Current changes

A few weeks ago I started upgrading and changing several things on my media centre PC. Most importantly, I’ve exchanged the mainboard and the RAM. Another component that’s changed was the graphics card. I switched from a common GeForce GTX 560ti to a GeForce GTX 560ti 448.

The “old” graphics card was a SuperClocked version by EVGA, which had a lot of power but the EVGA Classified Edition of the GeForce 560ti 448 was too intriguing to be resisted to. The EVGA CE uses six power phases and is more a 570 than a 560. The big issue with the 570 is the lack power phases – four instead of five. One of my previous 570 cards died due to this fact during an overclocking session and a slight voltage increase.

I also exchanged the chassis, which looks much more elegant than the old chassis I’ve used and is a little quieter. The only noisy thing that is currently inside is the graphics card, but the cooling components will be exchanged in the very nearby future.

The CPU that was once working in my work PC wandered into the media centre giving me much more core horse power. The CPU is now overclocked but does not cause too much heat, thanks to a stock voltage.

After setting up the system and installing all the things I actually need (tons of games and XBMC) I’m very satisfied with the final result. Everything feels much smoother and the overall gamin performance has increased a lot. The only thing that bothers me currently is the noise level of the system during gaming sessions. But like I said, this is going to be solved.

The reason why I actually did those changes to the system was mainly the new Batman video game. And my plan worked perfectly well. The game’s now finished and I did not notice any weird performance issues, except the rumble with the Joker and his henchmen and the Catwoman fight in the strong room. Those were more PhysX related and my dedicated 9800GT had a little struggle with these fights.

Whatever the case, I’ve finally got a “debugged” system where everything finally works, which was not the case on the old system. For instance, ‘L.A. Noire’ did not even start. XBMC is working smoothly and I had no issues with exporting and importing the media library data.

We are 4-48

When you want to have something exclusive, you have to use some exclusive methods to get it. Nvidia announced that they put out a new graphics card which will be settled in the upper mid-range segment. It’s called GeForce GTX 560ti 448 and is basically not a 560, it’s a 570 with a few cuts on the shader units.

Whatever the case, I want this bloody card. And secondly, I want this bloody card by EVGA. And last but not least I want the “Classified” edition with improved cooling design and two more phase units to beat the shit out of every game with some monster overclocking. Well, until now, I’m just waiting. I had the standard version of the 560ti 448 but I wasn’t very happy with it.

The performance is okay and slightly improved in comparison to my GeForce GTX 560ti, but it was too loud. Not too loud for a common system, but too loud for my media centre. 1,500rpms in idle mode were too much and the card went back to sender.

So, here I am, waiting and waiting for the “Classified” edition. I ordered this card at three different resellers to get some special assurance that at least ONE reseller will get this card and send it to me. The person who’s dignified.

The Good, The Bad, The Disappointed

Everything started very promising this year. It started with the frightening and totally awesome “Dead Space 2”, a game that absolutely gives you creeps shouldn’t be played alone in the dark. Well, actually, you MUST play this game alone in the dark, but beware. You may find some embarrassing surprises in your underpants.

After this fright odyssey the year continued with the manliest shooter I’ve played since a long time ago. BULLETSTORM. Yeah, this was just great. Stereotype conversations and one liners and just great action. Explosions. And guns. And explosions. And guns. And destruction. “Bulletstorm” wasn’t by far a brain cracker but it was some great entertainment, worth to be played a again.

“Portal 2” came out and it could exceed my high (extremely HIGH) expectations. It was a short game and till today I haven’t managed to play this awesome game in co-op mode but it was worth every minute. The whole level design, the story, the humor, everything fit. And I was totally surprised what Valve managed to make with the almost nine years old Source engine. “Portal 2” wasn’t looking like a game from the past, it can compete with every other title these days.

Speaking of graphics, “Crysis 2” came out right at the beginning of 2011 and what I did, I denied playing. I said, I only play “Crysis 2” when I have the ability to play it on DX11. Crytek put out a patch with DX11 support and hi-res textures in mid-summer 2011 and I found absolution. My game rig started to sweat by lifting the heavy weight graphics of “Crysis 2”, but hey, there’s a reason why I invest lots of bucks in a high end system and why I’m a passionate PC gamer. Despite all these graphics, “Crysis 2” is a good game, but for me personally, I still prefer its predecessor. Open world and free decisions, you know?

Some great indie games also hit the shelves. One that I totally adored and where I just couldn’t stop playing was “Limbo”. Took me like two or three sessions and I was at the end, or the beginning again. Whatever. “Beat Hazard” was another title that kept me playing for a long time. A download only title called “From Dust” was able to entertain me for several days and nights as well. But what happened next was a series of disappointments.

alice is a bad girl.

It started with the long awaited “Dead Island”, which had more bugs than features. Seriously, the game was almost not playable during the first days and needed lots and lots of patches. My 7.1 noise sound bug hasn’t been fixed till now. It continued with “Rage”, the first id title that, well, I don’t know how to say it. I miss something. It’s not the kind of id game that I actually expected.

My personal heart’s desire “Alice: Madness Returns” will be discussed later in another blog entry.

“Deus Ex: Human Revolution” was a game that is basically good, but it offers lots of moments of frustration as well. I guess, this is the kind of game that you love or hate. At the moment, I’m somewhere in between.

Biggest fail and disappointment of 2011 is definitely “Duke Nukem Forever”. They just should’ve canceled the game or buried it somewhere really, really deep. This shooter is not old school, it’s just ridiculously old-fashioned. I mean, what the f#+k? Seriously? Why? I got the “Balls of Steel Edition” and you totally need balls of steel and also nerves of steel to compete with this terrible game.

I was so happy, that “Super Street Fighter IV Arcade Edition” made everything right. There’s light, at the end of the tunnel.

But when I take a look on titles like “Battlefield 3” with its evil companion called Origin or the blurry texture fest called “Skyrim” I see black for the end of the game year 2011. My last hope lies on “Batman Arkham City”

DiRT 3 shadow errors [SOLVED]

Since the latest update of “Dirt 3” the shadows in split screen mode are a little weird, not to say totally wrong. I’ve added an example picture to show you guys the graphics error. The problem occurs on two different systems. One with moderate graphics setting with a GeForce GTX 560ti and on one system with ultra-settings with a GeForce GTX 580. There are no special settings made inside the driver menu or other weird stuff. I’m also not noticing any other graphic issues in other games.

If there’s someone out there knowing how to get rid of this problem or how to solve this issue, please feel free to contact me via inv4d3r [at] bloodreaver.com

[Update:]

I’ve found the cause for this problem and was able to fix it. The reason for this issue is very simple – Fraps. For some reason does Fraps and DiRT3 no longer work well together in splitscreen mode, so I quit Fraps before actually starting DiRT3. That’s it, nothing special.

Ah, push it! Push it real good…!

Like I said in my previous blog entry, I’m going to upgrade my gaming rig. As a show of gratitude for my old system I just had to push the last bit of power out of it. I’m currently using two graphics cards in this system that are also going to be in the new system. It’s mainly a replacement of motherboard, RAM and CPU. Graphics card #1 is a Geforce GTX 570 by Point of View and it’s a charged model, which means it’s already overclocked by factory defaults. Stock clocks are 810MHz for the core and 1980MHz for the memory.

Graphics card #2 is a Geforce 9800 GT Green Edition by XFX, which is pretty common without any overclocks. Anyhow, the fan design looks pretty nice on this card. Stock clocks are 550MHz for the core and 700MHz for the memory.

I was able to push the Geforce GTX 570 up to a 880MHz core clock which is pretty good, if you consider that the stock core is actually 725MHz on a completely non-overclocked graphics card. The Geforce 9800 GT received no more than a fifty MHz overclock to the core and no overclock to the memory. So far so good, but I wasn’t very happy with these results and I also wasn’t very satisfied with the fact that all these overclocks happened in software only by using the MSI Afterburner.

After some research I finally found a version of NiBiTor that was able to actually handle my BIOS files that I read out with GPU-Z. The Geforce 9800 GT was pretty to modify. I was able to set the core-, shader- and memory-clock on the “main-page” of the program and I slightly adjusted the core voltage to 1.05V to get a little “insurance” on the core.

My Red Led Fan

The Geforce GTX 570 was a little bit more difficult, because I wasn’t just able to adjust the clocks on the main page. NiBiTor offers a sub-menu especially for Fermi CPUs and the bunch of numbers I first saw was way confusing. After a couple of minutes of asking Google I finally found a good website explaining how to adjust the clock speeds correctly and I was ready to let the editing begin. I also had to adjust the minimum and maximum voltage on the core for two simple reasons. #1 – I wanted to get a little bit more coolness in idle mode so I decided to undervolt my card a tiny little bit from 0.92V to something around 0.85V without any stability issues. #2 – I wanted to increase the maximum headroom by increasing the voltage in 3D performance mode. The defaults were around 1.062V and I decided to bring it up to 1.151V and the maximum allowed voltage was set to a value beyond 1.2V which I probably never going to use. Damage risk, you know?

I knew what my cards were able to do in the past and I did not have to experiment that much to find the stable clock values. So the final results on my cards have been the following. The Geforce 9800 GT now runs with a clock core of 725MHz and a memory clock of 900MHz. I did not wanted to push the memory to far because it simply wouldn’t make any sense. You always have to consider that this card is used for PhysX only.

The Geforce GTX 570 got a real blast. The core now runs stable on 950MHz and the memory was pushed slightly to 2150MHz. That’s an increase of 31% compared to the stock clocks given by Nvidia. 3D Mark 2011 increased by 400-500 points. The average score on factory default clocks was around 5,300-5,400 and after overclock around 5,900 points. Unfortunately wasn’t I able to kick it beyond the 6,000 point mark. I’m pretty sure I can push the final score on the new system to something between 7,000 and 7,500 points. I’ll keep you informed.