Sunday, November 30, 2014

Getting Rid of 4-Pin Molex Connectors

As noted when installing a system in the Fractal Arc XL, the fan controller requires a 4-pin molex power connector. As it was the only one required in the system, I needed to plug in an extra cable on the modular PSU purely for the fan controller.

To remove that dependence (and reduce one of the cables floating around inside the case), all that is needed is a SATA-to-Molex power adapter. My local PC shop had one for $6.

SATA in one end

4-pin Molex in the other

Works a treat

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Build Log Followup: Another Gigabyte G1 Gaming

Continuing on from last week's post, while I wanted to track down an MSI GTX970 to try it out, local suppliers were completely out of stock of that card. And then MSY had a 10% off Gigabyte products sale, so...long story short I got a Gigabyte GTX970 G1 Gaming.

The GTX970 G1 Gaming

Couple of points of note for anyone thinking of getting one:

  • The specs say the length is 312mm, but I think this includes both the frame and perhaps a little leeway. I measured 298mm from the inside of the frame to the end, so it might fit in cases where the specs say it shouldn't. Viewer discretion advised.
  • Requires 1x8-pin and 1x6-pin power connectors.
  • I've run it with the Power-Mate Lite for over a week — on the i7-4790K (stock) system the maximum power draw was 316W while gaming.

On the Windows side there were no issues of note compared to the last one I installed, but on Linux it was a different story.

I had a Kubuntu 14.04 install on the same machine with Windows 8.1, which was working perfectly with Intel graphics. After plugging in the GTX970, the Linux install refused to boot. Using "text" or "text nomodeset" override options in grub showed it was hanging at random places during the boot process. Even a live distro off USB failed to get a display. While running off onboard I installed the nvidia-current drivers, which didn't help.

The solution turned out to be installing the latest xorg-edger drivers. The process is described in this forum post by Kade7596, but the brief summary is:

sudo add-apt-repository ppa:xorg-edgers/ppa
sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install nvidia-346

Normally I would run "nvidia-xconfig" after installing the drivers, but the 346 drivers don't seem to include this application any more. Since I'd already run it using the older drivers from the Ubuntu nvidia-current target, I had a default xorg.conf written. Not sure if it was necessary.

After installing nvidia-346 the GTX970 now works.

In closing, the G1 Gaming also glows in the dark...

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Build Log: Intel i7-4790K + Gigabyte Z97X-UD5H

Put together a new rig to form a core gaming and test machine.

CPU: Intel i7 4790K Motherboard: Gigabyte Z97X-UD5H RAM: G-Skill Ripjaws 2x8GB 2133MHz SSD: Plextor M5-Pro 256GB (already owned) HDD: Old one ODD: Old one Case: Fractal Design Arc XL PSU: EVGA SuperNova G2 750W

Fractal Design Arc XL

First up is the impression of the case, the Fractal Arc XL, big-brother to the Arc Midi I used last month.

It's a big spacious case, looking very similar to the Midi. The top panel has a couple of extra USB ports.

Also comes with a bucket load of screws and a few cable ties. A few notes on the XL from during and after the build:

  • Just like the Midi, the XL is great to build in. Spacious, good quality all round.
  • The feet on the case come with stoppers that don't slide very well. My machines sit under a desk, and when sliding it in place one of the stoppers came off.
  • The built-in fan controller requires a 4-pin molex power connector. I had to connect a dedicated cable to the PSU purely for the fan controller.
  • The HDD caused the front panel to buzz/vibrate. I had used the rubber anti-vibration rings to install the HDD, but had them done too tight. After loosening them off, the noise went away.
  • The PSU is mounted on rubber stands &emdash; haven't seen that before.
EVGA SuperNova G2 750W

Made by OEM SuperFlower, I got this guy on the back of some really strong reviews at JonnyGuru and TechPowerup.

SuperNova G2 in box, loads of cables

Comes with a lot of cables and velcro cable ties. The modular cabling is nice, but as above with the fan controller, sometimes you need to use "just one more" for that extra little thing you need to connect.

Out of box

Mounting it was painless. As noted above the XL has rubber mounts for the PSU to sit up on.

I can only assume this is for a little extra airflow to the PSU fan.

SuperNova G2 mounted. Mind the gap

Gigabyte Z97X-UD5H

I kinda knew that while this was a solid board, it had a potential issue at stock speeds with an unlocked chip like the 4790K. Thought I'd give it a go anyway.

Gigabyte Z97X-UD5H

It's a nice looking board with lots of features. Only thing of note really is that it was somewhat thinner than I expected. It felt no different to other cheaper boards like the H97 line, whereas I've heard it claimed in the past that the PCB on expensive Z boards is thicker. Didn't seem to be the case, but then I didn't pull out any of my older (cheap) boards to do a direct comparison. The board is plenty strong enough though.

Update 21/11/2014:Should note there is an issue with the UD5H and the 4790K at stock settings — details at this thread.

Initial Build/Setup

Putting it together, it was a nice case to use with plenty of cable routing options. Finished product looks fairly neat even without tying any of the cables down.

Obviously there are two big omissions from this initial setup:

  • It's using the stock cooler. I've got an aftermarket cooler to put on, but my plan was to test out the stock cooler with the 4790K and UD5H. Will document later.
  • There's no GPU. That's still to come. I was trying to track down an MSI GTX970, but they're pretty difficult to come by. Instead will probably get my hands on the Gigabyte G1 Gaming. :)