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Roguey
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Stay away from Zotac cards

Awhile back, you may have seen that I brought a new Zotac 980 Ti Amp. Before purchasing the card I did a lot of research to work out which one I should buy. In the end it came down to price and 5 year warranty. I wish I would of picked another brand now.

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Before Christmas, I had the card running at 1080p. 1080p doesnt put much stress on the card, as 60fps isnt hard for a card of this power. For a Christmas present I got a 4k screen, which meant increasing the resolution to 4k. This is when I noticed some big problems.

Immediately the card got a lot louder, from barely audible to the loudest part in the PC. If you ever got 3 high speed fans and turned them up to their maximum you may get the idea; I could hear the PC from downstairs! With what I read about 4k - I thought this was normal operation, but clearly it wasnt. I should of picked up on this faster.

A few days ago I noticed the card was especially loud; so loud it felt that something was wrong. After checking GPU-Z I saw a temperature of 90c, with a fan speed of 99%. 90c is only 10c away from boiling water - clearly something was wrong. I have never seen a GPU hit that temperature ever before. I started doing some more tests to see if that was a one off, however in quite a few games I could reach 85c, sometimes 88c. When looking at the card, the cooler is massive and shouldnt of been struggling;

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Thinking now this was a real problem, I contacted Zotac to see what was going to happen. Where I got some strange and poorly worded replies. They passed the buck to the reseller (overclockers.co.uk); who suggested this was normal operation - 85%+ fan speed, 83c+ with constant thermal throttling. I am disappointed in the reseller also.

At this point I had 2 choices;

  • Put up with it (live with the very loud card, reaching stupid temps - maybe even try and break it so it would be RMA'ed - which is kind-of stupid),
  • Or try and fix it (thinking it was something simple like too much thermal paste),


Ive built PC's for many years, so I know how to put them together and take them apart. Graphic cards however... not much; normally I buy them already overclocked with good coolers on them. So all I need to do is plug them in. I was pretty sure the problem was something simple, like too much thermal paste between the cooler and the GPU. Its not something you would expect on a £500 graphic card! However it wouldnt be the first time a company have cocked-up things like this...

So hesitantly I removed the cooler, undoing the screws - which felt a little lose to be honest. At this point I think my warranty may be void, but im a believer if you can fix something yourself, you should! Why try and break it, so you can RMA it? The cooler came off pretty easy to be honest, where I saw what was wrong;

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The thermal paste between the cooler and the GPU was extremely poorly applied. It looked like a big blob had been squirted onto the top left (and way too much of it), and then when the cooler was screwed on, it had been tighten up in the bottom right corner first - forcing the paste to pushed out of the top left (meaning there was little/no paste what-so-ever on the bottom right part of the gpu). This is one the worse applications ive seen from a company.

So now I cleaned up the GPU and removed all the cheap gunk. With the GPU cleaned, I replied a small blob of MX-4 (in the centre, like how it should of been done). So next it was the matter of screwing it back together, being careful not to over tighten any of the screws (this could potentially crack the gpu). This didnt take long, so it was a matter of sticking it back in the PC and trying it.

Straight away I saw a drop, my idle temp when down from 40-50c to 33c! The lowest I ever seen - good sign! So the next thing was to check its gaming performance, this is when things really matter. In low-loads the fans remain off, so doesnt really give you a true idea on its performance. So now I tried FurMark and started the test. After 5-10 minutes the highest temp I saw was 70-71c, with a fan speed of 57%;

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This felt very strange - the card was being taxed at 100% usage, but was more or less silent. This is the card I should of had at the start! This was eerie - the lack of noise. So I checked a few more games... still nothing, even in 4k! I couldnt get this card pass 71c, or make much noise. It looks my repair has knocked off up-to 18-19c!

So my advice; stay away from Zotac cards; the paste was extremely poorly applied on this card, and it should of been RMA. I was told by reseller this was normal operations. Both Zotac and reseller would not help, so I had to take matters into my own hands - which may mean the warranty is void. I would be extremely interested if Zotac would comment on this post. This repair shouldnt make the warranty void!

Social media link: The Facebook post on this story

[update 1] the reseller was overclockers.co.uk. Zotac had told me (On the Friday);

If the GPU temperature is still nearer 90 degree, you may contact the card seller for RMA service.
- Zotac


to which they replied;

I understand it may seem high, but those temperatures are completely within tolerance and is expected for a card of that power.
- overclockers.co.uk


[Update 2] For anyone interested, you can download and view my GPU-Z logs for here. Red is before, Green is after.

Fallout 4, Before and after; (avg. 12c drop, although games vary alot)

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FurMark, Before and after; (18c drop! with a massive fan speed drop)

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[Update 3] Ive been told by Zotac thats the reseller responsibility to RMA the card (on the Monday);

We do see the card fault, but the GPU-Z temperature is higher than expected.
Please contact the card seller for RMA service.
- Zotac


Which is all too late, as card was already repaired (Friday night).

[Update 4] So I wrote on Twitter how I was disappointed in both Zotac and Overclockers. Overclockers responded and said to contact their customer services. After so, I got the following reply;

Under full load the card will happily sit at around 90 degrees as per Nvidias specifications listed here: http://www.geforce.co.uk/hardware/desktop-gpus/geforce-gtx-980-ti/specifications

Unless it is hitting above nvidias recommended specs or the card is underclocking we are unable to offer a resolution as the card is operating within designed parameters.
- overclockers.co.uk


So according to them, hitting 90c isnt a problem (its happy to sit at those temps, even although NVidia state 92c is its maximum). Zotac have stated it should of been RMA by the reseller. I have to contact Zotac to see if they will atleast honor my repair, so I can keep my warranty.

[Update 5] Zotac arent understanding at all;

Follow current Zotac policy, remove the fansink will void the graphic card warranty.
If you did not remove the fainsink, that will not affect the warranty.


So basically I should have tapped up the fans and tried to burn out the card, so I could RMA. Pretty poor English too.

[Update 6] A few days later I posted this story on trust-pilot. The next day James Bailey contacted me to sort-out the problem. The blog continues here.

Posted by Roguey on Saturday 9th April, 2016   ·   Comment 2 comments   ·  

Elite Dangerous » Reaching a billionaire

I know its been awhile since my last Elite: Dangerous blog; back in September when I reached the combat rank of Elite. However its been relativity quiet in Elite for me. The reason is that ive been working on my trade-rank, which has you can imagine is a grind. For this ive been using one of two trade routes, either; Bestii to LTT 8517 or Karid to Orang - both routes have their advantages and disadvantages (the Karid being faster but with less profit, whilst the Bestii run being slower but makes more profit). Sometimes its worth switching between the two because other players effect the runs (even in solo).

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So today ive finally hit one billion in my bank account... in Elite: Dangerous - it would of been good in real life of-course. I guess technically ive been a billionaire for awhile, as my net assets are worth 1,261 million. Some of that is tied up in the ship I fly. Its not a full A-class Anaconda but its fairly well equipped, being worth around 265 million (my anaconda build).

This puts me at around 104 million away from the Elite trading rank too, so hopefully ill be posting about that soon. Ideally I wanted to do that before v1.5 or horizons, but I think its unlikely with v1.5 beta due out this Monday or Tuesday. Well, atleast I have broken the back of the trade rank now - I will be glad when its done! I think afterwards I might switch to either Mobius or open and play with some of the smaller ships, or play some more CQC (yay im helpless).

Posted by Roguey on Sunday 8th November, 2015   ·   Comment 0 comments   ·  

Reinforcements have arrived

Awhile back you may of read that I upgraded my PC from an 2600k to an 5820k. I looked seriously at the 6700k, but for me having 2 real extra cores was better (4x 4.2 vs 6x 3.6ghz). I dont know how things will go with gaming etc. but from past experience the extra cores tend to get used later on (and I do some encoding work from time to time). I also thought my 5820k will overclock (if need be), and ive reached 3.8ghz with 1.0v - I know thats not much of an overclock but I tend to want to keep the noise level low (1.0v is stock voltage). Higher voltages produce more heat and harder my AIO has to work to keep it cool, without louder fan noise. The H110i can get rid of it but ideally I want it to be very quiet. Im a bit of a silence freak to be honest, especially after my last build.

So for a long time ive been deciding what to do about the GPU - stick with a 680GTX (hold out for the Pascal) or get a card now. I thought long and hard and came to the conclusion that an 980Ti wont be bad next year just because of Pascal surely. I saw some posts by nvidia saying it was 10x faster, but I really cant see that. That would mean what we have now is been done badly. Like others I personally think Pascal will be around 30-40% at most. Some have said it be even longer until we see the big pascals. How long do you wait? there's always something better coming soon..

So in the end I went for a 980Ti. One of the big factors was the 6gb of ram - 2gb isnt enough any more. The 970 has that odd thing with 3.5gb VRAM, and the 980 was more money for only a little more.

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You may of noticed that ive also added some extra ram, bringing the system to 64gb. I know this is seriously over-kill now, but later on I dont want to be searching for another set of memory. In the past I had a system where I only put half the amount of memory in to start with, but couldnt find the other half when it needed it. I cant see me changing the CPU/motherboard any time soon. 64Gb is the maximum of the 5820k.

In the end I went with a Zotac GeForce GTX 980 Ti AMP. This was pushed my budget but was into the 980Ti territory. I know there are more expensive 980Ti's out there, but this one was a little cheaper than the rest and this one had a 5 year warranty (should anything happen - like my old 670GTX);

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After installing everything I noticed the 980Ti get a bit hot when gaming. So what I did was to install a fan directly under the 980Ti to keep it cool. This means the card is always cooled by a fan, helps the psu and pushes the air upwards to the exhaust fans. Being a 140mm fan, its very low pitched and barely audible - I rather this fan span than the GPU fans work harder (as they can get a little noisy).

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I guess I could of spent more money on a AIO 9800Ti but for me the 9800Ti was already pushing 'it'. So far this systems ran very quiet and can run the latest games on high/ultra when needed.

For those inrested, I have added my 3Dmark scores below;

- Firestrike
- Firestrike (Ultra)

The 980Ti is around a x2.4 increase in 1080p and around x5-6 times in 4k. I dont have a 4k TV at the moment, but it could happen later on. At-least im open to the possibility later on, should a 4k TV turn up. Another option is that the 980Ti drops in price, allowing SLi - although im not sure a 760w PSU will be enough?

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One thing im finding funny is that the PSU still isnt getting enough load to even spin-up the fan. Its like saying - is that all you got? Its a very quiet and efficient PSU.

thanks

Posted by Roguey on Tuesday 27th October, 2015   ·   Comment 0 comments   ·  

Upgrading to an 5820k

A little bit ago, a family member made a decision that they wanted to use a PC for next gen games instead of going down the console path (I think it was the right decision). This was influenced because their copy of Windows 7 couldnt be upgraded on their current pc (AMD X2 3800+), as the cpu didnt support CMPXCHG16B. So I did some research and found out that the cheapest I could put something together was around £400 mark (motherboard, cpu and ram). When comparing the stats to my 2600k (which is 4 years old), I saw only a 7% difference in performance (so pretty much getting something similar). So I started to wonder how much it would take to upgrade mine, so would also get an upgrade. Of-course I was more keen on this path (obvious reasons), and I knew my 2600k had premium motherboard (albeit a old but still good). Premium boards do give you a lot more future expansion if required.

So I started to look into, for around 50% more I could either get a 5820k or the new skylake processor (6700k). Both of these chips had advantages and disadvantages, higher core count vs higher stock speeds. I kept coming back to the decision that a higher clock speed cant replace 2 extra cores (even although modern games arent fully utilizing high core count yet). So told them about my findings and it was agreed this was the biggest gain for both of us (a 2600k for one, and a 40-50% increase for me). I figured also the six core cpu could simply be overclocked (if needed) to the skylake single-core performance (seeing as its got soldiered TIM, allowing it to be cooler than a 6700k - like the 2600k).

So the next day a few goodies turned up;

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I went with a Gigabyte X99-SLI with the Intel Core i7 5820K because overclockers.co.uk had a deal on, saving around £50. This helped bring down the price, as X99 motherboards are expensive! They did have another deal on with an Asus board, but I did hear about a few problems with the Asus boards. So instead I went for the Gigabyte board, as couldnt find much bad about it and it was a solid board.

After that got two lots of Corsair Vengeance LPX 2x8GB (I felt this would fill the motherboard with half the maximum memory and allow for further 32gb for the future. The 5820k prefers either 4 or 8 sticks, so it can run at quad channel. These sticks were low profile, which can be useful. I only went with 2400Mhz memory, as I didnt see much benefit from higher frequency memory.

The cooler (as you need to supply your own with the X99 chips) I went for a Corsair H110i. I know its a bit over-kill but my aim for this system is to be quiet - I got fed-up of hearing fan noise. After much reading, it appeared this cooler could be very silent. However being an i variant, meant you could change the settings if required. Later on I did create a custom curve, to lower the fan speed.

And lastly the power-supply, I decided to go for a Seasonic Platinum 760watt. Whilst this may also be a bit over-kill, I felt this allows me plenty of room for future upgrades. Seasonic do have a good name, and ive used them in the past. After getting the PSU I noticed it had a hybrid mode or normal fan mode. Looking around, it seems if the PSU is running under 40% (I think) it doesnt need to switch on the fan. I didnt plan on getting the 760w, as the 660w was out-of-stock by the seller. I am glad to say my Seasonic is silent! no coil whine what-so-ever!

So after a bit of time, this is how it looked;

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The eagle-eyed ones out there may notice that my old graphic card is still there - a 680GTX. MSi replaced my failed 670GTX (more info here). I do plan on moving the 680GTX to the 2600k (as is a better fit for it), but im extremely confused what to get next. Pascal is nvidia's next big deal which is start of next year (2016). Do I invest heavily in a 980Ti now? or go for something like the 980GTX (save some money for an upgrade, that maybe I could move to the other system)? I know I didnt say about the 970 - which is a good card but the 3.5Gb VRAM put me off (one of the main reasons for upgrading). I been watching around a lot to see if a seller will do a deal on the 980, overclockers had it for £350 one day (which I missed sadly). I know AMD have also released cards too but I felt they were a bit lack lusting to be honest. Id hope they would of been better, pushing down the prices. I hear the 390 runs fairly hot (something im trying to avoid in a quiet pc), whilst the fury seem a bit expensive (and even read some can have coil whine). I have been entering competitions like mad, but I havnt won anything (the trouble with free-prize draws). So im at a complete loss with the gpu at the moment. Any advice would be welcomed. I plan on running on 1080p for the moment, but maybe in the future 4k might be nice (depending on price of-course).

After getting everything installed, I found the Gigabyte very easy to use. The bios seems a little messy but in windows its very easy to overclock the chip by the looks of it;

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You can even change all the clock settings within windows (which is something new to me);

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Its mad seeing windows task manager showing all the logical cores working;

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I did create a video showing the upgrade below;




At the moment its a bit funny with the PSU, even during heavy usage, I cant even get the fan to spin-up. Its like the PSU is saying... meh. Ive never had a PSU where it didnt even need to spin the fan.

If youre intrested in my current 3D mark scores, then here they are;

- Fire-strike,
- Sky Diver,
- Fire-strike (Extreme),

Anyway, your suggestions/comments are welcomed - what shall I do about the graphic card? - help!

ps. I also need to get another sound card sorted, as my old one doesnt plug in anymore - PCI. I used DTS connect/DD live to my av system Cry

Posted by Roguey on Wednesday 30th September, 2015   ·   Comment 0 comments   ·  

Elite Dangerous » An Elite Roguey

Its been nearly 2 months since my promotion to Deadly in Elite: Dangerous. When I got Deadly, I moved my focus onto trading - as it felt like it would be a long journey and I was only at the start of it. Every so often I did a bit combat - pushing up my progress by a couple of percentage every now and then.

However in the past week or so, my turned my focus back onto fighting. I knew there be a bank holiday, so I would have some more time to push on with the rank.

Progress was slow at first, getting around 5% progress a day until I started to refine things. I learnt the best place to farm the kills was at high resource extraction sites (H-RES), but there were 3 different spawns;

- One with small ships (Eagles, Cobras, Diamondback's),
- Another with big ships (Imperial Clippers, Vultures, Dropships),
- Or a mixture of both,

I thought fastest way of pushing up my rank was to search for an instance with big ships, with high rank. However after a bit of time learnt both big/small spawns have various advantages;

To push up your combat rank, the most important thing is the rank of the other ship. It is better to face 3x Deadly Eagles, than it is to fight 3x Master Dropships. However the larger ship spawn is better for money, as you can earn up-to 230,000cr per kill.

If youre looking to push up your combat rank (like I was), it is better to kill the pirates at start of an instance then make another game. This way you dont need to wait for them to come to you.

However, it still took me awhile, but I have finally reached the combat rank of Elite;

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I also wanted to captured this moment, so I also posted it on youtube - showing my promotion. I did think it might give others some ideas.




So now I dont have to farm RES sites ever again - yay!

Posted by Roguey on Tuesday 1st September, 2015   ·   Comment 0 comments   ·  


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