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Verran

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  1. Verran

    Occ Raid Guide

    The Official OCC Raid Guide, Version 2.0 This guide is intended to discuss the pros/cons of various RAID types. It is also intended to explain how these different RAID types work on a hardware level. This guide is NOT intended to teach people how to setup RAID on their system. Every motherboard or RAID card will be different, so that would be quite unreasonable. If you see anything in this guide that A) needs more explanation, B) is incorrect, C) could use rewording, please post here or PM me. I welcome any help you can provide to keep this guide as accurate as possible. This thread is not a discussion, and is not the place for you to ask specific questions about your hardware. Any posts that are not related to the guide should be instead posted in another thread, as they will be deleted here. Finally, you will notice that all illustrations here are done with MS Paint. Among other reasons, this is done as an homage to LoArmistead, whose Paint skills are unmatched, though sadly missing from the forums these days. ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Terminology Before I start to explain RAID technologies, there are a few terms that a reader needs to understand, as they will be used regularly throughout the guide. Redundancy: Redundancy is a general term to describe a backup. Most RAID types offer redundancy in some form in order to improve the chances of retaining data when a disk is lost. With redundancy, one or more disks in a set can be lost (fail) without any data loss. Physical Disk: This is quite simple on its own. A physical disk is a hard drive you can hold in your hand. Physical disks or drives are all the hard drives you have installed in your RAID array. This is used in comparison with Logical Disks. Logical Disk: A logical disk is a storage space that you see and have access to in Windows (or any other OS). Normally, when you install an 80Gb physical drive, you see an 80Gb logical drive in Windows. However, with RAID, this is not always the case. It is important to differentiate the storage space of the physical hard drives from the storage space that is ultimately available in windows. Overhead: As mentioned above, the capacity of all the physical drives in a RAID set may not be the same as the logical storage space it offers. This is because of RAID overhead. The price of data redundancy is overhead. In some cases, you may use 2 80Gb hard drives, but your RAID set may only be a total of 80Gb of storage. This "lost" space is called overhead. Parity: Parity is a way to create data redundancy without making a full extra copy of the data. For every pair of bits (a 1 or a 0), a parity bit is calculated and stored. See the table below: Based on that table, it is easy to see how if you only knew two of the values in a row, you could easily calculate the third. This is how parity works in RAID. Treat each column in the table like a physical disk. If any column is lost, you can still calculate the contents by using the other two. By that same rationale, parity can be used to create redundancy so data on a lost drive can be "rebuilt". ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Types of RAID RAID-0 Pros: Drastically increased data throughput speeds Cons: Increased risk of data loss Disks Used: 2 or more Overhead: None RAID-0, also called "striping", is used primarily to increase the sustained throughput speeds of data on the drive. A 2 disk RAID-0 set can read/write data roughly twice as fast as a single disk of the same speed, and a 3 disk set can read/write at roughly 3 times the speed but only during large sustained data transfers. This is accomplished by splitting all read and write activity between the drives evenly. By dividing each file into equal pieces to be written in parallel, data can be written and read much faster. However, while RAID-0 increases sustained transfer speeds substantially, it does not benefit short reads and writes much at all. This can make the benefits of RAID-0 misleading because while it can drastically increase disk speeds, it doesn't always increase speeds where they make the most difference. Since RAID-0 offers no redundancy, and because a piece of every file is on each disk, a single disk failure will corrupt the entire array. Effectively, the failure of any single disk will destroy all the data on all the disks. For this reason, RAID-0 is best used for data that is replacable, like OS and game installs. RAID-1 Pros: Data redundancy Cons: High overhead and slower write times Disks Used: 2 Overhead: 50% RAID-1, also called "mirroring", is used primarily for data redundancy. Effectively, RAID-1 makes 2 full copies of every file written to it. RAID-1 has 50% overhead for redundancy, meaning that 2 physical 80Gb drives make one 80Gb logical drive when mirrored. Each hard drive holds an exact copy of the other, so if either fails, the entire set of data is still on the other. RAID-5 Pros: Increased data access speeds, data redundancy Cons: Minimal overhead, more disks required Disks Used: 3 or more Overhead: 1 Disk RAID-5 combines the fast data access of RAID-0 with redundancy similar to RAID-1. But instead of making a full extra copy of every file, RAID-5 uses parity to create redundancy. In a RAID-5 set with three physical drives, everytime data is written, two drives receive 1 block of data just like a RAID-0 set, while the third holds parity information. By doing this, any of the three drives can be lost, and all of the data is still recoverable. Unlike RAID-3 and RAID-4 (which are rarely used anymore), RAID-5 does not always write parity data to the same disk. Instead, parity data is divided amongst all of the drives in the array. In a three disk set, the RAID-5 logical drive will be the size of just two disks, creating an overhead the size of a whole disk. In a four disk set, the overhead is still just one disk, making the overhead smaller by percentage as the number of disks increases. The access speeds also increase as the number of disks in the set grows, however, the more disks in the set, the more likely it is that two could fail at a time, making data recovery impossible. RAID-6 Pros: Increased data access speeds, very high redundancy (double-fault tolerant) Cons: Substantial overhead, more disks required Disks Used: 4 or more Overhead: 2 Disks RAID-6 is a logical extension of RAID-5. Where RAID-5 uses one parity block per write, RAID-6 uses two. The benefit to this is that while RAID-5 can survive the loss of one phsyical disk, RAID-6 can actually survive the loss of two. So if one physical drive fails, and then another fails before the first can be replaced, RAID-6 will still maintain data integrity. The downside of RAID-6 in comparison to RAID-5 is the extra overhead. RAID-6 requires more disks to provide the same logical storage space when compared to RAID-5. As with RAID-5, RAID-6 does not always write parity blocks to the same disks, but rather spreads them out across all disks in the set. RAID-10 Pros: Increased data access speeds, very high redundancy (double-fault tolerant) Cons: Substantial overhead, more disks required Disks Used: 4 or more Overhead: 50% RAID-10 (also known as RAID 1+0) is one of many types of "nested raids". Since RAID allows us to treat multiple physical disks as a single logical disk, there is nothing stopping us from using one RAID structure inside of another RAID structure. In the case of RAID-10, we take two RAID-1 sets (mirrors) and put them in a RAID-0 set (stripe). By putting a RAID inside a RAID, we gain the benefits (and fall-backs) of both configurations in one single logical drive. RAID-10 offiers the read and write speeds of RAID-0 while providing the data redundancy of RAID-1. RAID-10 can survive the loss of a single disk without losing data under any circumstance. On top of that, RAID-10 can actually survive the loss of two disks situtationally. As long as the two disk failures are not from the same mirror set, the data integrity is maintained. If both disks are lost in either mirror set, however, the data is lost. The cost of this is that RAID-10 requires more disks and has a fairly high overhead. It is also a more complicated configuration that can be tricky to keep track of. JBOD Pros: Consolidated workspace for files Cons: None Disks Used: 2 or more Overhead: None JBOD stands for "Just a Bunch Of Disks" and is not technically a type of RAID, but the ability to use it is almost always provided by a RAID controller and for that reason it is generally lumped into the RAID category. JBOD is like RAID-0, only without the striping (or splitting) of data. JBOD offers no data redundancy and no access speed increases. Instead, JBOD simply combines two or more physical drives into one single logical drive. With JBOD, it is possible to make a 60Gb drive and a 80Gb drive appear as one single 140Gb workspace in Windows (or any OS). When a disk in a JBOD set fails, whichever files reside on that disk are lost. All files on the other disks in the set remain unharmed.
  2. We get a lot of questions around here that basically boil down to "How do I overclock?" As I've said before, this isn't a bad thing. Everyone starts somewhere and asking questions is a good way to learn, but a lot of times the answers to people's OC questions require that they know some things that they may not. I've put together some "basics" that I think people should have a solid understanding of before overclocking, and specifically before asking for help. Asking a question won't get you anywhere if you don't understand the answer, and for that reason I think this might help some people around here. And for the record, I don't consider myself "the authority" on overclocking around here. In fact, I don't consider myself anywhere close. But I think we need something like this and I want to do my part. So to that end, if there's anything you'd like to add, please let me know. If there's anything that's wrong or misleading, I ask the same. And if there's anything that doesn't make sense to you and you would like explained better, please PM me or post here. I hope we can get this pinned so it's easier to find for everyone. So without any further delay.... OCC Overclocking Basics: What is Overclocking? Most people know that overclocking means to run a particular piece of computer equipment at a higher speed than it was intended to run at. But how and why is that possible? Let's say that you have a 2.0ghz processor and you overclock it to 2.5ghz. Why didn't the maker sell it as a 2.5ghz chip? Wouldn't they make more money? The answer is that they have to sell the chips at the lowest common speed for the whole set. Every chip that's sold as a particular speed needs to be able to run at that speed on the lowest quality equipment. The makers can't guarantee what quality components the chip will run with, and therefore they have to make sure it will run with anything. This is where overclocking comes in. An overclocker will use the quality "headroom" to run the chip faster than it's intended to run. And with quality componets, this is not only possible, but also can be very rewarding. Processor Terminology: When someone describes the speed of their processor, they will generally use two terms: FSB/HTT and Multiplier. So what do these mean? FSB/HTT: FSB stands for Front Side Bus, and refers to the speed at which your processor can talk to your memory. In the AMD world, this is also referred to as HTT, which stands for Hyper-Transport Technology. This is the easiest and most common speed to adjust for overclocking. This speed setting is limited only by the motherboard, which will have a maximum selection. However, any decent overclocking motherboard should allow you to set this speed much higher than will ever be practical. If there were a single "one stop shop" for overclocking settings, this would probably be it. FSB can be tricky with DDR memory though. DDR stands for Double Data Rate because the data uses both rising and falling edges of the clock pulses, but that's another lesson entirely. The important word is "double". DDR 400 memory actually runs at a FSB of 200 in the motherboard settings, but because it's -double- data rate, it is actually rated at 400. This very same memory can also be rated as PC3200. That means that the memory will move 3.2gb of data per second at stock speeds. The 400 and the 3200 are pretty meaningless when dealing with overclocking, however. The important part is that it will run at a FSB/HTT of 200. Multiplier: So now we understand the speed at which the processor talks to the memory, but how fast does it do its internal calculations? How fast does it run all by itself? The multiplier tells us this. If the front side bus is 200 and the multiplier is 10x, then we know that the processor runs at 200 x 10 = 2000mhz or 2ghz. The multiplier is a way of describing the internal speed in relation to the FSB. So taking the multiplier and multiplying it by the FSB speed will give you the actual speed of the processor. The multiplier setting is used to overclock the chip, but not nearly as frequently as the FSB setting. The reason for this is that most newer chips have what is referred to as a "locked multiplier", which means that it cannot be set to other settings. Sometimes, this means that the setting cannot be changed at all, but more often it means that it can be set lower than stock, but not higher. Typically, if the multiplier is 10x (for example), then it can be set to 9x or 8x, but not 11x or 12x. Voltages: In almost every case, a chip will need more voltage than it gets at stock in order to reach is maximum overclock. But what are the different voltage settings and what do they mean? The two most common voltages that you will deal with are vCore and vDimm. vCore is the voltage of the processor itself. This is the voltage you will use to control the chip. As overclocks become unstable, you can use this setting to increase the processor voltage and make the chip more stable. vDimm is the voltage of the memory. This is not used quite as often, but is still important to understand. The memory can (and usually will) be overclocked as well, and vDimm can be used to increase stability in ram just as vCore can be used for processors. Limiting Factors: OK, so let's be honest. That 2.0ghz chip of yours just isn't going to reach 5.0ghz. We know it. But why? What are the factors that will hold a chip back? There are three main factors that will limit maximum speed of your chip. The most obvious of these is what most people call the "ceiling". No matter how good the chip is, at some point it will simply reach the fastest speed that it's capable of. The other two factors are more in depth, however. Heat: Heat is usually the biggest factor in a chip's performance. Higher speeds and more voltage makes more heat in the chip. And more heat in the chip can lead to failures or instability and can even lead to permanant damage if not fixed early. This is why adaquite cooling is a MUST for overclocking. This is also why it is important to monitor your system, but more on that later. Sometimes, you could know that your chip is capable of faster speeds, but it will run too hot and therefore will be limited in its speed. Voltage: Increasing voltage can make an unstable processor stable, but it's more complex than that. Processors are not meant to run higher voltages than stock, and can be damaged by too much voltage even if heat is managed properly. Just like with heat, a processor could reach a point where it can go higher but it might be at a voltage that isn't safe and therefore isn't recommended. Dividers: In my opinion, memory dividers are under-rated in the overclocking world. A lot of times, an overclocked system will reach an instability or fail point, and it will not be clear whether the processor or the memory has failed. For this reason, people are always looking to test one part individually. A memory divider can let you do this. Memory dividers allow you to run the memory at a slower speed than the chip. So, for example, you could run your chip's FSB at 250mhz, but run the memory at 208mhz. This is done using a 5:6 memory divider. (250 * 5/6 = 208) By doing this, you can slow your memory down to stable speeds and only overclock the processor. This allows you to attribute any instability directly to the processor, rather than having to guess what is causing it. Slower memory speeds are often undesirable for a system, since they slow the memory down, but they can be used for two reasons. First is for testing, as mentioned above. By slowing the memory down to stock speeds or lower, you can be sure that the memory is not causing overclocking failures. The other reason to do this is that some processors simply can't support memory speeds that high. By slowing the memory down, some chips can actually overclock much further, so even though the memory is slower, the system as a whole will run faster. Memory dividers can also be referred to as "max memory speeds". A 5:6 memory divider may be referred to as 166 max memory speed, since 5/6 * 200 = 166. Another example would be a 1:2 divider and a 100 max memory. Monitoring: As mentioned previously, it is highly recommended that an overclocked system be monitored in many ways. Many software packages monitor things like temperatures, voltages, fan speeds, clock speeds, memory settings, etc. Monitoring these readouts allows you to find and solve problems before they become serious. If you don't watch these readouts, you may not discover a problem until it is too late and damage has been done. Here is a list of some of the most popular programs: CPU-Z (link) This program is probably the most widely accepted speed monitor out there. It can tell you all the pertinant information about your processor, including speeds, FSB, Multiplier, voltages, memory speeds, memory settings, and much more. This is basically a "must have" program for overclocking. CoreTemp (link) A newer temperature monitoring program to support C2D and newer dual and quad core processors. This is a current standard and can measure individual temperatures for each core on multi-core processors. RealTemp (link) This is very similar to CoreTemp but generally reports lower temperatures due to an adjusted "TJ Max" value in the calculations. This is also handy because apart from reporting current temperatures, it also reports minimum and maximum values over the duration that the program is left running. Motherboard Monitor (link) This is a widely used program which is generally targetted at monitoring temperatures, but can also be configured to show things like voltages and fan speeds. By default, the program will display the case and processor temperatures in your system tray. The program is somewhat "out of date" and doesn't support many new motherboards without modification, but is still widely accepted as a standard. ITE Smart Guardian This program has different versions for different motherboards, so make sure you download the appropriate one. For this reason, there is no link. The program monitors temperatures, fan speeds, and voltages. It is regularly used on newer motherboards in place of MBM5. SpeedFan (link) This is very similar to ITE Smart Guardian in that it monitors temperatures, fan speeds, and voltages, but it can also be used to change fan speeds at the software level. Everest (link) This program can be used to access temperature, fan, and voltage info much like the others listed above, but its real value is in the ability to get TONS of useful information about your computer. It can tell you pretty much anything you want to know about your PC, statistically speaking. I have found this program useful for varifying the BIOS version of my motherboard, though there are MANY other uses for it. Stability Testing: Overclocking is fun and beneficial, but can also cause major problems with your PC. A computer that is improperly overclocked can cause crashes, reboots, power-downs, data corruption, and eventually even permanant hardware damage. Again, it is important to diagnose these failures early on so that they don't escalate to bigger problems. This is why ANY good overclocker will have a toolbelt full of stress/stability tests to check their system with. An overclocked PC does you no good if it's not stable. Running games faster does you no good if they crash at random. Overclocking needs to be kept in check with stability testing whenever settings are changed. Different people will have different definitions of "true stability", but all overclockers should know how to test for it. Here is a list of commonly used stress test programs: Prime95 (link) This is a distributed computing project, but can also be used strictly for stability testing. As with most programs, it uses strenuous math calculations to see if your processor ever produces failures (wrong answers). If there were a single universal "final stability test", Prime 95 could arguably take that title. It is widely accepted and very reliable. OCCT (link) This project is no longer being continued, but the tool is still incredibly useful. OCCT has two modes: A standard stability test and a torture test. The standard test runs for 30min and is a very good stability indicator. After the 30min test completes, it shows graphs of temperatures and voltages which is a feature that is not really found in other programs, and is very useful. The torture test simply runs until stopped and reports any instability, much like Prime 95. SuperPi (link) SuperPI is actually a benchmark program, and gets its name from the calculations of Pi digits that it performs. SuperPI speeds are a good indicator of a processor's speed, but the tests will also report instabilities as they occur. This program can run very quick stability tests that are surprisingly accurate given their speed. This is another "must have" in my opinion. MemTest86 (link) This test is used to test just your memory, as the name implies. It can either be booted from a floppy disk or a CD-ROM. Once it is booted and running, it runs multiple test patterns on your memory until it is stopped, and reports errors as they happen. This test is very good for testing the memory alone, and helps to confirm that your memory will run at the speed and voltage you have set. ----------------------------------- That's all for now. Hopefully this information will make the world of overclocking a bit more understandable. If this guide gets good response, I hope to continue the saga with further overclocking guides. Thanks for reading and good luck with your overclocking...
  3. Well, I recommend CPU heatsink vents enough that I figure I should just make a photo guide. I made my fourth one today, so I figured it'd be a good opportunity to document it if anyone else is interested in making one. They always reduce my CPU temps by at least a few degress, and usually it's more like 4-5c. It's nice because not only do they allow the CPU to suck cold air from outside the case, but they stop heated air coming out of the heatsink from finding its way back into the fan. First, I'll start with the parts I bought. I started by ordering a subwoofer vent from Crutchfield. I have found that the 4 inch vent (~$6) works well for matching up to a 120mm fan, while a 3 inch vent (~$5) matches up well to a 80mm fan. I haven't done this for a 92mm fan yet, but I think I'd rather use the 3" than the 4" if I did. When the vent arrived, I bought a 24"x18" plexiglass sheet from Lowe's (~$7). That's it. Total cost: ~$12. Next, I'll list the tools I used. I used a dremel for most of the work. I'm a big fan of the continuously variable speed models, but any dremel should do. The two dremel bits I used were a cut-off wheel and a round grinder bit. I also used a hand drill. The drilling is really light, and even a crappy drill should do just fine. Also, it helps to have a full set of small drill bits so you can be sure to have the sizes you need. Besides that, I also used a ruler (any straight edge), a stanley knife (razer blade, anything sharp really) and a marker. That's all. -------------------------------------------------------------- Part 1: Make A New Window (If you want to cut your existing window and not make a new one, you can skip this part.) First, it's important to note the the plexiglass sheet should come with a protective film on both sides. You should DEFINITELY leave this on so that the plexi doesn't get scratched or scuffed while you work with it. I started by disassembling the case's existing window. (I think it's pretty safe to assume most people's cases have windows. If yours doesn't, you can either just cut a round vent hole right into the side of your case, or you can cut the side of your case to add a window.) As you can see, the existing window on this case is already cut, but for the wrong size hole, and in the wrong location. It's recently recieved a different motherboard and proc, and so it needs a new (better fitting) vent. The existing hole doesn't change anything in the steps of the guide. I simply removed the plastic rivets that held the window in to remove the old plexiglass. Your case may have screws or nuts and bolts instead of plastic rivets. Just remove the window however necessary. Next, I laid the old window on the new sheet of plexiglass and traced the shape with a marker. I also made sure to mark where the mounting holes were to make my life easier later. If you forget to do this (or can't for some reason), you can simply mark through the actual holes later when you test fit the window. Next, I cut the window out from the full sheet of plexi. I started by finding the two long straight cuts. Instead of cutting these with the dremel, you can use a ruler and a sharp knife or "stanely blade" to etch a straight line where you want the cut. Do this on both sides, then just snap the sheet in half on your etch line by hanging it over a table edge on the line and pushing down on the part hanging over. It's much simpler and you'll get a more straight edge. I did this twice to get the general shape, and then used the dremel cut-off wheel to trim the more intricate parts out. The important thing to remember is that these cut edges will hide behind the metal of the case side, so they don't need to be perfect, and you don't have to worry if your marker lines remain. In fact, I didn't even round the corners like they were before, because they didn't interfere and you can't see them anyways. Next, you need to drill the mounting holes on your new window. Now may be a good time to test fit the new window and make sure your hole markings line up. Start by finding the right size drill bit to fit your case's mounting holes. If you want to be really careful, you can start with a smaller bit first, then use the right (bigger) sized one. It's a bit easier to line up your holes with a smaller bit, and they tend to wiggle out of place less when you're starting the hole. Then once you've got the small hole in place, just drill it again with the right sized bit. The trick is to push VERY lightly on the drill when you do this, as it doesn't take much downward force to crack the plexi. Just set the drill bit in place and spin it up. You'll barely need to push down at all. It'll take longer this way, but you'll be much less likely to crack it and have to start over. Also, bracing the back of the plexi helps a lot. If you can set a piece of flat scrap wood under it, that works very well. Then you can just drill right through into the wood and it will prevent bending and cracking. I used a round trashcan. (Same idea ) There you go, the holes are drilled and you can test mount the window now. Part 2: Adding The Vent The first step here is to mark the round hole for the vent to fit through. It's important to make sure it lines up with the CPU fan (obviously). To do this, mount the window in your case side (you only need to put in a few bolts/rivets for this), and then reassemble the case with the new window in place. Then, place the vent on top of the window. Line it up with the fan by looking straight down at it through the window. Then mark the position with a marker. It's ok to mark the outside of the vent because it's actually a bit wider at the base (by the lip). Doing so won't result in the hole being too big. Now, you need to cut the circle out of the window. Start by making rough straight cuts inside the circle with the dremel and cut-off wheel. This will result in an "octogonal" hole that's too small, but it's only the beginning. Now switch to the rounded grinder bit on the dremel and slowly smooth the circle out until it's circular (at least roughly). Again, this does not need to be perfect. The nice thing about the subwoofer vents is that they have a quarter inch or so of "lip" to them, so as long as the cut is at least close, it will be hidden by the vent's lip. Once the hole is circular, test fit the vent. If it won't fit, slowly expand the circle little by little until it's just barely big enough. A snug fit makes everything easier. Now, chances are that the vent is too long and will hit the CPU fan when it's in place. That's why you need to trim it. Start by removing the vent from the window and reinstalling the window and case side (again, just a few bolts/rivets will do for this). Now drop the vent through its hole and measure how far it sticks out. That's the length you need to trim. Mark that length on several points around the end of the vent, then connect them to make the circle you need to cut. Use the dremel and cut-off wheel to do this. If you're picky, you can use the grinder bit again to smooth the bottom of the cut, but it's not a big deal as it won't be that visible when it's all done. Now just reinstall the vent. That's it, everthing should be cut and in place. Your vent should be fully functional at this point. Don't forget to remove the protective film from the window once you're done cutting and drilling Also, if your vent does not fit tight enough for your liking, you can glue it in place from the backside of the window. I use clear Tester's model glue for this, since it's made for plastic-to-plastic applications. That's all. I hope this is helpful or at least informative
  4. WARNING: This is long-winded and probably a waste of a lot of people's reading time. If you don't like coding on at least some level, you'll probably just be very confused. Consider yourself warned. OK, so I've mentioned this a few times in passing but I've never cared enough to prep it for public presentation. I wrote this thing for myself over the years and fairly recently converted it to it's semi-user-friendly state that it's in today. Like I said, I wrote it for me and it works for me, so ... yay! Beyond that, if someone else can get something out of it then I'm very happy and if not it won't break my heart. It started as a small batch script to install some of my "must have" applications silently. I format like it's a bodily function, so even though it took some work to build, it's saved me TONS of time. So the thing grew and grew and then I started wanting to tailor it for different installs. For example, if I was using it for a build for a friend, then I'd want to skip all the OC programs. Well needless to say, that got tiring trying to edit it every time I ran it. So the conversion began... So I converted it to C# and along with that conversion came a lot of new possibilities. It now has a pretty user interface and it adds and drops programs automatically based on what files it finds in its root. So in other words, I don't have to touch the C# code one bit to add a new app to the mix. So what happens is there's the base directory, and then an "Applications" directory. Within that, you can put folders for any sub-set you can imagine. Some examples of mine are Burning, Extras, Main, Music, Overclocking, etc. Each folder found here becomes a sub-menu in the GUI, and each folder under THOSE becomes an entry for a silently-installed application. For each application, there's a specific file layout. There's an "app" folder where I put the installer for the program. Then there's an "install" and a "cleanup" file. These are separated by OS, so you could have a "vistainstall.bat" and a "vistacleanup.bat" as well as an "xpinstall.bat" and a "xpcleanup.bat" all in the same directory. (The program auto-detects and defaults to the OS you're using, but you can manually switch it too if it guesses wrong for some reason.) So basically, it's a C# program that dynamically builds a large batch file from tons of smaller batch files and gives a GUI selection screen for simplicity and prettiness. Once it's built, it will execute it by default, but there is an option to have it not execute automatically if you would so choose (debugging purposes for me). To install it, extract the zip file anywhere. The resulting "Install" directory needs to be put in the root of any drive (so C:\Install or D:\Install or E:\Install, etc.). If you do that right, the program will find the installers all by itself when you run it. Then just execute the PROGRAM.EXE file to start it up. (You'll need to install .NET Framework if you haven't already.) So there you have it. The trick is writing your own .bat files, but once you learn the format, it's very easy and you can mostly copy/paste from existing ones. They're just DOS commands, after all. I've included a few for starters and as examples, so take a look. Load the code in SharpDevelop if you like and take a look at my nasty code I tried to put lots of comments in to explain what was happening. Give it a try. If anyone's curious, I can explain more. There are many more .bat files that I've written, but I only included a few to give a feel of how things work (and to save on file size). Download Link to my program: http://file2upload.net/download/30215/Install.zip.html (Filesize: 26.4MB) Legal Stuff: I've included some installers for the purpose of examples, and I don't know the legality of that. It's all free software, but still, I don't know what the rules are so I'm going to list the links to their download sites to give credit where credit is due. I DID NOT WRITE ANY OF THE INSTALLERS IN THIS PACKAGE, and I am in no way taking credit for them. DVD Shrink vLite Firefox Foxit Audacity CPU-Z GPU-Z SuperPi SharpDevelop
  5. Well, I normally don't use sleep mode on any of my PCs, but I figured I'd give it a shot with my new installation of the Win7 RC1. It works fine except that when I wake it from sleep, I get a drawn-out buzz out of my PC speaker for maybe three seconds or so. I've tried turning this off both in the Windows power settings as well as in the BIOS, but I can't find a setting for it in either spot. Has anyone else had this happen before? Googling it has turned up nothing useful so far.
  6. Verran

    You know what's sad about Realtek?

    To me, it all depends what you're doing with the card. At my desk, I use the onboard on my X48-DQ6 and it sounds fine through a set of decent 2.1 speakers. For my HTPC in the living room, I run it through a full high-end receiver and speaker set, so distortion is much more noticeable. I found that running a 3.5mm -> RCA from the headphone port needed too much amplification and sounded crackly on the onboard of the DFI nf4 Infinity, so I picked up a cheap Turtle Beach card with an optical-out and things sound much better now. I think it's just a matter of what you're running your sound out to, as well as how picky your ears are, of course
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    Assassins Creed 2

    Like Clay and Lo, I really loved AC1 despite some of the downfalls that I have to admit were pretty big. It was an awesome story and the graphics and setting were just beautiful. It was a really nice change from the typical hack/slash and FPS junk that we see so much of. However, I'm really torn now to find out that the console versions will release first. I don't know what to do now. I will probably want it right when it releases and I could certainly buy it for my 360, but I'd MUCH rather play it on my PC and I bet the later PC version will have some fixes in it like AC1 did. Ah, decisions...
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    Windows 7 custom UI

    Samurize is not technically supported on Win 7 but I know people are doing it either through installing in admin mode or XP compatibility mode, so this could be.
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    [Deal] $150 Xbox 360 Holiday Bundle Leftovers

    Holy lord! If that'd true, that's an amazing deal. I can't believe how cheap 360s are getting. But with the new slim PS3, I guess it's kind of a necessity. Great find!
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    Is there a way to work around securerom

    Cracking is certainly one way and is relatively guilt-free if you did indeed purchase the game. However, the best way is to simply call them up and tell them your story. I would bet good money that they'll fix your problem with very little hassle. That's always been the case when I have trouble with Windows keys, for example. Maybe this particular company and rep might jerk you around, but in general I find that in these situations they're quick to fix your problem.
  11. Sure enough. Thanks for the heads-up. I'll leave the thread here though since a good AV discussion never hurt anyone. Personally, I use Clamwin. I used Norton until it got too bulky, then I switched to AVG. I used that for quite a while but around version 8 it got way too bulky too, so now I use Clamwin. It may not be the end-all, be-all of AV, but it's super light-weight and I feel it's more than enough to protect me when paired with a little bit of common sense surfing.
  12. I'm with Andrew on this one. It seems like there'd be a VERY limited market for something like this. I would think most ITX builds would be for low-profile applications and not something this flashy. Plus, when compared to the cost of the ITX system components, that's a very hefty price. It really inflates the overall system cost. It's a cool idea, but it just doesn't add up to me. I just can't see a whole lot of people having a need/want for it.
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    eReaders

    I voted "I think it is a cool concept, but not compelling enough to buy." I think it's something with real promise but it's not something I have a strong desire to adopt early. First of all, I think the prices are too high on the readers, but also on the media too. Just like with Steam, if I'm missing out on the physical product (which to me holds significant collector value), I shouldn't be paying anywhere near full price. Yet most of the time it seems like you still do. I also want to wait out the whole DRM thing. If I'm buying something, I want to know that it's mine and right now I certainly wouldn't feel that way about an eReader title (as a generalization). Can't justify it even existing? That seems a rather strong argument.
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    Coding Program

    Yup, Notepad++ or Textpad for languages like that.
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    Dragon Age: Origins

    I voted no but what I really wanted was a "Maybe" option. I'm not sure really. I'll probably wait for it to be out a while and go on reviews.
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    Multiplier jumps randomly

    This is my feeling on it as well. People will always recommend turning the power-throttling features off in the BIOS when overclocking, and I still think it's good during the actual overclocking phase where you're trying to test and find your best OC settings. But after that, I turn it back on. Why not? I've never had any problems from it (that I can tell, anyways) and power savings are power savings. Plus, it can only help the lifespan of your hardware. I say turn it back on once you find your final OC and see if it works. I bet it'll work just fine.
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    Windows 7

    That is true but XP64 has just never really felt "complete" to me. I've tried it a few times and I always seem to run into obscure driver issues or something like that. I would much rather run Vista 64 than XP 64. As for 7, I tried it a few times in the past but always rolled back to Vista 64 because I would have problems with drivers and realize that Vista was fine for my needs. I've just reloaded RC1 though and I'm now using it full time. The new ATI drivers are better (still not perfect, IMO) and I don't have any problems with it anymore. So I've really just started "testing" Win7, which means I won't be buying it any time soon. But if I do like it, I'll probably upgrade, though not immediately. I'd probably wait until I started nearing the expiration for the RC1 copy.
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    programming idea

    Your program intends to test how quickly a given PC can draw a picture on a screen. However, that's not the hard part. That's not what users really need to know. Putting the picture on the screen is easy. The hard part is rendering the picture. It's figuring out that the user wants to move forward and then figuring out where every pixel needs to be moved in the next frame in order to make that motion happen on the screen. Those calculations are what cause games to be unplayable, not the drawing of the image after it's rendered. The difference is the reason that it takes basically nothing to watch an avi (video) file on your PC, yet if you had a game that could actually render that same HD quality video in real time it would crush most systems. It's because the video file is pre-recorded. It doesn't need to be rendered.
  19. Some people will notice a huge difference and other people will notice nothing at all. It just depends how picky you are really. If you've been using onboard for this long and not had a problem with it, I would bet you won't notice a big difference going to a separate card at this point, but you never know until you try one out for yourself.
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    OCC Landing Page

    My OCC link points to the "View New Posts" page. I always go there first. I voted "Recent Topics" because I assume that's the same thing, but I'm actually not sure.
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    How do you feel about twitter

    I don't really care about twitter. I'm just ignoring it and waiting for it to go away. I don't feel like it's being "forced" on me though. That seems to be implied in the poll responses and I think that's a weird sentiment. Why do you feel like it's being "forced"? No one has to use it. If you feel like it's the only way to get your news, you need to get out more When I see major companies asking me to "follow" them on twitter I just think it's really lame. They're trying so hard to be hip and cool but it just doesn't seem appropriate in most cases. I don't understand what they would use twitter for in most cases.
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    New Cascade Being Built

    It sure feels that way sometimes... Can't say I'm that surprised Ever since your dice pot showed up I knew you'd be hooked on extreme cooling I can't wait for the first round of testing screenshots once this thing shows up at your house!
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    SLi GTX260 216 1792mb

    Shouldn't you be the one telling us if that video card is enough for your monitor? I mean if anyone would know, wouldn't it be the guy who can actually get his hands on the parts and test it? Why not just try it out yourself and see first hand if it can handle your games or not?
  24. You should start out by reading general guides. I wrote one a while ago. You can find it here. It's a bit old and generalized, but it should be good for getting you started. As for a "step-by-step" guide, you're not likely to find that. Unfortunately, it's not as simple as putting in the right code and then you're overclocked. Every chip is different. Every memory stick, every cooling fan, every motherboard, every power supply, etc, etc. The point is that no two PCs will have exactly the same "steps" for overclocking. What works wonderfully for one person may fail miserably for the next. That's why you need to learn the general ideas behind overclocking and go at it yourself, rather than trying to use someone else's settings.
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