30 Apr 2009

slight problem

After benching yesterday and looking again at it today, it seems my power supply situation is a bit wank.

I have 3 power supplies being used atm:

550W: 1 6-pin, 4 molex
700W: 0 6-pin, 4 molex on one rail, 4 SATA on another rail
800W: 2 6-pin, 2 8-pin, lots of molex and SATA

The plan was:

HAL: 800W w/GTX280
Dutchie: 700W w/2x4850
HK: 550W w/4670 and HDDs

But during benching, because the 700W hasn't got many connectors and the 4850s require a 6-pin each, running them both off one 22A rail was a bit futile.

As a such I'm going to have to have this set up:

HAL: 550W (should be OK with the 280)
Dutchie: 800W (due to the connectors and rails)
HK: 700W (enough molex/SATA to keep it happy)

Annoying thing is that I had HAL and HK all done up nice cable wise. Now I have to take them apart :( Might leave it til the weekend - I'm annoyingly tired right now.

29 Apr 2009

dutchie is all go go go

As I write, Dutchie is up and running, and installing Windows XP. Installation was fairly straight forward - CPU fit nicely, cleaned the CPU and cooler with some Akasa citrus CPU cleaner, added some Arctic Silver 5 thermal paste. The AS5 didn't want to spread evenly, so I did the best I could. What amazed me is that the Zalman CPU Cooler didn't fully go over the CPU - I was expecting it to.

It's currently got a stick of HALs PC8500 in there, and running off my WD Raptor. Why? Well before I set it up for BOINC, we have benchmarks to do! To start, all the 2D benchmarks. Then I'll have a look at some 3D ones with the 4850s in crossfire, if it'll play ball. Watch this space :)


Spent a good 6/7 hours last night rearranging my PCs for the arrival/building of Dutchie - just general maintenance, cable tidying and seeing if I can get any more performance out of HAL.

So now HK is in the ThermalTake Armour, with 6 HDDs and a HD4670, and plugged into the 32 inch TV via HDMI. This was the plan for HK, so all I ever need to upgrade on that side would be replacing the HDDs with larger ones as and when the need arises.

HAL on the bench with powerful fans beside it didn't want to overclock any more. I did however manage to get the RAM timings down from 5-5-6-18 to 5-4-4-6... which seems a little wierd. The mobo wont let me reduce the first timing from 5 to 4, oddly enough. I also used this 'out of case' time to try and bench the 2x4850 in Crossfire setup, but for some reason it wouldn't see the CF setup. Boo.

I also had issues with the GTX280 in it - the MSI Platinum PowerUp motherboard had a big plastic housing just behind the first PCI-E slot, which was blocking the GFX card from going in completely. I took a pair of pliers to it and trimmed it down 4-5mm or so, giving enough room to put it in properly.

So now HAL is in HKs old case, a Verre V770 (this isn't mine, just generic picture):

I'm really wanting this Core i7 stuff, so I've offered HAL up for sale to a few people who I know need new PCs.

28 Apr 2009

more upgrades on the horizon

I was thinking of getting an E8600 system, with a Foxconn Blackops motherboard, for benchmarking. In retrospect, and contrary to this blog, I rarely upgrade my main system. HAL was built in the winter of 2006.

Thus, I've decided that a Core i7 system is what I should be aiming for. Thus the quest is on to find some decent prices.

Luckily today is a fun day for looking for prices, and this is what I've come up with:

CPU: Corei7 920 E0 (£200, friend runs an eBay shop)
Mobo: XFX X58 (£175 Dabs.com)
RAM: OCZ 3GB (3X1GB) DDR3 1600MHz/PC3-12800 (£45 ebuyer)
CPU Cooler: CoolIT Domino A.L.C (£75 eBuyer)

Total: £495

Also I'd want that CoolerMaster Storm Scout at some point, another £105.

Total: £600

I may need another PSU. Though I could use HALs.

That, and I'm looking at some SLC Solid-State hard drives. There's a nice 64GB one from Crucial at Overclockers for £143.

Yeah, I need some money.

26 Apr 2009

benchmark update

With this new RAM and 52.1% overclock, it was time to redo all the 2D tests for HWbot.


CPU: E6400 (2.13Ghz) @ 3.24Ghz
GFX: GTX280 (605/1107) @ 740/1300
RAM: 4GB DDR2 OCZ Gold (1066Mhz) @ 810Mhz 5-5-6-15
HDD: WD Raptor 150GB
Mobo: MSI Platinum PowerUp!
Drivers: Forceware 182.50

CPUz: 3247Mhz
PiFast: 30.03s
SuperPi 1m: 17.829s
SuperPi 32m: 16m 18.125s
wPrime 32m: 25.468s
wPrime 1024m: 13m 43.25s
PCMark 05(w/GTX280 @ 740/1300): 9160

When it comes time to bench the 2x4850 setup, I will probably redo the PCMark05. Even though the E6400 is a popular chip, I managed to get into the HWBot points for the PCMark05 score.

I've also joined the BenchTecUK forums (the team I joined on HWBot), and they have a few legal tweaks I can use to get these benchmarks higher. When it comes round to producing graphs, I'll put the updated scores on them :)

xfx gtx280

In this post I'll be showing you the XFX GTX280 graphics card, and my annoying installation of it =P Here it is, bundled with HALBERD in the Thermaltake Armour:

The box is big, though not as large as my Asus HD4850 boxes. Inside, the card is well protected, with its antistatic bag, and tons of foam padding:

This is a great display by XFX - knowing that Joe Postman may just have to violently brake, with your new graphics card in the back of the van. The graphic work on the card is a big display of green and black and has that 'I'm a powerful graphics card' feel.

The fan on the card is a novel design to me. I've never seen a fan like this before - but given the size of the card, some serious cooling would need to be in order:

From the following picture, we see the GTX280 requires 1x6pin and 1x8pin power supply:

The back of the graphics card is also incased with this green and black metallic monster casing, however we see some ventilation fins and a red PCB showing through:

The SLI connectors are protected by a rubber seal, which easily comes off allowing you to fit 4 in Quad-SLI if you have the appropriate motherboard and power supplies:

Just to demonstrate the sheer size of this card, here it is alongside a regular consumer graphics card, the HD4670. The GTX280 is 10.5 inches (26.64 cm) long, and I'm sure weighs the best part of 2lbs (0.8kg).

Installation into my case arose some problems. One, this card is huge, and takes over a little section of my SATA ports, thus I had to take out two SATA cables. Second, my case uses a novel screwless system for sticking the cards in:

This purple/green combination is great for single slot cards, and the 4850s, because the 4850s have a little notch between slot1 and slot2. However, the GTX280 has essentially a solid bit of metal, and I had to remove the screwless design to even fit it in:

As you can see, this card is longer than the standard ATX motherboard! Thus be forwarned if you have a small case. This card is heavy and bulky, but looks awesome:

You may think, especially with the 4670 size comparison, why a card should need such a powerful heatsink and cooler? Well now we come to the overclocking.

The standard speed of this card was 605Mhz core, 1107 Mhz memory, 1300Mhz on the shaders. Without too much hassle, I was able to push this using RivaTuner to 740Mhz/1300Mhz/1596Mhz, and now runs at 70°C on full pelt.

So how about the benchmarks?

The system used for this bench was essentially the now souped up HALBERD:

CPU: E6400 (2.13Ghz) @ 3.24Ghz
GFX: GTX280 (605/1107) @ 740/1300
RAM: 4GB DDR2 OCZ Gold (1066Mhz) @ 810Mhz 5-5-6-15
HDD: WD Raptor 150GB
Mobo: MSI Platinum PowerUp!
Drivers: Forceware 182.50

Aquamark 3d: 170979
3D Mark 01: 56390
3D Mark 03: 57485
3D Mark 05: 19729
3D Mark 06: 14593

What are benchmarks without a comparison? Well, most people at HWbot use an E8600 (3.33Ghz) chip to do their benchmarks, which I'd love to have. And the GTX280 is a relatively popular card. Thus I don't really feature highly on the tables. Yet, I'll compare my other graphics card setups to this, make some pretty graphs.

Overall though, it looks nice and feels solid, and overclocks well. However, for £340, and the fact that a pair of HD4850s in Crossfire would/should work better, you can't really justify the cost.

overclocking is fun

As part of Dutchie (the X2-5050e crunching machine) being built, I bought some DDR2-1066 RAM to put into HAL (the E6400), and then put the DDR2-800 in HAL into Dutchie. As a result, I was able to overclock HAL. A LOT.

Before, my overclock was from 2.13Ghz to 2.4Ghz - a modest 12.7% overclock. The FSB would not rise about 300Mhz, no matter what I did. It kept restarting, and I wasn't sure why. I assumed it was the limit of the E6400 chip.

However, when putting in this new RAM, I had another go at overclocking. First 2.5Ghz, then 2.6Ghz, then 2.7Ghz straight off the bat! No rise in voltage required. Then 2.8Ghz, 2.9Ghz, 3.0Ghz too. I thought this was too good to be true! At 3.1Ghz, I had to detune the RAM from 4:5 to 1:1, and at 3.2Ghz I upped the voltage of the CPU a little.

Now I'm running at 405FSB, *8 multiplier = 3.24Ghz, with a small voltage change, making a 52.1% overclock! RAM is on a 1:1 divider at 5-5-6-15 timings - the RAM is rated 2.1V 5-6-6-18 @ 1066Mhz, but the MSI motherboard wont let me set it to 18, thus it won't boot properly if I stick it on a 4:5 divider (making the RAM 405(FSB)*2(DDR2)*1.25(multiplier) = 1012.5Mhz). But 1:1 Divider, making it 810Mhz, is OK at the minute.

It means I've learnt a lesson - RAM does matter quite a lot when it comes to overclocking. Also, it helps to have a decent motherboard. HAL's isn't the best.

I was also able to keep track of wPrime 32m and 1024m times as I overclocked the E6400:

A fairly linear progression over my overclock.

It also means I'm going to reclock all my PCI-E graphics cards. There was a couple of I hadn't posted yet - I'll probably post them all at once in uber Excel graphs.

24 Apr 2009

future purchases update

Given my recent splurge, my list from last week goes out the window. Specifically the RAM and the CPU/mobo sections. And my decision to get a different case, well that too.

I've also started to think about my next crunching system. Ideally, it'll be roughly the same for cheaper, or slightly better for the same money (as stuff gets cheaper), but still do the same job. That, and if I can find hardware to benchmark at hwbot.org, even better. Hence, when looking today, I found the stuff I want:

2nd Crunching PC
CPU: AMD 64 X2-4850e (2.5Ghz) (£48)
Mobo: AsRock ALiveXFire-eSata2 (£50)
RAM: 2GB DDR2-800 (£20)
GFX: Depends on the current market prices in £ per credit/day at BOINC.
PSU: 800W (for two dual GPU cards) or 600W (got two single GPUs) (£45)
Case: CM Elite 355 (£35)
HDD: 80GB is more than enough (£0, I have some)
CPU Cooler: Zalman Flower (£20)

That makes £218, without any GFX cards (another £220 for 2x4850).

Actually, this puts my future upgrades in a good order:

1) CoolerMaster Storm 'Scout' (£103)
Initially, this will be HALBERDs home, before I upgrade HAL. HK will move to the ThermalTake Armour.
2) 1.5TB HDD for Storage (£117)
Put it in HK, because I'm running out.
3/4) Look into HAL upgrades. I'm eyeing some E8600 chip with the Foxconn BlackOps motherboard, but that's £400 even without RAM or a PowerSupply. Then another £75 for the CoolIt ALC water thing, which I may buy as no.3 or even no.2.
5) The next crunching machine (min £450)

Fun fun fun times. Now where's my moolah.

23 Apr 2009

case change

For a while, I've wanted the Antec 1200 case - it's big, brash, lots of space, looks neat, and is considered one of the best cases of all time for air cooling. It looks like this:

I love the blue (and UV-purple style here) and the styling. Again, the case is massive. You can see the comparison with the Thermaltake Armour (my current HALBERD case, soon to be my HarukaKanata case) here.

However, in retrospect, I'm not getting a gaming case for the size. Mainly the cooling. I saw this case being advertised at overclockers this week:

The CoolerMaster Storm 'Scout'

This case is designed for portability and ruggedness, with plenty of fans. It's marketed as a mid-tower case (the Antec 1200 is a 'full'-tower case), and has that handle on the top so you can chug it around to LANs easier.

That being said, I haven't been to a LAN yet in Oxford. But this case is £40 cheaper than the Antec. Pair that with the CoolIt ALC I posted on previously, it's either £175 for the Antec and a cooler, or £175 for the CM Scout and the CoolIt. And because it'd have the CoolIt, the air cooling isn't that important (though the Scout still has good cooling).

So I've changed my mind. I want this Scout case :)

boinc update

I just hit 2 million total BOINC cobblestones today :)

That's just under 1 million this month alone :)

22 Apr 2009

the splurge

All bets are off. Or more precisely, my 6-8 month plan I wrote a couple of posts ago is out the window. Why? Well I've had a very lucky week.

  • It started with acquiring a GTX 280. For free. Thanks to the nVidia CUDA initiative, my facebook status, a friend with a supervisor at Ox Uni with CUDA funding and a few emails, I've been given one to learn CUDA for my own research. It's a beast in size, and I'll be BOINCing on it in the downtime as I learn. I'll post pictures of the installation and size soon.
  • Twice this week already I've wandered up to cross at traffic lights, that usually take ages to let me cross, they've just turned as I walk up.
  • I remembered I had ~£100 in my Paypal account from selling some Xbox360 stuff a couple of months back. Also my finances for the quarter are looking exceptional.
  • Overclockers are having a sale.
  • Some other good things I'm not going to go into here ;)

A culmination of this led me to rethink my PC strategy. For one, I don't necessarily need my brothers computer, JC, running with a 4850 in it. Thus I can return it to an original state without a PSU and use the PSU in it for a new crunching machine.

As for the Overclockers sale, my crunching motherboard I want has dropped £5 in price. Some half-decent 4GB DDR2-1066Mhz RAM is £12 reduced. They're doing a half decent case for £30 (the Antec 300 planned is £50). A Zalman cooler is £17.50. That and the processor I want to use (the X2-5050e) is at eBuyer, which accepts PayPal.

So today I ordered from Overclockers:

Asrock ALiveXFire-eSATA2 (Socket AM2)
OCZ Gold Edition 4GB (2x2GB) DDR2 PC2-8500C5
Coolermaster Elite 335 Case - Black (No PSU)
Zalman CNPS7000C-ALCU CPU Cooler
Akasa AK-TC TIM Clean CPU & Heatsink Cleaner

And from eBuyer:

AMD Athlon X2 5050e Socket AM2 45W Energy Efficient
Arctic Silver 5 High-Density Silver Thermal Compound

I needed some more AS5/cleaner. My old stuff from my last build is a few years old now, so has probably separated. Better safe than sorry.

This also allows me to turn HarukaKanata into its purpose - as network storage, albeit not in the intended case.

The new machine will be thus:

CPU: AMD X2-5050e (2.6Ghz), rated at 45W
GFX: 2x HD 4850
Mobo: Asrock ALiveXFire-eSATA2 (AM2)
PSU: The 700W one I currently have in HK
RAM: 2GB DDR2-800Mhz
Case: Coolermaster Elite 335
HDD: I have some spare 80GB around
CPU Cooler: Zalman CNPS7000C-ALCU

(The RAM is the stuff I have in HALBERD - HAL will get the 4GB from this order.)

This PC will be called 'Dutchie'. The reasoning behind this name is that the processor is a 5050e, which in this modern dating age, 'Going Dutch' means splitting your bill with your date 50/50. (I always pay the bill, because I'm like that)

21 Apr 2009

coolit domino alc

I was surfing Hexus.net, and they have a new competition up - for a CoolIt Domino A.L.C. This is an all in one water cooling unit for your PC:

Simply bolt on, place the radiator in the 120mm fan slot near your CPU, and it's done. Water cooling solution that you don't have to mess with. It's available in AM2/775/1366 forms.

I read a review at LegitReviews to see if this was 'all that', and they believe so. At an expected lifetime of 7 years (thanks to a ceramic pump) and a warranty of two, this beast need not be refilled in its life.

As with all electronics, the UK pays a premium on this sort of thing. The target was the $100 market. In the UK, this means £75 from eBuyre (remember when it was a 2:1 exchange rate so it should have been £50?). Now if you think about it, most high end builds use a form of Zalman cooler or its nearest rivals. These come in at £40-£50, so this is a 50% jump for what is water cooling, and potentially another 200-300Mhz on your overclock.

I think it sounds neat, though I guess I'll wait until I upgrade HALBERD before getting one.

19 Apr 2009

benchmark update

So this time, the Radeon X800XL takes a spin in HALBERD. Stock, the X800XL runs at 400/490 - my card was old, so only a 405/522 overclock was possible using ATiTool. I was hoping for more.

The system:

CPU: Intel Core2Duo E6400 (2.13Ghz) @ 2.448 Ghz
GFX: ATi Radeon X800XL (400/490) @ 405/522
WD Raptor, 2GB Ram @ 5-5-5-13 382.5*2


83286 on Aquamark (22nd)
26976 on 3D Mark 01 (49th)
12845 on 3D Mark 03 (30th)
5956 on 3D Mark 05 (35th)
2064 on 3D Mark 06 (24th)

Next is my old X1900XT - one of the hottest cards ever made (the fan never went full til 100 degrees C). I replaced it mainly as it was conking out at stock speeds :S I'll remove some dust, and see what that does.

15 Apr 2009

order of new purchases

After outlining my ideal gaming/storage/crunching systems, I figured out my next course of action of what to buy in order. It goes a little something like this:

1) £130 Antec 1200 case. I've been after one a while, and apart from get another graphics card, there's not a lot else I can do otherwise. With this, I can put HALBERD (my E6400) in it, then put HarukaKanata(HK) into the Thermaltake Armour that HALBERD was in. Then I can rearrage HK into a purely storage system with a 4670 and all the Hard Drives - The 4850s can be split between HAL and JC until MilkyWay gets solid work, then I can put both into HAL. It has 4 SATA ports and IDE ports for 4 drives. Stick the 550W Hiper PSU currently in JC in there and away we go! This also leaves the case HK was in for a potential crunching system.

2) £45 4GB DDR2 RAM. The PC8500 stuff is quite cheap now, and I'll stick this in HALBERD. This leaves me with 2GB DDR2, which I may be able to put towards a new machine I may be building for my father, or a crunching machine.

3) £120 X2-5050e/ASRock motherboard/Zalman cooler. This will be my first crunching system. I already have the case (old HK case) and RAM. I have plenty of HDDs lying around, and a 700W PSU to put in it. Both 4850s will end up in this one for crunching.

4) £120/£260 New GFX Card - 4850 or 4850X2 If it's an X2, I can stick it into crunch and use a 4850 in HAL for gaming. This is all a question of what money I've got, how much they cost, and when I want to splurge.

5) £120 Another HDD for HK Given that I've already filled 1.5TB, another wont go amiss.

6) At this point, it might be 8-12 months from where I am now, so the CPU climate would have changed completely. At this point, it'd probably be best to re-evaluate possible upgrades to HAL.

the effect of dust removal

So I was playing around with my 'unknown P4 network storage' PC last night. Turned out I called it NETBOX, and hasn't been turned on since Nov 08-ish. Go figure.

NETBOX is a P4 Northwood (3.0Ghz), and on idle it was running about 80ºC. A tad too hot. So I turned the machine off, removed the power cable, and took some cotton buds/Q-tips to the stock Intel cooler. They removed more dust bunnies than you can shake a stick at. I even blasted it a while with my Delta fan, which pushes air at ~200 cubic feet per minute, to get rid of the dust.

After dust removal, the CPU was a nice and happy 58ºC idle. Fantastic.

Some basic and quick overclocking resulted in stable at 3.52Ghz, somewhat stable at 3.6Ghz (enough for PiFast and SuperPi 1M), and a bit picky at 3.7Ghz. The RAM is 0.5GB of the generic DDR, unwilling to be pushed over 400MHz or above 250FSB. Most of the benchies I'll do at 3.52Ghz then.

The Graphics card in it is indeed a Radeon 9800, though with its tendency to overheat (even with the delta fan on it), I doubt it'll get through the tests :S

14 Apr 2009

pcs of interest

Over the past weeks, I've been trying to figure out what my ideal PCs are. Broadly speaking, they fall into the following categories:

Network Storage

So it's always a question of what hardware to get for each, and you know, how much of my stipend I have left.

Here's what I'm looking at (with two choices - the normal then expensive):

Gaming - Purpose of the gaming rig is to get the most from games, not a lot else.
CPU: E8400 (a 3Ghz C2D) or i7 920 (2.6Ghz Nehalem)
GFX: 2x 4850 or 2x GTX285
Motherboard: Foxconn Black Ops (3xPCI-E) or Gigabyte EX58
PSU: 850W or 1000W
HDD: WD Raptor or SSD
Case: Antec 1200
CPU Cooler: Asus Silent Knight II or Zalman Flower thing

I saw a review of 3 vs 6GB, no difference really except in multitasking, hence the 3GB.

What about the price of this thing?
Well, the lower price option is 140+240+160+60+55+150+150+50 = £1005
The higher price option is 250+620+160+120+55+250+150+50 = £1655

Technically I have the Raptor, 4850s, and an 850W PSU already, taking £450 off the lower price option. Though I do have a dual PCI-E board already, if I went for the Foxconn BlackOps, I could get another 4850. So I either take 160 off and keep my board (also take off 55 for the RAM, add 32 for another 2GB of my current stuff), or add 120 on for another GFX card. That makes £183 off or £120 on, making £372 or £675, depending on how you look at it.

Network Storage - purpose is to have lots of storage, maybe a good multi-threaded processor for decoding/encoding video. A good graphics card would work too. Technically I have most of this build already.

CPU: Dual/Quad/Octo core
GFX: Something with HDMI - HD 4670?
Motherboard: Single PCI-E is fine
PSU: 550W
HDD: 6TB+. Preferably RAIDed
Case: Something that could hold lots of HDDs. A Themaltake Armour for instance.
CPU Cooler: Zalman Flower.

Well, HarukaKanata is an X2-4400 with Zalman cooler and Asus A8N-E. I have a 550W PSU, a ThermalTake Armour and a HD 4670. Technically I'd just need to move it into the case HALBERD is in, get some more RAM and some HDDs.

Thus £25 for the RAM (or just add in the RAM from HALBERD if that gets upgraded), and £120 per 1.5TB HDD. I already have one, and can add more at will. So this option is cheap :)

Crunching - The purpose of this is just to BOINC away. I've been looking at some Quad-PCI-E boards, but given how much power GFX cards use, and the price of power supplies, it's probably best to stick to Dual-PCI-E boards. Again, let's consider a low and high spec machine.

CPU: Dual Core (AMD or Intel), or Quad Core+, preferably Intel, all preferably low power.
GFX: 2x4850/2x4870, or 2x4870X2/2xGTX295
Motherboard: Dual PCI-E board
PSU: 650W or 850W (w/Dual Core) or 950W with Quad
Case: Good ventilation. Antec 300?
CPU Cooler: Zalman Flower

So the main difference in the two builds would be the processor and graphics cards, along with the Power Supply (which are more expensive than you think).

So Processor Mobo combinations:
X2-5050e (2.6Ghz) 45W AM2 £53 + Asrock ALiveXFire £43 = £96
Intel Q6600 (2.4Ghz) 95W s775 £152 + A few mobos ~£100 = £252

GFX cards and PSUs also go hand in hand - a 4850 uses around 175-200W each, the X2 or GTX295 can use 300W each. So 4850s need 650W to be safe, the others should like 850W.

So lower cost option = 53+240/300(2x4850/2x4870)+43+55+25+25+50+50 = £541/£601
Higher cost option = 152+660/830(2x4870X2/2xGTX295)+100+80+25+25+50+50 = £1142/£1312

The lower cost build minus the GFX cards is 53+43+55+25+25+50+50 = £301, which is quite reasonable imo.

boinc update

I made 42,347 today, now at 1.6m:

Still chugging away at MilkyWay. Also trying to get up to 80% on all my projects - currently WCG is getting some credits. Also QMC is - trying to boost that up to 100K.

For the benchmarking, I moved the 4850 ATi card that was chugging on MW into JC, my brothers AMD 3000+ PC. Maybe there the overall power usage will be lower, but as it's only single core, it'll only pull 6 work units at a time, meaning it could be out of work more. Fingers crossed the longer work unit part of MilkyWay will be up soon!

benchmark update

Spent this evening benchmarking my brothers old ATi X550 256mb in my E6400 (2.13Ghz) @ 2.408Ghz. I was able to boost the FSB on the E6400 by 5 after the 3D Mark 05 test, but it made no difference to the previous tests.

The X550 overclocked quite well on air - from 450/277 to 480/342, using ATi Tool auto-tune settings.

The system:

CPU: Intel Core2Duo E6400 (2.13Ghz) @ 2.448 Ghz
GFX: ATi X550 256mb (450/277) @ 480/432
WD Raptor, 2GB Ram @ 5-5-5-13 382.5*2


35108 on Aquamark (6th)
16470 on 3D Mark 01 (17th)
4527 on 3D Mark 03 (8th)
2330 on 3D Mark 05 (7th)
641 on 3D Mark 06 (5th )

Tomorrow, I intend to work on the X800XL I have. Initial findings show it doesn't overclock well.

Check out my HWBot.org profile.

13 Apr 2009

benchmark update

I had some time on a couple of computers in the lab - the a Pentium 4 3.4Ghz Prescott (which I thought sold millions, but looks like not that version), and a Cedar Mill core - aka Pentium 4 631, which did sell loads.

The Cedar Mill core did nothing spectacular:

78.06 s on PiFast
46.72 s on 1M SuperPi

There's a good reason for this. The Cedar Mill chips were awesome overclockers - one person even got it up to 8Ghz! So I wont get anything for those submissions.

The 3.4Ghz Prescott netted me these results:

38.82 s on 1M SuperPi - 6th best on hwbot.org for this chip
65.06 s on PiFast - Numero Uno on hwbot.org for this chip

There is a reason I only did SuperPi and PiFast - on these machines, I don't have admin rights, so CPU-Z doesn't function properly. This means I can't submit a CPU-Z and wPrime doesn't work (cos it uses CPU-Z), or do any graphical benchmarks. I tried SuperPi 32m on the Prescott, but it kept failing. Didn't have time to run it on the Cedar Mill, but it probably wouldn't get anywhere in the tables!


You may have noticed that HALBERD is Crossfire compatible, but I've stuck only one 4850 in it, and the other 4850 into HarukaKanata. This makes sense in two circumstances - both are being used for games, or I'm using BOINC.

What is BOINC? It's a program which allows you to help scientists around the world with computational problems.

The project I'm helping with at the minute is MilkyWay@Home, as it uses ATI clients as well as CPU clients. However, work is distributed to a max of 6 'work units' per CPU core in each machine. Each work unit takes 30 seconds on a 4850 (compared to 15 minutes on the Q6600), and it's sporadic to get work, so by seperating out the GFX cards I can do more work.

They are working on a sub-project so the ATI cards can do longer work units (up to 8 hours each), and when that happens I'll consolidate both 4850s into HarukaKanata.

So, what is MilkyWay@Home? Well the project is developing an accurate 3D model of the Milky Way. They are focusing on strips of the sky, currently working on the Sagittarius cluster. Given the whole MilkyWay is a large place, there'll be lots of work to do!

From the website:
The goal of Milkyway@Home is to use the BOINC platform to harness volunteered computing resources in creating a highly accurate three dimensional model of the Milky Way galaxy using data gathered by the Sloan Digital Sky Survey. This project enables research in both astroinformatics and computer science.

In computer science, the project is investigating different optimization methods which are resilient to the fault-prone, heterogeneous and asynchronous nature of Internet computing; such as evolutionary and genetic algorithms, as well as asynchronous newton methods. While in astroinformatics, Milkyway@Home is generating highly accurate three dimensional models of the Sagittarius stream, which provides knowledge about how the Milky Way galaxy was formed and how tidal tails are created when galaxies merge.

How does a BOINC project get help from people like me? Because depending on how much work we do, we get credits for it. Credits are awarded on a system such that (from what I found), a Pentium III 800Mhz system will get 100 credits a day. I used to run a BOINC group called BOINC@Hull (from when I was in Hull university) for two years, and in that time and given that I had 11 computers, I made 800,000 credits (so 8000 days worth on a P3 8Ghz).

However, since then we now have dual and quad core computers (or 6x with the Dunnington core) that run at 2-3Ghz and compute 50-100 GFLOPs. Or take an ATI 4850, with 800 stream processors, that can run 800-1000 GFlops. So with that output, in the past month, I've already made 700k quite easily. In fact, a 4850 at full tilt all day can earn around 80k credits.

However, given the work situation at MilkyWay, currently that's around 20k. That is set to change with the new MilkyWay side project thing.

I currently 'crunch' for a team called The Clangers - a nice bunch of people. If you want to crunch, come join us and meet us on the forums! As a team, we have 14 million credits:

Our current push is on MilkyWay, however there have been other pushes before on Rosetta (protein folding) and SIMAP (protein matrix calculation).

Personally my score on MilkyWay is skyrocketing thanks to these 4850s:

This graph shows the last 60 days. Got my first card about 20 days in, and the second card around 20 days after. Time dictates I should get another?? =P I could stick it in JC. (The recent tail off is because of me benchmarking :) )

the benchmarking

I'm currently benchmarking all my systems and submitting results to hwbot.org - look at my profile.

I have the following graphics cards to play with:

2 x 4850
2 x 4670 (one almost new, one never used, trying to sell, £50 each)
1 x 1900XT
1 x 800XL
1 x 550SE

Radeon 9800
Whatever is in Dell 1
Some Rage thing I found on my shelf. Looks old.

The programs I use to benchmark:

SuperPi Mod 1.5 XS (1m and 32m tests)
wPrime95 (32m and 1024m tests)
3D Mark 01
3D Mark 03
3D Mark 05
3D Mark 06
PC Mark 05

So in order to get best out of each GFX card, I need to put into my best CPU system at it's best overclocked speed. So all the PCI-E cards will go into HALBERD, and I've yet to see which of the AGP systems (Dell 1 and P4 old crock) is the best.

the pcs

Currently, within my dominion, I have the following 'rigs' running:

CPU: Intel E6400 (2.13Ghz) @ 2.4Ghz
GFX: Asus HD 4850 (650/1000) @ 730/1110
RAM: OCZ Platinum, 2GB
Mobo: MSI Platinum PowerUp! Edition (Crossfire capable)
PSU: Hi-Power 800W
Case: ThermalTake Armour
Main HDD: Western Digital Raptor (10k RPM) 150GB
Storage HDD: Samsung 1.5TB, another 1TB dotted over 4 HDDs
CPU Cooler: Zalman 9500

CPU: AMD s939 X2-4400 (2.2Ghz) @ 2.53Ghz
GFX: Asus HD 4850 (650/1000) @ 680/1050
RAM: Generic 2GB with heat spreaders
Mobo: Asus A8N-E
PSU: Arctic Power 700W
Case: I forget
Main HDD: Generic 200GB
CPU Cooler: Zalman 9500

JC (my brothers machine, was broke)
CPU: AMD Athlon 3000+ (1.8Ghz) @ 2.16Ghz
GFX: Asus ATi Radeon X550 256MB
Mobo: Asus A8N-E
PSU: My old Hiper 550W
Case: X-Something
Main HDD: Generic 200GB
CPU Cooler: AMD Standard

Pictures will be up later.

I also have the following:

Undecipherable Dell: Dell 1
CPU: P4 2.8Ghz w/HT
- That's about all I've got so far. It wasn't working when my father dropped it off with me, now it does. Need to fiddle with it.

The old storage unit: P4 3Ghz crock
CPU: P4 3Ghz (maybe HT?)
GFX: Radeon 9800 Pro (because I read the sticker)
- I had this one running for a few months, just as somewhere to hold half my hard drives and still have access. I took it offline two weeks ago when I got HarukaKanata up and running. I still want to fiddle and benchmark this. The gfx card is iffy - when I first got it, I accidentally broke a capacitor trying to put a molex cable in it. The Grand-father fixed it so it works, but it really hates temperature.

Laptop 1
CPU: AMD Athlon XP-M 2400+ (1.8Ghz), runs at 100ºC
GFX: Radeon IGP 320M

Laptop 2
CPU: Pentium M 715 @ 1.5Ghz
GFX: Radeon 9000 Mobile

The Work Computer (i.e. the one I use at work and can't fiddle with)
CPU: Q6600 (2.4Ghz) @ 3 Ghz
GFX: 7300SE

welcome to borandi's pc exploits

Let's face it. PhD student, almost zero money, likes fiddling with computers and spending the stipend on hardware. So here's an almost blow by blow of what I'm looking at and doing.