality is there, but everything sounds a bit weird, like the mastering volume keeps fluctuating and the sound channels behave differently between songs. The CD Remaster was sorely needed. While its mastering volume is overall much higher than the vinyl, there was enough overhead to preserve dynamic range, which lead to a sparkling clean remaster with powerful sound. It is far superior to any of the vinyl releases for the same album.

    The 2008 Steely Dan box set gets compared constantly to my vinyl versions. I prefer the softer sound quality and smoothness of the vinyls, but the CDs are a technically excellent remaster. All the albums are much louder on CD, but the sound quality is such that the range and power of the music is preserved beautifully. In the end, they do sound a bit cold and clinical vs the vinyl, but are good enough in their own right that I keep both versions around. Some of my best sounding vinyl is Steely Dan, so it says an awful lot about the quality of the CD mastering that I didn't just sell them after ripping. I have an extremely hard time deciding which sounds better and it varies from album to album. The remaster of "Aja" is very close to the vinyl, with only some subtle changes to certain songs. "Katy Lied" on the other hand, is a direct objective improvement to the original mastering. Very interesting to A/B both versions.

    Now for a bad one:

    1997 - Nightwish's "Angels Fall First" (2008 CD Remaster)

    This is probably the worst remaster of an album I've ever heard. The entire Collector's Edition Box set sounds freaking awful, but this album is a particular standout. Track 3, "The Carpenter" is a very technically complicated song, that switches between acoustic and overdriven guitars, and many different vocals. The original sounds very clean and sweet, while the remaster is The Loudness War at its absolute worst. Vocals are almost nearly drowned out, and on my somewhat expensive Sennheiser headphones I struggle to make out the lyrics at all. Not a good thing whatsoever for a band that made their name on their incredibly talented classically trained vocalists. The remaster is LOUD LOUD LOUD from beginning to end, and actually causes listening fatigue, which is exceptionally difficult to do on my headphones. There is a lot of very significant digital clipping, and the dynamic range is all but gone. I really regret buying the Collector's Edition Box Set. It totally pales in comparison to the original mid 90s CD releases.

    I have the entire Nightwish discography on Vinyl as well, but those are re-issues from CD to vinyl, so they are the same masters as the original CDs. Nice to have as they are mint still in the plastic, but my listening copies are the CDs. Simply no benefit to doing all the setup and ripping the vinyls when I can get a technically perfect rip of the CDs every time with EAC.


    ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------


    TL;DR - There is no clear winner between vinyl and CD. Vinyl usually has better mastering while CD almost always has cleaner sound. There are excellent and horrible examples of both. Also, Remasters aren't always entirely good or entirely bad. Sometimes they're better, sometimes worse, and sometimes just different. There are objective ways to determine some aspects of quality though, so a little experience and research can help sort out good from bad.

    When I talk about dynamic range and mastering volume, this video below is what I'm referring to.


    View: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3Gmex_4hreQ


    It makes an insane difference in sound quality. It's the basis of the entire vinyl vs digital debate. On a cheap pair of earbuds, it would be very hard to hear the differences, but on a large set of full-range speakers like my Polk Monitors, or powerful amped headphones like my Sennheisers, the difference is night and day. It has nothing to do with the medium being used, as both are capable of far beyond our hearing range. How it was originally mixed in the studio is the difference.

    -----------------------------------------------------------------

    The above reasons are why I optimized my PC towards sound quality first. The only way I could improve upon my sound card is to get an expensive USB or optical DAC. The sound card's internal DAC is very powerful though, and outputs incredibly clean and clear analog sound. It makes telling the differences between different masters and issues much easier. My receiver is capable of it as well, but not to the same extent, and puts an extra piece of hardware between the music and my speakers. If the sound card ever dies, I have no issue switching back to HDMI or optical, but I'd rather keep the functionality afforded by dedicated PC hardware. Otherwise it means using HDMI, which means no hardware accelerated sound, no software equalizer, needing onboard for mic input, needing an extra long cable for my headphones, and many other compromises.
     
    Last edited: Jul 21, 2016
  20. ZoSoIV

    ZoSoIV Regular member

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    hey guys PC problem ...getting a blue screen "unexpected kernel mode trap" Windows 10 won't update either ..but i can get the machine to boot up by going into safe mode uninstall the video card driver then rebooting and windows re-loads the driver ..but anything that updates i get the same blue screen on reboot ...so in safe mode it rolls back all updates i delete the video card driver as said and reboot again which reloads the video card driver ..any ideas ? my next step is to re-seat the video card and the ram and clean out the tower (doesn't look to be dirty though) my guess its a bad video card or ram if the re-seating doesn't work?
     

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