Adventures in PC building 2 – Apocalypse

Hey! Remember me? The guy with all the confusion about PC parts before my trip? Yeah, I’m back! With a new GPU, PSU and ready to take on the world and enjoy some smooth gaming!

Or at least that was my idea when I came back to my house after my forays into the sun-bathed lands of Miami, Florida.

For those who remember my last post and wanted to know how the story ended, I ended up getting an Asus GTX 970 Mini, which due to its small size meant I would not need to buy another PC case; sacrificing a little performance wouldn’t be an issue as I am no overclocker – I’d rather just play at high settings with 60 fps instead of searching for absurd fps counters. I also went to a Best Buy to search for a PSU, and ended up getting a 600w one that looked decent in both cost and form. A week later and I am back in my country and ready to put all these parts together with my current PC and play some Final Fantasy XIV.

cpu2

First thing booting my PC I see a new, mysterious screen: “American Megatrends” followed by a bunch of numbers and letters, and a small message at the bottom: “CPU fan detect fail!“. That’s new. I open the case and find that my CPU fan is… trying to start, but can’t. Like “go/stop… go/stop” as if it was stuck with something. Probably a glitch… let’s restart… there we go! Fan started… but the message is still there. ODD. I decide to take it the next day to my office where the techs took a look at it. When they tried to turn it on… nothing happened. After a few days of tests, pseudo-starts and feelings of doom & gloom, the verdict was in: my motherboard was dead. Why did it die? Who knows! Maybe it was weak before I returned, or it couldn’t handle the power of the new GPU? No matter, I needed a new one. So much for saving money.

cpu3
A 600W power supply unit… or is it?

Another fun thing that happened was that the PSU I bought at Best Buy, which was a 600w unit according to the box it was in (photo above), ended up not being a 600w. Wrapped in plastic, like any other new item, the box housed a PSU of the same brand as stated, but was instead a 500w one. Unfortunately for me, I did not open the box while in Miami, and found out this once back in my country – can’t complain or ask for a change/refund. What it does have is the amount of necessary cables for the job, and thus is what I use now – 500w is still within the GPU requirements range.

So, after a quick trip downtown to a couple of technology stores (Chinese stores do have everything… even if quality is questionable at times), I bought a new motherboard… and a new case. Mobo was around $60 and case was $30 – cable management ended up being an issue in my previous case. With the help from the tech guys at my office (who thankfully saved me a lot of money in check/installation fees) my PC was up and running on Friday night. I was way too tired to proceed that night so it wasn’t until Saturday morning that I was ready to “work”.

I chose to do a Windows 8.1 Refresh… you know, new hardware. Only I couldn’t. “Files are missing” the OS said. Ok, let’s find a W8.1 image somewhere (I only had the 8.0 image). After a couple of hours I had the image copied in an USB drive and the process was ready to go. Once finished, while getting ready to install all basic software again, I noticed Windows wasn’t activated. “Odd“, I thought, since I just did a Refresh (settings to default without deleting files), not a Reset (wipe everything and start fresh).

Ok, so let’s try doing this online. No dice. You need to call Microsoft. I call Microsoft and input my ID (a long long number) via the phone only to say it was invalid. WHAT? I am transferred to a human who promptly tells me that – hold on to your chair – my key is invalid because it’s a Windows 8 key, and I’m activating Windows 8.1. A free update to W8 cannot be activated with its key. GOOD JOB, MICROSOFT. My only option was to reinstall Windows 8 from scratch, and then updating to W8.1 again. GOOD JOB, MICROSOFT.

After half a day wasting time on this, everything was ready. I had Heavensward in my secondary partition so it was ready to go. I launch the game and finally, after a week of ordeals, the game runs – and runs fantastically! Maximum settings, 1080p, capped at 60fps.

But what about temperatures? As a person who lives in the very Equator, it’s usually hot. I’ve learned about software that can measure (and sometimes manage) temperatures of the CPU and GPU. My CPU went between 60-65°C while my GPU reached 75°C. Problem is, opinions about the acceptable temperatures vary wildly. For CPUs some say they shouldn’t exceed 65, while GPUs have some people saying theirs go between 55 and 60 “during gaming“. My CPU went between 60-65 while my GPU reached 75 while running Heavensward.

Sharing this on Twitter, the overwhelming response is “you’re fine“, but as a neophyte in this PC building/upgrading stuff I can’t help but be paranoid. I got an exhaust fan for the back of the case and now my CPU is around 60 (63-64 tops) after lowering its power state to 90 in Windows power policies, and my GPU rarely exceeds 70 thanks to a “fan curve” I applied in a program called MSI Afterburner. Yes, I am paranoid and insane. I guess I am fearful that any piece could get damaged, since getting them is not only expensive (the better ones) but also quite difficult to obtain in my country.

cpu1

In short, it has been a week since I returned from my trip and I wasn’t until Sunday that I could play with regularity. My PC is stable (I hope) and while I still need to install basic software (printer drivers, Office, etc.) it is running Final Fantasy XIV and that’s pretty much all I need for the moment. *sigh* What a week!

 

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