Movies watched so far on my new Samsung 40D8000 TV:
The Dark Knight
Close Encounters of the Third Kind 30th aniversary Blue Ray
The Fellowship of the Ring (Extended Edition from the new 15-disk Blue Ray set)
Tron: Legacy (3D)
Also watched some episodes of Game of Thrones
First time I saw Inception btw, and it was a bit of a letdown to be honest.
I felt they could have done a lot more with the concept. the coolest stuff they did with only in that little introductory session with the girl, but they actually didn’t use any of that in the actual mission. They could have done far more with warped physics, esher-type perspective mindfucks and more psychological traps. Instead we got a Call-of-Duty-esque snow-commando scene that could have come out of any random James Bond movie. Could have been so much better.
Sanctum was pretty damn good for a low-budget movie (ok so James Cameron produced). Excellent use of 3D effects in a very confined space. A bit melodramatic and predictable, but entertaining.
Tron 3D was cool as usual, but the use of 3D, or should I say lack thereof, was as striking and as disappointing as when I saw it in the cinema. I still cant believe what kind of missed opportunities there where there. The most obvious is when we get the birds-eye views of the structures on the grid, like the light-bike arena. Just no 3D effect at all. The best we got was a kind of foreground-background divide but not much else.
Its proving to be a challenge to set contrast and brightness correctly on the TV. Some of the more advanced calibration guides out there are so complex I hardly know where to start.
So my mistake was assuming that the default settings of the mainboard, setting everything to auto, would be the most stable situation. As per usual, you need to know what you are doing first and not make any assumptions.
The Fluffgame PC is now back in its corner, and the passively cooled GT9800 that is on loan to me is still performing well.
I dropped by the shop to see if they had gotten a replacement in for my 295GTX, but they didn’t have it yet. Its very hard to come by.
What really irks me is that I know that the card was perfectly fine now. So my own stupidity has caused me to go without the best possible graphics experience I could have had.
Its especially sour because I have no finished Mass Effect, with graphics quality less than it could have been, and am now stuck into ARMA II, which really taxes the grahpics card with its wonderfull outdoor scenerey and highly detailed balistics effects.
Mass Effect was AWESOME by the way, I mean really friggin awesome. One of the best games I have played in years. The storyline was so good, and the way the action was direction, and the final cutscene and choices where supurply done. I may replay it but not soon. Mass Effect 2 is on the way anyhow 😉
ARMA II is the third game by Bohemia Interactive in what was originally their “Operation Flashpoint” line of games. As per usual the engine is amazingly realistic, and the game works and feels identical to its predecessors. Some people hate the realistically “sluggish” feel of moving around. The engine isn’t as “tight” as a typical FPS, and takes getting used to if you havent played a Bohemia game before
What I friggin LOVE about their games though, is the sense of complete realism these games provide, and the atmosphere is amazing. If you have ever taken a long walk in the countryside, you know the feeling you get. Its quiet and pastoral, you hear the birds in the trees and the rusling of the treest and grass in the wind, Its calm and tranquil, only broken by the occasional car going by on small narrow roads. Rolling hills with forrests on the horizon, birds and insects around.
Get the picture? Good, now imagine 4 M1A2 Battle tanks roaring across that same hill, startling cattle as the come over the horizon. You can actually hear them a lot sooner than you see them crashing through the trees and bushes. In the very far off distance, you can hear gunfire and shelling.
The soundscape of ARMA II is the single most impressive thing, that contributes to the realism. I use my G35 serround sound headphones to get a full experience and its so damnimpressive.
Things are getting desperate. I am really at my wits end now.
A ray of light appeared when I removed the Creative Labs X-Fi soundcard, and other USB peripherals. The thinking was that if it was a power issue, that might help.
Low and behold, there was an improvement. The crashing continued, but was no longer resulting in permanent screen corruption as my previous pics show. Basicly in Mass Effect, the graphics freeze, as usual, but after an alt-ctrl-delete, the game and the graphics will pop back in a playable state.The crashes are also less frequent, and its sometimes possible to play for half an hour or more, without it crashing once. However, when it does freeze, the freezing seems to come in waves, where the game will freeze every minute or so for period, before becoming more or less playable again for a while. It doesn’t matter what i do in game though. I just leave it and it will crash eventually, with the characters standing around idely.
Grand Theft auto, on the other hand, still gives corruption, again, only after a while sometimes, but no longer the pixel mess. It will corrupt the textures in game, then freeze, then crash out to the desktop. GTA is more consistent in crashing that Mass Effect though, at this point.
Stuff I have tried since the last post:
– Took the PC appart and running on the table. More or less excludes shorting with the case.
– Memtest86, turned up nothing (remember hte memory is suspect because its one of the few common components across the old and the new hardware)
– Removed 3 of the 4 RAM, no effect
– Replaced the Keyboard and Mouse with a different keyboard and mouse, no effect
– Reconnected the old PSU, no effect
I have been going over how the PSU stuff is suppose to work, still thinking its a power issue.
The new 800watt PSU I got (Gigabyte Odin Pro) is a very good PSU, good reviews, and is know to deliver well on the voltage and amps. It has 4 separate dedicated +12v “rails”, two of which can deliver 28amps, more than enough for this setup. Now I have been running Speedfan, and besides measuring temperature, it can give a readout on Voltage.
Now here is the worrying part. It shows 11.35v on the 12v readout. Way too little. However, the BIOS itself, when I boot into it, is telling me the 12v is at 12.04, which is spot on. I did read that software indications of voltage are unreliable. Regardless, I reconnected the old 650watt no-name PSU, and its giving me the same readout in Speedfan, and in the BIOS slightly higher, 12.152v
The whole thing still smells of a power issue. The way people on forums seem to have described power-related issues seems spot on with what I am having here. But it may just be confirmation bias of course.
There are 2 approaches I can take at this point. The first is to reinstall Windows, in this case Vista, again. I cant be sure Windows 7 is not at least a part of the problem, even though I doubt it because the problems started on Vista originally. I need to get my hands on a version with a valid key, but I think I know where, my original key didnt seem to work anymore as you know. I think I know where.
The other path is to continue digging into the power issue. I have seen several forum examples of people that had similar instability, that they managed to solve by upping the voltage of components ever so slightly. The CPU and/or the RAM for example. I may try this, there are certain margins that we can play in safely. I am not convinced either PSU is not performing well, but to really confirm it, I would need a multi-meter, which I dont have. I may buy one, its generally usefull to have around anyway.
I still have not heard back from the shop about my 295 card. I am assuming they have not recieved a replacement yet. I will call them tomorrow. I may explain this whole thing to them, but I suspect they will give me the usual shopping list of things I have already tried.
And the very last thing I want to do is bring the parts round to them to have a look at. Its a logistical nightmare.
The last 4 days have been nightmarish. As in, the worst kind of hardware upgrade nightmare.
It started early last week, when I started getting serious issues playing Mass effect. The graphics driver would suddenly crash and reset, causing an interruption and minimizing the game. Windows would restart the driver, generate a popup, and then I could keep playing.
This started to get progressively worse, as after the first crash, the in-game graphics would slowly start to corrupt. Textures would start to go missing, geometric shapes would start to get out of sync, and lighting effects would go haywire. Tried the newest Nvidia drivers, no effect.
The 8800 even failed in dos mode.
My old card, the 8800GTX
Now I was already considering getting a better card, as I was not impressed by the performance of Mass Effect, and my Nvidia 8800GTX was getting on a bit, now over 2 years old.
So I went out and got myself the new Nvidia 295, which is basicly a duel-core version of a 260.
Its the most powerful card on the market today.
I also saw that the quad-core Intel 775’s where down to some nice prices, so I also pickup up the 3Ghz version, the q9650. I knew my mainboard, the Asus Striker Extreme, should be able to use it.
On Thursday I swapped out the Nvidia cards, and had a good night of play on the new 295. But it was obvious how much of a bottleneck the CPU was now.
The next night, I swapped out the CPU. However, imagine my suprise when the Quad core didnt play nice at all. The PC would not boot at all with it in there. Under the assumption it was lack of having the correct microcode for the new CPU, I downloaded the last BIOS file, and flashed it with the EZ-Flash tool in the Bios.
That was the last time my Striker Extreme ever booted.
I am clueless about what went wrong. It was the correct Bios file, and a perfectly normal and supported means of flashing.
So Saterday I went back to the shop, and got myself an Asus P5Q Deluxe mainboard.
After putting it all back together again, I let the original Vista installation boot up.
It actually dealt with all the changes quite well.
Tried mass effect, and while it ran very smoothly now, as expected, within minutes I got pretty bad texture and vexel corruption. So not exactly the same problem as with the old card, but quite similar.
Supreme Commander ran smoothly and without any corruption, but would suddenly crash out without warning.
I ran into an additional problem with Vista. Because i had changed so many bits of hardware, it now said i needed to re-activate it. But when I tried this, it said the key was already in use. Rather strange, considering this was a volume-license key and already in use by my laptop and several other computers i am aware of. Volume license keys should be able to be used multiple times.
New card: the Nvidia 295GTX duel core
New board: The Asus P5Q Deluxe
By this point, I was suspecting the driver-instability, if that is indeed what it was, may well be down to windows. Coupled with the activation issue, I decided to take the opertunity and install Windows 7, RC build 1700. Once this was installed, I went about getting the games back on. Mass effect needed to be re-downloaded, so I gave GTAIV a try. This was on the default drivers supplied with Windows 7.
Much to my disappointment, I got severe texture and shading corruption again, similair to what i had in Mass effect.
I have tried various combination’s of drivers now, but the largest difference has been when I have turned off multi-core rendering in the Nvidia control panel. The problems are there clearly with just 1 core, but with 2 cores on GTA crashes almost immediately. I tried some Left 4 Dead, which crashed on 2 cores, but ran reasonably well on 1 core. Most distressingly, is that sometimes when it crashes, for example in Supreme Commander, it shows a bad-pixel pattern over the screen, not just in 3D, but also on the 2D Windows desktop.
Mass effect goes crazy with duel cores on, vexel nightmare. With just a single core on for rendering, it only(!) freezes every 5 minutes.
So I am more or less out of ideas. My suspicion is that my new card is as broken as my old card. And the old card is very broken, as even in the boot screen it showed vertical red lines across the screen, probably indicating fried memory or something else bad.
We already threw out the original box of the 295, but its got a 3 year warranty, so I should be able to get it repaired, or get a replacement. I am hoping for the latter.
Maybe I will think of something else to try tomorrow, but it looks like i will be going back to the shop soon.
I am quite happy with it. I have only tried 1 game with it so far, but the spacial 7.1 sound is good. Later today I will give some DVD’s a try. The most impressive is the overal quality for music. The base is very good and the sound seperation is excellent. I can hear detail in my favorite songs I never noticed before.
Also in the gadget department, is the most awesome Android app I have found so far: