PC Builds… They Can Be Evolutionary

A common misconception about my current PC is that I spent a lot all at once. This isn’t my first ever build, in fact this is probably my 6th or 7th build now, and when I say build, yes, I meant a PC that I bought the individual parts and had a friend over the years teach me how to build PCs until I can finally build PCs on my own. This doesn’t mean, however, that this is only my 6th or 7th PC I owned, nope, since my family had a PC that isn’t necessarily built by me, nor is it something that I can call my own.

Every time that I build a PC, I always start with the essential parts to get the PC up and running. This means that I may not have had a sound card, a disc drive (back in the day when they were more ubiquitous), or even a video card just yet. I then just add those other parts later down the road when I have saved enough money. Same goes for the peripherals.

This is especially true back then, since in those days, and when I first built my current PC, I was just a student, relying on me saving whatever I can from my allowance that my parents give me, heck, I even have to ask my parents to buy certain parts for me as a reward for my good performance in classes and such. Granted, now that I have a job, I can buy all the parts I want for a new build at once, but I will still most likely do the same thing I have done in the past – that is, build upon my build.

The purpose of this post is to give a bit of hope and inspiration for those who want to build a dream PC with multiple monitors, RGB lighting, a racing simulator, etc., and feel bad that they can’t achieve it overnight, over a month, or heck, over several years. A PC build, in my eyes, is evolutionary. My current rig was first built last 2012, which means I still rock the i7 3770 processor, and it is still a great processor and overall rig.

What I first do in new builds is of course, think of the end goal as to what I want to achieve with this build. Its final version so to speak.

I then start canvassing for parts and see where I can get a great deal. Let’s go back to 2012, I first bought my Intel i7 3770, 8GB (4GB x2) G. Skill Sniper 1600 RAM, a Corsair GS700 PSU, an ASRock Z77 Extreme 4 motherboard, and a Bitfenix Shinobi case. I then just used my 23″ LG IPS monitor, 17″ HP TN panel, and my 500GB Seagate HDD from my previous build and the other peripherals like keyboard, mouse, speakers, etc. Notice, no GPU just yet.

2012
2012

I then added an after market CPU heatsink, the DeepCool Ice Blade Pro, and shortly after, I got to save enough money, and it so happens, the new nVidia cards just released, so I got the GTX660Ti.

That is when I started to think about upgrading my peripherals starting with the keyboard. I always wanted a mechanical keyboard, so I got the Ducky DK9008 Shine 2 Cherry MX Blue mechanical keyboard.

2013
2013

Sometime passed again, and this time I upgraded my mouse to the Razer Deathadder (first and last time I ever bought a Razer product…) and replaced my monitors with 2 23″ Dell 2340L IPS monitors.

2014
2014

Another time has passed, I then upgraded my GPU to a Radeon R9 390, my first AMD/ATI GPU ever, since I have always been buying nVidia cards (and I have since returned to nVidia with my latest GPU, and with my experience with the R9 390, I think I will not go back to a Radeon card any time soon… more on this later), and added yet another 23″ Dell 2340L IPS monitor to finally reach one of my goals… having a triple monitor setup. I am no stranger to multimonitor setups, since I have always been using a minimum of 2 monitors since 2008, but only in 2015 did I finally get triple monitors. And yes, no cable management under the desk! CRINGE!

2015
2015

A year later, I got a better chair, this isn’t like the DX Racers or something, but it did the job. I also got a new printer. I also finally made a little effort to fix the cables under the desk. Having the printer helps hide the cables. Oh yeah, I also got a Logitech G600 MMO gaming mouse. This mouse has become a legendary mouse for me as it is one of the few pointing devices that was perfect for me and my uses. Sadly, it broke down… I can usually salvage it by repairing it myself, but this time, I couldn’t save it. I since then replaced it… more on this later.

2016-1
2016

Sometime later, I passed my medical licensure exam, and my first purchase with my first salary, was the new case, a Phanteks Enthoo Evolv. Notice the plastic is still there at that time. I also added a new extended mouse pad and a Logitech G13, as well as a Logitech G430 headset, and a Logitech F310… this is when I was really starting to be a Logitech fanboy.

I earned myslef a 4 day weekend, so what better way to sepnd it than to game!
2016

A year later, I finally bought an Ikea desk and a proper gaming chair. I also got a Logitech Z333 speaker system. Told you I was a Logitech fanboy.

UPGRADE THE BATTLESTATION!
2017

Later that year, I just upgraded my headset to the Logitech G933 and upgraded my controller to the Logitech F710.

Workstation update for my other sites
2017

It is well known that I love Formula 1 and I love racing games, so I finally got me a new wheel and pedal set (my first one was sometime 2008, but it was from an unknown brand. I recently found it in our storage room at the back of our house, just gotta make time to retrieve it and show it off), the Logitech G920. Logitech yet again!

2017-3
2017

I told you I love Formula 1! I then ordered a custom F1 rim from the guys at Speed Max Racing all the way from Italy, as well as a small LCD from them for my racing needs.

Finally got the adapter! Time for the setup of the custom wheel!
2017

From this point, I haven’t really upgraded anything on my PC, but I did upgrade my RAM to 16GB (4x4GB) G. Skill Sniper 1600 RAM, I have since then added 2 SSDs (Plextor 128GB and a Samsung 250GB), I also sleeved cable extensions for my PSU, but I can’t recall when I got these anymore. Nice to note that I still rock the Seagate 500GB HDD in my rig, because I have 8TB NAS storage for my photography and backups; the 500GB is just used for documents, eBooks, and whatnot.

The latest upgrade were made when my PSU and GPU, the Corsair GS700 and the Radeon R9 390, both finally bit the dust. I replaced the PSU with the ThermalTake Tough Power Grand Series 650W RGB and the GPU with a MSI GTX 2060 (I have returned to nVidia!). The latter of which reminded me of my love for nVidia because the temps are 20-30 degrees C lower than the R9 390 even on triple screen ultra gaming. So, I think it is also due to MSI’s twin frozr cooling, but the overall nVidia architecture. I mean, I knew that long ago, it has become a meme, that Radeons are way hotter than Geforce cards, but the R9 390 had a sweet price back then.

I also had to replace my Logitech G600 because I can no longer repair it (soldering new Omron switches, etc.), with a Corsair Scimitar PRO RGB. It is surprisingly similar to the G600, just lacking a few buttons here and there, and the Corsair iCue software isn’t as good as Logitech’s. But hey, I can no longer find a new or even used Logitech G600 any more, unless I want pay for international shipping that is frankly not worth it. So I finally from my Logitech fanboyism and got the Corsair Scimitar PRO RGB. Overall, I love this mouse, too; it will definitely be as loved as the G600.

2019-4
2019

And that’s it… for now… I think the next time I upgrade, it will be a new system… meaning a new processor, motherboard, RAM, etc. Whatever I can be salvaged from this current build, will be passed on to the new build, and you guessed it, I will build on the build from there.

So there, I didn’t buy all the components at once! I built upon it… it is evolutionary. So don’t fret, build upon your dream… after all, isn’t that what we do with our lives, too? Toil day and night at school, to one day get that dream job? So think of it that way. Heck  think about grinding in video games: you are just level 1 now and it sucks, but later on, you are level 99 with all the best gear and buffs. And what’s more important? You can look back and see the journey to how you got to your dream build. Like I did. Like I will.

And that’s that!

Til next time! PEACE!

SHODAN's Evolution


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Lost in the Suburbs or so I Think

I may not have that many friends in total, but the number of friends that I do have, I feel are the most real and closest friends I can ever have.

Most of my close friends are from my college days and my post graduate days in medical school. Just yesterday, I finally got to catch up with my closest friend, my brother, in medical school, and obviously, fellow physician, Doc Joed.

This was a long time coming as we have made plans to hang out for months on end, but things happened to make us cancel it all the time.

He is my brother in medical school as we both we from B.S. Biology (though different universities), and we share the same passion for research (experimental more than descriptive), and finally, the 1st letter of our surnames are close to each other in the alphabet that we usually land in the same group for the 4-5 years we were in medical school (5 years if we include post graduate internship), thus it is no surprise we are close like brothers.

Such is life in that planned activities never push through, but spontaneous plans seem to push through by way of sheer adrenaline, hence, when we just decided to hang out in the country’s capital just to roam around the city and malls, we made it happen albeit the gloomy skies that opened up and rained pretty heavy.

Braving the rain, we arrived at our stop, SM North EDSA…

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Yes, I look like a mess.

After lunch, we decided to shop around; as usual, my number 1 priority in shopping would be for my hobbies… action figures, PC parts, etc. The least of my priorities was shopping for new attire, which was Doc Joed’s main priority apparently. Needless to say, he bought a lot of new clothes and such, then with out really thinking much, I bought some clothes too that I found were nice… something you don’t here me say everyday, “I bought new clothes”, as I seldom really do so; I let my mom or sisters take care of that for me as they know my fashion style (or the lack thereof).

After looking around some more the mall, we had the chance to hang out and catch up with one of over very 1st residents that took good care of us and taught us well during our clerkship days, Doc Anna!

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Next was perusing the mall again and also its neighboring mall, Trinoma, looking for at everything and anything we may actually purchase; not to be outdone by my brother, I was on the hunt for a Logitech Driving Force Shifter to add to my ever growing passion of Sim Racing (we can’t have him just spending alone now would we?) and to pair it with my Logitech G920 Driving Force Wheel and Pedals.

Having bought the things we want, fairly satisfied going around the malls, and having caught up with everything that needs to be caught up, we decided it is time to head back home.

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The humble haul: some clothes from Perry Ellis and a Logitech Driving Force Shifter

Honestly didn’t get nearly all the things I was planning to get in this trip, but what matters to me was that I got to see my former mentor/resident, Doc Anna, and finally got to hang out with my bro, Doc Joed. Things like just talking about anything under the sun without having to pretend you’re someone else makes it quite liberating especially in this world right now where you have to think twice what you say (I usually don’t care about thinking twice anyways) lest you want to insult someone.

Looking forward to another hangout/trip like this in the near future; a geek like me, though truly an introspective and less outgoing, should consider seeing more of the world… helps to de-stress…

Anyways, I will most likely make another post about the Logitech Driving Force Shifter just to give my thoughts on it. I will no longer be reviewing my peripherals as in dept as I used to as it is now time consuming and I don’t have the luxury of time since I need to prepare for USMLE and I still have jobs as a physician to give more of my time to.

DSC_0518

 

DSC_0521
Getting knee deep into racing simulators

Alright then!

Til next time! PEACE!

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SimRig Update: More Pedal Mods!

In my previous post about finally building a Sim Racing Rig, I mentioned that I modded the brake pedal by removing the rubber stopper/block that Logitech put in order to simulate progressing brake tension, but the design was poorly thought out as the rubber block/stopper, made it next to impossible to brake fully. Thus I decided to remove it.

Not satisfied with such a simple mod, I wanted to make the Logitech G920 pedals feel a lot better and a lot more responsive, especially in the throttle; I felt the throttle spring is too light and have fine control of throttle a little bit tricky. I also found the stock face plates of the pedals didn’t really feel comfortable as the are a bit too tiny, especially in the throttle, thus I decided to be on the lookout for after market pedal face plates.

Thankfully, as is with most racing wheels for simulators, they are nearly identical to real life counterparts, so you may use after market parts for real cars in the racing wheel and pedals.

I found a cheap enough pedal set, with a long enough throttle to feel comfy and a large enough, rally style brake face plate, that can make it easy for me to do heel toe braking if I need to (which I don’t need so much in F1 games), and it being large enough, makes it very comfortable to brake.

I then decided to switch the stock clutch face plate with the stock throttle face plate, since I bought the after market face plates without the clutch; the stock throttle face plate is large enough for the clutch in my opinion.

DSC_0502
New pedal face plates for the brake and the throttle; used the stock throttle face plate for the clutch.

I then switched the springs from the clutch to the throttle and vice versa; the stock clutch spring had more tension than that of the throttle, and I felt that if when I need to use the clutch, I want it to be pushed down completely and quickly. Whereas the stock throttle spring had little to no tension for me, making it difficult to pepper the throttle to control the speed in corners when trying to lift of. So by switching the springs around, I got the tensions I want for both the clutch and the throttle. (Note: I removed the face plates of both the throttle and clutch in order to work on them)

DSC_0495
The seedy underbelly of the pedals
DSC_0496
Time to mod!
DSC_0497
Prior to opening the bottom to the pedal case, I removed the face plates of both the throttle and the clutch to get access to them
DSC_0498
Removed the housing of the springs
DSC_0501
The bigger and shorter spring was originally for the clutch and the thinner and longer spring was originally from the throttle; did the old switcharoo and the tension for both pedals are perfect for me

After all these, was it worth the time, effort, and expenditure? As with all hobbyists, they would say of course it was without having good tangible evidence as to back up the purchase. Well I do…

DSC_0504
Using DashPi (available for both iOS and Android); might make a separate post on how to use your tablet and phone as dash meters or telemetry

I was just having a quick drive around Monaco where my best time with my personal car setup was a 1:19.231 (I am not the greatest sim racer out there; others easily get 1:13.00s) and shattered it, while not driving really seriously, with a 1:18.897. So, yeah, it was worth it.

What is my next project for the SimRig? I do wanna make 2 dedicated sim dash devices so I don’t always have to use my iPad mini and my Zenfone 2; plus I get to program exactly how I want them to look and what telemetry to collect using readily available programs intended for Arduino. Though I won’t be doing it anytime soon as I don’t have so much time for such projects just yet. But it  will happen sometime.

Til next time! PEACE!

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SHODAN: The Evolution of my Battlestation

Now that I recently received my Ikea desk that I ordered more than a month ago (there was a bit of a mix up in the shop’s inventory), I upgraded the setup in terms of desk and chair, and a bit of bling.

All other items, such as the new chair and the LED strip, etc., were all shipped in way before the Ikea desk did, so I had to control my excitement until everything has arrived before I start building anything.

I will post a separate blog on the actual transfer of my PC setup from the old layout and desk to the new layout and desk. For this post, I will just chronicle how this current PC build named SHODAN (yes that is a System Shock reference) way back in 2012 and how it evolved through the years.

Let it be known that I have been building my own PC’s since 1998; each iteration has its evolutionary stage. What do I mean by this? Well, each time I build a new system from scratch with the latest CPU of that generation, I don’t buy all parts immediately. That is, I start with the most important parts: CPU, motherboard, RAM, and if needed, another HDD and other peripherals like monitor/s. I then add the other parts like GPU, possibly another monitor, or other peripherals that is both functional and cool (mechanical keyboards, gaming mouse, etc.). A lot of people deem me to be a rich person… nope. I am just good at saving. And others will say “hey, it’s 2017, why do you have the i7 Ivy Bridge instead of the new Kaby Lakes?”; well, like I said, my builds have an evolutionary stage, and I don’t build completely new systems until an 8 year span or if I feel my current CPU is no longer doing its job. But my current PC is still a beast, so I will keep using this, keep upgrading if need be, until it overall will no longer be able to do the things I want it to do.

And also of note, I have been rocking a dual monitor setup since 2008 and since 2015, I have been using triple monitor setups. So I am more used to systems with multimonitors and feel very limited if I just use one screen even if it were an ultra widescreen monitor.

Anyways, let us see a bunch of photos chronicling SHODAN’s evolution! Join me for a trip down memory lane! From SHODAN’s humble beginnings to what she is today!

2012:

My Workstation (As of 12-22-2012)

My Workstation (As of 12-22-2012)

My Workstation (As of 12-22-2012)

As mentioned above, when I first build new systems, I don’t buy all the necessary parts immediately. So here, I still had my old peripherals and I didn’t even get a GPU, yet.

Specs in 2012:

CPU: Intel i7 3770 3.4GHz
Chassis: Bitfenix Shinobi Windowed Edition
Motherboard: ASRock Z77 Extreme 4
RAM: G Skill 2 x 4GB 1600Mhz DDR3
HDD/SSD: Seagate Barracuda 500Gb/Plextor M5 Pro 128Gb
PSU: Corsair GS700
GPU: None
Cooling: 23″ LG IPS234V and 17″ HP f1703 monitors; DeepCool IceBlade Pro CPU Heatsink with 2 120mm DeepCool 120mm IceBlade Pro fans on push/pull config; 3 x DeepCool XFan Blue LED 120mm  fans for rear and top exhausts; 2 x DeepCool XFan Blue LED 120mm for front intakes
Peripherals:  : E-blue Cobra (Got this for free… I don’t even recognize the brand LOL); A4Tech KD-800L (Cheapo keybaord but has LEDs LOL); (A cheapo) Ozaki 2.2 Dual Bass speaker system; Phillips SHP3000 Headphones
Misc: Roccat Taito Midsize Mousepad; NZXT Blue LED Kit; Razer Mouse Bungee

2013:

My Workstation as of 8-11-2013

My Workstation as of 8-11-2013

By this point, I waited for the new Nvidia cards to come out and snatched me one; here I have added the GTX 660ti and I upgraded my keyboard to a mechanical keyboard, the Ducky DK9008 Shine II Cherry MX Blue Mechanical Keyboard… and still use that keyboard to this day as I am typing this blog. I also added a NAS for filebackups and whatnot and a 3.5 multi card reader for transferring phots/videos since I am into photography and videography, too.

Specs in 2013:

CPU: Intel i7 3770 3.4GHz
Chassis: Bitfenix Shinobi Windowed Edition
Motherboard: ASRock Z77 Extreme 4
RAM: G Skill 2 x 4GB 1600Mhz DDR3
HDD/SSD: Seagate Barracuda 500Gb/Plextor M5 Pro 128Gb
PSU: Corsair GS700
GPU: Gainward Nvidia GTX 660Ti
Cooling: DeepCool IceBlade Pro CPU Heatsink with 2 120mm DeepCool 120mm IceBlade Pro fans on push/pull config; 3 x DeepCool XFan Blue LED 120mm  fans for rear and top exhausts; DeepCool XFan Blue LED 120mm fans for front intakes
Peripherals: 23″ LG IPS234V and 17″ HP f1703 monitors; E-blue Cobra (Got this for free… I don’t even recognize the brand LOL); Ducky DK9008 Shine II Cherry MX Blue Mechanical Keyboard; (A cheapo) Ozaki 2.2 Dual Bass speaker system; Phillips SHP3000 Headphones
Misc: Roccat Taito Midsize Mousepad; NZXT Blue LED Kit; Razer Mouse Bungee
NAS: D-Link DNS-320L

2014:

My Workstation as of February 2014

Upgraded my monitors to 2 Dell 23″ S2340L IPS monitors, added the Razer. As you can see, I have been using an awful, AWFUL, chair back then…

The mouse by the way, as with most Razer products back then, are USUALLY green, I said usually, cos they did have blue LED products, but for the DeathAdder 2013, they didn’t have a blue LED one I can find. Of course, this is all but a blip in history now as they have the Chroma series that is basically RGB. Anyways, I modded my DeathAdder 2013 by changing the green LED with blue ones… destroying my warranty, but hey, that is what we setup addicts would do to make the theme match.

Specs in 2014:

CPU: Intel i7 3770 3.4GHz
Chassis: Bitfenix Shinobi Windowed Edition
Motherboard: ASRock Z77 Extreme 4
RAM: G Skill 2 x 4GB 1600Mhz DDR3
HDD/SSD: Seagate Barracuda 500Gb/Plextor M5 Pro 128Gb
PSU: Corsair GS700
GPU: Gainward Nvidia GTX 660Ti
Cooling: DeepCool IceBlade Pro CPU Heatsink with 2 120mm DeepCool 120mm IceBlade Pro fans on push/pull config; 3 x DeepCool XFan Blue LED 120mm  fans for rear and top exhausts; 2 x DeepCool XFan Blue LED 120mm fans for front intakes
Peripherals: 2x Dell 23″ S2340L IPS Monitors; Razer DeathAdder 2013; Ducky DK9008 Shine II Cherry MX Blue Mechanical Keyboard; (A cheapo) Ozaki 2.2 Dual Bass speaker system; Phillips SHP3000 Headphones; A4Tech HD1080p Webcam
Misc: Roccat Taito Midsize Mousepad; NZXT Blue LED Kit; Razer Mouse Bungee
NAS: D-Link DNS-320L

2015:

My Workstation as of August 22, 2015

My Workstation as of August 22, 2015

Here, I upgraded my GPU to the VTX3D ATI Radeon R9 390. This can handle triple monitor gaming for the most part so I added a 3rd Dell 23″ S2340L IPS monitor. I also got a couple of Corsaur SP 120s that I sued on the after market heatsink, as well as an Ipega Bluetooth Gamepad, mainly for my Android phone, but works well with the PC.

Specs in 2014:

CPU: Intel i7 3770 3.4GHz
Chassis: Bitfenix Shinobi Windowed Edition
Motherboard: ASRock Z77 Extreme 4
RAM: G Skill 2 x 4GB 1600Mhz DDR3
HDD/SSD: Seagate Barracuda 500Gb/Plextor M5 Pro 128Gb
PSU: Corsair GS700
GPU: VTX3D R9 390 8Gb GDDR5 1000Mhz Core Clock 1500Mhz Memory Clock
Cooling: DeepCool IceBlade Pro CPU Heatsink with 2 Corsair SP120 fans on push/pull config; 3 x DeepCool Ice Blade Pro LED 120mm fans for rear and top exhausts; 2 x DeepCool XFan Blue LED 120mm fans for front intakes; 1 x DeepCool Ice Blade Pro LED 120mm for bottom intake
Peripherals: 3x Dell 23″ S2340L IPS Monitors; Razer DeathAdder 2013; Ducky DK9008 Shine II Cherry MX Blue Mechanical Keyboard; (A cheapo) Ozaki 2.2 Dual Bass speaker system; Phillips SHP3000 Headphones; iPega Bluetooth Controller (Mainly for my Android phone, but works well with the PC)
Misc: Roccat Taito Midsize Mousepad; NZXT Blue LED Kit; Razer Mouse Bungee; Buffalo Bluetooth 4.0 Dongle
NAS: D-Link DNS-320L

2016:

Workstation as of 02-09-2016

Shameless Workstation Glamour Shot

Finally added a better chair, this is racing inspired but as you can see, there is no way for this to recline. I also added an extended mouse pad, a cheap clip on/lav mic, and a cheapo webcam and a printer at this point. Oh I nearly forgot, I also upgraded my mouse into the Logitech G600 MMO Gaming mouse – works well for all games not just MMOs. This also marks the beginning of my fanboyism to Logitech. Also added an extra 2 sticks of 4GB RAM totaling 16GB good for photography and video editing.

Vidya Gaemz

A later little on, after I passed my medical licensure examination and became a licensed physician, I was able to land a job early and get to save enough to get a new a case, added 3 more Logitech products: Logitech G13 advanced gaming pad, G430 7.1 Headset, and F310 gaming pad. Told you I was a fanboy. Oh hey, I have a Megaman E Mug, too.

Specs in 2016:

CPU: Intel i7 3770 3.4GHz
Chassis: Phanteks Enthoo Evolv ATX
Motherboard: ASRock Z77 Extreme 4
RAM: G Skill 4 x 4GB 1600Mhz DDR3
HDD/SSD: Seagate Barracuda 500Gb/Plextor M5 Pro 128Gb
PSU: Corsair GS700
GPU: VTX3D R9 390 8Gb GDDR5 1000Mhz Core Clock 1500Mhz Memory Clock
Cooling: DeepCool IceBlade Pro CPU Heatsink with 2 120mm Corsair SP 120 fans on push/pull config; 3 x DeepCool 120mm IceBlade Pro fans for top exhausts; 2 x Phanteks 140mm front intakes; 1 x Phanteks 140mm rear exhaust
Peripherals: 3 x Dell S2340L 23″ IPS 1080p Monitors; Ducky DK9008 Shine II Cherry MX Blue Mechanical Keybord; Logitech G13 Advanced Gamepad; Logitech G600 MMO Gaming Mouse; Logitech F310 Gamepad; iPega Bluetooth Controller (Mainly for my Android phone, but works well with the PC); Logitech G430 Headphones; (A cheapo) Ozaki 2.2 Dual Bass speaker system; Brother DCP-J100 Printer with Continuous Ink System
Misc: Tecware Haste XXL Desktmat; NZXT Blue LED Kit; Razer Mouse Bungee; Buffalo Bluetooth 4.0 Dongle
NAS: D-Link DNS-320L

2017:

Workstation as of 01-05-2017

Workstation as of 01-05-2017

Finally, we caught up with the present year. As you can see, I got a new desk, I also got a long awaited LED strips that are USB powered and connected directly to my PC so when it powers on, it powers on the LED strips. I also upgraded the speakers to, guess what, Logitech Z333 2.1 Speakers. I also changed my chair to the Ergodynamic F1 Blue Fauz Leather Gaming chair that reclines.

Specs in 2017:

CPU: Intel i7 3770 3.4GHz
Chassis: Phanteks Enthoo Evolv ATX
Motherboard: ASRock Z77 Extreme 4
RAM: G Skill 4 x 4GB 1600Mhz DDR3
HDD/SSD: Seagate Barracuda 500Gb/Plextor M5 Pro 128Gb
PSU: Corsair GS700
GPU: VTX3D R9 390 8Gb GDDR5 1000Mhz Core Clock 1500Mhz Memory Clock
Cooling: DeepCool IceBlade Pro CPU Heatsink with 2 120mm Corsair SP 120 fans on push/pull config; 3 x DeepCool 120mm IceBlade Pro fans for top exhausts; 2 x Phanteks 140mm front intakes; 1 x Phanteks 140mm rear exhaust
Peripherals: 3 x Dell S2340L 23″ IPS 1080p Monitors; Ducky DK9008 Shine II Cherry MX Blue Mechanical Keybord; Logitech G13 Advanced Gamepad; Logitech G600 MMO Gaming Mouse; Logitech F310 Gamepad; iPega Bluetooth Controller (Mainly for my Android phone, but works well with the PC); Logitech G430 Headphones; Logitech Z333 2.1 Speakers; Brother DCP-J100 Printer with Continuous Ink System; A4Tech HD1080p Webcam
Misc: Tecware Haste XXL Desktmat; NZXT Blue LED Kit; Buffalo Bluetooth 4.0 Dongle; 2M RGB USB Powered LED strip
NAS: D-Link DNS-320L

Now some people will ask why I have a small (that’s what she said) HDD in my system, well, I have a 4TB NAS and another 2x2TB HDDs coming in as well as another 2 bay NAS, so I will have 8TB NAS for most of my files. The 500GB HDD is just for games. the 128GB SSD is for the OS, some games, and the more commonly used programs. I will be adding another 256GB SSD mainly for games later on this year.

Also of note, I used NZXT extended sleeved cables and a couple of custom sleeved SATA Data cables, so if you look inside my PC, you’d see sleeved cables.

So there you have it, a trip down memory lane… thanks for joining in the ride!

Til next time! PEACE!

UPDATE:

Fixed the remaining wires that are bothering me under the desk.

Workstation as of 01-11-2017

Workstation as of 01-11-2017

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Logitech G13 Review! I HAVE ALL THE KEYS!

DISCLAIMER: I am not a professional reviewer; I review the things I buy as a consumer. I am not at all sponsored. I am an average consumer, giving my consumer thoughts.

INTRO:

Not too long ago I bought me a Tecware Haste Deskmat (LINK), and as you can see, and like every desk sized mousepads, it is spread out enough to hold my mouse as well as my keyboard… but suddenly, the downside is that if you are obsessive compulsive like me, you tend to keep things right in the center, thus, having my keyboard in the dead center of my deskmat, there is a lonely left side of the deskmat.

Now… what can I do to fix this problem!? Ah yes, why not get a Logitech G13… that was on sale!

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There we go… left side is no longer lonely!

Yeah… I think it looks better now. Sigh… the problems of an obsessive compulsive geek.

Screw you, first world problems!

Why did I just now get a Logitech G13, and by the pics, a Logitech G13 in the older package. Well, this was on super sale, like 50% off, and at first I always thought this was just a gimmick – but with a %50 percent off from a shop, whatever gimmick it is, so long as the price is right, I am literally sold.

 Let us move on to the actual review!

SPECS:

Color Black
LCD Resolution 160×43
Connection Interface USB
Weight 1.5 lbs

SYSTEM REQUIREMENTS: <- LOL, I know… who even checks these anymore!?

Windows 8, Windows 7 or Windows
Vista 70 MB of available hard disk space
USB port
Internet connection for optional software download

REVIEW: 

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Orignal Front Packaging!

 

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Original Back Packaging!

 

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Instructions and installation disc… who needs these!?

 

The first thing you will notice about the packaging is that it is not of the newer runs; this was sold at 50% off from a local shop, most likely a clearance sale of some sort. And even if the box indicates this was one of the earlier runs of the Logitech G13, it is no different, from my understanding, with the later runs with the new packaging. Coupling it with the latest Logitech Gaming Software version, it runs just fine.REVIEW:

As you can see in the above photo of the software, I have the Logitech G600 (Which I never posted a review on… ah well) and the Logitech G13 shown and you can easily add macros or button mapping without affecting the other device. It is nice to note that I got the Logitech G600 mouse last year second hand, effectively saving 50 bucks from the original price (From PHP3,500, I got it for PHP1,200) and I got this Logitech G13 for PHP1,800, which was originally at PHP3,600. Again, I will emphasize,  I don’t go for these gaming peripheral gimmicks; I have always wanted a MMO styled mouse so the Logitech G600 was an easy buy, but I never fall for gimmicks like this Logitech G13 Advanced Gamepad, but with that kind of price, even gimmicks I am will to buy.

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The device!

The actual device, as you can see, the wrist rest and the keys are at an angle, to supposedly contour more with our hands natural tendency to curve down. At first, I didn’t think this would be any real comfort as I am already used to my Ducky DK9008 Shine II keyboard being in the normal form factor, without those angles, and still be comfortable. But to my surprise, the angle, the ergonomics of the device is really comfortable. My on gripe with the overall comfort and key placement would be the G20 and G22 keys; they are there to simulate the control and space keys respectively, that is, if you have the default button mapping on the device, and having to reach for G20 to crouch in some games that crouching is not a toggle can be very uncomfortable. So is the space key to jump, I sometimes also remap the space key on the joystick as that feels more comfortable and the exact distance from the WASD keys to the space key in a keyboard. You can always train yourself to get comfortable with it, but it will take time; I was hoping for something a lot easier to get in grips with. And you also have the option to remap the control and space keys in the other G keys, but for me, it is a waste of key real estate for other functions.

Now that we mentioned the joystick, let us now go a little more in depth in that part of the device. The joytick is smooth, but I have yet to find a sensitivity control in the software (if someone knows, comment below), it can simulate, well, a joystick in game, mouse, or any keystroke once you mapped them in the software. I like this as in some games, provided you mapped the WASD keys to the G4, G10, G11, G12 keys (these keys have an indentation so you can easily tell by feel that these are your WASD keys… that is if you mapped them as WASD), and if the game has camera controls apart from the mouse, you can map those camera controls to the joystick and move the camera without having to have you hands reaching awkwardly to the key in the keyboard. This is one of the only things I likes about controllers in console games, you can move the camera with the right analog stick and control your character with the left analog stick.

You can simulate mouse controls with the joystick as well and map the 2 keys along side it as the left and right clicks. You can even push the joystcik down as another button, and in the cases of simulated mouse, it becomes the middle click. Again, you can always remap to a macro or any keystroke you wish. I just find the 2 buttons alongside it being a bit flimsy, and pushing the joystick down for the other button is quite tough; when I try to push it down with my thumb, due to the tiny knob of the stick, the stick tends to move at a direction and not pushing the button when pressure is applied. I tend to use both my thumb and index finger to push the joystick down in the end.

Also of note, the keys are not mechanical; they are membrane keys and I was worried at first if my gamble on getting this even knowing it has membranes keys would make the experience less enjoyable, but honestly, as a person that has used mechanical keys for many, many, years now, I was able to jump right in and had no problems gaming with the membrane keys on this device. I believe the overall shape/ergonomics of the device helped make it easy to game on even with membrane keys. Now, I am not a professional gamer or  twitch gamer; I am mostly a RPG fan, and sure, I do play a good number of FPS, but not so competitively to say that this may replace your keyboard of choice in Counter Strike Global Offensive tournaments. But if you are into RPG/MMORPG heck even platformers or action games, I feel this will be perfect for you.

The keys, as well as the display, can be backlit or not, depending on your preference. But if you’re just gonna blackout your display, then you are missing out on some of the main features of the device. It is RGB in the sense you can choose any color in the software, but you can’t individually choose the colors of of the keys or have a different color of the keys and the display at the same time; it’s one color for all at a time. Except for the profile/macro key, which is red and I will talk about it more later. And I don’t know if it’s because it’s an older run of the Logitech G13, but the keys are a bit darkly lit; I can’t appreciate the backlight of the keys unlike the display. It also doesn’t help the backlight that the keys are at an angle.

If Logitech will make a replacement gamepad in the future, make the joystick know a little bigger like console controllers, and make the G20-22 keys a little easier to reach.

Now, let us talk about the display!

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There are some default applets that show time, email, RSS, system monitor, etc. They are not really the best applets, but as usual, what do you expect from stock? The good news is that you can also add applets for the display, but it is getting harder to find good ones. I suggest LCDSirReal. You can also edit the .txt file’s configuration to your liking. It takes trial and error, but if you understand simple programming languages, you’ll understand how to edit this. Plus it has some instructions for you to follow anyway in the .txt file.

Some games like Borderlands 2 and Witcher Enhanced Edition (these are the only games I have seen to have custom applets; I haven’t tested all other games in my Steam Library, yet) have these custom applets in game, as well.

There are 2 circular buttons on each end; the one on the left chooses which applet is to be displayed, and the one on the right controls the LED lights – it just turns it on or off, it doesn’t change the color. That is to be done at the Logitech Gaming Software. And be noted, again, that the LED lights, if chosen to be off, it will turn the LCD display LED and the keys LED all off.

The function of the 4 buttons in between those circular buttons depend on the active applet chosen.

Whereas the 4 larger buttons below the above mentioned buttons (labeled M1-M3 and MR), that happen to be red in illumination, and for now, I can’t seem to find any way to change their color, function as your profile or sub profile selector and macro recorder. Let us expound what I just said there.

M1-M3 can be used to save profiles unto the actual device – this is done by going to the Logitech Gaming Software, and saving a chosen profile to the device. This is useful especially if you plan to go to LAN parties with it and use someone else’s PC without your profiles saved in the Logitech Gaming Software.

However, if you are using you own PC, you can have subprofiles within a profile. Profile-ception, if you will. What I mean is this, as you can see in the following photos, this is my Grim Dawn profile (saved on the PC) showing the button maps of M1, which is used for the main gameplay; M2 on the other hand is used for online parties, such as party chat, party windows, etc.

So, again, as to not confuse you, the M1-M3 can be used to save profiles from your PC to the device, which is handy when you decide to play in LAN parties without your PC and the saved profiles within the Logitech Gaming Software. Also, the M1-M3 can be used as subprofiles within a profile when you are using your own PC or if you have access to your profiles saved in the Logitech Gaming Software as shown above.

Now for the MR, it is used for macro recording; simply press it once, then start recording your macros, and press the MR button once again to either save it or cancel it. Honestly, I haven’t used that functionality, because I rather use the actual macro recorder in the Logitech Gaming Software.

The cable is not braided, but this is a device originally released as early as 2009; but thankfully the cable is thick enough to be sturdy enough and long enough to justify ti being on the left side of your desk.

FUNCTIONALITY:

One of the main uses for this device is of course, gaming! And I must say, at first it took awhile to get used to all the buttons like what I was saying above, that the button 3 buttons, specifically the G20-22 keys, can be a bit fiddly to get used to at first, but now, I am starting to get grips with it. In fact, the funny thing is that I am more used to holding the device than using my keyboard even in non-gaming situations; I also find that my hands are more in tune with the keyboard for typing only again. Before, my left hand is not on the proper home keys, they were on the gamer home keys… you know, the WASD, shift and space bar, as my home keys. And it did slow me down in typing, but then again, that still depends on the person anyway.

In games, especially the RPG’s or action RPG, heck, especially MMORPG, when there are a a lot of hotkeys, spells, weapons, and what not, this device can be very, very, helpful, and coupled with me Logitech G600 MMO Gaming Mouse, I can map so many keys to either device, depending on my preference and honestly, you will be having as much fun, planning how to map both devices in order to get the most out of the gaming experience. I spend at least an hour or 2, just planning out the mapping that I am most comfortable with – and it was all great fun.

I mentioned that this is great for RPG’s, well how about other genres? Well, this can also be very helpful in FPS, again coupled with my G600 mouse, I can map so many things in FPS games – reload, melee, grenade, you name it, I can map it to wherever I feel comfortable with and may be quick to use them in tight situations.

So in a nutshell, I can say this device, with or without a MMO mouse like the G600, can be very useful in many games, not just RPG’s.

Another thing why I picked this up while on super sale was for productivity; much like my G600 mouse, I can map certain keys to the device even when not gaming. For example, I placed the mouse up and down scrolling to the joystick up and down directions, respectively – while browsing some sites, reading some PDF’s, I can just use the joystick.

I also mapped my Adobe products’ hotkeys to the device, coupled again, with my G600, I can do so much work quickly. For those Adobe vets, you can agree with me, even if we use Adobe a lot for some things, we may tend to forget the hotkeys, because each product, no matter how similar they may be like After Effects and Premiere Pro, their hotkeys are quite different, and having to search through the keyboard just to find the right hotkey may slow down post production; and all the more if you just forego the keyboard hotkeys and decide on using the mouse to hover and click on the different functions. Using the G13 to make at least similar keymaps, hotkeys that are close to eachother, can aid in the productivity. And I can assure you, using Lightroom with VSCO Keys (to override the awful hotkeys from stock Lightroom; you may change the hotkeys with VSCO keys) mapped on the G13, I have seen an increase in post production time, and it made editing, at least for me, fun again and not a chore.

CONCLUSION:

Okay, I have yapped on why I didn’t buy this device when it was grand spanking new back in the day, and what changed my mind ultimately; I also talked about the device itself and what I use it for. So, overall, what do I think of it?

Well, it is almost obvious that I love this device by the way I talked about it above. But do I recommend it? I do! BUT NOT AT FULL PRICE. If you can find one used at good condition, or luck out like me, getting a brand new one for half the price, do get it. I will also note, based from my readings, the Logitech G13 on the original packaging compared to the new packaging really has no difference functionally. You are just more assured that the G13 with the newer package is of a more recent run, but again, from my readings, no difference. In fact, my Logitech G600 was second hand, so it was part of the earlier runs, but I had no problems whatsoever with it.

So again, I love this device, but I will only recommend it to my friends, if they can find one for a decent price. It will still be a gimmick to me at full price, but with half the price, I was sold, and I am impressed.

Wow, this was a longer review than I anticipated… hope you guys find this enojyable to read and helpful.

Til next time! PEACE!

-o-

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When OC Strikes…

I have raging obsessive compulsive behavior especially when it comes to my gadgets and PC; I have the NZXT black sleeved extension cables for years now, but always tried valiantly to keep them neat, but never get to do so.

I was going to order cable combs from the States, but hey, what do you know, the guys at FTW actually carry these cables combs locally and for a good price.

Got 2 packs; each pack consists of 1x 24 pin comb, 2x 6 pin combs, and 3x 8 pin combs.

It is a simple yet very effective accessory for the PC enthusiasts that believe in both aesthetics as well as performance.

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I am planning to get a new chassis since this Bitfenix Shinobi midtower is starting to show its limitations, plus I might do custom watercooling loops in the near future, so I am paving the way with the Corsair 400c. After my exams, I will do an “open part surgery” to transfer my current specs to the new case. The combs will be very helpful in “re-training” the sleeved cables to the new case.

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I know this is a boring post, but I needed a medium to release my tension for today since I seem to be more short tempered today than I usually am. I guess it is the fear of the exam and stuff. Ah well.

Anyways, ’til then!

PEACE!

-0-

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Review on the Tecware Haste XXL Mousepad/Mousemat/Deskmat

DISCLAIMER: I am not a professional reviewer; I review the things I buy as a consumer. I am not at all sponsored. I am an average consumer, giving my consumer thoughts.

I have reverted to using my DSLR for taking photos of products for review as I have been getting complaints when I just lazily use my smartphone camera. So, there, better photos coming up!

-o-

It is no surprise to many that I am techie; techie in the sense that I like computers and audio gear – I am not as good when it comes to smartphones; that is to say, I own Android phones, but I need a lot of research before buying and tweaking them. It is not like computers where I know it by heart.

With that out of the way, I know a lot of brands for computer components. From GPUs, RAM, to even those that make custom sleeved cables. I know my stuff… And I am confident about that.

To my surprise, and honestly, my embarrassment, is that I didn’t realize, for all these years, there was a company here in the Philippines that make radiators for water cooling and actually out source them to other countries.

Okay, there are other facilities that are here in the Philippines that make items that are exported, sure, like other countries, but those facilities are owned by big name companies of other countries. So, this one, is really from the Philippines.

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Check out more of their radiators HERE!

And to think that I know watercooling parts and have heard of Black Ice radiators over and over again and not knowing it was made here – boy is my face red.

Then a few days ago I was still hell bent on looking for a simple designed extended mousepad/deskmat. I honestly DO NOT like the over the top design of Razer Goliathus (And I simply don’t like Razer products; overpriced pieces of poorly made accessories – no hating on me. I am entitled to my own opinion. And if you say it is because I can’t afford it… I owned a lot of Razer stuff and died on me. PLUS. Look at my system! You honestly think I can’t afford a keyboard, mouse, or headset from them!? Heck, I even bought a Razer Mouse Bungee even if it is technically useless! *rages on*).

Then I saw Corsair’s MM200 extended edition; it was nice… it wasn’t truly the pure black I wanted as it had a long yellow line on the bottom and their logo there, too. The drawback? It had no stitched ends. So it is prone to fraying. That is the reason why I wanted to change my current mousepad from Roccat (Taito) because it was already fraying. And I said to myself, if I were to buy a new mousepad, I have to make sure it had stitched ends. That’s what was good about Razer, but it just had to go OVER the top with their designs and the heavy use of GREEN. (Like everyone has a green build… There are more blue builds than green according to stats of modded PCs!)

Then their is wonderfully designed, still not pure black, but closest to the minimalist design I was looking for was also from Corsair, the Corsair CGMM200 extended, but again like the regular MM200, it is prone to fraying. Sigh…

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I would love to represent TekSyndicate with this deskmat; even if isn’t pure black, representing them would be great! Find more products HERE and join the TekSyndicate community HERE!

I am a fan of Logan from TekSyndicate way back in his days at TigerDirect and RazeTheWorld (Which I was also a forum member) and he was selling this awesome deskmat with their burning earth logo; sure it ain’t pure black, but to represent TekSyndicate with a nearly minimalist design is great! Sadly, I live in the Philippines so ordering from his store would have me ending up to pay for nearly 50 bucks. As much as I want to represent, it was too much for a piece of cloth. If only they had a partner to resell their mousepad/mousemats/deskmats here without having to worry about the price of shipping (maybe just raise the overall price a touch but not as much as it would be to ship it here), then without a moments breath, I will buy the TekSyndicate Burning Earth Logo Deskmat. Hands down.

Sadly… that isn’t the case.

Much like my previous post about searching for a chair, my search continued, to the point where I thought, hey, I will just buy the TekSyndicate deskmat when I go the States for vacation later this year.

Then out of nowhere, like the chair in my previous post, I found this… a Tecware Haste XXL mousemat/deskmat.

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From a Filipino company named Tecware. Surprised by the quality! Check em out HERE!

To clarify my segue about the Black Ice radiators being made by a local company, Tecware is also a local company that has been around for quite a while and are making cheap, quality built, PC chassis; and quite recently extended mousepads.

It is nearly everything I wanted; I say nearly because I wish they hadn’t added the “Haste” branding on the mouse pad. The little label on the side of the deskmat with their company logo and name on, I feel is enough and makes it even more minimalist if it were the only one. But I am now just nitpicking.

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Along side my old, unwashed for a year, Roccat Taito MidSize 3mm mousepad.

Just like my (worn and dirty; last washed a year ago) Roccat Taito mousepad, it has rubber base that is non slip, but unlike my Roccat Taito, this mouse is stitched on the ends to prevent fraying and has a water resistant surface that is like the Aorus Thunder P3 Gaming Deskmat – I remember JayzTwoCents feature that deskmat once and mentioned it was water resistant for accidental spill of your drink and was easily cleaned by using window cleaners like Windex or something. If this could also be cleaned with Windex that would be great, but if not, this is fully washable anyways.

It certainly makes the desk look a lot cleaner, I get to place my phone on the deskmat (I can also put it on my Roccat Taito but it does take a bit of real estate away), heck any gadget, and it won’t look cluttered or have the fear of the device getting scratched or something.

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Initial size check
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With the keyboard and mouse housed; ignore dusty desk…

Immediately upon using it, believe or not, there are some people like me that will notice a difference in a mouse pad if it is good quality, etc. This one was just like my Roccat Taito, it was an easy transition – it had a little smoother (maybe because I didn’t clean my Roccat Taito in a year), so there is a false sense of an increase in pulling rate of the mouse that I just lowered the speed down down 100dpi (originall at 1000dpi, now 900dpi). Apart from that, it was like any other good mousepad/mousemat/deskmat I ever used that was great quality.

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Even the packaging is nice!

Overall, I am surprised by the amount I paid for a great deskmat that nearly had all the minimalist feel I want in it (I just want that “Haste” branding gone, or at least be placed like the label on the side with their company logo on it. Heck even the packaging isn’t a cheap box or something. It is good packaging and not on a freakin’ blister pack! Hello other companies! Don’t use blister packs! They injure people!

So, if you’re in the country, and in need of a minimalist deskmat that isn’t as over the top as Razer’s extended deskmats, then do look at this from Tecware. For php500 (roughly 12 bucks), this is the definition of bang for the buck!

Now time for some shameless glamour shots:

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There yah go! PEACE!

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