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I've been running Windows Media Center (WMC) for Windows 7 and now Windows 8 Pro for a while now, and it has bothered me that the video quality seemed to be much lower when you view in a window. Even if you have WMC running in a window just a tiny bit smaller than full screen, you can see jaggies everywhere despite viewing 1080p or 1080i content.|
Some background information- I'm using a Time Warner CableCARD with a Cisco STA1520 Tuning Adapter, and watching on the Dell U2713HM 27" monitor via Dual DVI-D connection. BTW- I do wonder though if users see the same issue (check out Verizon FiOS promotional offers if it is available in your area). My system is an ivy-bridge Intel i7-3770 with AMD Radeon 6950.
So I really wanted to investigate things further. I was wondering- maybe the video feed from the CableCARD is not HD like it is supposed to be, like 480P or something. I poked around but just could not see any setting in Windows Media Center that will display the current video format being displayed- 1080P, 1080i, 720P, etc.
But- it turns out that there is a "secret" diagnostic screen in WMC. You activate by it by pressing 411, and then the Control-D key combination on the keyboard (or the info button on a WMC remote if you are using that instead). You then use the right arrow key and go all the way to the last screen that appears. It is called "DEBUG: Presentation", and shows you the video feed data including the audio codec, video compression method, and what I'm interested in the most which is the feed format/resolution. That info is presented next to Native Size.
As you can see from the screen shot above, the feed is 1920x1080- not sure if it is 1080p or 1080i, but the Display Size is set to 962x540, or 540p. The weird thing is that no matter how big I resize the window (and my the 1440p Dell 27 WQHD monitor, I can resize the Windows Media Center window to even greater than 1080p), the Display Size is stuck at 962x540. This explains why video quality is crappy no matter how large the non-maximized Windows Media Center is. it seems that the 1080 signal is squeezed down to 540p, and then rescaled upwards to the size of whatever resolution of the window is.
When I run Windows Media Center in full screen, the Display Size jumps to 2560x1440- video looks so much better and text is sharp without any jaggies. Scaling apparently is done by software or the AMD Catalyst drivers, and looks very nice. I do wish I could view in a 1920x1080 window, however.
I'm not sure why windowed WMC is stuck at 540p, but it is likely by design. I definitely wish that Microsoft can put in a feature where the Windows Media Center can "snap" to resolution/format of the video feed. For instance, it would be great to view 720p content in a window (and not scaled down to 540p) while being able to utilize other parts of the Windows desktop!
I use OpenOffice Calc on a daily basis. I know that LibreOffice is supposedly better, etc, but the one time I tried it I had issues with it messing up the quotes when I tried to export to a tab-delimited file. Plus Open Office has more life in it has now it is "owned" by Apache, which is a trusted long time provider of the Apache web server. |
Anyways I wanted to share a tip that will help you work faster in OpenOffice Calc which should also apply to LibreOffice since they were based on the same code. I have a list in Calc, the OpenOffice spreadsheet equivalent of Microsoft Excel, which I manage and edit quite often. I like to highlight certain rows to attribute a certain task done, or ask new rows. I did wish that I didn't have to select the row, then go up to the menu bar to achieve what I wanted. I wished there were a hotkey that allowed me to add a new row, and a hotkey to let me change the background color of a row to let's say, yellow. Unfortunately there are not, but thankfully I found out, you can make your own custom hot keys pretty easily.
Hotkey to Add a New Row in OpenOffice Calc Spreadsheet App
1) Go to Tools on the menu bar, then pick Customize.
2) Make sure that Calc radio button is selected (vs OpenOffice.org) on the upper right. Then go to the Keyboard tab, then in the Functions section, under Category.
3) Scroll down until you find Insert. On the box to the right, scroll down until you locate Insert Rows.
4)Now in the Shortcut Keys section above, highlight the hotkey you want to assign to the Insert Row function. Then click the Modify button. Oddly enough, many keys are grayed out- for instance F6 and F10. For me, F4 was not grayed out, so that was the one I picked. After you press Modify, make sure that you see the key displayed under the Keys box to the right of the Function box.
4)Press the OK button and now you can press F4 (or if you selected a different key) to automatically insert a row below the current row.
Hotkey to Highlight a Row/Change Background Color of a Row in OpenOffice Calc Spreadsheet App
1) On the menu bar, go to Format, then pick Styles and Formatting (or simply press F11)
2) A small window will pop up- right-click inside of it and select New.
3) The Cell Style window will appear- go ahead and change the Name field- for instance I called the style "Highlight Cells in Yellow".
4) Next, go to the Background tab and pick the highlight color, then click OK to save your custom style.
5) Repeat steps 1 and 2 of the insert row hotkey tip.
6) Under Category, scroll all the way down until you see Styles. Expand the +, then pick Cell Styles. On the right, highlight the style you created- in our example it is called "Highlight Cells in Yellow". Go back up to the Shortcut keys section, and pick your hotkey. In the screen shot below, I've selected SHIFT-F3. Then click Modify. Press OK, and you are done!
I tested these tips under Apache OpenOffice 3.4.1, but in LibreOffice this method should work as well.
So after the debacle of trying to hook up an old 15 inch LCD VGA monitor to my ATI/AMD Radeon HD 6950 using the DVI-D connector and have it work simultaneously with my new Dell U2713HM 2560x1400 monitor, I had to look for another solution. I did not want to spend more money on an extra active adapter to make the VGA monitor work with my new Windows 8 Core i7-3770 PC. But then I thought- duh- why don't I just plug in the VGA monitor directly to the VGA connector available directly on the motherboard (Asrock Z77 Pro4 Intel Z77)?|
Now I'm no stranger to having multiple different graphics cards in a single computer, lol. In fact, back in 1998, I wrote a Windows 98 multi-video card/multi-monitor article that had 3 different video cards- one AGP and 2 PCI working together to achieve multi-monitor goodness in the now ancient OS.
I've never tried pairing integrated graphics with a discrete one before, however. So I took a look at the Device Manager, and under "Display Adapters"- low and behold I saw both the Radeon 6950 and the built-in graphics of Intel HD 4000 both active.
So okay- looks good, so I connected the VGA cable from the monitor directly to the VGA connection head supplied by the Asrock Z77 Pro4, and bam- right away the monitor received signal. I right-clicked on the desktop and went to "Screen Resolution", and dragged the position of the VGA monitor (designated as #2) to line up with the bottom of the Dell 2713HM.
Everything works great. I get to control the output of the discrete Radeon 6950 card using the Catalyst Control Center, while Intel has the "Intel Graphics and Control Panel". I tried even dragging VLC and Media Player Classic windows between the two displays while video was playing, and encountered zero hiccup. Now I wonder what would happen if I'm playing a DirectX 9 or DirectX 11 game in a window, and I drag it from one screen to another.... I'll mess with that another time, but for now I'm just happy that I can use both a DVI-I Dual Link and a VGA monitor at the same time, on the same system. Now if I had only done that in the first place instead of going to buy that useless, scammy DVI-D to VGA adapter.
This worked in Windows 8 x64, but I'm 100% confident that it would work no problem in Windows 7 or Vista as well. In theory I can even run FIVE monitors at the same time to this system. 3 connected to the discreet AMD Radeon 6950 (one has to be DisplayPort), and two more connected to the on-board Intel HD4000. Or even more by adding USB monitors- I do have a Proximus USB mini-monitor and it works fine with the system. Or even more by another 6950 card via CrossFire. Madness!
I have the excellent Sony NEX-C3 camera, but I'm only using the 16 mm pancake lens in came with. I chose the pancake lens kit because the zoom for it would had extruded out so much that it would be impossible to pocket. I might as well carry a regular size D-SLR camera. So I was doing some research for a DSLR-like Micro Four Thirds Camera that came with a Power Zoom lens and the best way currently available for a decent price and great reviews was the Panasonic Lumix DMC-GX1X. The power zoom would enable me to place it into the pocket of my pants, just like the NEX-C3. Now the DMC-GX1X This is not to be confused with the regular GX1 bundle with the non-power-zoom 14x42mm lens.|
Looking around, Amazon.com has the black GX1X for a good price of $489.73 (only 12 left at last count). Unfortunately Amazon charges tax for me, so I looked around some more. Then I saw on Newegg.com that it was $499.99 for either the silver (DMC-GX1XS) or the black (DMC-GX1XK). No tax for me, plus there is a 10% off coupon if you use the coupon VMEPROMOMAR13 and checkout with V.Me (Visa's answer to PayPal), resulting in a terrific final price of $449.99.
Hope you guys find this to be a good deal, and please share!
I got my brand spanking new Dell 2713HM today- wanted it for its 2560x1440 resolution and of course excellent reviews abound. I read that it did NOT include a DisplayPort cable, so I ordered one from Amazon for $9. This, turned out to be a waste of money as you will see. I was under some dumb notion that if I wanted to do 2560x1440 on this 27" beast of a monitor, I needed dual DVI cables, which I thought I was too messy. That's why I bought the DisplayPort cable which supports 2560/1440p, unlike single DVI and HDMI. |
I was able to get the 2560x1440 beautifully on the U2713HM with the DisplayPort cable. I definitely liked it better than the bulky DVI cable I was using for my former 24" 1920x1200 monitor. Then I was like- uh oh, almost time for the game. So I fired up Windows Media Center on my Windows 8 PC and was greeted by this message:
Display driver error
The video playback device does not support playback of protected content.
WTF? I rebooted the computer, but same thing. Turned out that Windows Media Center currently STILL DOES NOT support HDCP over DisplayPort. Most cable channels require DRM in order to display, and HDCP is the mechanism where this copy-protection is ensured.
So I was like crap- what am I going to do? Then I noticed the 2713HM only has a single DVI connection. Then after a little more research, it turns out that DVI Dual Link can be a single cable, and the DVI-I Dual Link cable the U2713HM came with fully supports 2560x1440. I am, BTW, running a Sapphire Radeon 6950 2GB. I yanked out the DisplayPort and plugged in the DVI cable that the Dell monitor came with. It only could go as high as 1920x1080. But it was because I had plugged it into the DVI-D Single Link connector of the 6950 video card. After I plugged it into the DVI-I Dual connection of the 6950, at first there was no video. But then I disconnected the DVI cable from the monitor and replugged it in, and it was 2560x1440 no problem.
Then I had another issue. I had a 15" VGA-only monitor that was using the DVI-I Dual Link connector (via a DVI to VGA adapter). And it was interesting how everyone of my DVI to VGA adapters will NOT fit into the remaining DVI-D connector.
So I had to look on eBay and buy a DVI-D Dual to VGA Adapter (EDIT- DO NOT buy such an adapter- it will NOT work). This is how it looks like:
So it was quite a lesson in all the different DVI adapters for me. And I certainly hope that sooner than later, Microsoft will fix this oddball problem of DisplayPort connection not being supported by Windows Media Center in Windows 8 (and Windows 7 from what I have read).
[EDIT 3-13-2013] So I received, from eBay, the DVI-D to VGA adapter today, plugged it in- and the video card simply could NOT detect the monitor. So I did some research. It turns out that DVI-D connections DO NOT pass through the analog video signal that VGA monitors need to operate. DVI-I can do this, but NOT DVI-D. DVI-D delivers only DIGITAL signals (hence the "D"). The DVI-D connector on my Sapphire 6950, unfortunately, was only single-link which only supports up to 1920x1200, meaning that connecting the U2713HM to it is not an option in order to achieve the full 2560x1440 resolution. This brings forth the question of why are DVI-D to VGA adapters sold? It sure seems like a scam because a passive adapter would never work. No wonder I had 4 DVI-I to VGA adapters lying around, but none of the DVI-D to VGA variety- because they would never work. You would need to be an expensive digital to analog DVI-D to VGA converter to utilize the DVI-D connection for VGA monitors. Ah well- at least I only paid about $2 for this lesson, SMH!
I was going through some vacation photos lately and noticed pictures taken for a particular camera had invalid dates. The camera in question was the Kodak Playsport ZX3 waterproof video camera which loses its setting whenever I opened its battery compartment take out the SD card. So the photos taken with the camera had a bad date of January 6 2010 instead of the correct dates of February 18 2013.|
There were about 30 photos I wanted to change the "Date Taken" value for, so I did not want to do it one at a time. I've seen utilities that can mass-edit the date modified and date created attributes for files, but I couldn't find one to change the EXIF data of "Date Taken" for multiple photos in one fell swoop.
But it turns out that Windows Photo Gallery, which is part of Windows Essentials, lets you do it- at least the Windows Photo Gallery 2012 version I'm using on my Windows 8 PC. Therefore I'm fairly certain that this tip will work on Windows 7 as well.
What you do is multi-select the pictures you want to change- I just drew a selection around those files I wanted to change via the mouse and the left mouse button. Then I right-clicked on the selection and picked "Properties". In the "Details" tab, under the "Origin" section below "Authors", I clicked displayed date and time next to the "Date Taken" field and picked the correct date. I then pressed the OK button afterwards and the pictures now all have the right dates. I could not, however, change the specific hour and minutes of when the pics this way, but this was a good enough solution for me.
This certainly beat having to manually edit each picture's date property to fix a bad date!
If you are a Mozilla Thunderbird user and were on vacation and you didn't want to/or had a chance to check your email during your break, you'd like to see right away the most important emails you missed once you got back. |
I have several Message Filter rules set up that look for specific words in subjects in incoming emails, and also check if the messages are from people in my contact list. Then the rule will set them to Highest Priority and the message is tagged Important. If you have something like that setup, then you can easily, with 2 clicks, check out the emails that are tagged Important that you have not yet read.
On the quick filter bar on Thunderbird you can quickly filter by unread, starred, emails from your contacts, w/ attachments or were tagged. Click on the Tags button (next to attachment) on the filter bar and you will then see all the important emails. Next, click the "Unread" to the left of "Starred" and there you have it, all the good stuff you need to go through displayed below.
You can also accomplish this another way through the powerful search feature of Thunderbird. Press CTRL-SHIFT-F to pop up the email finder. Add a rule that says let's say, for instance, "Priority is higher than normal". And click the + button to add another rule of "Date is after START_DATE_OF_YOUR_VACATION". Then add another one that says "Status is New". Click search and you will only see the key unread messages you missed after the first day of your trip. Too bad, however, you can't seem to search through all the mailboxes at once.
I have the Logitech Gaming Software 8.40.83 64-bit installed on my new Windows 8 i7-3770 PC. It is needed to operate my Logitech G11 Gaming Keyboard, as well as the G13 keypad and the G930 Headset I had gotten a few months ago. The other night I decided to restart my PC after Windows Update needed a reboot. So I'm sitting there looking at the BiOS start screen, so I thought heck why not take a look to see if there is any new update for the Asrock Z77 Pro4 motherboard? Turned out that there was a new update (v1.60), and I was able to download + install it directly from within the graphical BIOS interface. |
But upon trying to boot up I got the message "Missing Operating System". WTH? Turned out that the BIOS update had wiped out all the previous settings. I had setup two Samsung SSDs running RAID 0, but because of the setting reset, I had to go back in to change it back from AHCI back to RAID. I thought that was pretty annoying having to go through some of the BIOS settings and change them back to the way I wanted them, but something more aggravating awaited me after Windows 8 started up.
I noticed that the G-key hotkeys I used on the G11 was not working any more, and furthermore, all that shows on the G13 LCD screen was the date and time. So I thought somehow the Logitech Gaming Software is not running, but I took a look at task manager and it was.
I killed LCore.exe and tried to re-launch it, but then got this beauty of an error message:
I tried uninstalling and re-installing the Logitech Gaming Software, but no go. I looked for an update for a possible fix to this "bug", but nope- I had the newest version at 8.40.83. Searching around the web, I found some suggestions- right-click and re-install as administrator, delete settings.json under "C:/Users/User_Name/AppData/Local/Logitech/Logitech Gaming Software", etc. Nothing worked.
This was really weird because everything had worked just fine last week (the prior time I had rebooted the PC). Then I remembered that I had plugged in a small USB 2.0 hub- could that have been it? The hub had my Fitbit One usb receiver plus a Logitech wireless mouse receiver on it. I unplugged the hub, and voila- Logitech Gaming Software started up no problem just like before! I plugged the hub back, then removed the Fitbit One receiver, then plugged the receiver in one of the front USB 3.0 ports, and it still worked.
Ultimately I'm not sure exactly whose fault it is- Fitbit or Logitech or Microsoft or Asrock, but I'm just really happy to have everything working again because I use the G-keys a lot on the G11 and G13. Hopefully this will help those of you having this problem- try unplugging USB stuff from your PC, especially the one(s) that you just added recently before you started having this problem. Even though my system is Windows 8, this may well help those of you having this problem on Windows 7 32 bit or 64 bit.
Earlier this morning I was watching the 2013 Australian Open Women's Finals match on my Windows 8 Media Center PC. Too bad Li Na lost! But I was looking at the technique of these great players hitting forehands and backhands. I wanted to see how they moved their feet as they struck the ball, but even though I could pause and go back to examine specific movements, I didn't know how to have Windows Media Center do slow motion forward. |
I played around with the controls, and it turns out that you can do this by first pressing PAUSE, then press the fast-forward button (>>). Then the video will go at what feels like 1/4th speed.
I tried to go backward in slow motion by pressing pause, and then the fast-reverse (<<) button, but it didn't work- the video just started going backwards at a high rate of speed. Pause and then the backward skip button did not work either- it pretty much just goes backward in freeze frames but at several seconds apart.
Also unfortunately I still haven't figured out nor found out how to do frame-by-frame in Windows Media Center for Windows 7 or 8, but at least the slow motion forward helps. Hopefully Microsoft will consider adding frame-by-frame advance and slow motion rate control to Windows Media Center in the future.
Lately I've been having some issues with a folder on my Windows 8 PC. For work purposes, I always keep the folder open and some screen shots in it. Unfortunately, after a while, when I switch back to the open folder, it just hangs and I have to run Task Manager and manually kill all instances of explorer.exe, then run explorer.exe again to get rid of the stuck folder window and restore my desktop. After the latest batch of Windows 8 updates, I still don't see the problem fixed. Now it could be some software I'm running that's causing this problem, but I pretty much have the same setup as my old Windows 7 PC, with the most notable exception of having Classic Shell installed. I doubt that Classic Shell is causing this, but I wanted a workaround. |
I wanted to quickly kill all instances of Explorer.exe and then relaunch it instead of doing it manually. So I created a batch file script to do this, and placed it on the desktop for quick-access. Here are the contents of the file which I named Explorer_Reload.bat:
taskkill /F /IM explorer.exe
It's just two lines. The first line invokes the taskill command which will remove from memory the specified program- in this case explorer.exe.
The second command re-launches explorer.exe so the taskbar and the desktop are returned to action. I had to use "start" instead of simply "explorer.exe" because that way the command line box disappears.
Note that you can easily customize this batch file to close and re-open/relaunch any application- simply replace "explorer.exe" with the program you want- for instance iexplore.exe for Internet Explorer or Firefox.exe for the Firefox browser.
Lately I've been plagued here and there with Firefox being stuck/hanging- being just plain unresponsive and having to kill it (firefox.exe and plugin-container.exe) via the Task Manager. I am running Windows 8 x64, but I've also remember it having the slowness issue occasionally as well. I would go to a page and Firefox would get stuck and say "transferring data from name_of_the_site...". A lot of time it would be a site what is running Google ads or loading data from some content network. |
The page would eventually finish loading if I wait over a minute (I'm running a Core i7-3770, BTW). But then Firefox would become stuck again- I can't click on the other tabs nor interact with any links on the page that finally finished loading. It's very frustrating. I KNOW that this is a Firefox issue because when immediately I load the same problem sites with Chrome or IE or Opera, they come up quickly without a hitch. It's also not like I'm running some old version of Firefox- I'm using Firefox 17.0.1.
The weird thing is that upon restarting Windows, Firefox would no longer have the problem. But I certainly don't want to restart windows everytime this happens. And this has happened enough to the point where I thought about abandoning Firefox, but I love the Awesome Bar and it's been my #1 browser for 7 or 8 years now, so I wanted to really get to the bottom this problem. So I started to poke around in the Add-ons Manager and disabled all of the Extensions. It did not work as the same problem persists.
But then I went to the Plugins section and noticed that after I disabled Shockwave Flash, Firefox no longer had the problem. It became lightning FAST. The version of of the Adobe Flash plugin was 11.5.502.110.
I'm not sure if this is a bug introduced by Adobe or Mozilla, but for now this fix/workaround will do for me. If I need to use a site with Flash, I'll use Google Chrome or Internet Explorer from this point forward.
I've been having a few issues lately with my new Windows 8 PC, much of it having to do with the 10 gig Dataram RAM Disk I created. The drive would stop responding occasionally when it does its AutoSave, and cause the computer to be unresponsive to the point that I have to hit the reset button. But anyways, I think these hard resets have messed up my system a bit, and then my Xbox 360 could no longer find/connect to Windows Media Center running on the PC.|
The first time the XBOX, acting as the Media Center Extender, could not connect to the PC, I tried pinging the IP address of the Xbox 360 from the PC and there was no reply. But the Xbox was able to connect to Xbox Live. So I thought it was a firewall issue- I shutdown the Windows Firewall, but the same problem persisted. But it turned out that I had to also manually stop the service called "Base Filtering Engine" which is part of the firewall, but not stopped by Windows for you when you ask to shutdown the firewall. See below:
So that fixed it. But then I had the problem again last night, and even after I shutdown firewall & Base Filtering Engine, the XBOX 360 still could not connect to the PC. So I looked in the Windows Event Viewer and saw an event that said:
"The Media Center Extender Service service depends on the Remote Desktop Services service which failed to start because of the following error:
The service did not respond to the start or control request in a timely fashion"
WTH? So I made sure that all the Remote Desktop services were running, and they were. But the service "Media Center Extender Service" was NOT running. So I right-clicked on it and started it, and the Xbox was quickly able to re-connect to my Windows 8 Media Center PC.
Hopefully this bit of troubleshooting will help those of you even on Windows 7, Vista and XP having issues with your Xbox/Media Center Extender finding or connecting to it. Of course you should make sure that your Xbox has network connectivity first, which you can check by seeing if it can connect to the Xbox Live service.
So I had just upgraded my main PC and installed Windows 8 plus the limited-time free Windows Media Center that you can get for it. This new PC also replaces the former computer (which was running Windows 7) in streaming Windows Media Center shows to my Windows Media Center Extenders (a pair of Xbox 360's). I ran into a problem though. When I went to browse my recorded shows, I saw a listing of shows across the screen in a film-strip like manner using large icons/thumbnails of the videos. See the screen shot below:|
When I was using Windows 7 Media Center, I remember having the same issue with both on the PC itself and the extenders. I had adjusted it where it was showing small icons instead of these large thumbnails. A smaller icon listing definitely was a much better way to browse the recording especially if you have a decent number of shows.
I searched around on Bing and Google but just couldn't find any solution, quick-hit or other wise. I looked all over the settings but didn't see any option the change how toe reduce the display of the big icons.
Then I RIGHT-clicked with my mouse on the Recorded TV screen, and yes- the option showed up to "View List".
This is so much better and less time consuming to find the show you want to watch at the moment. See the screen shot below:
But then there's the issue of how to do this on the Media Center Extender- specifically the Xbox 360. Obviously there's no right-click. So I played around with the buttons, and it turns out the blue X button does it.
Hopefully this helps anyone else out there running Windows 8 Media Center or Windows 7 MC and are looking to do the same thing!
Windows 8 is out, and since it's been about 4 years since I've built my main desktop PC (Core 2 Quad Q6600, 8 GB RAM), I figured it's time to upgrade and get a clean start with Windows 8. After doing some research, I found that you can build a very powerful system, Windows 8 Pro included, for less than $1000. Here are the components I ended up with and their cost and my rationale for picking them. This is a computer workstation that I plan on using for 2013 and well beyond for many years.|
1)Processor/CPU: Intel Core i7-3770 or Intel Core i7-3770K
The i7-3770 is a take-no-prisoner, no-compromise CPU. Fitted with 4 cores with 8 logical threads, the "Ivy-Bridge" chip will run advantage of games and multi-threaded and single-threaded applications extremely quickly. I also considered the AMD FX-8350 which has 8 physical cores, but benchmarks show that the i7-3770 completely outclasses the FX-8350 by an average of 15% to 30% in most tests. And when it comes to power usage, I was extremely impressed with the 22 nm i7-3770 to around 100 watts in a typical system total versus the 150+ watts by a similarly equipped system running the 32nm FX-8350.
The i7-3770K actually could be a better choice as it runs 100 MHz higher than the i7-3770, but it does lack some business oriented features such as vPro, VT-d, TXT, and SIPP.
2)Motherboard: Asrock Z77 Pro4 Intel Z77 LGA 1155
I didn't want to stretch the budget but yet wanted a Z77 motherboard with solid features, and decided upon the Asrock Z77 Pro4. It has 4 SATA3 ports (2 by Intel, 2 courtesy of ASMedia ASM1061), 2 front USB3 + 2 back panel USB3, along with an optical SPDIF connector that the cheapest Z77 boards don't offer. You also get the regular VGA connector, as well as a DVI + an HDMI out. The Asrock manual states that you can dual monitor. If you want to do NVDIA SLI, however, the Asrock Z77 Pro4 will not work for you, but it will work fine in an AMD Crossfire configuration, despite one of the PCIe 16 slots running at x4 speed. I already own a AMD Radeon 6950, so this board will work just fine for my purposes, and I don't plan on doing any crossfire.
Another pro (pun intended) for the Asrock Z77 Pro4 is that it uses less power than the competition in the same class and versus the higher end motherboards. I do leave my PC on most of the time, so this was another positive for going with the Pro4.
3)Memory: 32 GB GSkill Sniper F3-1600C9D DDR-3 SDRAM (4 X 8GB Sticks)
The Z77 motherboard supports 32 gigs of memory, so why not max it out? With memory costs so low nowadays, two of these 16 gig kits will only cost around $140. The 32GB of physical memory will give you plenty of RAM to run virtual machines. This is especially important in Windows 8 since there are legacy apps that used to work with Windows XP and Windows 7 that no longer work with Windows 8. For instance Microsoft Office Accounting 2009 was listed as incompatible with Windows 8 when I ran the Windows 8 Upgrade Assistant.
You should also allocate some of that extra memory in the form of a RAM Drive/RAM Disk for Windows. This will allow you to reduce the amount of writes/wear on the SSD as you can allocate Internet Explorer/Chrome/Firefox cache files to the RAM drive, as well as the system pagefile/temporary files. Asrock actually includes a Ram disk feature that can be activated via the AXTU (ASrock Extreme Tuning Utility) tool, but I opted for RAMDisk by Dataram since it is much more configurable. RAMDisk by Dataram is FREE though you are limited to 4GB. I've also used it before in Windows 7 and it was rock solid.
The GSkill Sniper F3-1600C9D supports XMP and the Asrock Z77 Pro4 automatically configured it at the proper DDR3-1600 speed running at CL9-9-9-24 and 1.5V.
4)Storage: 2x Samsung 830 128GB SSD
I've been waiting for word that Intel will support TRIM for SSD drives in RAID 0 configuration, and they added that support in their latest Intel Rapid Storage Technology software as of September, 2012. The Samsung 830 series of SSDs have garnered high acclaim ever since its debut with lightining quick synthetic and real-world test results. Pairing the Samsung 830 SSDS in RAID makes a heck of a Windows 8 boot drive and for applications/games. Another plus? You can often get one of the Samsung 830 SSDs for $80 or even less for the 128GB version. It seems that Samsung has been cutting prices on the 830 as their new 840 series of SSDs are now on sale.
5)Case/Chasis: Rosewill Challenger USB 3 Mid-Tower
After looking at numerous reviews for cases, I decided upon on the budget-friendly but yet acclaimed Rosewill Challenger USB 3 Mid-Tower. It's a great value- comes with 3 120mm fans, tool-less drive installations, and cable management features. You can often get this case for $40 shipped via Newegg.com promotions.
6)CPU Cooler: COOLER MASTER Hyper 212 Plus
The Cooler Master Hyper 212+ is a great, proven CPU cooler. Even though I'm not going to be doing much if any overclocking, the $30 cooler is a great value. The stock Intel cooler can serve as a backup just in case. Sometimes you can even get the 212+ for $20 after rebate.
The Hyper 212 is HUGE, however. I did have to move the cooler fan up a bit on my Asrock Z77 Pro4/Gskill Sniper setup in order for the fan to not be touching the memory and yet fit snugly onto the heatsink. You could avoid this minor issue if you are just running 2 memory modules, and leave the 2 banks closest to the CPU empty.
7)Power Supply: Antec EA-650 650W Earth Watts Power Supply
The 650 Watt power supply is a bit of an overkill I must admit, especially since the i7-3770 sips relatively low amount of watts. But the 80+, high quality power supply was on sale, so that was what I went with. I have had great experience with Antec EarthWatt power supplies (i.e. no problem whatsoever). A 450 Watt or a 520 Watt Antec Earthwatts would be my recommendation if you wanted to save some money.
8)Operating System: Windows 8 Pro
I've used Windows 8 Pro for a week now and while it's different and takes a bit to get used to, it certainly offers exciting new possibilities with support for Windows Store Apps. Main thing to get comfortable with it on a traditional PC is to use the hotkeys. Right now until end of January 2013, you can get the Windows 8 Pro upgrade for $40. Windows Media Center can be had for free too for a limited time.
The total here for the New Windows 8 Power user i7-3770 computer came out to be $850. You probably want to add at least one traditional hard drive to the system to hold more data such as your photos, and to backup your boot drive. And if you are a gamer, you want to go for at least one of the AMD Radeon 7850/7890 cards or the NVIDIA GTX650Ti.
I had recently upgraded my Internet speed from Time Warner Cable from the regular 10 megabit down and one megabit up to the Turbo version, which was 20 Mbps down and 2 Mbps up. The problem was that I wasn't getting the speed increase. I was still stuck at around 6 Mbps down and 0.3 Mbps (yes- 0.3) up.|
The Time Warner tech came and did two things to fix the problem. He detected a lot of "upstream" noise which he eliminated, and he also replaced my ancient Webstar cable modem to the Ambit U10C018. I connected a laptop running Windows 7 on it directly via Ethernet to the cable modem, and the speed test showed pretty much 20 down and 2 up. Now we're talking, so I thought.
After the tech left, I plugged the Ethernet cable from the Ambit U10C018 cable modem to my router which is running Tomato (great router firmware, BTW). Then, on my Windows 7 desktop PC, I ran the Time Warner speed test via:
And got this:
WTH? My instinct was that my Tomato router is limiting the bandwidth to 10 Mbps to or something. So I went into the Tomato settings and changed the WAN Port Speed to "100Mb Full" from "Auto", just in case somehow the auto setting was keeping the wan port at 10 Mbps:
Incidentally, my router has a gigabit WAN port, but Tomato doesn't seem to support it.
I ran the test again after the settings change, but the speed was the same- stuck at 10 or 9 Mbps down. I plugged the laptop into the router and bam- it was 20/2 there. So I thought maybe it's something with the Realtek gigabit Ethernet on my desktop PC, but after tweaking some of its settings there was still no improvement. I was about to change out the Ethernet cable connecting my desktop to the router, when I thought- let me try the speedtest on Chrome and Opera. I had been running the speed tests in Firefox. Low and behold- that was it. Here was one of the results I got from the Opera browser:
Now I don't know why in Firefox on my Desktop PC I was getting the reduced speed results, but it probably is due to one of the plugins/add-ons being the culprit, because on my laptop I also did the test in Firefox and it showed the proper speeds.
So yeah just just a word of advice for you guys testing out the speed of your Internet- try the test with a different browser if you the benchmark is showing a much slower speed than you are supposed to be getting. This is especially applicable to those of you who have upgraded your broadband speeds or have Verizon FiOS. It's a quick check before you start looking into other causes to find out why things are not as fast as it should be....
- LG 42" 42PN4500 720p 600Hz Plasma HDTV -> for $399.99 only with free shipping.
- Memorial Day Sale. Dell Inspiron 15R Laptop with Third Generation Intel Core i5 processor, 8GB RAM, + 1TB hard drive -> for $549.99 only with free
- Memorial Day Sale. Dell Inspiron 15R Touch Laptop after Third Generation Intel Core i5, Touch Display, 8GB RAM, + 1TB hard drive -> for $649.99
proceeding complimentary shipping. Coupon
- Note : $299 laptop.
- Note: Touch laptop under $500.
- Note: Memorial Day Sale
- Note : Bigger screen, better processor, more memory + hard drive.
- Get peak performance for your PC by speeding up + cleaning up your system.
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