Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Sheets of rain and other liquid cooling...

Well, the weather seens to have turned very quickly. With Autumn having waited all summer for the chance to do its thing, now it's here it's definitely making its presence felt. The sky is all shades from the light "can't really be bothered" grey, to the very dark "I'd better get inside" grey. There's also a lovely patch of blue, of course, and while the rain has temporarily stopped completely, a couple of minutes ago, I was watching rain come down in sheets onto my neighbour's garage (everywhere else as well, but I was watching my neighbour's garage) where the wind blasted them from the roof against the neighbour's house wall. So yeah, summer seems to have had its chance.

Well, five minutes later and that temporary storm seems to have ended. It's all bright sunshine again.

Sooo, yeah.
A few days ago, wednesday or perhaps thursday, at 9:19PM, my computer, having been put in its new case, and fully assembled, booted into Windows for the first time, making it the first official (non testing) time this new computer has booted up. Yay, happy 0th birthday, computer. At this point I'd like to thank my big bro for generously donating many of the components now sitting inside the PC. In the end I used a donated motherboard and power supply (and cpu cooler - see below), new RAM, CPU and Case, and a GPU that I already owned.

I finally managed to grab a Coolit ECO ALC and install it, and for a short time it worked great. Now the pump is making a weird droning noise.
The seller is very apologetic and has promised a refund if that is what I wish, however, I went to check with the manufacturers whether the noise was a symptom of something serious (i.e. possible pump failure) or something beningn (possible trapped air bubble), first. No point going to the trouble of replacing it if it's just something that's going to go away.
The manufacturer for their part have suggested that the pump may be faulty and have "opened a support case". I'm not sure what that means but I guess it will all become clear. If coolit resolve the issue it might just be a case of replacing the defective ECO ALC with a working one. If on the other hand I have to deal with the seller and get a refund, I suppose I can always take the money from the refund and put it towards a shiny Corsair H80 (also made by coolit).

Time will tell. I've gone back to air cooling for a while until it all gets sorted out. I would say that CPU temps are unchanged, but I actually have no way of telling, since Speedfan seems to be a complete mess that doesn't seem to have a clue what it's doing. At least I don't have to worry about the pump exploding and splashing coolant all over my system anymore.

So, what else have I been doing? Well, I've been studying lots, and taking online exams and whatnot. I've also been playing lots of games with all the settings turned up to high, which is always fun.

I've also started looking online for gifts to buy for the end of year present festival that shall not be named yet. Yes, QVC's Endofyearpresentfestivalthatshallnotbenamedyet In July was quite well received by my mum (who loves Endofyearpresentfestivalthatshallnotbenamedyet) and I've heard on the internet that some stores are already stocking Xmas (oops there I go) stuff, including the local store which now stocks 2 varieties of mince pies (If you don't know what they are then go to your specialist food store (I've just had a quick look and they seem really hard to find in the US, which is a shame because they're really nice).

So yeah, I've got a few ideas for things to buy people, but we'll have to see what happens between now and then :-).

Apropos of nothing, I have been spending a hell of a lot of time listening to this album. I'd never heard of the band until a friend recommended them, though I think they're rather good :-).

As an aside, reading about mince pies on that site has lead me to read some more of it, and it seems to be perfect for my sense of humour. Here you go, for all you overseas folks who wondered what weird and awesome things we eat. There's some stuff on there that even i've never heard of.

I leave ye with some pickatures of various computer related things that I have been doing recently :-). Heh, or at least I will try to. The tabling seemed to work out okay this time round :-).

Have fun, I've got loads of revision to do. Meh.

Thursday, September 01, 2011

We Have Liftoff... (New computer begins shakedown)...

It's official. As of a couple of seconds past 11pm, a little over 20 minutes ago, my new computer just booted into Windows for the first time.

I'm at the initial "sodding about" phase at the moment, and there's a lot of work to be done. Loads of applications, software, games etc to install, loads of drivers to be added, settings to be changed etc, and all of it is going to wait until my bro has salvaged what data he needs from the rather shiny and lovely primary SATA drive he has promised me.

At the moment, the machine is in a temporary case, using an IDE hard drive from one machine, an IDE CD drive from another, the tower case from a third and a spare cooling fan from a fourth. I suppose you could say I'm temporarily loaning a racehorse the legs from another animal, to see if it can run :-).

Once I get the SATA drive, I'll start from scratch and reinstall everything, and here's why:

The Motherboard I am using uses only one IDE channel, which is fair enough. I mean it's not the 80s anymore, right? The downside is that since I only have two SATA drives, one of which is too small to use as a primary, and the other of which has already been designated a secondary, I have to use two PATA devices on the same channel at the same time, which apparently causes bottlenecking on the PATA bus.

Not only that, but where sata cables are sleek, slim and curvy, IDE "ribbons" are bulky, crumply, ugly, and, let's just face it, they look really bad and attract dust like a magnet. They're difficult to fold around corners of the case, difficult to route round things, and they act like a great big long electronic tarpaulin strung from one side of your case to the other to obstruct air flow.
So the sooner the SATA drive (which uses sleek slim cables) is in there, the better.

Speaking of air flow, my new computer is happily "hooing" (that's the noise it makes, seriously, it's a quiet "Hooooooooo" sound (at 100% RPM and silent at anything less than about 60%) to itself, as I try to see how low I can get the core temp to go.
Considering that the side of the case is off, and the fact that aside from an 80mm fan I balanced on one of the aforementioned IDE cables to cool the chipset (and the PSU fan which has its own job to do), the solitary 120mm fan of my new and sparkly Coolit ECO ALC cooler is the only fan in the case, it is doing a damn good job of holding my CPU at a steady 32 degrees C. The Zalman air cooler in my other (this) computer can only manage 36c, and that's in a cool case surrounded by other fans, on a CPU that is slower by some 400Mhz. Okay, 4 degrees isn't a big difference, but both machines are effectively idling, and apparently it's under heavy load that the ECO struts its stuff.

Of course, my new rig isn't ready to strut its stuff yet. It doesn't have DirectX installed, and it is currently packing a lowly 256mb Geforce 7600GT in its digital pants. A card which would probably not suffice for hardcore gaming these days, even if it weren't damaged, which it is. Having suffered a hefty dose of heat damage a while back, any black screen is now liberally dotted with pretty red, green and blue pixels. I'll replace the 7600 with my GTX260 when I move the machine to its permanent home in the lovely new case I've bought.

Amusingly, the little 50mm (maybe?) fan of the gpu is making far, far noise than the ECO's 120. In fact, since I haven't installed any drivers other than the default, it was only four minutes after the computer booted to desktop for the first time that it lost its bluescreen virginity, with some kind of Nvidia driver error that is apparently popular among later versions of Windows. I don't expect this error to be a problem once the latest drivers are installed of course.

So yeah. I'm not doing anything hugely in depth, but it'd be nice to remember the very first time that my computer went online.


Excuse the dreadful mess, the case is my "It's the only spare case that will take 120mm fans" case.
The camera is my "I'm sorry I've lost my tripod mounting plate" camera.

When the day of the big build comes I will borrow a tripod if needs be and take some better pics :-).