1. This site uses cookies. By continuing to use this site, you are agreeing to our use of cookies. Learn More.

The Official PC building thread - 4th Edition

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

  1. sammorris

    sammorris Senior member

    Joined:
    Mar 4, 2004
    Messages:
    33,336
    Likes Received:
    6
    Trophy Points:
    118
    There are a lot of good things about W10, and a lot bad. Privacy is certainly one, with W10 effectively installed with a Keylogger by default. Windows update can no longer be disabled or configured, and the in-built Antivirus is no longer confiigurable so if you want control over your AV you need to install your own third-party application (A shame as the Defender client in Win8 wasn't bad).

    Other characteristics like automatic installation of a driver for every network attached device it finds on your subnet is an extreme irritation if you connect your laptop to other people's networks for business, though I understand that feature can be disabled, at least for now. What makes this especially problematic, apart from ending up with dozens of installed printers, is that drivers for all components (including graphics) are updated as part of Windows Update which, once again, can't really be disabled unless you start using registry hacks. What'll therefore end up happening is a big banner that says 'failed to install updates' will appear on the screen that steals focus from any non-fullscreen application (not sure about fullscreen ones) and that can only be cleared by hitting escape, or suffering the diagnostic wizard opening, due to an update for an obscure print driver not being available.

    Furthermore, Windows 10 is updated on a build-by-build basis, this means that as well as the usual individual security updates that come along every week, every 4-6 weeks the build number updates. This process takes the same format as updating your entire OS (e.g. installing Win10 as an update to 7 in the first place) and thus takes at least 30 minutes, multiple hours on a slow machine. That happening every month without warning or the ability to cancel it is maddeningly frustrating if it happens at the wrong time. Also bear in mind that since new builds are new operating systems, compatibility issues with hardware and software may appear overnight after your system updates itself. Since most software and hardware developers lump all Windows 10 builds into the same lot rather than classifying them by build number (as to be fair, that would be really labour-intensive, and would ruin the nice neat layout of their websites), compatibility with Win10, while not that much worse than 8.1, is a pot luck affair. Certainly a few older games have been wiped out by compatibility issues that were not present in 8.1.

    On the other hand, you get to keep most of the smart Win8 UI minus all the nonsense start screen stuff nobody ever uses. I still use ClassicShell as I find it superior to Windows 10's start menu, but the included menu is at least somewhat functional now (though still behind W7 in my opinion).

    Overall, I think Windows 10 is actually a substantially worse operating system than 8.1, the only saving grace is that it's now usable without third-party software. With 8/8.1, in my opinion ClassicShell was pretty much mandatory and I installed it on every W8 machine I worked on, but after you did that, it was fairly OK to use long-term. W10 is less impressive, but what worries me is it's a free license to make all sorts of changes at their leisure. Now that updates are mandatory, including changing the whole OS top to bottom, you no longer have any say in whether you want certain features to be added/removed or not. At least those who stick with Win7 know exactly what the capabilities and limitations of their OS are, if they research them. With Win10 it's a moving target, do as MS say or else.

    Oh and due to the above, you need to keep 20GB free on your C: at all times to ensure Windows can update itself, as it needs around 5GB to download the new build, plus another of the same to extract and install it, plus the usual baseline requirements for a page file and so on. Running a 40GB SSD for your C: drive completely defeats Win10, it's impossible to keep it updated (perhaps a good thing in practice though, if you can live with all the error messages). In practice, 128GB should be the bare minimum for a Win10 user, 256GB in practice. Win8.1 was a bit of a chore to run on a 40GB disk, but it was certainly workable. Once again, W10 has made life for those two machines more difficult (especially now the secondary HDD in one of those machines has failed!)
     
  2. omegaman7

    omegaman7 Senior member

    Joined:
    Feb 12, 2008
    Messages:
    7,259
    Likes Received:
    1
    Trophy Points:
    118
    Mostly me :p I also use peerblock to block known bad IP's. I usually notice when something is about to happen. E.g. "your computer is infected". Of course it's not!!! You just want me to click on your link, allowing you to install a keylogger! In which case I end the culprit process.

    But it's rare that I encounter those types of situations. My browsing is most typical. I use youtube to educate myself, and then followup with research regarding those videos. Facebook, and emails pretty much covers it.

    W10 sounds like an epic fail...

    Sam, I just discovered that my external dock cannot access two drives SMART statistics simultaneously. Unfortunate, but not a deal breaker lol
     
  3. sammorris

    sammorris Senior member

    Joined:
    Mar 4, 2004
    Messages:
    33,336
    Likes Received:
    6
    Trophy Points:
    118
    Adblock and a careful are usually enough to stop most dodgy webpages for me. Proper security threats are still going to get through, but quick use of stuff like Malwarebytes post-event is usually enough to get back to normal.

    If you get unlucky, reformat and reinstall windows. Having documents stored in multiple off-PC locations and tools like Ninite to reinstall software make that process far less painful than it used to be.

    A lot of external docks have issue with SMART, same goes for internal disk controllers. One of the downsides of not running a stock machine.
     
  4. omegaman7

    omegaman7 Senior member

    Joined:
    Feb 12, 2008
    Messages:
    7,259
    Likes Received:
    1
    Trophy Points:
    118
    Ah yes of course. I also use adblock, and flashblock lol

    Malwarebytes is awesome! I recommend it to everyone. Lite weight, and packs a serious punch.
     
  5. sammorris

    sammorris Senior member

    Joined:
    Mar 4, 2004
    Messages:
    33,336
    Likes Received:
    6
    Trophy Points:
    118
    Not bothered with flashblock - not a bad call, but I try to limit the number of extensions I regularly use.
     
  6. omegaman7

    omegaman7 Senior member

    Joined:
    Feb 12, 2008
    Messages:
    7,259
    Likes Received:
    1
    Trophy Points:
    118
    I run it, because I don't like pages auto loading videos lol Gobbles up bandwidth :p
    Unfortunately, some videos are another protocol. I'll have to look into that later lol

    Looks like my transfers are faster to the 6TB from a 3TB Green drive. I suspect my WD20EARS is getting old :eek:
     
  7. sammorris

    sammorris Senior member

    Joined:
    Mar 4, 2004
    Messages:
    33,336
    Likes Received:
    6
    Trophy Points:
    118
    How many sites do you visit that play flash videos that Adblock doesn't stop? I rarely find that an issue these days unless the videos are (mostly) legitimate.
     
  8. omegaman7

    omegaman7 Senior member

    Joined:
    Feb 12, 2008
    Messages:
    7,259
    Likes Received:
    1
    Trophy Points:
    118
    Adblock does not stop videos on facebook from loading. Unless I teach it??? Probably a way to tell facebook not to load them. But it was a larger impact to just stop all videos from loading. And should I wish to load one, it's a simple click a way.
    And there have been videos on news sites that auto load, despite flashblock. Probably HTML5. I currently block silverlight, and adobe flash from auto loading. Unless they're on my "white list"

    Ah, you're thinking about ad videos. THOSE are blocked by adblock.
     
  9. ZoSoIV

    ZoSoIV Regular member

    Joined:
    Oct 24, 2007
    Messages:
    4,118
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    46
    sammorris, since were on the subject which VPN would you recommend? and are the free ones ok? or go pay?
     
  10. sammorris

    sammorris Senior member

    Joined:
    Mar 4, 2004
    Messages:
    33,336
    Likes Received:
    6
    Trophy Points:
    118
    That entirely depends what you're using it for - VPN to where?
     
  11. Estuansis

    Estuansis Active member

    Joined:
    Jan 18, 2006
    Messages:
    4,501
    Likes Received:
    6
    Trophy Points:
    68
    Long time no see guys! Got myself into some rather nasty legal trouble a while back and haven't had much way to maintain contact. Long story short some of my HDDs got seized for reasons I probably shouldn't disclose back in November. I'm still likely to face serious repercussions but right now I'm free and clear and trying to keep my nose clean ;)

    Since then I've replaced my Samsung 840 Pro 128GB with an 850 Pro 128GB and the difference is noticeable. Planning on a 256GB 950 Pro M.2 PCIe drive to save space and for even better performance in the coming months. Replaced my pair of WD1001FALS drives for game installs with a WD2003FZEX and replaced all of my WD20EZRX drives with new ones. The data I lost is a pain but I've mostly got it recovered over the past few months. The biggest loss was my music. Some of it was very hard to find.

    When they grabbed my drives they took my drive bay brackets as well, so the HAF is next to useless with no way to mount drives. The brackets simply aren't consistently available in the aftermarket. I took the opportunity to pick up a discount HAF 932 Advanced as a stop gap on Black Friday and transferred my hardware and custom side panel. The case is nicer but only slightly so. Mostly black interior and better grounding on the front USB ports. Finding myself largely underwhelmed.

    Considering dropping the money on an NZXT H440 mid tower for a number of reasons, the largest of which are size and weight. The NZXT H440 is a beast mid tower and should fit all of my hardware problem free according to a company rep I contacted. It also has far better looks IMO. The HAF design is simply becoming dated and is becoming a major chore to transport and clean. My PC weighs some 60+ pounds by my reckoning. A smaller, lighter case would make a major difference.

    Finally got sick of the noise being produced so made some changes to my OCing and cooling methods. Turned SpeedStep and low power states back on in my BIOS and set my voltage as an offset instead. Then I removed the rattling Corsair fans from my radiator and used the Swiftech Helix fans as a pure pull setup. Temps are barely affected but noise is far less and cleaning is easier due to no dead spot on the bottom of the rad. I also removed the 140mm fan from my drive bay as the SpeedStep keeps everything running cooler by default. I also turned all the fan speeds to auto PWM and am letting the system determine speed. So three less 1500RPM 140mm fans and the remaining ones are running at half the speed under idle conditions.

    The end result is half the noise level, with largely unaffected temps and a far lower idle power consumption. A major difference when my PC spends more time idling or playing media than under any sport of real load. My PC is now in the realm of quiet instead of constant background noise. As a listener and lover of music, this is a huge advantage for me and I am happy for the change. My previous noise level was fairly reasonable, but this is a different ballpark. It will also be a welcome change this summer when my PC isn't heating up the room :)
     
  12. omegaman7

    omegaman7 Senior member

    Joined:
    Feb 12, 2008
    Messages:
    7,259
    Likes Received:
    1
    Trophy Points:
    118
    Good to here from you bud! Sorry about your troubles ;)
    60+ pounds eh. I imagine mine is about that. I certainly don't dream about packing it around lol. I recall the empty case weighing more than the typical case. That's certainly a good portion of the weight. I've had friends drop their jaw when they lay their eyes on the HAF LOL! Sure is a beast. Been months since I cleaned it out, dusty as heck, and still doing a fantastic job. Been meaning to take it over to my bros and blow it out. I really need a vacuum...
     
  13. Estuansis

    Estuansis Active member

    Joined:
    Jan 18, 2006
    Messages:
    4,501
    Likes Received:
    6
    Trophy Points:
    68
    The HAF is indeed a monster and I am very fond of full tower cases, but they are just such a chore to move. My Thermaltake Armor is much the same way. Tempted to put a PC in it though for nostalgia's sake.

    I like to keep my hardware squeaky clean as I am still struggling to quit smoking which means frequent trips to the garage to use the air compressor. Cigarette tar is awful on computers. Gets into everything and stinks and sticks like glue. Only isopropyl alcohol takes it off reliably. Have had to spray down more than one board with aerosol cleaner but hey it works. So frequent and regular cleaning is a major priority to keep my hardware pristine. Once every few weeks.

    The 32" 1440p Samsung has developed some film separation which causes a large slightly mis-colored spot that shows up under certain conditions. Mostly solid light blue sky/ocean backgrounds in movies and games. Doesn't show up at any angle with some colors. Usually it's invisible and in 85-90% of things I don't notice it. But when I do notice it, it's awful. Totally wrecks my enjoyment of the monitor at those times. Laying the monitor flat on its back and placing a bag of ice over the spot to shrink the underlying film, nearly eliminates the issue, but it comes back within a week.

    Considering my memory limit issues, and my love of anamorphic wide screen films, it feels appropriate that I am currently looking at a 34" 21:9 in 2560 x 1080. It'll ease the burden on my poor 970s a bit when running heavily modded Skyrim, and give me what I wanted for films all along. It'll also take some advantage of my 4K releases much like the 32" in that they're well over 1080p film resolution Most anamorphic 1080p is 1920 x 800 so there's tons of room to improve. Most of my films are 10GB+ 1080p rips with either DTS-HD Master Audio or Dolby TrueHD. Some of my films are 20-30GB as they have very little compression. After about 13GB is diminishing returns though unless on a HUGE display as modern compression is very good. I save uncompressed storage only for special films such as LOTR, Saving Private Ryan(sadly 16:9) and the like. The large majority of my collection is well suited for large screen viewing.

    http://www.displaywars.com/32-inch-16x9-vs-34-inch-21x9

    21:9 changes the game for anamorphic movies. Most cinematography is 1.85:1 or similar while most CG or animation are 16:9 so it's a trade off. The 21:9 will display my ultra-wide movies in the largest possible size without cropping out any critical details. Even on the 32", anamorphic films are very small on a 16:9 display. I can usually get away with 6 notches of zoom on MPC-HC without cutting out anything important, on almost any movie, but it's still not adequate. I gain more for anamorphic from a new display than I lose from 16:9 in my opinion.

    The Samsung also has a very noticeable color shift when looking at it straight on. If you are at a slight angle, the colors are amazing, but at a perpendicular angle the monitors is very overexposed and there is quite a bit of black crush. It loses its contrast and dynamics. The 21:9 LG is an IPS display which is a far more mature technology than AMVA and more consistent from the get-go.

    I'd honestly go after another Samsung display and try again, but the panels in them just don't have a very good reputation for reliability. And nothing else comes close without going too high at 4K or too low at 16:9 1080p. Anamorphic seems a reasonable compromise. Games likewise will be at a much larger FOV, so will be losing less than it may seem. I'm pretty sold. The Samsung can stick around anyway as otherwise it's a decent display for my consoles and as previously mentioned the issue is only noticeable under certain conditions. It's a really good monitor in most other respects.
     
    Last edited: Apr 16, 2016
  14. omegaman7

    omegaman7 Senior member

    Joined:
    Feb 12, 2008
    Messages:
    7,259
    Likes Received:
    1
    Trophy Points:
    118
    I'm convinced I gave my first PC's power supply cancer. I've not smoked around a computer since. Yup, I love computers that much lol. Not to mention, it's very hard on Disc Media burners. Though I don't use them that much anymore...
     
  15. Estuansis

    Estuansis Active member

    Joined:
    Jan 18, 2006
    Messages:
    4,501
    Likes Received:
    6
    Trophy Points:
    68
    I use them quite frequently as most of my consoles are chipped or softmodded. Homebrew, backups and the like. DVD based burns it does okay but it sucks at CDs as it can't achieve a 4x burn. Only 14x reported speed no matter what software or media. Usually fine, but sometimes problematic. DVDs are much better and haven't had a coaster yet. I'm tempted to get a dedicated external CD-RW drive.
     
  16. sammorris

    sammorris Senior member

    Joined:
    Mar 4, 2004
    Messages:
    33,336
    Likes Received:
    6
    Trophy Points:
    118
    Welcome back Jeff :)

    I must admit, despite previously having mentioned to me that a long absence was a possibility - I saw your steam profile pop up as occasionally playing things, but didn't question it, just in case someone else was using your account.

    I forget exactly where I was at when you first went absent, so a quick recap - there are four machines I have that are used on a somewhat regular basis, three daily or almost daily, and one less often.

    Voyager, the system built from day 1 in the HAF 932, remains so. It is now running an i5 6600 in an MSI Z170X-Gaming Pro. The hardware was purchased in late 2015 but not fully introduced for several weeks due to POST failures caused by a displayport leaking current from the monitor back through the motherboard (you could power the GPU fan and the motherboard LEDs without the mains cable even being connected to the PSU, let alone the PC being switched on! Proven with two GPUs, yet the same cable worked flawlessly with both cards in the previous P55 board, so you can imagine how long it took me to find that!)
    The i5 750 system was finally throwing memory management BSODs too often for my liking, so at very nearly 6 years of age was retired. Not bad for a CPU that ran more than a 50% overclock for over 4 years of its life, on air cooling throughout. The same system had seen me through the use of HD4870X2 quad crossfire, HD6970 crossfire, an R9 290X and through to my current GTX970.
    The PSU was also replaced at the time the CPU/board were upgraded, the near-silent ZM850-HP being retired with a so-far-so-similarly-quiet Corsair RM1000i. When I bought the GTX970 I discovered it would crash if connected to PSU connectors 1+2, but not 3+4 - this clued me to suspect the PSU might have a dodgy rail or two, and at 7 years old, it seemed a good time for replacement. The 1000W unit is vastly overkill for a GTX970, but allows headroom for a dual-GPU setup in future if I ever decide to go back that way.
    The SSD was upgraded a while back from the 128GB Samsung 830, to a 480GB Crucial M500. The Samsung was already quick enough, but this allows a few important things to go onto the C: drive and also gives me the luxury of recording game screen capture to an SSD for the first time.
    The WD20EARS in this machine failed a few months back, and the WD1001FALS just wasn't big enough for all the games, so both have been replaced with a WD40EZRX and WD2002FAEX respectively.

    Intrepid, the file server in a 4U case, has also had a similar upgrade, which was even further drawn out due to the above issue, as this wasn't a system I could afford not to have running for very long. Due to similar BSOD issues, the Q9550 and X48-DS4, a 7 year old pairing, have been replaced by an i5 6500 and Gigabyte Z170-HD3P.
    At the time of the rebuild I also installed an NZXT GRID+ V2 fan controller to try and get the noise level down. It certainly succeeded in that goal, but the NZXT software is very poor, no better than what we always seem to have to put up with for software fan control. Functionally it was OK, but had a major limitation in that non-rpm sensing fans (e.g. fans that took full-size 4-pin molex connectors, and you'd used 4-pin to 3-pin fan adapters to connect them) were not properly supported, so when first booting the unit with them attached, they would power up but not be speed-controllable, hence would run at full speed.
    To get them speed controlled you had to connect an rpm-sensing fan to that port first, then unplug it with the system live and reconnect the correct fan. A lot of hassle, especially considering the 3-pin fan connectors on the unit are so stiff that before you pull the fan connector out, you will tear the controller off its (quite sturdy) velcro mounting. This is only an issue if the system power is isolated, as while the fan settings are volatile memory, meaning you'd need to open the case and repeat this every time the PC was switched off at the wall, it would not be necessary to do it if the PC was just shut down.
    Another issue with CAM is that it will try and get data on your hard disk performance every second, which means a seek. For most PCs, the hard disk LED going off once a second is annoying, couple that with the 'click....click....click' of the disk actually seeking and, apart from wasting energy from the drive being unable to sleep and reducing the life of the drive, it's just irritating.
    The final nail int he coffin though is the PC completely freezing - no BSOD, it will just stop, power still on but no response over network, not even ping, and the mouse cursor will stop moving. Having spent a while trying to diagnose this I removed the GRID+ unit entirely (uninstalling CAM did not stop this) and so far <touches wood> I haven't seen the issue recur. If it does, back to the drawing board.
    In order to get away with removing the fan controller I decided to swap the 2200rpm 120mm front three disk array fans with Antec Tricools I had spare in my cupboard set to the low setting (900-1000rpm, each sample seems different, one is even blue LED to my dismay but for less than £10 for a job lot of 9 fans a few years back I can't argue, one of them even has a pot on it rather than the 3-position switch, bit odd) and the 3800rpm 80mm rears went out in favour of the pair of 80mm Nexus fans I originally had installed in the NZXT Lexa machine.
    The loudest part of this machine now is the Gelid PCI slot fan card I installed to keep the Adaptec disk controller cool with the system fans turned down. Don't buy one of these, they're dreadful. The fans are actually quite nice, 10mm thick 100mm odd fans with good airflow, reasonable acoustic profile, but the mount is rubbish, I could fold it in half with my little finger it's so ductile and it wobbles multiple inches in the slot if you lean on it, which is enough to cause the fans to foul any cables in the area if you're not extremely careful.
    Disks in this machine had been unchanged for two years until recently when I added a couple of 6TB disks to allow the replacement of a failed WD20EARS Mk. II TV drive, cascade out a couple of the oldest WD20EARS Mk. I drives and add extra capacity.
    More disks will follow to up the capacity a little further fairly soon, I suspect I may try out one or two of the new 8TB WD Red drives. Current total system storage is 60TB.

    Princess, what was once my LAN machine, is now a second desktop. It retains the i5 3470, Gigabyte Z77 micro-ATX board and the MSI HD7770, but would only be used for games in the event of a major incident at the moment. The onboard NIC is faulty (system will BSOD if you send network data at high speed, such as a download or network file copy for more than a few minutes) and so are all but the topmost PCI express slot. I discovered this was the case when first testing the Adaptec card, but it was too late to return the board easily so I lived with it. This does, however mean I can only install a PCIe NIC to replace the onboard if I take the HD7770 out and use onboard graphics.
    I could potentially use a USB ethernet adapter, but I wonder if it's really worth it. I suspect this machine may be imminently decommissioned. I'm still keeping the case as it's 10 years old in July and quite treasured, though quite battered, and now with a snapped foot (which I need to glue back on :S ), but there are too many other PCs in better working order to warrant spending lots of money on this machine. I do have a spare Asus Z77 board from the issues I had when first building the current 2012 iteration of this machine (where a faulty SATA cable was shorting the board out, sounds painfully familiar now doesn't it!) so I may try swapping that in.

    Endeavour is the newest addition to the family of custom-built machines, a mini-ITX system built in a Fractal Node 304 in summer 2015, strictly for LAN use. It's currently running a cracked copy of Win7 as I discovered when building it that I had run out of windows licenses. The hardware is a bit too modern for Win7, however, so I may well give it a proper Win10 license soon - I replaced the legitimate, but difficult to work with Windows 8.1 student VLK I was using with my server at the time of its rebuild (swapping the 40GB Intel SSD to the 128GB Samsung cascaded from Voyager) with a Windows 10 Pro key from Software Geeks as it was cheap. Endeavour may receive the same before long.
    Once that has happened, I suspect Endeavour may take over from Princess as the secondary desktop for general use. Rest of the specs are an i5 4690S, Gigabyte Z170N-WiFi, Gigabyte Mini-ITX GTX960, 240GB Crucial M500 and WD3003FZEX. Both Endeavour and Intrepid are using Corsair RM650 PSUs (The original NX-5000 R3 530W in the latter which was inherited from Darkstar II had a failed fan bearing. Still worked, but having a 24/7 machine making noises like that is not something I could allow to continue!)

    Monitors are currently the same - Dell UP3214Q for primary, Dell U2312HM for secondary, and a Samsung 2032BW for running tests. The 3008WFP I took to the office has, like the PC that went with it (Darkstar II) finally failed. In the case of the display, the backlight power supply (another known weak point of the unit) has blown after being overheated too many times (blame my boss for that one :p) - Not sure on the PC, could be any number of things to cause that, but time at work currently precludes doing an autopsy on it, so it sits dormant under my desk.
    I am intending to replace the UP3214Q with a UP3216Q in the coming weeks, as MST tiling problems with nvidia's drivers have still not been resolved, and AMD's iteration was equally bad, just in different ways.
    The monitor replacement I intend to come fairly shortly before or after a graphics upgrade - while originally proposed to be a GTX980Ti, the delays in being able to justify the cost of this pairing (£800 for the monitor and £500-£550 for the GPU) mean I am more likely to wait until the die-shrunk GTX1080 comes out before committing here and may well end up upgrading once again in 2017 when the newly designed architectures to make full use of 14/16nm process size are finally released.
    To think it's already been more than 4 years since we've been stuck at 28nm for graphics....

    Work laptop was replaced with a Surface Pro 3 in September - not without its flaws, but a very capable and lightweight unit to take around, very pleasant high-resolution screen and good near-desktop performance.

    On the peripheral front, the Razer hardware is almost all done away with now, the very underwhelming Razer Taipan I bought to replace my old Diamondback has now been consigned to the office, and replaced with a far superior SteelSeries Sensei RAW Frost. Glides well, is fairly light and has none of the tracking issues of the Taipan. The Razer Abyssus I used as a secondary had its scrollwheel failed, so I have replaced it with a bog standard HP mouse like those we supply at work, as I quite like using them.
    Keyboards remain a Ducky Shine II, Qpad MK-50, and the old MS Sidewinder X6 at the office. As tempting as it is to get yet another mechanical, they don't come cheap and my experience with the Qpad MK-85 taught me that you don't always get what you pay for!
    Only other item worthy of note is that I replaced my old Labtec desk microphone due to excessive static noise people were complaining about. I now have a Blue Yeti. Massively overkill for my purposes, but if a job's worth doing etc. Hopefully it should last me well, it certainly sounds the part.
    Still using Roccat Taito mouse mats and Sennheiser HD202 headphones, they're pretty much ideal for me.

    Well, for someone who spends less time on hardware due to doing so much at work, that sure was a long post... oops!
     
  17. Estuansis

    Estuansis Active member

    Joined:
    Jan 18, 2006
    Messages:
    4,501
    Likes Received:
    6
    Trophy Points:
    68
    My access to my PC in the past few months has been spotty at best. Thankfully the large majority of my hardware remained intact. Only drives/brackets taken, and with general care not to destroy my PC. Thank you professionals. Imagine the million possible scenarios and you'll probably get pretty close. Right now I am currently at home with free access and should remain so for a while. I am not under any bond or legal restrictions. Any access to Steam or the like was probably me.

    Have considered a 3014 30" 2560 x 1600 as a backup but they're expensive. I can score a good quality 21:9 34" for about $400. The type of size I want is monstrously expensive in a PC monitor. I can get a quality 39" 1080p LED TV, miles better than my previous HDTV attempts, for not much and it would serve well. It would also run through my receiver's HDMI which would eliminate some issues. Even cheap 1080p panels have made strides in the past few years.

    There are also some ludicrously cheap Seiko 42" 4K displays that have good color and quality and will run 4K 60Hz on a PC BUT they need a USB firmware update to do it. They will also run 1080p and 1440p adequately as they have a decent scaler. TVs tend to have really decent scalers which this 32" Samsung has as well. As a display it's unexpectedly good. The separation issue is such a crying shame. An HDTV would give me the size I want, but would negate the use of 4K content. A 34" 21:9 would give a similar anamorphic experience and be able to take advantage of 4K, but any other content would be limited to a 27" 16:9 box, a downgrade from the 32". Hard decision. 16:9 still seems the best in that regard, haha.

    Strongly considering a Creative Sound Blaster Z with a beam forming mic. Also want to replace the Razer BlackShark headset with a pair of Sennheiser HD280Pro headphones or a more expensive pair of HD598s. Those models are widely regarded as the closest thing to an audiophile product at their respective price points. A few years ago they were about $100+ more expensive so right now is a good time to buy. I tried looking at some Grado SR80e's and SR125s but they are generally not what I want in this price range. THey simply don't compare to say the Grado 325s or better that I've demo'd. If I were looking at $200+ for a pair, some Grados would be at the top of my list, but their entry models just aren't enough. My Razer BlackShark headset is awesome build quality, very impressive, but the sound grows increasingly inadequate as more of my collection is replaced with 24/96 FLAC and Vinyl rips. They sound pretty decent with movies and games. Nice and punchy. Just fine for multiplayer gaming. But for music they struggle to produce acceptable sound. They sound overdriven and muddy, almost like steady distortion or bass drone. Really nasty handling of music and fatiguing to listen to. Some EQ takes the drone away and makes them usable, but doesn't help their quality much. My old HD212s which were far cheaper also outperformed the Razers, so a much higher-end pair of Senns should be great.

    I want the Soundblaster Z for a few reasons. First is that the X-Fi XtremeGamer Fatal1ty Pro is an unreliable card as is my older XtremeMusic. Both produce great sound quality, but they like to spontaneously drop out of device manager at the drop of a hat. It takes a complete registry sweep and driver reinstall to get them working again. It has something to do with running them in newer generation motherboard chipsets that handle the PCI bus differently than they used to. The PCIe versions do not have the issue. It isn't a particularly well known issue but creative and many users have documented it on the downlow. The Soundblaster Z has no major recorded issues and seems to be a reliable card. Creative's software has also improved and they seem less intent on making users pay extra for basic functionality. It should also be a small upgrade in perceived quality from the older cards.

    Second, I've finally found a method for true software decoding of DTS-HD MA which I couldn't do before and was previously forced to bitstream through HDMI to use it fully. HDMI sucks if you aren't also using it for video, and this monitor doesn't support 1440p through HDMI. Now that I can send DTS-HD and Dolby TrueHD as a PCM stream, it benefits me to use a sound card for the many other capabilities it offers. Particularly DSP on analog which my receiver will not do, only pass-thru. HDMI is a pain to use so Optical or Analog are better for PCs. Optical is woefully limited, so analog it is.

    The only caveat I can think of is PCIe bandwidth on 1150 CPUs which is only an archaic and ludicrously small 16 lanes. Very limiting. I may have to search for a better video solution and drop SLI, or play with my config in other ways, because I want a PCIe M.2 drive as well. Currently on the line with Gigabyte support asking the exact details of the Z97 chipset as it applies to this board. I think the PCH actually supplies bandwidth to both PCI slots and both PCIe x1 slots. If so, I'm in business. Pending their reply and advice, I will be ordering the Soundblaster Z and Sennheisers shortly. The sound card I wouldn't mind finding used, but the headphones will be new so I will be deal sniping them. The M.2 drive will be something else entirely and will require more research. There might be a way to force it onto the PCH as well, limiting the bandwidth a bit at x1 instead of x4, but leaving my PC otherwise un-gimped. I can't believe they would leave this board limited at 16x with no way to use the x1 or M.2 slots with SLI. Especially considering they advertise it as an optimal multi-GPU board, and even include a SATA power connector for when more than one full size PCIe slot is used.
     
    Last edited: Apr 30, 2016
  18. Estuansis

    Estuansis Active member

    Joined:
    Jan 18, 2006
    Messages:
    4,501
    Likes Received:
    6
    Trophy Points:
    68
    Gigabyte got back to me and confirmed my suspicions. I should have no issue with a PCIe 1x card. My motherboard has a separate chip providing PCIe 2.0 bandwidth to the PCIe x1 and PCI slots.

    Long story short, I could simply use HDMI sound and get the digital advantage as well as lossless+game surround, but HDMI is problematic in other ways. It has to do handshaking at a hardware level which is a PITA if I want to use my receiver for HD consoles alongside my PC. The receiver does not like having HDMI looped back on itself. It freaks out because my PC is connected to two separate inputs on my monitor. DP straight from the GPU and HDMI through the receiver. It also lacks software DSP capabilities entirely which I need for older games that use EAX.

    Optical is still far and away the best for music, but relies on my receiver's DAC or an external DAC, and is very limited for game audio. I would need to use DDL or DTS-C to get surround, which is fine for game sound quality, but sucks for lossless surround in Blu-Ray movies and it works inconsistently for both. Optical would be the easiest choice if I were solely playing music and DVDs. Blu-Rays and games make it very limited indeed.

    Analog can do everything HDMI does straight-up, but depends on a sound card's internal DAC. So a high-end sound card is a must, otherwise a mid-range and up receiver will outperform it with HDMI or optical. My receiver already has excellent Burr-Brown PCM1796 DACs for all channels, so only the very best sound cards such as the SoundBlaster ZxR and Asus Essence STX II will outperform it.

    Where it gets complicated is that I don't want to downgrade my in-line DACs or waste money on something that's nearly the same. A regular SoundBlaster Z has similar DACs to my receiver, while a ZxR and Asus Essence STX have higher quality Burr Brown PCM1792A DACs, a decent upgrade from my receiver. So if I want analog, I can either go the cheap route and get no upgrade, or go the expensive route and get an upgrade at the same time I'm moving to analog.

    So expensive sound card + analog is my best option, period. Either that, or stick with HDMI and not waste my money.

    Also hunting for headphones. Currently split between Sennheiser HD598s, and Audio Technica ATH-M50x. Maybe a few other models as well. Currently leaning towards the Sennheisers for musical neutrality, open-backed design for better stereo imaging, and superior comfort. The Audio Technicas have a more aggressive, overdriven sound, and are closed-back so have a dark, closed-in soundstage. It really comes down to preference, but I would be more apt to lean towards the more transparent sounding cans.

    So here's what I'm looking to buy for now.

    Headphones

    http://www.amazon.com/Sennheiser-HD-598-Over-Ear-Headphones/dp/B0042A8CW2/ref=sr_1_11?s=aht&ie=UTF8&qid=1461253207&sr=1-11&keywords=Sennheiser+Headphones&refinements=p_36:1253506011

    Sound Card, still up in the air, but something of this general caliber.

    http://www.amazon.com/ASUS-Sound-Essence-STX-II/dp/B00ONSBF4K

    I have good quality, oxygen-free shielded cabling for everything. Both 3.5 to RCA and RCA to RCA. These choices I made based on audiophile impressions and statistical analysis. I think for under $200 the Sennheisers are basically the best headphones you can buy. And for gaming/movies, a soundcard+receiver outstrips a stereo DAC in functionality every day.

    Optical would be wonderful if I could run multi-channel optical with it ie 3 optical cables for my channels instead of 3 analogs.
     
    Last edited: Apr 21, 2016
  19. sammorris

    sammorris Senior member

    Joined:
    Mar 4, 2004
    Messages:
    33,336
    Likes Received:
    6
    Trophy Points:
    118
    I think the main reason why the number of PCIe lanes hasn't improved on Intel mainstream CPUs is because with the newer specifications of PCIe it hasn't been necessary. PCIe3 16x is effectively what PCIe1 64x would have been and PCIe2 32x was. Typically, benchmarks indicate that you only start to see noticeable changes in performance when running two of the fastest GPUs and even then it's typically a 5% performance hit or less.
    The 'enthusiast' platform is always available for those that need 32 lanes and although much more expensive, it needn't be prohibitively so.

    I thought one of the points of optical was that it could carry six channels down a single cable? I've been using optical off the onboard audio on my boards for a few years now, attached to the Pioneer VSX-922 receiver. Sound quality is pretty good, and engage/disengage lag is pretty minimal unlike with the SoundBlaster external cards I used to use.
     
  20. omegaman7

    omegaman7 Senior member

    Joined:
    Feb 12, 2008
    Messages:
    7,259
    Likes Received:
    1
    Trophy Points:
    118
    Afraid I can't offer any input. While my receiver is quite a bit younger than me, it's still pre-optical/pre-hdmi. I believe it was manufactured in 97-98. I see no reason to upgrade at the moment. My towers sound great. Though when my credit is repaired (Underway), I may strongly consider an upgraded stereo. To say this one is long in the tooth, would be a massive understatement lol
     

Share This Page