Prague Dog Eat Blog

Burned out. Obsessed with fans. Hating Steam. Loving UPC

Jun 2, 11:39 (Filed under: Personal, Technology )

If you check in here regularly, you’ve undoubtedly noticed that I haven’t been posting all that much lately. I’ve never been so goddamn burned out in my life… well, I probably have but right now I can’t remember when. I’m feeling way loopy, so this entry will be a bit buckshot, and I haven’t linked as many things as I should have.

Not only am I working my ass off to catch the latest (and supposedly final) deadline for the accursed history essays, I’m also behind schedule on a porn mag, and have had to deal with the regular rush jobs from my telco clients. For the last week I’ve been working til 6 am, getting a few hours of sleep, rinse and repeat. So, the blog has been sort of neglected.

I wanted to write about what I’ve been doing during my breaks earlier, but couldn’t bring myself to write anything original whatsoever after so many hours of donkey work. I went on a pc modification binge over the last week. It started one day a couple of weeks ago while Jitka was working on the pc and I was trying to take a catnap. It dawned on me that, goddamnit, that computer was bloody loud.

Then when I checked the temperatures after a 30-or-so-minute DOOM3 session, I saw that my graphics card was heating up to 66 degrees Celsius, which made me kind of nervous – especially considering the fact that we’ve had the computer for over half a year, and I’ve done some pretty heavy gaming on it during that time.

Now, when I had this rig put together I told the folks at Agen, where I had my rig built, that I wanted a fast, quiet pc. I had the money to burn, but let them talk me into buying less powerful components than I had wanted, and there was no mention of replacing stock fans. Agen’s sales dudes are nice enough and have good intentions (at least that’s what I can say about the ones in Blackbridge), but they could have been a little more informative about quiet cooling options.

Thus began my trek into the wonderful world of aftermarket pc cooling. After doing some web shopping and review scanning (especially at newegg – awesome place for user reviews), I discovered Tntrade in Kyje, about a 20 minute walk from where I live. So, first I got me a Zalman VF900-Cu and some Arctic Silver 5 thermal paste for the graphics card. After installing it (a breeze), the temperature of my MSI NVidia 7800gt (with the highest level MSI D.O.T. overclock) dropped by 20 degrees Celsius under load (i.e. a long DOOM3 session) to 46 degrees!

But the computer still sounded like a jet engine – a bit of a wounded one at that. So I got me a new fan for the CPU – an Arctic Freezer 64 Pro-. It was a toss-up between this and a Zalman CNPS9500, which is a little more bling for my kit (I’ve got a case with a see-through side panel), but triple the price. Even though I could have afforded the Zalman, most of the reviews for the AF 64 Pro looked good, so I reckoned I’d give it a go. So far so good, though I can’t remember what temperatures I was getting with the stock cooler that came with my AMD 3200+ Venice (which I can’t seem to overclock even modestly without difficulty on my Asus A8N-SLI Deluxe motherboard). Now the CPU temps are 30-33 degrees Celsius when idle and around 36 under load.

I also got me an Arctic Cooling AF-12 case fan to replace the 12cm Thermaltake fan that came with my Thermaltake Kandalf 9000 case, which Jitka can’t stand because of the size (I love having all that room to play around in – plus the thing is so well ventilated and allows for wicked air circulation). Looks good, sounds quiet… but there was still something else that was buzzing like a furious hornet in the case.

After some more surfing between translations, I discovered that perhaps I hadn’t chosen a very good motherboard (perhaps the folks at Agen could have stepped in with advice) as the Northbridge chipset fan on the Asus A8N-SLI Deluxe has a nasty reputation for being loud and breaking down. So, it was back to Tntrade, this time for a CZK 100 passive cooler by PrimeCooler. Now, putting in this wee chunk of aluminum required me to take the motherboard out of the case, which made me pretty nervous. In the end, it was actually the most enjoyable part of my modifying binge and has got me wanting to build another PC… or at least upgrading.

So now the only thing left to do was to replace the piece of shit Eurocase power supply that Agen included with my case. I initially decided to change the fan in the PSU, but after breaking the fan, I had an excuse to rush off to Alzasoft to buy an Enermax Liberty 500 Watt PSU – overkill for now, but it has definitely futureproofed my rig. And damn does it ever look good.

Ah well, just got another asap job from one of the telcos… so, that pretty much brings this entry to a close, and it’s probably just as well… Anyways, to conclude, with the help of a Zalman multifan controller, the rig runs far quieter now, no longer whining or grinding, but purring. While I’m happy about that, I’m also really jonesing for an excuse to build another PC… home theater perhaps?

Oh, and one more thing – I have yet to play Half Life 2: Episode 1, thanks in part to work, but mainly because of Steam’s horse-scrotum sucking way of delivering its content. First they tease us HL2 fans with a big orange clock on the official site (if you want to see fanboy pants-wetting geekiness at its worst, check the Steam forum for HL2:Ep1 – pathetic), then announce that HL2:Ep1 is ready to play, but first you’ve got to wait for the bitch to load from the Steam servers. Release time here in Central Europe was 7 pm last night. At around 1 am last night, that is, 6 hours later, I only had about 65% of the game. Now this is not P2P sharing, for Chrissake, this is a game I bought in a goddamn shop! I want to load the mutha and go!

Having said that, Steam rules when it comes to keeping all games up to date by automatically installing the latest patches. Not that I play many of those games as quite a few are online multiplayer affairs – I tried Counterstrike: Source once and didn’t last a minute. If there are any other CS:S n00bs (or UT 2004 novices) out there who want to get their frag on with me, drop me a line.

Anyway, I finally got it all on the Kandy, but have yet to play it since, of course, I have to work. No biggie, mind you. I think I’ll just wait to finish the essays and reward myself with a good stoned HL2:Ep1 session in the middle of the month… nah, who am I kidding? I’m gonna play it on my next break…

Oh yeah, and very very very briefly: the customer care at UPC ROCKS!!! :-)

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Tom's Hardware Guide's oil-cooled PC

Jan 11, 12:24 (Filed under: Technology )

While doing research for my new desktop, I got rather addicted to Tom’s Hardware Guide. In fact, these days I check in at THG more often than I check faves like The Onion, Fark and ebaum’s world.

Not only are the reviews thorough and top-shelf, they cater to everyone – from the mildly curious through those who need to sort out a problem with their rig to the hardcore DIY enthusiasts. And THG’s complete overhaul, which took place a couple of months ago, has made the site indespensable for beginners and geeks alike.

Here’s why I’m writing about THG today: this crazy alternative cooling system used in THG’s latest DIY project. It’s fanless and doesn’t require water – only 8 gallons of cooking oil.
THG's deep-fried PC

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