May 5, 2018 / admin / 2 Comments
WOW…what a whirlwind the past two weeks have been. Just before 22 April, my gaming machine (Beast v4) had issues with installing Microsoft Windows 10 updates. It finally reached a point where I had to reinstall Windows 10 (which I did). But soon after I just wasn’t satisfied with the performance so I did a clean install of Windows 10 and was in the process of getting all my games installed and configured when the machine suffered a motherboard failure. I was absolutely gutted. It’s never a good time for a PC just to die like this and especially when I had hoped I could get another year of use from her. But best laid plans and all that….
Need a Plan
I quickly put a plan together and began looking around my collection of antique radios and other gadgets I don’t use much. I also went ahead and gutted much of the v4 PC and realized the market is quite good for used PC parts at the moment. I managed to sell the 980Ti GPU, RAM and a few other components which I determined were fully functional. With the available cash on hand, I began ordering all the pieces and parts needed to build v5. They began arriving on Wednesday with the first batch of parts being the new case, motherboard, CPU, RAM and liquid CPU cooler.
v5 is honestly the most powerful gaming machine I’ve ever designed, built and owned. While other builds (including v4) originally had a few less than optimal parts which down the road I upgraded, v5 will roll off the assembly line (my workbench) most likely the same way it’ll head into the sunset hopefully 5+ years from now. Meaning….I’m cutting no corners in this build. The pride and joy of this gaming machine is the Intel 8th Gen i7 8700K CPU and the 11GB GTX 1080Ti GPU. It’s funny to believe that when I first built v4, I installed the GTX 780 TI (3GB) and about 18 months in upgraded to the GTX 980 Ti (6GB) GPU. Now I’m jumping to a whopping 11GB of GPU goodness.
The build of v5 took place over two evenings. I started assembling the parts which had arrived on Wednesday, 2 May and finalized the hardware build on the next evening (Thursday, 3 May). I’ve updated the full breakdown of v5 which can be found here. Thankfully, my build partners (Fedex, UPS and Amazon Prime) all managed to delivery everything on time and in the order I needed them.
New ASUS ROG Maximus X Hero Motherboard installed inside the NZXT S340 Elite ATX Mid-Tower Case.
Keeping my Cool
When I initially built v4, I installed liquid cooling. I admit I didn’t choose wisely on the brand and model I purchased. Within about 6 months of use the water pump mechanism failed and thankfully I caught it in time and shut the machine off before I had a full meltdown. I did my homework this time around and went with a more trusted/reliable brand of Corsair. The install was super easy with the units radiator mounted at the front of the case. The fans draw air through the radiator. The other three case fans are configured to vent the warm air out of the case from the top, bottom and rear.
With the CPU safely installed, it’s time to mount the Corsair Hydro Series H100i v2 CPU Cooler in the case.
An Open and Shut Case
I absolutely am in love with this new case. If anyone is interested, its the NZXT S340 Elite ATX case. It’s amazing and relatively easy to work with. I love the cable management features and absolutely love the SSD drive mounting options. The power supply mounts at the rear and under the red metal cover. This really helps to keep all the cabling coming from the PSU tidy or at least just out of sight.
Cable management is made super easy with this case from NZXT.
The SSD drives mount onto a metal tray which clips in and held in place with just one screw.
Speaking of Drives
At the heart of the v5 build is a superfast 1 TB Samsung 960 EVO PCIe NVMe M.2 Internal SSD drive. I’ve never installed or used one of these in the past. But OMG…this thing is fast. Yes, fast…but also expensive. For comparison, this NVMe M.2 SSD has a read speed of up to 3.2 GB/s and a write speed up to 1.9 GB/s. Compared to a standard SSD drive (as pictured above) where read speed is around 550 MB/s and write speeds of 520 MB/s. I thought Windows 10 booted fast on a standard SSD…but literally after POST, Windows 10 is ready to go in the blink of an eye. I’m super impressed.
The moment of truth
With the final component installed and most cables tucked out of the way, it was time to test the build. I grabbed an old monitor, keyboard and mouse and fired up v5. She roared, actually whispered to life as she’s super quiet and a quick rap of the F2 button and I was in the BIOS. I made a few tweaks mainly consisting of setting correct date/time and just verifying everything was set correctly. I shut v5 down so I could properly secure all the visible cables and batten down the hatches on the case. By the way, if you’re not aware….you never want to operate a desktop computer (especially a high performing one) with the case covers open. The design of the cooling features in most modern cases depend on the case being closed down for proper air flow.
Let’s get Windows installed
The fun can’t begin until Windows 10 has been installed and patched. As this is not the first time I’ve installed Windows 10 in the past week, I’m old hat with all that needs to be done. This also allows for a more peaceful break in period for all the components in the machine. The first software application I installed was CAM by NZXT. Yep, same folks that make the case. CAM is a wonderful monitoring tool which I’ve used from time to time. After installation, I launched CAM and moved the application over to one of my secondary monitors so I could keep an eye on v5 while she was taking updates and installing software. Most likely I’ll rely on CAM and keep it open and active on my system for the first several weeks (at least) just to keep a watchful eye on my new baby.
A Lot of Work To Do
I still have lots and lots and lots of work still yet to do on v5. Of course this is all software installs and configurations. But to all my extremely loyal and wonderful Farming Friends, FS17 has been installed and tested. I’ve verified everything is just as I left it (not by choice) with Green River and even ran a quick test for about 10 minutes where I drove around the map and had OBS recording. The machine performed just as expected and GPU/CPU temps all stayed nice and cool. I plan to record episode 10 of GreenRiver on Saturday, 5 May (Cinco de Mayo) which won’t actually be released on YouTube until the week of the 14th of May.
Something Old, Something New
Some of the funds that went into helping purchase the pieces and parts to build “the Beast v5” came from selling some old AM radios I purchased and refinished. The illuminated USB thumb drive is made from an old analog tube. I don’t know the exact age of the tube, but its most likely in the same age range as a few of the old radios I sold (circa 1940). This is a 16GB USB thumb drive which I used to install Windows 10 into the new machine. Sort of cool huh?
The GBS Beast v5
As previously stated, I still have many hours of work installing and configuring software. My flight sim setup is quite complex and takes many hours, actually a few days to completely get setup. But in the mean time, please allow me to introduce you to the new Beast v5. Yes, I’ll eventually peel that caution sticker off which is just a warning that the main case cover is real tempered glass.
Thanks for reading and sharing in my excitement. This build (like all the others before it) was a lot of fun both in the planning and building stages. I’m confident this new machine will provide me many, many hours of enjoyment as I continue to play FS17, ATS, ETS2, Flight Sim and many other games.
Until next time…
May 2, 2018 / admin / 1 Comment
Well…after all the time I just recently put into rebuilding the OS, reinstalling most of the software on my gaming rig, it has died. Yes ladies and gentlemen, the four year old rig seems to have died on me. All worked fine on Wednesday evening. I had spent some time flying in P3D and on Thursday morning before work it booted up fine and I installed a few more airport scenery add-ons. I came home on Thursday afternoon and attempted to boot up the beast and it briefly powered on, but immediately shut off.
The root cause appears to be a failure on the motherboard. I removed the 1000w Corsair I had installed in the gaming rig and quickly replaced it with a known-good 750w I had from another machine I have. Same issue. I must admit that I’ve been really lucky with my self-built gaming rigs. This one is the 4th rig I’ve built and the only one that has actually just died on me. The others just simply become outdated as time goes by and usually get moved into other duties when I build a new generation machine. But unfortunately, this one has died and at the current moment in time I have no other machine which is capable of playing the games I play.
To Repair or Replace
I really don’t feel repairing is a valid option for me. First, the machine is 4 years old. While replacing the motherboard is an option, I’m left with a 4 year old CPU (if that even still works) and most likely would just be delaying the inevitable. While this isn’t a good time for me financially, I feel my investment will be best served by completely building a new PC based on today’s technology.
More about Finances (or lack thereof)
So as not to reveal too much personal information. I’ll just state that at the present time our disposable income just isn’t in a good place right now for this project to be considered. Fortunately, my wife and I had an opportunity to pay off our mortgage early. In the long run, what we’ll save on interest payments if we had continued with our home loan was reason for us to take some of our retirement nest egg and payoff the loan. I’m a home owner! YEA!!!! Again, while we’re not broke….we’re just not in a situation for me to immediately point my browser to Amazon and start buying parts.
What does this mean for the GBS YouTube Channel?
Good question. If you’ve been watching any of my recent videos, then I’m sure you’ve heard me ramble on about the backlog of videos I have already recorded, rendered and uploaded to YouTube. I have content already in the pipeline through 15 May. This includes 9 episodes on the new map “Let’s Play” series I have recently started. Unfortunately, I really don’t believe I’ll be up and operational before I burn through that content. For this, I’m very sorry.
As I often say, and I know my loyal viewers also understand, hobbies must take a backseat to real life issues. My wife and I had been going back and forth the past few months on deciding whether or not to pay off the mortgage early and as I mentioned, the amount of money we’ll save just in interest payments over the next 10 years will really mean a lot for our retirement. Remember, I’m 51 (turning 52 in the fall) and I really only want to work as long as I need to.
The Next GBS Beast
I’ve already started planning the next generation GBS gaming beast. The initial plan is to go with the Intel i7-8700K CPU. This won’t be an off the shelf CPU, but a delidded version which is rated/certified to overclock to a screaming 5.1GHz. The benefit of the delidding service is typically the CPU temperature will run anywhere between 12°C to 25°C cooler which ensures greater stability and longer component lifespan. In addition, I’ll also be upgrading my graphics card from the 6GB 980Ti to the 11GB 1080Ti.
As with my four previous gaming machine builds, I’m building the machine to meet the gaming needs for not only today but also tomorrow and hopefully the day after that. Meaning, I would rather wait, save up the money and install the parts I feel are needed versus going with lower end parts and upgrading later.
Ahhh, the million dollar question. At this very moment in time I really can’t answer this question. My initial plan right now is to sort through some old “stuff” I have laying around and see what I can sell and how much I can make from that. After all, one man’s junk, is another man’s treasure. According to my wife I have a goldmine of “stuff” laying around which I never use. To her credit, this is actually a true statement. I have enjoyed a wide variety of hobbies over the years and some of these hobbies no longer interest me and some of the equipment related to these hobbies are just sitting around collecting dust.
So I began writing this article during the week of 21 April and as of today, 2 May I have made significant progress on obtaining the funds I need for the new build. New parts are arriving as early as today from Amazon, Newegg and CDW. Essentially the first parts to arrive are the ones I need first to start the build. New case, motherboard, CPU and CPU cooler will arrive today and I’ll begin the process of installing the components into the new case. While I’m really beginning to feel withdrawals from being able to play Farming Simulator and Prepar3D, I also very much enjoy this stage of PC building. So I plan to take my time and truly enjoy the moment. Hopefully by next week I’ll pickup the new graphics card, RAM and the remaining parts I need to fully complete the build.
Once the new machine is built, tested and fully functional…I’ll get FS17 installed and begin recording content. If all goes as currently planned, there will not be any gaps between my video release schedule.
Until next time…
May 18, 2015 / admin / 0 Comments
Well…I guess nothing new is really coming for any of us who have been playing Farming Simulator 2015 on PC and Mac. But if you have been waiting for the console version of FS2015, your wait is almost over. Yes…the wonderful world of Farming Simulator 2015 will release on PS4, PS3, XBOX One and XBOX 360 on 19 May. While I don’t own any of these console platforms, I won’t be able to experience game play but I assume it will all be the same as what we experience on PC and Mac. Although I’ve heard the ability to add mods may not be available for the console versions. If this is true, then this is truly bad news for console players. The ability to install mods (or modifications) is truly cool. While the default game is certainly fun. The ability to load different maps, equipment and utilities such as Courseplay takes Farming Simulator 2015 to a completely different level of play. Of course, mods do from time to time cause issue with the functionality and stability of the game. This may be part of the reason mods may not be allowed initially. From what I understand the console platforms require Sony and Microsoft to approve any mods or DLC made available and again this might be part of the reason mods won’t be readily available at time of launch. In my opinion it is for these types of reasons that game play on a PC is far superior to that of the consoles. But that is another discussion for another time…
Anyway….I’m sure the launch of the console versions will also mean we may be even closer to the official release of the 1.3 patch. The patch is currently in public beta, but I’ve steered clear of it. However, I’m certainly hopeful the 1.3 patch addresses many things. The biggest issue I’ve found is just with drive dynamics. While it’s been a while since I’ve driven a tractor in real life across a field, I don’t recall the drive dynamics being anything like they are in the game version.
I certainly hope everyone had a fantastic weekend with your virtual farms. I have more blog postings coming over the next few days. Thanks for reading!
Until next time…