Friday, December 26, 2014

Friday bench day: 5.16Ghz FX 6350 Cinebench Rampage

This is the secondary computer I have at my grandma's house. Based around an FX 6350 8GB of Corsair Vengeance RAM and a ASUS Sabertooth 990FX motherboard. And since it finally started to snow a little I decided it was the ideal time to do some benching on low ambient temperatures.

So after a few hours of having both windows in my small tower(seriously it's a tower) room open the temperature reached around 8C° at the intake of my Phanteks heatsink.
Cinebench was the first benchmark I ever used and since it's the only benchmark I have installed on this computer that doesn't greatly benefit from a clean install of windows I did Cinebench 15 and Cinebench R11.5. In R15 I got 624points at  5.16Ghz. That's a nice 3rd place on the FX6350 leader board. 
I'll be honest I'm proud of my efficiency on this run because I was running on my Corsair Vengeance sh*t sticks.

I managed to get another 0.2 points in Cinebench R11.5 over my 5Ghz score. Unfortunately the cold got to me and I forgot to do a second run and so the score is ever so slightly lower than it could be.
I'll be doing another session soon on my 2333 9-11-10-32 G.skill Pis. Also it looks like this CPU could run 5.16Ghz all day everyday if I just had a good cooler because all these runs were done on just 1.6V with High LLC settings.
Here's a challenge to all my readers who have an FX 6350. The first to beat my score in either Cinebench R15 or R11.5 by the 27th of January 2015 and I'll give you 10,000 DOGE. !NO LN2 and leave a link to a pic of your system and your dogecoin address in the comments!

BTW I updated the support this blog page to include sources of free dogecoin. If every time someone goes on this blog they went to this site and set the dogecoin to this blog I could get or buy a fan to review every month and it just takes a few clicks.

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Posts might be delayed to Monday

I found out I forgot to pack some stuff for my stay at my grandma's house for X-mas and new years so I'll have to go get it and so the testing I wanted to do tomorrow is getting delayed.

Sunday, December 21, 2014

ASUS now has it's own external VRM!

This is the new external VRM from ASUS. It's built for up to 500A on 8 phases and a maximum voltage of 2.5V.
You can follow all updates about it in this thread.

Saturday, December 20, 2014

The RAM and FAN test bench overview

 Built on an IKEA pine wood wine rack. For low weight.
 With WiFi for easy screenshot uploading and maximum portability.  (Mounted with zipties)
 Based on the Gigabyte F2A88X-D3H I reviewed ages ago.
(Also mounted with zipties)
 Insulated for use with LN2.

and with a crocodile clip for reading CPU core voltage directly

Running an Athlon II X4 750K cooled by a cooler master Seidon 120V closed loop cooler.
(The rad really is just sitting there)

With video provided by my modified R7 260X
(The cooler is mounted with zipties)
(If I get a bigger PSU and another CPU cooler I will replace it with the water cooled GTX 590)

 The RAM currently in this beast is the G.skill ECO 2x2GB 1333 7-7-7-21 1.35V kit I previewed some time ago.

 The HDD is a 350GB WD blue.
(Mounted with even more zipties)
The PSU is an EVGA 430W 80+ unit.
(Held in place by zipties)
This is built from scrap parts from other projects(GPU MB and CPU Cooler) and my friends old PC(wifi and HDD). The reason why I built this is that my 3960X is never ever going to boot with RAM above 2500mhz so I can't use it for RAM reviews. This 750K already managed to boot 2520mhz on these G.skill sticks so it can do a better job with RAM than my main system. Ideally this would be a Z97 system but good Z97 boards cost about 1.5-3X what this board cost and an i5 4690K is about 3X the price of the 750K. Yes I know there is the Pentium G3258 but IMO pairing a 3000czk MB with a 1700czk CPU is stupid. Plus AMD CPUs are funner to OC.
The idea for using the wine rack from IKEA is that. It can hold as much stuff as a full tower, cost only 199czk(10$) and weighs less than any other case you can buy.
I used the cooler master Seidon for cooling because it allows me to easily swap fans for fan reviews.
If I had to change any things I would get a better PSU(750W Seasonic/EVGA) and a better MB(Crossblade Ranger).

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Hooray! 5K views

Today the blog reached 5,000 views so here is a quick tip as thanks.
If you have a low power laptop underclocking the monitor using Custom Resolution Utility can save a ton of battery life. I have my Lenovo's screen running at 30hz and it really boosts my battery life because the screen is one of the most power hungry parts of this laptop.

BTW I draw a really dark comic over at

Monday, December 1, 2014

R9 290/R9 290X Refrence PCB Overclocking Guide

The R9 290 and R9 290X are AMD's current flagship single core GPUs. I have 1 of each running in crossfire and have benched both of them extensively.
I expect that you know what is where in afterburner and you know how to configure custom fan profiles.

Software you will need
For daily use and aircooled benchmarking:
MSI afterburner
Sapphire Trixx
For benching on water or LN2
PT1/PT3 BIOS (link in useful links page)
GPU Tweak 2V (link in useful links page)
AtiWinFlash (link in useful links page)

Air 24/7
The Hawaii GPUs are pretty tanky so they can be overvolted for years without any negative effects. For 24/7 overclocking you will only need MSI Afterburner because going above +100mv on the core voltage generally doesn't help your frequency margin much and is about as high as you want to go for 24/7 overclock. There is no reason not to set the power limit to 150% so just set it to 150% and forget about it.

The Core
Most Hawaii GPUs do about 1100mhz without raising the core voltage. Once your card can't go any higher on stock volts start raising the voltage by 12mV. While voltage does increase frequency ranges AMD cards are really sensitive to temperatures and so the increased operating temperatures can counter act the increase in voltage. This is not an issue for people on water cooling but for people on air coolers I recommend tweaking the fan curve too avoid going above 85C° however if you can tolerate the noise of your cooler at 90% just set it to hit 90% at 70C° and you should be all good temp wise.
Afterburner has an AUX voltage setting for the Hawaii cards. Unfortunately no one really knows what the best setting for it is and I haven't fully test it yet so you will just have to test it at settings between -50mV and +100mV going by 50mV increments. I have mine at +100mv to get 1140/1550mhz on my Windforce R9 290X. I do suspect however that the AUX voltage somehow impacts the core voltage either in stability or how high it is.

The VRAM on Hawaii cards is very different from previous cards. ALL Hawaii cards have a golden ratio of
VRAM clock/core clock. This ratio varies from card to card but is generally between 1.25 and 1.4. Once you find this ratio it will generally allow you to run a much higher memory clock than try to incrementally raise VRAM frequency. For example my R9 290X has a ratio of 1.36 and 1140/1500 is not stable on it but 1140/1550 is even though they are at the same voltage.
While the Hawaii cards do not have memory voltage controls available in any software the memory clock does scale with core voltage so if you are trying to push a high memory clock you wil need to raise the core voltage regardless of your core frequency.

For some reason Hawaii cards don't always downclock  the memory when idling so when you are going above 1350mhz VRAM with an OCed monitor or on a multi monitor setup you will need to set Afterburner to constant voltage. This will not negatively impact the life span of you card because the idle core voltage will still be under 1V. I also recommend trying this if you crash when pressing apply because that happens for the same reason. Your VRAM OC kicks in but the voltage stays at idle levels and you get a crash.

Water 24/7
Do what you did for air 24/7 but use sapphire Trixx to get above +100mv core voltage.

Air Benching
Do what you did for the Air 24/7 but use Afterburner to set your AUX voltage then use Sapphire Trixx to get +200mv core. If you have an air cooler just max the fan speed since you're benching.

Water/LN2 Benching
!! COMING SOON !! NOT because my card does not like the available LN2 BIOSs sorry

Friday, November 28, 2014

Cooling multi GPU configs [THEORETICAL]

Many Crossfire R9 290X and R9 290 owners bought the refrence blower cooler because "it gets better temps in crossfire". This is completely wrong. The refrence R9 290X hits 93C on the uber fan profile when on it's own. So if you put a another heat source bellow it it will hit 95C and have serious issues staying cool regardless of the fact that said heatsource is not dumping the majority of it's heat in the case because the R9 290X above it only has a 2C margin for warmer intake air.
The back of an R9 290/R9 290X gets stupid hot especially the VRM section which is also closest to the intake fan of the card above it. This results in the following happening:
With non reference coolers that dump the used air back into the case this is not an issue because the cards is operating around the 75C range when alone. This gives the non reference card a +20C allowance on intake air before it hits the same temp as the reference design.
Non refrence coolers also have about 2 to 4 times more air passing through their finstacks making the output air of a custom cooler rather cool typically in the 30-40C range depending on load and clocks. Now assuming your case has fresh air going to all areas at all times the 40C exhaust will be mixed with the cool outside air meaning that the top card will at worst be getting air in the 35C range meaning it will hit the 90s. This would look something like the image bellow:
Now I would like to remind you that this is purely theoretical and based on information from around the internet and my experience with my windforce cards. However if anyone is willing to ship me a pair of R9 290X reference coolers I have all the equipment to do full testing of this. If you can ship me a pair of R9 290/R9 290 reference coolers just leave a comment.

Another thing to note is that this only truly applies to really high power draw cards because the blower coolers do in fact keep in case temps lower than radial fan designs just this difference is not big enough to keep 93C cards from hitting 95+C.

Thursday, November 27, 2014

I found great site for voltmodding parts

It has has next day shipping in many places. The selection includes some capacitors for motherboards and GPUs and has all the potentiometers you could need. The site is now listed in useful links.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

An update on what's happening

I've launched a new blog. It's a really really terrible webcomic which is NSFL but people with my terrible humor may enjoy. You can find it here

Public comments are now enabled.

The G.skill ECO review is coming really really soon

I'm going to release a guide on aircooled multi GPU setups

I will be posting a write up on CPU power draw scaling for Bulldozer Vishera Richland and Trinity.

I'm considering trying to create a stripped down and simplified version of the English language to lower the number of words needed to convey information

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Lenovo Z50-75 Intro:SSDs in cheap laptops are stupid

Yesterday I got my new Lenovo Z50-75 laptop without an operating system for 11200czk with shipping and 21% VAT. Hardware wise it's pretty good using an AMD FX7500 APU with a base clock of 2.1Ghz 4 cores and a max turbo of 3.3Ghz. The integrated GPU has 384 stream processor clocked at a peak of 533mhz. The main GPU is also has 384 cores but is clocked at ~800mhz. As of right now it only has 4GB of RAM clocked at 1600mhz but I plan to upgrade to something faster soon. The laptop it's self is made of very soft plastic but at this price point I don't mind. The keyboard is rather flexible due to this however this somewhat of a good thing because it adds extra cushioning to the keys. The only major issue I have with the keyboard is that Lenovo gave it a tall enter key and ended up wreaking the layout of the key to the left of it. So I mess up apostrophes and slashes but even with that I prefer this keyboard to the one on my mac book pro.
Now lets get to the bad stuff.
The screen is freaking awful. It's a TN as far as I can tell with good horizontal angles and an OK vertical but fails epically in the color department with very obvious gradient stepping and washed out colors. The good thing about the screen is that it's 1080p so while colors will make your eyes bleed it's high PPI and contrast make text look excellent. The LED backlight is very very strong when on it's maximum setting and in my opinion doesn't go low enough even though it has 15 different brightness levels.
Software support for this laptop is iffy since I still haven't managed to install the ELAN/Synaptic touch-pad driver and so have to deal with the stupid tap to click that is enabled form the get go.
My final issue with the laptop is the Seagate SSHDD. It manages to pull 2x the amount of power at max and minimum load of a regular mechanical Western Digital Blue HDD while doing very little for performance. Which is bad for 2 reasons the first is that it's wasting power and the second is that the SSHDD is right under my right wrist and as such is really really annoying because it creates a hotspot through the plastic casing above it. The only reason why this stupid thing is in this laptop is because it's hip to shove SSDs into everything these days.

You can expect a full review in about a month so I get some usage out of the laptop and testing.

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Vmod guide for MSI GTX 980 Gaming

Zzolio just released a great Vmod guide for the MSI GTX 980 Gaming. You can find it here and it's going to be in the useful links page.

Friday, November 7, 2014

Air benching my WTF cooling R7 260X

My good old R7 260X from WTF cooling has gotten even more WTF and now does 1450+mhz on the core.

And this is the V mod I did on the GPU. I finally got my hands on a 10Kohm potentiometer so I got the core voltage under manual control. Unfortunately a 10Kohm potentiometer is not enough to keep the voltage in "safe" territory and so the card has a minimum 3D load voltage of 1.47V. The 3rd wire on the back is hooked directly to the + leg of one of the output caps and ends in crocodile clip to allow for easy measurement of core voltage with a DMM.  
                                               Here's a shot of the side of the GPU. You can see both the potentiometer and the crocodile clip behind it
The screws on VRAM in this and the shot above are there to cool the memory because in my first runs the memory overheated and crashed when above 1670mhz. That's a massive problem on a card that has an anemic 128bit bus feeding cores 896 stream processors running at 1450mhz.

And here's the card running in my main system. The Gelid heatsink did a great job and kept the core bellow 70C° throughout my benching session. The Hynix VRAM on the other hand was terrible and kept me bellow the 1600point mark in Unigine Heaven DX11 Extreme.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Useful links page.

So I just made a page called useful links. I will use it to deposit links that I deem useful for overclocking.
Do not worry the RAM review is coming however a recent spell of instabilities caused by a build up of dust, new BIOSes and bad GPU settings had my computer out of working order before I managed to finish the review and then I left to ski in Austria so the review is delayed but should be up soon. As an apology please accept the useful links page.
If you know an article or page that you think I should include in the useful links page just leave a comment.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

G.skill ECO 1333 7-7-7-21 2x2GB Early Expirience

Not long ago I bought a G.skill ECO 2x2GB 1333 7-7-7-21 1.35V ram kit. Now the stock settings on the kit may not sound like much but these things are great. Within 35 minutes of playing with them I had them booting 2400mhz. With better timings than many 2400mhz that you will find available in stores. Now they were not the miracles that I wanted because these sticks use PSC ICs and those are know to do as much as 2600 8-12-8-28 @ 1.85V on air cooling. Now this was early testing so I wasn't pushing very high voltages but it is very obvious that I have a pretty bad PSC kit. The settings I ended up with were 2400mhz 10-12-11-33-1T with sub timings of 5-160-12-6-24-6-7 and 1-1-1-1-3-3-2-1-3-1 using 1.75V. The primary timings are pretty bad as they are barely better than my 24/7 sticks which do 2400 10-12-12-34-2T. However the secondaries and tertiaries are pretty damn good.

I hope that I can get this kit to run CL 9/8/7 above 2400-2000mhz since that should put them way ahead of my 2000mhz 8-9-8-24 Ballistix Elite that got me my Super Pi 32M record.
I will have more updates after I'm done with the kit.

My plans for this kit are to see how high and how low it can go. Now frequencies above 2400mhz are really problematic for the IMC on Sandybridge-e CPUs so I doubt I will hit above 2500 even if the sticks are capable of that. However what I'm more intrested in is just how low I can take the CL because a low CL from my experience is key to getting a HWbot prime score so if these sticks could boot CL6/5 at 1333-1600mhz that be great.

The kit is optimal at 2333 9-12-11-32-1T with secondaries of 5-156-12-6-24-6-6 using 1.8V. I still haven't done any benching with these because I need to setup my new benching HDD.
I still have to try top the frequency and try the low CL(5,6,7) max clock before doing a full write up this weekend.

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Voltmodding GPUs using the NCP and PCP 81022 voltage controllers

So HWbot recently launched this. I think the new division system is awesome and as someone planning to participate in division 5 I decided that I'll help everyone by compiling the available information on the NCP80122 controller found on the AMD reference design R9 285 and R9 260(X) cards.

So here is the NCP81022
The red pin controls the Vcore you can solder a 10K ohm variable resistor(VR) to this and the ground to get control over the core voltage.
The 2 green pins control the over current protection. By increasing the resistance between the 2 you will get a higher current limit. The only problem is that you have to find the resistor that these pins are attached to because I couldn't find a good enough photo and because R9 285 PCB designs differ quite a lot. If you want to completely disable over current protection just remove the resistor that these pins are attached to.
If soldering directly onto the IC's pins scares you(me too they are freaking tiny) then find the first resistor that the pin connects to and solder your VR onto the resistor. If you don't have a VR you can try using pencil.
All these mods are universally applicable to GPU using the NCP80122 or PCP81022 voltage controller.


Saturday, September 27, 2014

WTF Cooling: R7 260X + Gelid Slim Hero + zipties

Here's a few photos of what I did to my R7 260X after I accidentally used CLU on it's aluminum heatsink.

I will be posting performance results soon if school allows.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

I hate digging up crap to write about but oh well here we go SuperPi tweak guide.

The title says it all so lets get going.
SuperPi 32M is a completely single threaded benchmark and is currently one of the most popular benchmarks on HWbot so getting a good score in it can get you a ton of points.

First the OS, you've got to use Windows XP. SuperPi is just weird like that. Windows 7 also works but you get slightly higher times and can't do copy wazza.

Once you have XP installed go into the services and disable everything except for WMI, log event, futuremark sys, windows installer, intel management, drivers, plugnplay and themes.

When benching SuperPi you keep themes enabled because for some reason it runs faster with the olive green theme.

Use task-manager to shutdown as many unnecessary tasks as possible also set SuperPi's affinity to core 1. Set all other tasks to core 0 and put their priority to low. Set SuperPi's priority to high

A really important tweak for getting a good SuperPi time is copy wazza. Here's a video of Splave doing copy wazza.

On intel CPUs disable hyperthreading because it adds extra load onto the IMC and only run with 2 cores to increase OC range and lower heat output.

For Haswell CPUs try to get the Uncore/Cache ratio as high as possible.

For AMD CPUs clock the north bridge as high as possible.

For ram you will want to use PSC or Samsung HCH9 as they are capable of high clocks with very low timings. PSCs come in 2GB sticks from a variety of manufacturers but Samsung HCH9s are found on 4GB 2600 10-12-12-34 G.skill sticks.
Another good series of ram to use are 4GB stick Crucial Ballistix Elite that come stock at 1600 8-8-8-24 or 1866 9-9-9-27. These are capable of 2000 8-9-8-25 @ 1.65V the only down side is that they don't scale past that regardless of the voltage I used. But they are still very good sticks that can also serve as daily drivers.

Sorry for not posting for so long. School happened.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

X99 VRM Analysis

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

This is the source for Haswell-e having a FIVR

Friday, July 25, 2014

Case Review: Xigmatek Alfar

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

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

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

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

My go to case at this price point.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Anyone intrested in an el cheapo GPU water cooling guide?

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

Please comment what GPUs you would like to see explained.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Review: Razer Naga 2014



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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

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

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

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

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

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Review: Phanteks PHTC14PE (matte black)


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

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

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

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

Thursday, July 10, 2014

R9 290X VRM design specifications run down.

MSI R9 290X Lighting Physical phases: 12+2+3
Controller: IR 3567B 6+2 for the core and auxiliary. I can't find the memory voltage controller without having the card in my hand. You get control over the 3 key voltages and then you gotta pray that MSI's BIOS and AMD's drivers won't screw you over.

ASUS R9 290X Matrix
Controller: A re-branded  IR 3567B 6+2 0.2Mhz-2Mhz for the core and auxiliary. I can't find the memory voltage controller without having the card in my hand. This is the only card that will let you manually tune the controller's operating frequency and all voltages that exist on an R9 290X.

ASUS R9 290(X) DirectCU II
Controller: A re-branded  IR 3567B 6+2 0.2Mhz-2Mhz for the core and auxiliary. I can't find the memory voltage controller because I never had the chance to take the card apart.

Sapphire R9 290X Vapor-X
12 total 8+2+2
Controller: IR 3567B 6+2 0.2Mhz-2Mhz. The 8 phase design is very likely not a true 8 phase design and is using doubler but luckily for anyone reading this blog I'll be getting a sample so I'll have exact specs then.

Sapphire R9 290 Vapor-X
8 6+1+1
Controller: IR 3567B 6+2 0.2Mhz-2Mhz. 6 Phases for the core and one for auxiliary. Memory has it's own static voltage controller. Unfortunately all the 71A MOSFETs of the AMD reference design have been replaced by 40A IRPowerStages leaving you with only 240A of current for the core and 40A for the auxiliary. The memory still uses the 71A MOSFETs.

ALL other models
Controller: IR 3567B 6+2 0.2Mhz-2Mhz for the core and auxiliary. I can't find the memory voltage controller because there isn't one, no really there isn't the voltage is 1.5XXV idle and drops to 1.4XXV in load which got me really confused when benchmarking Unigine one time.

BTW I will be getting the parts for my AMD rig tomorrow so prepare for even more reviews and guides.

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Razer Blackwidow Ultimate 2014 + Apology for disappearing.

No I am not dead however due to the re-modelling of one of the rooms in the basement(where I "live" :D ) I was unable to write any reviews. However I'm back and I have some new toys so lets get to it.

Many people give Razer flack for quality. However from my experience with Razer products I can say that I had only 1 fail and that was a Naga Epic which I had replaced for a new one have been using for 2.5 years without any further issues. I also used a Razer Blackwidow Ultimate 2011 for 3 years and it never gave any problems what so ever so I hold Razer in pretty high regard as far as quality goes much higher than Nvidia (My GTX 590 was 17,000czk of pure RMA hell).
Onto the review then.

The Razer Blackwidow Ultimate 2014 Stealth (referred to as BWU14S from now on) is a fully mechanical keyboard that uses Razer orange switches. Razer orange switches are base on the Cherry MX Brown switches with a few adjustments to make them according to Razer "better for gaming" by having the actuation higher up and the reset point closer. The switches are manufacture in China but have a 20% higher keystroke rating and 33%lower error margin in their specs than Cherry MX Brown switches so as long as the specs aren't a pile of marketing BS these switches are better in every way than Cherry MX Browns. The keyboard it's self is very sturdy and has a very vivid green LED backlighting with 16 intensity levels. The keyboard has 10 key roll over and anti ghosting technology.When testing the 10 key rollover I found that up to 14 keys register at a time.
The keyboard has 11 fuction keys that can be used by holding down FN and the corresponding F key to: mute sound, lower volume, increase volume, skip back, pause/play, skip forward, record macros, enable gaming mode, decrease backlight brightness, increase backlight brightness and put the computer to sleep. 
The enable gaming mode function can be configured to disable the windows key, alt+tab and alt+F4 in order to stop you from accidentally exiting a game.
The keyboard has five macro keys on the side. Every single key on the BWU14S can be rebound to a keyboard function, mouse function, a command for another Razer Device, macro, profile switch, program launch, multimedia function, windows 8 charm, windows shortcut or disabled. Yes this keyboard allows you to bind almost anything to every single key on it.
The keyboard has a finger print proof matte black finish however the key caps themselves are plastic and stain from oil easily which I found out when I face-keyboarded out of boredom only to end up polishing my key caps for 5 minutes to get them from shiny back to being matte.
The keyboard is not cheap costing ~3,799czk (190$ after 21% VAT) and does lack some features like the option to choose which keys light up however it is one of the few mechanical keyboards that is backlit and completely rebind-able. I like this keyboard and it has taken over my BWU11's role of main keyboard until it gets replaced, which won't happen until it breaks.
It broke

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

GTX 590 el cheapo watercooling

So this how I decided to cool my GTX 590 for when I try benching it with an addon VRM. The coolers I used are Coolermaster Seidon 120Vs. I flipped the intel mounting bracket upside down removed the PCI-e slot bracket and used zipties to attach the coolers to the card.
Here's a Diagram of all the screw holes on the GPU's PCB:
|1       2                     3                4            5|
|       6       7                                 9     10    |
|                                8                               | 
|       11      12                              13     14   |
|           ]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]] [

The first unit has zipties going through holes 1, 3, 15 and 16.
The second unit has zipties going through holes 3, 5, 17 and 20.

On my first mounting attempt I managed to bend the PCB by tightening the zipties too much. Luckily I just had to redo the mounting. The end result of this is that the GPU takes up ALL expansion slots bellow it. I do believe that you could do the mounting slightly different and reduce the number of occupied slots to just 5 but for my purposes of running the card on a test bench this mounting proved most effective. Another thing that isn't necessary is removing the PCI-e slot bracket because you can have that attached by the DVI ports without having it take up screw hole #1. However even with the PCI-e bracket this is definitely not something you would want sitting in your tower case but it is great for open air test benches and it manages to run the card at 51C at stock clocks which is a 34C improvement over the stock cooler. The other good thing about this cooling method is that you still have enough space to attach addon VRMs like the EVGA E-power.

Monday, June 9, 2014

New Blog Launched and Further plans.

So in my revival update I wrote that I started dabbling in crypto currencies. I've decided that  will not be posting crypto currency content on this blog. You will instead find it here.

I will also be making a gaming blog and this blog is going to become only hardware specific.
I would also appreciate if people commented what they like and dislike about my articles in terms of content and writing because that lets me improve.

I will be releasing my next hardware post on the weekend. This time I will be covering a motherboard since that allows me build the framework for all future reviews.

Friday, June 6, 2014

R9 290X Windforce 450W OC Review

This review will not cover the FPS this card gives because every review ever made does that so you can go read their results.
I will also not give you temp and power figures because I do not have an AC and use a test bench instead of a case so my temps are lower than in a case and I do not have the equipment required to measure the power draw on the 12V rail.

Cooling Analysis:
The windforce 450W cooler uses 6 heatpipes that are connect to the core though a bit of copper that sticks out of the base of the cooler. The cooler use 3 low profile 74mm fans capable of 4500RPM at maximum speed at which point they are very very loud. The fans are angled to blow air away from the motherboard. The fin stack directly above the core has a trapezoid in the middle that forces hot air to come out of the long sides of the PCB. The memory chips dump their heat into the main fin by use of thermal pads. The VRM dumps it's heat directly into a couple of fins in the secondary fin stack. This cooling is sufficient for gaming and low voltage overclocking(up to +75mv on the core) however Furmark or high voltages will very quickly get the VRM to over 90+C even on my open air test bench. It is also possible that the VRM dumping it's heat into the secondary fin finstack and the heatpipes is lowering the coolers cooling capability. I would much rather have seen a separate VRM heatsink instead of using the core's heat sink space for cooling the VRM.
Overall this a good heatsink for the average gamer but doesn't quite cut it for high voltage (+150mv or more) overclocking. So the heat sink gets a 7/10.

I might be able to produce a guide on how to upgrade this heat sink. I plan to mess with replacing the fans and getting the VRM it's own cooler.

VRM Analysis:
-Phases: 5+1+1 phases from an IR 3567B PWM controller.
-Maximum core current out: 350A @ 125C° which is inline with the AMD reference design
-Core voltage MOSFETs: 70A made by IR
-Mem voltage MOSFET: 70A made by IR
-Core voltage chokes: same length but wider and shorter than reference 150nH Magics that are most likely 70A capable (can't get a spec sheet for them sorry)
-Mem voltage choke: 150nH Magic same as the core
-Aux voltage choke: 2 low current 220nH Magics in parallel
-Core voltage filtering: 7520µF distributed over 16 tantalum capacitors (14% improvement over reference)
-Core voltage filtering: 1880µF distributed over 4 tantalum capacitors (14% improvement over reference)
-Aux voltage filtering: 1880µF distributed over 4 tantalum capacitors (42% improvement over reference)

VRM Verdict:
Core: Epic current capability here a full 87% more current capability than the core so 4.5/5 for that but the inductance on the inductors is really low so that's a 3.5/5 and the phase count is mediocre at only 5 controlled and physical phases so that's a 4/7 which is not a bad score but leaves something to be desired because the reference HD7970 VRM came with 220nH chokes and the option to be upgraded to 360A and 6 phases which most manufacturers did.
Memory: 4GB of GDDR5 is power hungry so it should be no surprise that the 1 phases VRM is capable of pushing 70A to it. But like with the core VRM low phase count means a 1/3 for phase count ripple suppression, a 3.5/5 for inductance and a 3/4 for current.
Aux: It's 40% better than reference so I'll give it a 5/5 also this is not a very important VRM.

Summary: There's enough power here that it's more likely the core will die before the VRM does. Unfortunately what this VRM has in current capability it lacks in ripple suppression and accuracy. If you plan to do any extreme OCing on this VRM I recommend you add an extra 2.5V 1500µF capacitor to every single one of the tantalum caps on the back of the PCB. This VRM is definitely holding the core back but at least it won't burn up.

Tuning Ability:
I have a few issues with the new voltage controller that AMD is using and those are:
Locked memory voltage control
Automatic voltage control based on temperature that you can not turn off without BIOS flashing the card.
To OC this card I used Sapphire Trixx 4.8.2
I managed to finish the Unigine benchmark at as high as 1210/1575 using +200mv with extreme visual artifacts through out the benchmark. I run the GPU at 1100/1496 on +31mv
for gaming. With my maximum artifact free overclock being 1150/1500 on +100mv.
The memory clock is bound to the core clock by the following ratio: memory clock / core clock. This ratio is typically between 1.25 and 1.4 and requires that you find it your self.
For tuning ability I give an 8/10. 1 point off for the temperature control and 1 point off for lack of memory voltage control.

Monday, June 2, 2014

The Revival of this blog

So my previous post was basically half a year ago but now I'm back again not for long unless I start getting some serious traction with my articles but if you enjoy the stuff I write then you at least get more stuff to read.

So here is what happened in those 6 months that I wasn't posting.
I got an R9 290 and R9 290X and am currently running them in CFX. (reviews and some other stuff coming)
I'm mining and speculating with crypto currencies. (more content coming)
I've started doing research into processor power consumption scaling. (will publish here)
I've got into java programming and I'm currently working on a text based pokemon like RPG. (more info coming)
I've started benching for the tech power up HWbot team. (will do more coverage of OCing)
I got a 4x4GB kit of G.skill Ripjaws X ram that I used to get to 15.41 points in Cinebench R11.5. (review coming)
I got to play with an Asrock motherboard. I really hated that. (opinion coming soon)
I got a gigabyte A88X-D3H motherboard. (review coming soon)
I killed an A10-6800K.
I OCed an Athlon II x2 370K to 5.1Ghz. (review coming)
I got an R7 260X. (review coming)
I managed to strap 2 cooler master 120V CLCs to a GTX 590 with great results. (post on this coming)
I've really gotten into Need for Speed World. (Content Coming)
I've gotten a Xigmatek Alfar case. (review coming)
I also have some secret projects I'm working on that will be coming up this blog when they are done.

And if you read through all that then you can see that I'm planning to diversify this blog a lot.
The good news is that if I space all these posts out properly you will end up with several weeks worth of my terrible grammar to read. If there is an post you would like to read soon post in the comments and I'll do it sooner. Right now the plan is that the oldest and most relevant content will be posted first.