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New rigs!!

Posted: Mar 18th, 2009 at 10:33 pm
by K2
Waited a while but I finally broke down and treated myself and Jenn to a couple of new computers. Her laptop is goin on four years old, and things like the keyboard are failing periodically, or the system blue-screens for no apparent reason. And it's just a single core celeron with only an intergrated intel gfx chip.

My current rig is a Dell XPS M1710, have had it for almost 3 years. Not a bad rig at all, but the monitor interface is failing... I've got this permanent green and violet bar running top to bottom on my screen. I thought it was just the vid card, so I recently switched it out, but it's 1) still there and 2) now when I go into any 3D app, the computer will either lock or blue screen. Bleh.

So. It's time. I got us matching laptops, heh :D This is what's coming - ... 6834220483 - along with one of these for each - ... 6820227394

These rigs should tide us over for at least 2-3 years at least. SSD for super fast read/write access + lower power consumption and heat, core 2 duo CPU w/ 4GB ram (1066MHz FSB), nvidia 9800 GS w/ 512MB DDR3. The SSD's are on the small side but FAST, and I can use the 320GB drives that come with the laptops to setup an external NAS or something similar for data backup and storage.

Gonna toss Windows 7 on mine, I'll let ya know how it performs.

Posted: Mar 19th, 2009 at 12:16 am
by Nad
Nice rigs. Makes me wish my wife's laptop wasn't first on the replacement list.

Posted: Mar 21st, 2009 at 4:36 am
by K2
Everything came in today. Some nice surprises:

1) as I was opening up the first laptop to pull out the 320GB drive that came with it to install the OCZ Vertex SSD, I saw that these laptops have TWO drive bays. So now I am using the SSD as the primary, and the origanl 320GB drive as the data backup store. Sweet.

2) These OCZ Vertex SSD's are FAST. I ran HDTune 3.5 after installing Windows 7 (7057 x64) and ran a simple read test - 176MB/sec average, 181MB/sec burst, average access time 0.2ms. For comparison, I ran the same test on the #@)GB drive that came with it - 58MB/sec average, 71MB/sec burst, 14.7ms access time. Totally insane speed... W7 boots up from being completely off to the login screen in under 20 seconds. I'll be at the desktop with all processes loaded in under a minute.

Windows 7 as of this build uses about half the resources that Vista does in terms of system memory, hard drive space, and processes running in the background.

Haven't tested any games yet, that'll come soon... I am finishing up Jenn's laptop. I'll get to mine tomorrow.

Cons - whoever picked the color scheme for this laptop was on crack. The styling of the case is really nice, but burnt orange on black with neon blue LED highlighting? C'mon. Luckily I don't care so much about that stuff... nuthin a few well-placed stickers can't fix.

Overall, I am happy so far.

Posted: Mar 22nd, 2009 at 5:24 am
by K2
Update - I reverted back to Vista (x64) on this laptop. Why? It wasn't because of Windows 7 directly... that OS is gonna be great once it goes gold. It's just that right now it's still beta and the drivers for it either don't exist or are also beta. The nvidia gfx beta driver for W7 has some issues. Most noticable was in benchmarking... I ran 3Dmark06 and scored a 6745 (9800M GS). While that's more than double what my old system with a 7950GTX scored, it was about 1500-2000 less than what all of the reported benchmarks showed. Started poking around with different programs, and I noticed in cpu-z that the PCI bus was only enabled for 1x for the vid card, when it should have been 16x - my data pipe between the card and the cpu/mainboard was reduced by a factor of sixteen :( Once I switched back to Vista and loaded the latest WHQL driver from nvidia, the pipe showed up as 16x enabled, and my score in 3Dmark06 shot up to around 8200.

FYI - the benchmarks for the SSD drive are consistient between W7 and Vista, however the drive seems just a tad bit more responsive in W7. Is that due to W7 having better support for SSD's, or is it because it's using half the resources as vista? I dunno. Anyways, the SSD still gets close to 195MB/sec read times, and never goes lower than 130MB/sec.

Great lil laptop.

Posted: Mar 23rd, 2009 at 9:16 pm
by K2
Another update, and this one isn't so hot. And it has to do with the OCZ Vertex SSD's.

After about 24 hrs of use with the SSD, I noticed that performance dropped considerably, and then the system hanged. On rebooting, I get a 'missing operating system' message. The partition dropped completely. So I'm reinstalling, and half-way thru installation, I get more errors and the install hangs and blue screens. Again, all data on the drive is gone - partition, everything.

Went thru 5 reinstalls with various errors and hangs, but in every instance either the partition dropped, or there were several missing/corrupt files.

Turns out I'm not alone, at all. Pretty much every OCZ Vertex user that has the latest firmware (1199) has experienced the same issue. Has to do with the controller on the drive not really marking clusters as erased or empty when they really should be. So it doesnt matter if you fill up the drive and then wipe it completely, the controller still shows those clusters as in use. Conflicts arise, and when to try to put more data on the already 'full' drive, the controller gets confused, your OS crashes, and then the partition will likely disappear. The only way to reset the drive so it reports all clusters as empty is to either flash the firmware, or use a utility called HDDerase (versions 3.1 or 4.0).

There's a new firmware coming out in the next couple days to fix that issue. Or I could go back to the original firmware (0112) for stability but would be sacrificing speed and responsiveness.

Gonna hold out for the new firmware and see what people say about it first. So right now, I am finalizing Jenn's laptop right now. Shoudl get started on mine (finally) tonight ;)

So, any of ya wanting to try out these drives, be aware of the issues with firmware 1199.

Posted: Mar 25th, 2009 at 12:52 am
by K2
Another update - firmware 1275 was released last night. Works great, resolved the data/partition dropping issue. I have the SSD as my main drive again, and so far so good. Super-fast and stable.

Posted: Mar 28th, 2009 at 12:58 am
by Jman
So... you're married and "Jenn" is your wife ? Awesome ! Wish we'd have spent more time together back in Dallas '05. Maybe someday we'll get to sit down somewhere and have a cold one. On me my friend...

Posted: Mar 28th, 2009 at 8:19 pm
by K2
Sounds like a plan. Yeah me and Jenn have been married since Nov 2006.

I'm doin a cross-country drive from San Diego to Vermont this June. I definitely plan on stopping in Texas along the way.

Posted: Mar 28th, 2009 at 10:27 pm
by Suck.
Come through Kansas! Would love to meet ya in person! We could do some heavy boozin', then have sex, and Jenn can watch. :)


Awkward. :oops:

But seriously, if you find yourself in this direction, gimme a holla', and we can go have a few drinks somewhere.


Posted: Mar 28th, 2009 at 10:37 pm
by Jman
K2 wrote:Sounds like a plan. Yeah me and Jenn have been married since Nov 2006.

I'm doin a cross-country drive from San Diego to Vermont this June. I definitely plan on stopping in Texas along the way.

Bro.. I'm living in Austin, and Jordan is living in Houston. Either city works for me.. Houston is probably closer I suspect. Lemme know when you're coming down; we do motorcycle stunt shows a lot; would be cool if you landed in Texas when we were at an event. If not, we can still go out and have a great time ! Looking forward to it..

Posted: Apr 2nd, 2009 at 5:21 pm
by K2
Nice ;)

Austin would actually work better for me. I need to find out how many HF'ers are still in Austin or are willing to come down from Dallas/Ft. Worth. Might have to try and pull off HF LAN #8 :P

Posted: Apr 3rd, 2009 at 7:55 pm
by K2
Back on topic - went back to W7 build 7057 yesterday. I found a nvidia gfx driver that works a lot better than the official beta. Driver version I found is 182.46 - way higher 3D mark scores than on anything else before it. Even this beta build runs smoother than Vista, so I am staying with W7 from here on out.

Also, was noticing that while my SSD was a lot faster than any regular HDD, I wasn't getting the read/write numbers that I shoulda been getting. Trick was to setup the drive as a non-member (just one drive) RAID config. That takes the control of the driver away from the IDE bus and puts it in control of the RAID controller. My read/write scores shot up over 100MB/sec extra - maxing out at around 250MB/sec read times now.

Posted: Apr 3rd, 2009 at 9:05 pm
by Jman
I love upgrading.. Getting a few boxes in from NewEgg is just like Christmas. The rig I'm running right now is pretty sweet, but Jordan and I will both do upgrades before this next LAN. Here's a shot of my current rig; I keep it in a Lian-Li server case; specs below.

Hmmmm... can't seem to upload a jpeg from this system :\

Anywho, here are my specs tho:

OS: Vista Ultimate 64bit
Motherboard: ASUS L164-SLI WS/B Dual Processor Nvidia 680i Server Board
CPU: 2 - AMD 64 FX-74 Windsor 3.0GHz Socket F (1207 FX) 125W Dual-Core
Hard Drives: 4 - Western Digital Raptor 74GB 10,000 RPM SATA 1.5Gb/s on RAID 5
RAID Card: Areca ARC-1210 SATAII (Raid 5)
Memory: 4g Corsair XMS2 DDR2 800 PC2 6400
Vid Cards: 2 - (SLI) EVGA 8800 Ultra 768MB GDDR3
Power Supply: Thermaltake ToughPower 1200W ATX12V-EPS12V
Case: Lian-Li PC-76 Server Case w/ glass side panel
Monitor: Samsung 30" SyncMaster 305T Widescreen LCD
DVD: Samsung 20x DVDR SATA
Backup: Seagate FreeAgent Pro 750g External eSATA USB 2.0
Sound Card: Onboard 8 Channel ADI AD1988B HD Audio Codec
Keyboard: Microsoft Standard USB Black Keyboard
Headset: IceMat Black Siberia USB
Mouse: Logitech MX-518
Mousepad: Steelseries S&S
Lights: 4 - Sunbeam Blue Cathodes

Re: New rigs!!

Posted: Apr 20th, 2009 at 3:31 pm
by K2
Yet another update - my 120GB OCZ Vertex SSD is now a very expensive paper weight. Last night, normal operation, not doin' anything extreme... and the program I was in just locks. I reboot, and windows hangs on booting up. I reboot a couple more times, and the partition drops, just like before with the older firmware for that SSD. I reboot again to update the firmware and clean the drive (there's an even newer version out now) but now the system can't even see the drive. I've reseated it, put it in another system... nada. Nothing recognises it anymore. D-E-D dead. Gonna try and RMA it later today.

So for now I'm just gonna go with a regular SATA HDD. Yeah it's slower, but it's a lot more reliable. I'm gonna hold onto all my SSD's for now, and wait for future firmware releases in the hopes they can fix the stability of these things... cuz when they work, they are FAST.