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Velotix von Skruviktorrius

The SSMB PC Troubleshooting and Discussion Thread

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After a certain other thread got hijacked every other post with PC troubleshooting, I decided it was about time this thread was created. Discuss here any of these topics:

1) Upcoming new PC hardware

2) Issues with your existing PC

3) Purchasing advice for new PC parts

4) Getting PC games to work on your system

5) Bragging about your current PCs

Without further ado:


So I'm a bit pissed.

After the last month or so of trying to fix dumb crashes in Minecraft and other games where my display would cut out and not restart for no good reason, I finally gave up and laid my old GeForce GTX 295 to rest. RIP.

And now I'm packing a GTX 560Ti. The Gigabyte OC model. Overclocked out of the box. Yummy performance goodness. What annoys me though is that this part manages to get performance out of the box that seems to always match or outclass my recently departed 295. And that thing had two GPUs! Why did it take me so long to upgrade?! @___@

If there's one thing that my experience has taught me though, it's that dual-GPU cards are not worth buying unless you're actively developing game graphics. I really got sick of having a gimped system every time a game happened to not support SLI and left me with performance worse than a midrange system. Having to put up with a system stuck at 50% performance most of the time is just really not worth it. What's the point of a multi-GPU system where most of the time only one GPU in the set ever gets used? :/

If you're going to get multiple GPU system, folks, just buy multiple midrange cards. Much less hassle and grief. Twin 560Tis seems to be the most cost-effective performance option recommended by people at the moment, and after giving a solo 560Ti a spin I can see why: it's so far living up to the reputation the card has gotten in the press. It definitely doesn't feel like a midrange card at all. I'm interested to see how this goes now, plus DX11 games I can actually play now. Hooray. I really don't think it's sunk in yet, but I may have actually lucked out here.

Edited by Velotix von Skruviktorrius

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Not sure if this would count as a 'parts' question as such, but after recently upgrading my PC I'm looking for a really good gaming headset for a reasonable price but I'm having no luck. :I

Anyone got any ideas?

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Not sure if this would count as a 'parts' question as such, but after recently upgrading my PC I'm looking for a really good gaming headset for a reasonable price but I'm having no luck. :I

Anyone got any ideas?

Define "reasonable price" and define your needs.

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Define "reasonable price" and define your needs.

Well, I guess I'd be willing to pay up to £150 if I get my money's worth. And just that it's comfy, got surround sound, good durability...the usual really.

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Though I never usually recommend official Microsoft-branded hardware to anyone, (I've had a few bad experiences with the wires on their controllers and keyboards breaking internally and irreparably in ridiculously short amounts of time - and I've always stuck by the belief that there's a damned good reason why the company is named Microsoft) one particular headset in the LifeChat series is an extremely high-quality product, so long as you are prepared to transfer all audio control to the unit's (admittedly fantastic) internal sound card and not use your PC's one until it's unplugged - the LifeChat LX-3000 is pretty much the perfect headset from a comfort and sound quality (from both the mic and the speakers) perspective, and if you don't mind the disadvantages of digital USB headsets, then it's gold. Far removed from Microsoft's own terrible Xbox 360 headset, that much is certain...

If, however, you've invested a hefty amount of cash in an expensive, state-of-the-art, dedicated sound card, or simply just want the ease of use and universal compatibility of an analog (oh, shut up, Chrome; analogue is a ridiculous way of spelling it) headset, then the Plantronics GameCom 367 is a suitably excellent alternative (albeit slightly more expensive, but I suppose that you get what you pay for with headsets in this kind of price range) to the Microsoft headset - and, seeing as I'm a huge proponent of analog audio devices, I would without hesitation recommend the gaming-orientated GameCom over the VOIP-purposed LifeChat. I suppose that it all depends on which type of technology you prefer, and whether or not you're prepared to pay the marginally higher price for what I believe to be the superior product.

I hope that helps. :)

Edited by eXtaticus

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I found this amusing review. This happens to be the PC case I use myself, and sure enough, the PC I made with it was my first.

I had no idea my computer case was both so popular and so controversial. o.o

I didn't know computer cases could even cause controversy.

Edited by Velotix Lexovetikan

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I've reviewed several cases, and with one exception (a shitty Thermaltake), I've never experienced "compromises in build quality, ease of use, features or cooling performance" in gaming cases. That guy just sounds pissed for the sake of being pissed.

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Armor A60.

$50 case for $90, which was apparently supposed to be justified because it had USB 3.0. It even shared parts with Thermaltake's (at the time) bottom-market model, except it wasn't put together as well. Complete shit.

Edited by Tornado

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Though I never usually recommend official Microsoft-branded hardware to anyone, (I've had a few bad experiences with the wires on their controllers and keyboards breaking internally and irreparably in ridiculously short amounts of time - and I've always stuck by the belief that there's a damned good reason why the company is named Microsoft) one particular headset in the LifeChat series is an extremely high-quality product, so long as you are prepared to transfer all audio control to the unit's (admittedly fantastic) internal sound card and not use your PC's one until it's unplugged - the LifeChat LX-3000 is pretty much the perfect headset from a comfort and sound quality (from both the mic and the speakers) perspective, and if you don't mind the disadvantages of digital USB headsets, then it's gold. Far removed from Microsoft's own terrible Xbox 360 headset, that much is certain...

If, however, you've invested a hefty amount of cash in an expensive, state-of-the-art, dedicated sound card, or simply just want the ease of use and universal compatibility of an analog (oh, shut up, Chrome; analogue is a ridiculous way of spelling it) headset, then the Plantronics GameCom 367 is a suitably excellent alternative (albeit slightly more expensive, but I suppose that you get what you pay for with headsets in this kind of price range) to the Microsoft headset - and, seeing as I'm a huge proponent of analog audio devices, I would without hesitation recommend the gaming-orientated GameCom over the VOIP-purposed LifeChat. I suppose that it all depends on which type of technology you prefer, and whether or not you're prepared to pay the marginally higher price for what I believe to be the superior product.

I hope that helps. smile.gif

Thanks eX, and it's funny you should mention the LX-3000...that's the one I'm wearing on my head as I type this. :P

I've had similar trouble with Microsoft products, I'll never be going with them for anything except headsets again. BUT, I think I'm definitely looking for something a little more than the LifeChat offers. I don't actually find this one very comfortable over long periods of time, and one of the ears actually fell off a month after I got it. I just decided to keep it and use it as I one-ear set for voice chat only. :P

I'll definitely consider the GameCom though if I need a cheaper replacement. I'm just hoping to find something that packs a lot of power behind it to last me in the long run. Thanks again man!

Cooler Master Storm Sirus.

Review.

Don't know how much it costs in pounds, but its only $130 over here.

And I'll definitely be considering this set (or at least something very similar), if I can find it for a good price in the UK anyway.

I've found 2 other sets I'm interested in aswell, one Sennheiser and a Logitech. Anyone got any good/bad things to say about those brands in the way of headsets? Been with both for headphones and other peripherals, but not headsets.

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Well, I'm more inclined to go with the Sennheiser's as they're about £50 cheaper, all for the sake being wired. The Logitech's do look a lot comfier though, and come in a wired variety.

Screw it, I think I'll go for the Wireless Logi's. Hopefully I'll get my money's worth!

Scratch that, I'm going with the Razer Megaloden's. Reviews are saying they're much more comfortable and I don't really want any wireless interference.

Edited by Swiss

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Ugh. I have a 6200 GeForce on my PC, I found a rather cheap GeForce GT210 for 50 bucks, I don't know if I should buy it but I want to know if some games like Portal 2 would work on this PC. Everything Required for the game is Perfect for my PC but I lack in GPU. Should I grab that GT210? Or look for something cheaper?.

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^ The GT 520 will beat an Xbox 360 - but it is, however, more expensive than a 210. The 210's not at all worth it, mind, as you're paying more for what performance you get out of it than you are for any other card in the GeForce series - and remember PCI-E and AGP, and the difference between the two; if your 6200 is an AGP card, then your motherboard is outdated and your PC needs to be replaced - however, if it's a PCI card, then definitely get the GT 520 and upgrade. One last thing to remember is that the performance of your graphics card is limited - or "bottlenecked" - by the power of your CPU; you'll definitely need at the bare minimum a highly-clocked Pentium 4 or a mid-range Core 2 Duo to make the most of that 520 - good luck!

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Eh, nevermind. My dad won't let me buy the GPU - Even with my own money!

Other news, EasyCap 2.0. Should I buy it or not?

I've been wanting a recorder for Games for a while, and when I foudn this video I was interested on the EasyCap. The guy even made a tutorial on how to make it look like that.

So, yeah. Yay or nay.

I have Windows 7 BTW.

- Vinyl Scratch

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I don't know if this type of noob question will receive a good reception, but I could use some guidance and opinions.

The laptop I've been using for 6+ years has finally crapped out on me and won't work even turn on. This isn't exactly a massive loss, since I've been considering buying a new one. However, being that I know next to nothing about what I should look at in terms of brands and tech specs, I'm kinda lost.

I guess I should talk about what I'd want the damn thing to do first, eh? As far as the basic things go, I'm a college kid, so the primary use for a computer to do my work (online research, tryping papers, etc). I need something that can detect wireless internet connections well, too. My old one would barely detect my father's router from a few rooms away, and being that a good amount of my homework requires a steady connection to the internet, I really do need one. I assume that any half-decent laptop could handle these tasks, but there are a few other things I am looking for, like something that can handle vidya gaems.

I've been interested in PC games for quite some time now, but my old machine couldn't really handle much. I'm interested in stuff like Minecraft, Portal, Sam and Max, Cave Story, Maplestory, Super Meat boy, Rosenkreuzstilette, etc. I also do like to emulate some 16 bit and 8 bit era games. Even though I listed quite a bit, I can't picture myself being some incredibly avid PC gamer (I barely play my console games, as it is), but it's still something I'm interested in, so I'd really like the option to have a laptop that could handle your basic PC games.

I'd also like something I can watch movies on. I'm only bringing this up because I know that many brands don't come with CD drives anymore. Something that could handle really high quality anime/tokusatsu that I download would be incredibly awesome, too.

Like I said before, I don't know much about tech specs or brand names. What do I need to keep an eye out for? How do I know if a specific aspect of a laptop is "good" or not? What brands are considered the best? Where should I buy? Anybody have any personal recommendations?

Also, I guess it's worth mentioning that I have currently about $1,200 (give or take) to use.

Sorry for the barrage of newbie questions. I'm just a bit overwhelmed because there's so much available on the market, I want to be certain I make the right choice.

Edited by gunther

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Helping newbs is what this thread is all about, when we're not swinging our PC e-peens. :P

Well at this stage, if your PC is from 2005 or earlier, even the most basic budget PC will be a gigantic power jump for you. So how much money we throw at this is dependent on what you're actually going to do with it. Most of what you listed can be accomplished perfectly fine by a bog-standard laptop nowadays.

First thing to point out is that your connection problems you mentioned are most likely caused by the router, actually. Are other wireless devices working fine on it, or do you only have one?

It seems you are set on having a laptop. Personal experience has taught me that whilst you can game on a laptop, there's a reason most developers and companies flat-out refuse to formally support laptop gaming systems - they're much more fiddly than their desktop equivalents and more expensive to boot. If you plan to game on a laptop and expect customer service from games companies, expect to be disappointed; getting games to run smoothly will be entirely your problem. That said, provided you're willing to spend enough, laptops can indeed game nowadays. I wouldn't have been able to say that six years ago.

Before I recommend anything concrete, we should confirm that getting a laptop is required. Unless you absolutely must have the mobility, desktop systems outclass them every single time and for less money.

Speaking generally, only very old computers cannot handle Minecraft. Any basic system built nowadays will run rings around it, so that's no problem - and currently on your list Minecraft is by far the most demanding title, so a budget laptop should actually cover you.

So before we bother with any recommendations, do you absolutely require a laptop? And independently, what is the most intensive (read: new, 3D, probably requires DX11 to run properly) game you can see yourself playing, if any? Finally, do you do any graphics work like graphic design or 3D modelling, because if so modern software can take advantage of a strong GPU and you will benefit from getting a decent gaming GPU anyway.

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Just thought it might be worthy a mention about the Wi-Fi connectivity issue in relation to my own experience. I have a few laptops, one cellphone that supports Wi-Fi and a Nintendo 3DS. My wireless router (although not exactly new) is located in the basement. Upstairs, I can sometimes barely access the Wi-Fi with my Nintendo 3DS, pretty much on and off and not so stable. My oldest laptop does not stand a chance. It can sometimes detect the name of my Wi-Fi, but it can never connect from anywhere upstairs. My netbook can connect and use the Web, but the connection may be broken a few times (sitting in the same spot all the time). The connection is always reestablished after just a second or two. My newest two laptops have no problems at all with the connection or instability.

With my experience on the matter, laptops that are very old often have terrible Wi-Fi connections (could this possibly be an issue related to Windows XP?), sometimes having trouble just one room away. Thus if that turns out to be true, your connectivity issue should not be a problem with any laptop available on the current market, of course unless the wireless router really cannot transmit that far, as Velotix Lexovetikan mentioned.

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Going based on gunther's post and said it'd be primarily used for school work, I'd say a laptop wins out over a desktop here. Colleges have computer labs yeah but I like the assurance that if I need a computer theres one there for me, those who have tried to find a open computer during crunch time will know what I'm talking about tongue.png

As for specs, because you want to game on it you'll want at least a dual core'ed proc @ 2 GHz (pretty standard nowadays), you'll be comfortable with 4GB of ram. For the video card unfortunately mobile gpus I don't know much about but I do know Intel based video is no good for gaming, so look for nVidia or ATI/AMD GPUs on it. Something like this might work for you, though some people say Dell laptops are pretty crappy, that being said my Dell Inspiron E1705 tank is still running strong 5 years after I got it.

Edited by voice

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I actually have a desktop and laptop (long story) and because until recently their specs were similar in most areas until I got this 560Ti but my desktop was the superior system, I almost universally used the desktop and the laptop simply collects dust, to the point that every time it does see use I have to spend the majority of the day updating everything first. This is why I say that unless you must have the mobility, be very wary of purchasing a laptop, because the very act of doing so causes more problems than it solves, the biggest one being the inability to self-maintain the system hardware-side.

EDIT: Yikes, the point I'm trying to make there is hard to pick out. Essentially, put them side by side for the same price point and the desktop is better and easier to maintain, the only downside being that you won't be able to lug it very far without a car. The necessity or lack thereof of having a meaty mobile device on-demand is the critical factor, and so my laptop may end up finally seeing proper use this year because of it.

EDIT 2: And to further clarify, if you already have a desktop system, there is even less reason to pick up a laptop system to complement it unless you must have a portable heavy-duty system.

Edited by Velotix Lexovetikan

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First of all, thanks so much for answering my petty little questions. You guys kick ass!

First thing to point out is that your connection problems you mentioned are most likely caused by the router, actually. Are other wireless devices working fine on it, or do you only have one?

The problems I mentioned honestly vary from device-to-device. Some of them can detect things fine from a few rooms away, while other have issues. Ex: my old computer, and most of my game consoles, would barely detect it, my brother's laptop and sister's desktop can detect it ok-ish, my dad's Macbook has some trouble detecting it, my girlfriend's laptop detects it better than anything else, etc.

I'm not ruling out that it's mainly the router's fault, though. It's about 5-6 years old by this point.

It seems you are set on having a laptop. Personal experience has taught me that whilst you can game on a laptop, there's a reason most developers and companies flat-out refuse to formally support laptop gaming systems - they're much more fiddly than their desktop equivalents and more expensive to boot. If you plan to game on a laptop and expect customer service from games companies, expect to be disappointed; getting games to run smoothly will be entirely your problem. That said, provided you're willing to spend enough, laptops can indeed game nowadays. I wouldn't have been able to say that six years ago.

While I am aware that desktops trump laptops in most categories, you were right, Velotix, in that I am willing to sacrifice that for the mobility. I like having the freedom of using my computer in a variety of places, be it my room, my living room, or a friend's place. And as Voice pointed out, using/finding the desktops on campus can be a drag at times. I just really like the convenience that laptops bring.

You do make me somewhat consider getting a desktop now, but yeah, mobility is a big deciding factor here so I probably will not get a new one lol. I could possibly see about taking my sisters' old desktop off their hands. It's only about 3 years old, but they don't even use it now because apparently it's too slow for them (although knowing them, they simply saved too many pictures or downloaded one of those stupid mouse pointer programs or did something to fuck it up >___>).

And independently, what is the most intensive (read: new, 3D, probably requires DX11 to run properly) game you can see yourself playing, if any? Finally, do you do any graphics work like graphic design or 3D modelling, because if so modern software can take advantage of a strong GPU and you will benefit from getting a decent gaming GPU anyway.

As stated, I cannot really picture myself getting too into PC games, especially the more high-end ones (even then... I don't know what games are and aren't high-end. Unil you pointed it out, I thought Minecraft required a lot of power to run properly). I'm more interested in little indie games and older titles than say, huge-ass MMORPG's. I am interested in some titles like Portal 1/2 and Half Life 2, but I don't know exactly how "intensive" such titles are.

edit: Oh, graphic design lol. I used to do some minor graphics work with the freeware program GIMP, but I haven't done so in about two years. I've always had some interest in making art with Photoshop or Sai, but I'm unsure if I'll be getting those programs in the near future.

Thanks again, everyone. You don't know how helpful you're being.

Edited by gunther

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So you want a laptop and nothing too fancy.

Gimme a mo, I'll edit this with something perhaps a little over the top, but as you're undecided on how hardcore you want to game (and apparently the answer is "not very much" no matter what you do), I'll pick something with a bit of headroom so you can dip into it if you feel like later on rather than closing off the option completely, especially as once you have a laptop they're a huge nuisance to upgrade.

If however you want a desktop option too, say so and I'll pony up an equivalent there as well.

EDIT: Something along these lines will sort you for several years. The short version is that in graphics and general desktop/mobile computing there have been at least three significant performance breakthroughs since 2005. What you'll get here will dump all over anything you've used before.

Intel Core i5 2540M

This is one of the new Sandy Bridge line. The mid-high models in this range beat $1000 CPUs from the previous generation, so the performance you will get is nothing to sneeze at whatsoever even on a scaled down mobile version such as this. Compared to anything from 2005 it'll be nightmarishly quick. On top of that the integrated CPU on this puppy supports DirectX 10.1, so despite reports of compatibility problems I'm reading, in theory it's got more guts than a low-end GeForce 9. This particular model is a dual-core processor with hyperthreading for a grand total of 4 logical cores, so it should be quite nice for games and general use.

GeForce GT 555M (192-bit, DDR3 RAM version)

So to cover that weakness, you get the best GPU without breaking into the heavy-duty gaming replacements that have a far higher power usage - and consequently much lower battery life. Confusingly there are three versions of this particular chip, so I've had to be specific with my recommendation, selecting the one that pumps out the most performance. I noticed though that even the highest end 580M, which is a new release, has less than half of the raw processing power of my desktop GeForce 560Ti which is considered a midrange card, so no matter what you get your performance will lag behind a modern desktop GPU. This GPU supports DirectX 11 and OpenGL 4.2 though so you will have access to the latest games, just not at the best resolutions and performance. You have the option there though without breaking the bank that much.

8GB RAM (1333MHz, DDR3)

4GB of RAM is enough for most users even on a 64-bit system. 8GB is enough for everyone unless you're running a server, and it usually only costs another $50-$80. Headroom is good, running out of RAM is bad, so as long as you're doing anything beyond mere web browsing, even infrequently, I recommend 8GB - this will get debated by others though. Modern systems use DDR3 RAM, so make sure yours is using it as well, although this shouldn't be a problem as they generally only offer the older DDR2 for compatibility reasons and DDR3 is sold by default now. What might be more of a problem is getting RAM with the maximum "safe" speed of 1333MHz. Higher speeds require you to disable motherboard safety features and the RAM is more expensive. Whilst that makes it sound more dangerous than it is, using better RAM is something you should only do if you know what you're doing. 1333MHz RAM is common, affordable, doesn't require any special configuration, and pretty much everyone sells it. You'll see a peformance boost from it too. Pick this up.

Windows 7 Professional 64-bit

The 64-bit part is important as the 32-bit systems are capped at 4GB RAM, compared to the 64-bit version's 192GB. Or 16GB if you bought Home, so you buy Professional. Also your CPU is 64-bit so using a 64-bit operating system allows you to use it at its full capacity - assuming the software you use is also 64-bit, and that's the snag. Don't worry about that though because 32-bit software works perfectly fine. The short version of this is get the 64-bit version of the OS to future-proof your new system and take advantage of the stuff that's already on offer. Ultimate is NOT worth it though, unless you're multilingual and want to use your PC in several languages. This chart covers this in more detail.

That covers the core features you will be after. Laptops usually have 5.1 or better onboard surround sound nowadays anyway so it'll be harder not to find a laptop with it. In fact the default support is usually full 7.1 at Blu-Ray quality now. (In theory anyway, don't get me started on why people should still use sound cards.) The only laptop sound cards I've heard of are external anyway, so as much as I hate saying this, I'd only recommend getting one if you really like your tunes, so I'm omitting it for now.

For wireless signal support now, accept nothing less than 802.11n support. Three to six times the strength of the previous standard and now very commonplace already.

I can't really help with rough pricing because I'm not a US national, so I'll leave that to other members here.

Finally regarding your Wi-Fi: my previous router eventually started to fail - it was broadcasting on a totally different channel to the one it was set to, the signal strength was far more limited than it should have been, etc. If you've had it for a while it may simply be on its last legs. If you need help verifying the health of your router I can help with that, but I'll save that for another post. :P

Edited by Velotix Lexovetikan

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