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Analogue Super Nt - The Best Super Nintendo

Permalink - Posted on 2018-06-16 12:02

The Analogue Super Nt is the best Super Nintendo.

Hardware

The packaging and hardware on its own feel incredible: sturdy, has some weight to it and feels premium.

Super Nt Console

Super Nt Size Comparison

The console itself isn't much bigger than an american SNES cartridge

You can hook it up by using all the included things in the box: HDMI cable (that isn't generic, it's Analogue branded), USB charger and the Micro USB cable. The USB Charger supports 110-240 V input, but it has a US/JP plug so it doesn't fit here in Europe. I just used a 5V 2.4A USB Charger I had lying around and it works great (The Super Nt wants 5V 2.0A).

Of course you also need a controller. I went with an official PAL SNES controller that I've been using for a long time now. You can also use 8bitdo's retro controllers but I have mixed experiences with those so I didn't (my SNES Retro Receiver broke within a week of getting it and the controller does accidental diagnoals quite frequently.)

It's the inside that counts.

It cannot be overstated that I am a huge kevtris fanboy. This man seems incredible with his knowledge on Nintendo hardware and FPGA's and everything in between.

And it shows, because when I am playing games on the Super Nt it doesn't feel like I am playing a clone console or an emulator. It feels like I am playing a HDMI-equipped Super Nintendo: no input lag, super crisp video and super crisp audio.

Settings

I've configured mine to automatically boot the inserted cartridge, instead of going to the Super Nt menu. As far as other settings go, I use the settings outlined by the infamous FirebrandX here: Super Nt Settings for the Obsessive Compulsive.

Earthbound at 5X ALTTP at 5x SMW at 5x

Controversially, for a speedrunner, I actually run it in the Zero Delay buffer mode. What does this mean? Well, an original SNES runs at around 60.09 Hz, which is 0.09 Hz too much for the HDMI spec. The Zero Delay mode fixes this by running slower, at 60.00 Hz which fits the HDMI specification. This means that you will lose like a second every 10 minutes or something miniscule like that. To me, that's absolutely fine. You can run the Super Nt in the original speed of 60.09 Hz but then you either get tearing or a frame of input lag, which I actually was planning to do but then I realized I couldn't tell a difference between 60.00 and 60.09 Hz so I've stuck with the Zero Delay (60.00 Hz) mode.

Another fun feature the Super Nt has is that you can make the power LED the same color as the center pixel of the screen. I tried this and it was pretty fun, especially with the Earthbound Giygas fight.

4x vs 5x Scaling

(This isn't really a Super Nt issue, as I dealt with the same headache with my Framemeister, but I haven't really brought it up before so I figured I'd do it now.)

I haven't decided if I wanna run in 4x or 5x mode because both has it's drawbacks and in both cases they are disturbing.

In 4x, you can see the whole game, but you get huge black borders all around the game screen.

In 5x the game covers up the whole screen (apart from the sides, because we're not stretching to 16:9 here) but a little part of the top and bottom of the screen gets cropped out. Some will liken the cropping to playing on a CRT, which is a fair argument.

Why is this? Well, it's simple math. The SNES outputs 240p.

240 * 3 = 720 (would be good for 720p)
240 * 4 = 960 (doesn't fill the height of 1080p)
240 * 5 = 1200 (is taller than 1080p)

In Super Castlevania IV it's really noticable that 5x crops out part of the game:

SCIV at 4x

Castlevania 4 at 4x scaling

SCIV at 5x

Castlevania 4 at 5x scaling. Note that the top of the item box is cropped out.

But in Earthbound, it's not very noticable that anything is cropped:

EB at 4x

Earthbound at 4x

EB at 5x

Earthbound at 5x. Nothing noticable is cropped out.

But there is a third option to! 4.5x! And it's the default option of the Super Nt!

240 * 4.5 = 1080 (perfect for 1080p!!)

But this will make the image kind of weird, you see, because pixels will vary in height. They won't be uniform. Some pixels will be taller than others. It's conceptually disturbing.

Can you tell a difference while playing? I can.

Will you? I don't know.

If you can't, then congratulations, you can fill out your whole 1080p screen without missing any of the game.

You can read this RetroRGB section to read more about this, and why integer scaling should be prefered.

Ultimately, I run it in both 4x and 5x modes and I change between them frequently. It's very easy to do on the Super Nt. 4x is probably better, objectively.

Accuracy?

There is one thing I can complain about, which is my only complaint I think: the auto-region patching feature of the SD2SNES does not work. Apparently kevtris wants to fix it, but in the meantime I have to manually open the Super Nt menu and change region to PAL in order to play Terranigma. Which isn't a huge deal because it's not very often I play that game nowadays. But since the region patching works on a real Super Nintendo, and the Super Nt claims to be super accurate, I think it should've been fixed already.

Other than that, I haven't noticed anything different from my official SNES console.

Conclusion

Overall, I really, really, really like the Super Nt. It's just a neat piece of hardware. And the video quality is noticably sharper to me, because there is no analog troll in the background. It's just digital.

It's also worth noting that you can "jailbreak" it and run ROMs from a SD card. I haven't done this though because I already have the SD2SNES which already does it. Note though that you cannot run special chip games from a SD card, as the special chips are nowhere to be found.

Is it worth getting a Super Nt? It's entirely up to you.

Objectively, for me, it probably wasn't. I play so little SNES and I already had a SNES JR/SNS-101 RGB modded that I ran through a Framemeister or OSSC, so most people would call me crazy for getting a Super Nt when I already have that setup.

But you know what? I think it was worth it. I find the video quality noticably better, because my OSSC could only run at 2x mode on my TV, and the Framemeister had weird colors and black levels. The Super Nt fixes both of that. And it's so nice not having to deal with upscalers and SCART cables.

The Super Nt is the first step in my process of converting more and more consoles to HDMI. I have a HiDef NES AV Famicom on the way (which is even crazier and more stupid because I only play NES like once or twice per year), and a UltraHDMI N64 kit pre-ordered.

I love the Super Nt... apart from that region patching thing but maybe that'll get fixed.

If you want more coverage on the Super Nt, check these out:


Game Beaten: Earthbound

Permalink - Posted on 2018-06-06 19:00

I started writing a long post on this game. Too long. I might go back and finish it and publish it later. Like in a few months or years. (Seriously, no guarantees I'll go back.)

There is a ton of stuff I want to eventually say about this game.

But for now all I can say is:

  • This game is incredible. It's just so crazy and original. A genre of it's own.
  • The inventory system and everything related to that sucks. I feel like half the time I spent playing the game was spent doing inventory.
  • The graphics are super cute and I like them a lot. They hold up very well today.
  • The battle backgrounds are amazing, and remind me of homebrew demos
  • The final battle is probably my favourite final battle of any game ever? It was quite amazing, and touching.
  • It is not my favourite game of all time. But at least top 20 probably. Favourite SNES game? Right now: sure! Later on: potentially.

Overall, a cult classic.

Oh, and getting Homesick is annoying, but super cute.

Here are some photos I took of my TV while playing Earthbound:

Cute Ness

I love Ness' little smile on his face

Grind Session

After I had grinded for the Sword of Kings for a while

Ending

Yeah my name is George Costanza. I wonder how many others have used this name? Seinfeld was very popular in 94/95 (the game wasn't though).

So this will have to do until I do my longer post about Earthbound. If I ever...


Yes, Mid 2014 retina Macbook Pro works with 3440x1440 @ 60 Hz

Permalink - Posted on 2018-04-13 16:24

Apple docs:

Dual display and video mirroring: Simultaneously supports full native resolution on the built-in display and up to 2560 by 1600 pixels on up to two external displays, both at millions of colors

Makes you think that the mid-2014 can't drive a ultrawide 3440x1440 screen at 60 Hz, right?

Wrong! It can run it. Flawlessly. No special cables or anything, just a good quality Mini Displayport to Displayport cable.

Proof


Going Ultrawide

Permalink - Posted on 2018-04-08 17:23

I ordered a Dell U3417W today. A 34", Ultrawide 21:9, 3440x1440 IPS display. Notably it has no adaptive sync technology and only runs at 60 Hz.

Dell U3417W, not my picture

Now why did I do this?

Well, frankly it was kind of impulsive. I even tried to go through my web browser history to see how I got there and there is no conclusive trail.

Why did I choose this monitor, the Dell U3417W?

  • It's a ultrawide 3440x1440. I'm hoping to make this my only display on my desk. And I'm hoping the 1440 resolution will look sharp enough that I don't miss Retina.
  • I play very little games. Almost none, atleast not on PC, so high refresh rates and G-Sync was not a requirement.
  • It's an IPS panel. I am never using TN again after my Dell S2716DG fiasco.
  • Apparently my mid-2014 rMBP can use it in 3440x1440@60 Hz. I say apparently because Apple docs says it can't, but there are plenty of comments and forum threads where people say it works. I will test.
  • The monitor has a built-in KVM switch and this is really cool, I wish all monitors had it. This was the biggest reason why I went with this monitor instead of any other alternative. Basically, I will hook up my keyboard, mouse and headset (all USB) to the monitor. And then I will have two USB cables from the monitor, one goes to Computer A and one goes to Computer B. Then whenever I switch input source between the computers it will automatically redirect the USB ports.
  • Dell monitors are designed nicely and don't look epic.

We'll see how it works out. I am kind of excited.

My only concern is if I ever play a game in fullscreen, and I want to watch something on the side. Can't really do that with one single screen, unless you run the game windowed (which I guess I could do since I can't use G-Sync anyway.)


All MacBook Pro's Currently Suck

Permalink - Posted on 2018-04-06 21:00

Yes, here's yet another person jumping on the hate train. This is not an original thought.

I got a Macbook Pro again. A retina 13" from mid 2014. Yes, a 2014 machine in 2018.

Why? Simple. All Macbook Pro's suck at the moment. Either way you lose.

The current line up of 2016/2017 models have flaws: faulty keyboards and no regular USB ports. Now you can say whatever you want about USB-C and how great it is, which it kinda is, but at the moment it is very annoying to have a dongle for everything.

  • For this 2014 model, the only dongle I might want is a Gigabit Ethernet dongle. It already has 2 regular USB ports and HDMI which is great.
  • While I pretty much never plug anything in into my laptops (apart from power obviously) it is annoying and stressful having to think about brining a dongle with you, just incase you need it.
  • Also, Magsafe is much nicer than a stiff USB-C cable. It's so nice to have a indicator light too.

For the keyboard, there have been a ton of reports where keys stop working when tiny particles of dust, crumbs, dirt get stuck under the keys. Also the feel of the keyboard is controversial too, but I personally don't mind it (I had a 12" Macbook and quite liked it.)

Now, while I bought a older model that has more ports and a proven reliable keyboard, it also has some big flaws.

For one thing, it's old, used, slower and the battery is old. The particular model I got is a 2.6 GHz i5, 8 GB RAM and 256 GB SSD. The battery had 248 cycles on it when I got it (the first thing I checked), which isn't great, but also not horrible for a laptop (for a phone it would be very bad.)

The CPU and RAM is fine for my purposes. It's a basically a fancy Twitter machine.

Another thing is that it doesn't support external high resolution displays properly. It can only do up to like 1440p @ 60 Hz. For 4K it can only do it @ 30 Hz, which causes a sharp and pretty but laggy experience on the external display (which isn't horrible, but pretty horrible.)

But apart from that, it's pretty great.

So what do you choose?

A brand new model:

  • faster
  • maybe faulty keyboard
  • a bunch of dongles

or an older model:

  • slower
  • has a proven reliable keyboard
  • has USB and HDMI built-in

I went with the latter because the speed wasn't a concern. But eitherway, you lose.

Let's hope Apple will fix the situation eventually.

But even if they fix the keyboard situation I doubt they will add USB ports back which still makes these older models more appealing, atleast to me.

Read this too: The best laptop ever made


Breath of the Wild - A Year Later

Permalink - Posted on 2018-03-11 12:28

Yes, I should've made this post 8 days earlier so it would've been exactly a year, but whatever.

Switch shirt

The Nintendo Switch and Breath of the Wild has already been out for a year. Crazy how fast time passes. A year ago I was seriously starting to want to get a drivers license and so I booked all the things related to that. It involved me having to live with my brother (and his wife) for two weeks while I was doing the intensive training program to get my license. Why am I telling you this? Because I have come to associate my Switch with those two weeks alot, because it was the only thing I could play games on while I was there (well apart from my iPhone and Macbook at the time, but I never play games on those) Although to be fair, my brother played it most of the time and I just watched, which was very enjoyable actually.

After those weeks passed, I actually left my Switch there so my brother could finish the game. And a couple of months later, I got it back, and then my cousin wanted to lend it so he could play the game, and I let him have it. My only requirement was that I was gonna have it back for Super Mario Odyssey, and that requirement was fulfilled.

So yeah, actually, most of 2017 I didn't have a Switch handy. And I didn't even play Breath of the Wild that much. Hell, I still only have like 70 shrines found and 30 korok seeds or something. But yet, I can't stop thinking about this game.

Despite me initially giving the game a 9/10 I think this is the best game the year 2017, or possibly the decade, maybe even ever. Yes, it might be the best game ever made.

I think it's just such a phenomenal game. You can do pretty much everything. Anything you think of probably works. I love talking about the game. I love seeing other people talking about it. I love random tweets telling me something new. It's just such an incredible game. It's actually a game, where I like thinking and talking about it more than I like actually playing it.

So why did I give it a 9/10 initially, and do those complains still hold up? Mostly yes, I would say.

Voice acting Yes, the voice acting is still horrible. Really horrible. I started using the Japanese spoken language for a while, but that was pretty bad too. I wish I could just disable it.

Not being able to pin infinite things is still annoying. There actually is alot of annoying stuff in this game like that, and how long the Game Over screen takes. I wish they could speed it up.

Yes, I still mess up the map and menu buttons. Very frustrating, still. And judging from all the screenshots I have saved on the Switch, my brother and cousin had trouble too.

The motion controlled puzzles are not as annoying anymore, I have gotten used to them you could say.

Enemies one hitting you? Meh, I got better.

Game is still very quiet and has barely any music, yes, but it kinda fits. I started thinking about it the other night and I'm not sure how this game would feel if it had music. It kinda suits it.

And yeah the framerate is still bad, at times.

So yes, the flaws are still there, but I think the goodness of the game overweighs the bad things, and thusly it is a 10/10 game. No question about it.

I just think it's an incredible game, that never ends. It's like the infinte game. It is so wonderfully well made. It might not be the prettiest, the most stable, the most fluid game, but it is just fun and good.

Midna

So yeah, there you go. Now you can see how ones mind can change in a year (except I changed like a couple of months after I initially finished it.) I think the reason why I didn't 10/10 it at first is because I rushed through it so I could get to the other games I had to play.

But now that I don't have any other games I have to play, and I can just play whatever I want whenever I want, I really really love this game.

Now if you excuse me, I'm gonna go play some of it right now. All I do is run around trying to find shrines. And maybe I do some DLC quests If I feel like it.

WTF

I don't know what went down here

Oh and do I still think this game is worse than FFXV? It's hard to say. I love both games. But I think Breath of the Wild will age better.


On Switching My Twitter @

Permalink - Posted on 2018-03-05 00:14

Ever since I joined Twitter, I've been using @djs__ but now I am nadbmal.

Why?

  • I hate numbers and symbols in usernames. Obviously I would prefer just djs but that's not available or is too short.
  • I'm sick of DJ's (disc jockey's) reaching out to me
  • djs__ looks very messy and hacky.
  • I hate the username lambdan but I love nadbmal. Mostly because it just looks elegant and natural, probably because it starts with a n, as in neutral.

Why didn't I do this earlier?

  • I didn't think of it.
  • When I thought of it, I saw that it was unavailable, but then I realized that I am the one who has taken it, on one of my many many Twitter alts (I don't use any of them, but I have some usernames taken). So now that other account is @djs__ instead.

What about elsewhere?

  • I won't change it elsewhere for now. New accounts will probably be nadbmal.
  • I bought the domain nadbmal.com. For now it just redirects to lambdan.se.

Basically, all that's changed is my twitter @. Not even my display name is changed.


Tiger Woods, South Park and Dummy Files...

Permalink - Posted on 2018-02-09 22:08

ZZDUMMY.DAT

For some reason I read the Wikipedia article about The Spirit of Christmas, the South Park precursor. I think I got there because yesterday I watched 6 Days to Air and so I read about the history of South Park and so on and so on.

Anyway, not alot of interesting stuff in there, except this thing:

It was also included in AVI format on Tiger Woods '99 for PlayStation. It is accessible from the game disc by PC. This was unauthorized and because of this, the game was recalled in January 1999 by Electronic Arts.

Here's a article from IGN in 1999 about it: Tiger Woods Game Pulled

Naturally I am very interested in stuff like this. Easter eggs, video games, South Park, video files, this is right up my alley. If you make a venn diagram of my interests all those things would have a circle each and I would be in the middle.

Anyway, I got myself a copy of the 1.0 version, and checked it out, and this video basically summarizes it in 30 seconds:

As you can see, you can just open the ZZDUMMY.DAT file in your favorite media player, and you're watching Jesus vs. Santa. Amazing. And the quality is pretty okay, all things considered!

How Was It Discovered?

I can't find a concrete release date for the game, but reviews for it came out in November and December 1998, so somewhere around there the game was released. The fixed ZZDUMMY.DAT file in version 1.1 has a modification date of January 14th 1999, so the issue was discovered about 1-3 months after release.

I found this article which has a story:

A mother got her son a copy of the PlayStation version of Tiger Woods 99 for Christmas, not knowing that console games weren't playable on computers (unless if you use an emulator). The young boy put the CD-ROM in his computer and clicked on ZZDUMMY.DAT. He watched the video (which was the pilot of South Park "Jesus vs. Santa" as mentioned). After hearing all the profanity the video was loaded with, he told his mother. She complained to Electronic Arts/EA Sports.

It just seems like a super random thing to me that a kid who doesn't know that his Playstation game won't play on a PC will open the up the file system and try to open up a file called ZZDUMMY.DAT in a video player. I just don't believe it. And I tried double clicking the file in a Windows 95 and 98 Virtual Machine, and neither operating system opens it by default in a video player. So the kid had to know he needed to open this random file in the media player. I just don't buy it.

Win98

By default, .dat-files aren't associated with a video player in Windows 98 (or 95, I tried.)

Windows 95

However, the file will play in both the Windows 95 and 98 default media player, if you get the random idea to try and opening the file in a media player. (Looks like shit quality here because I don't have drivers for the Virtual Machine.)

However, back in those days, it was quite common to put Dreamcast and PS1 discs in your computer or other audio players to listen to the soundtrack, so this might have been a factor for why someone would get the idea. But you still have the problem that you need to know to manually open up the dummy file in a video player.

My Own Theory

My own idea on how this was discovered is that someone was gonna make a rip of the game (PS1 modchips were around), and looked to see if the dummy file was anything important, to see if it could be removed to save space (while the game is just around 150 MB and easily fits on a CD-R, it would be beneficial to save off 50 MB considering the internet connection speeds at the time). Seeing how this person is pretty computer savvy, considering he is gonna make a rip of the game and distribute it, I wouldn't be surprised if he tried opening the file in a hex editor to see if the file was anything important, but instead he noticed the video headers and was surprised.

The only thing that that doesn't work out with this theory, is how EA was made aware of it. If this was 2018, the pirate could've made a tweet announcing his amazing discovery, which would pick up wind and news articles would be written and then it would be patched.

But this guy probably didn't do that. Maybe he/she wrote it in IRC to their pirate friends, but I don't think any of them would share it.

And I'm not sure how stuff was distributed back in these days, but I'm pretty sure torrents were not used, so I'm not sure if there is anywhere where release notes (NFO files) would be posted. But if there was, maybe he/she put in there "PS the ZZDUMMY file is interesting :)" and from there people were made known of it and eventually someone from EA picked up on it. But on the other hand, the turn around time from release to the fixed file was somewhere around 1-3 months so it would have to be pretty fast.

So maybe the other theory is more likely afterall...

Why?

From the same article:

EA fired the employee who inserted the questionable video into the discs. When programming the disc, he/she did not know how to write a dummy file, so he/she found a video that was the pilot of South Park, changed it to a .DAT file, and renamed it to ZZDUMMY.

While I find it hard to believe that a programmer couldn't write a dummy file, this theory seems to be the most likely. I found this reddit comment (obviously I am a few years behind and also obvious: anyone can write that they work/worked somewhere):

I work at EA. The story I've heard about this is that they were just testing some disc space requirements, and used the South Park episode just to fill up the disc for testing purposes. But then they obviously forgot it was there and it shipped that way.

That sounds reasonable. But I like to believe it was an intentional easter egg.

I feel like it is someone's job to go through every file on the disc to make sure everything is OK, and know why each file is there and what it is. Even if you just look at the directory, and have the date view enabled in Windows, the file sticks out, because it was last modified in 1996, while the other files are 1998 (and one of them is 1997.) On the other hand, it is a "DUMMY" file, so maybe the inspector just looked at it and thought everything was normal.

Putting a dummy file on there makes sense to me though. I remember reading somewhere about another old game where someone had early on in development allocated some memory for nothing. This made the developers work with a very strict amount of RAM, and at the very end when they were gonna run out of memory, they could just remove that allocation someone had put in early on and immediately they had more breathing room. I think putting a pretty hefty dummy file on a CD has the same purpose. It could also be to bring to tracks further out (or further in, I don't remember if a CD starts from the inside or from the outside) on the physical disc to improve load times (I know some Dreamcast rips do this), but if this dummy was for that purpose it would be much bigger, because the game is just around 150 MB anyway.

Conclusion

So what is the conclusion?

Well nothing really. This is a thing that happened. It's very cool, and I think it's my new favorite easter egg of all time.

All we can do is speculate on why it happened...

Misc

The MD5 hash of the 1.0 dummy file is: e90d4683c62011a84c5b6f5d628e6428 - if you google it you should hopefully find this blog post, once it has been propagated by your search engine.

Here's the output from mediainfo for 1.0 ZZDUMMY:

General
Complete name                            : .\ZZDUMMY 1.0.DAT
Format                                   : QuickTime
Format/Info                              : Original Apple specifications
File size                                : 50.6 MiB
Duration                                 : 5 min 4 s
Overall bit rate                         : 1 393 kb/s
Encoded date                             : UTC 1996-12-16 02:45:10
Tagged date                              : UTC 1996-12-16 02:46:31
Writing library                          : Apple QuickTime
FileExtension_Invalid                    : mov qt
------------------------------------------------------------------------
Video
ID                                       : 1
Format                                   : Cinepak
Codec ID                                 : cvid
Duration                                 : 5 min 4 s
Duration_LastFrame                       : -33 ms
Bit rate                                 : 1 214 kb/s
Width                                    : 320 pixels
Height                                   : 240 pixels
Display aspect ratio                     : 4:3
Frame rate mode                          : Constant
Frame rate                               : 15.000 FPS
Bits/(Pixel*Frame)                       : 1.054
Stream size                              : 44.1 MiB (87%)
Language                                 : English
Encoded date                             : UTC 1996-12-16 01:27:33
Tagged date                              : UTC 1996-12-16 02:46:31
------------------------------------------------------------------------
Audio
ID                                       : 2
Format                                   : PCM
Format settings                          : Little / Unsigned
Codec ID                                 : raw 
Duration                                 : 5 min 4 s
Bit rate mode                            : Constant
Bit rate                                 : 176.4 kb/s
Channel(s)                               : 1 channel
Sampling rate                            : 22.3 kHz
Bit depth                                : 8 bits
Stream size                              : 6.47 MiB (13%)
Language                                 : English
Encoded date                             : UTC 1996-12-16 01:27:33
Tagged date                              : UTC 1996-12-16 02:46:31

Interesting to me it is encoded in December 1996 (and the modification date is about the same time, so the file wasn't modified at all by the programmer who put it in.) I wonder if it's the original file/encode? It's so damn old.


The Coffee Lake Build

Permalink - Posted on 2018-02-04 15:44

I got the new parts, and I built the new computer, and I love it. I love how it looks, I love how silent it is, and I love that it's running on Intel again.

Building this PC was fun, but took a very long time because I wanted to think through what the best order to things were, and I wanted to route all cables cleanly since this is the first I am using that had a windowed side panel.

The final part list is:

Part Cost for this build (Swedish Kronor)
Asus - ROG STRIX Z370-F GAMING ATX LGA1151 Motherboard Bundled with CPU (5699:-)
Intel - Core i7-8700K 3.7GHz 6-Core Processor Bundled with Motherboard (5699:-)
G.Skill - Flare X Series 16GB (2 x 8GB) DDR4-3200 Memory Already owned
Fractal Design - Define C TG ATX Mid Tower Case 1029:-
MSI - GeForce GTX 1080 Ti 11GB Founders Edition Video Card Already owned
Fractal Design - Edison M 650W 80+ Gold Certified Semi-Modular ATX Power Supply Already owned
Noctua - NH-U14S 55.0 CFM CPU Cooler 695:-
Seagate - Desktop HDD 4TB 3.5" 5900RPM Internal Hard Drive Already owned
Western Digital - Black PCIe 256GB M.2-2280 Solid State Drive Already owned
Crucial - MX300 750GB 2.5" Solid State Drive Already owned
Crucial - MX100 256GB 2.5" Solid State Drive Already owned
StarTech.com PEXHDCAP60L Capture Card Already owned
Noctua - NF-F12 PWM 55.0 CFM 120mm Fan (Rear) Already owned
2x Noctua - NF-S12A PWM 120mm Fan (Front) Already owned

Peripherals (as of writing, changes frequently, probably):

Name Cost for this Build (Swedish Kronor)
Dell - S2716DG 27.0" 2560x1440 144Hz Monitor Already owned
Samsung - U24E590D 23.6" 3840x2160 60Hz Monitor Already owned
SteelSeries QcK+ Ninjas In Pyjamas (NIP) Mouse Pad Already owned
Topre Realforce 88UB Beige (Swedish Layout) Already owned
Logitech - G403 Prodigy Wired Optical Mouse Already owned
Logitech - G533 7.1 Channel Headset Already owned

So yes, the parts are quite expensive. But please note that I didn't buy all of this instantly. All of these parts have been collected over the years. I don't drop $3000 on a computer just like that. I re-use old parts.

Some day I plan on writing on why monitors today sucks. There is nothing good out there. I want "Retina", G-Sync, IPS and good build quality. That basically doesn't exist.

Photos

Finished Product

This is a pretty good picture of the finished product, except that I have replaced all the fans with Noctua's now (which you'll see further down) and I removed the warning sticker.

Sticker

I removed this sticker.

Back side

Building the computer was fun until I turned it around and saw what a mess the backside was. I was afraid I wasn't gonna get the panel back on because if you look at the SATA Power connections for the SSDs, you can see that they bulge out quite a bit. But closing the panel was no problem at all.

Early Overclocking

One of the first pictures I took while overclocking to 5 GHz. Ultimately I don't run it at 5 GHz anymore though, it was a bit too hot (loud) for my liking.

Noctua Fans

Here's a picture where you can see that all fans are now entirely replaced by various Noctua models. And it is so quiet.

Performance

Here's the infamous table. Updated.

Computer CPU Avg. Transcode Speed
12" Macbook, Early 2016 M3-6Y30 7.25 fps
Mac Mini, Mid 2011 i5-2415m 8.03 fps
My Plex Server, Late 2016 i3-6100 15.32 fps
15" Retina Macbook Pro, Late 2013 i7-4960HQ 21.71 fps
My Desktop PC, Early 2015 i7-4770K 26.66 fps
- i7-8700K 50.81 fps
My Desktop PC, Late 2017 Ryzen 1700X 53.33 fps
My Desktop PC, Early 2018 i7-8700K @ 4.7 GHz OC 57.00 fps
- Ryzen 1700X @ 3.8 GHz OC 57.97 fps1
- i7-8700K @ 5.0 GHz (AVX Offset 3 = 4.7 GHz) 58.70 fps

(x264 transcode of Friends S05E21 using Don Melton's Video Transcoding script, at 1080p 6000 kbps with the medium-preset. AC3 audio passed through. The version of Handbrake and the script used is not always the same.)

I overclocked my 8700K using this YouTube video, although I only watched the BIOS section. But it was nice and short.

Ultimately, my overclock is 4.7 GHz at 1.18 volts, with no AVX Offset. I am happy with this as it keeps the temperatures quite low (just above 30 C in idle, peaks around 75 C during load). Since the temperatures are so low the fans can run very quietly.

1. Re: The Ryzen Overclock This was a unstable overclock, and I did not actually run the same test. But I ran another one, where it saw a 8.7% performance increase, so this score is the not-overclocked speed (53.33 fps) multiplied by 1.087, which results in ~57.97 fps. This is not accurate and entirely fair, but should give you a ballpark idea of how the 1700X would've performed if I ran it overclocked.


(This post was inspired by Stammy┬┤s great post on his epic PC, I wanted to do something similar. Read his if you want actual and more explanations for normal people and clean pictures.)


The Eagle Ryzes... And Flies Away

Permalink - Posted on 2018-01-28 17:08

I ordered some computer parts today:

  • Fractal Design Define C (case)
  • Noctua NH U14S (CPU cooler)
  • Intel i7 8700K (CPU)
  • Asus Rog Strix Z370-F (motherboard)

The thing that's controversial about this, is that it wasn't long ago I built my Ryzen system. Judging from my receipts, it was at the very beginning of October 2017, just about 4 months ago at the time of writing this.

So what happened?

My First Mistake

The first mistake I made was that I bought Ryzen right before Coffee Lake was released. I remember thinking at the time "well, Intel hasn't changed much the last couple of times, why would they now..." - and as it turns out, they changed alot, and for the better.

At the time, I was on the Ryzen hype train so when I looked at the performance charts, comparing the 1700X I had to the 8700K, I was like "meh" or "haha, 1700X is very very slightly better", and at the gaming performance charts I was like "hmm, the 1700X is almost worse than my i7-4770K".

Basically, had I known how good Coffee Lake was gonna be, I probably would've bought a Coffee Lake system back then. But on the other hand, the availability was very bad at the time and I wanted to build a new computer right then, so I would've had a hard time waiting.

TLDR: I didn't wait for Coffee Lake.

My Second Mistake

I had ran macOS on my machine, in other words, I had a Hackintosh. But I wasn't using it much, maybe once per month, so I figured I was sick of macOS and didn't wanna use it, which is true (I still think Windows 10 is better for me) but there are some aspects about macOS I really like and with the iMac Pro coming out and it's hype train, I kinda wanted to run, or atleast have the possibility to run, macOS again.

While it is somehow possible to run macOS with a Ryzen processor, through some hacked kernel or some ridiculous shit like that, I don't wanna have to jump through a million hoops.

For a while I also debated building a Hackintosh Mac Mini (which I may still do, although the chances now are much much lower) but even then I would have to mess with multiple monitors and keyboards/mices, and yuck.

TLDR: I thought I was done with Hackintoshing.


As for the other parts (the case and the CPU cooler), I just wanted new ones.

My current computer case, a Fractal Design Define R3, is one I bought used from a friend many years ago, and before that he had obviously used it for a few years... so this case has some wear and tear and I'm just kinda sick of it. I mean yeah it works, it's pretty damn quiet, but I feel like my CPU and GPU could get better cooling if there wasn't all those HDD cages blocking up the intake fans.

So I went with the Fractal Design Define C. While I have been wanting to go down to mITX, or atleast mATX, for a long long time, I basically came to the same conclusion: I can't.

I want my internal capture card, I want the good cooling, I want it to be almost dead silent... these just aren't things you can do with mITX. You can almost do them with mATX, but from my research, the mATX cases are still pretty big.

I recently also looked into the newly released Fractal Design Define R6, especially one with the tempered glass panel. That seems like a really hot (hot as in sexy) case, but it had a few problems for me: it's still very big and it's very expensive.

The Define C is smaller and costs effectively half of what the R6 does.

The only downside of the Define C, which is also a upside, is that it doesn't have a 5.25"/ODD slot. I am one of the few persons in the world that still use the disc drive in my computer, to rip DVDs/Blu-Rays, but I have done testing in the past and I have a USB-SATA connector thingy, so I will just use that. Frankly, I only use the disc drive occasionally, so it should be fine. I kinda wanna look into getting a nice enclosure for it though so it's just not "lying around".

I went with the non-windowed version of the Define C. The reason was that it's slightly cheaper, I won't have the LEDs from the inside of my computer shining up my room at night, and it should be slightly more quiet. I hope I won't regret this decision, but we shall see. Probably not the hardest task in the world to get a windowed panel afterwards if I really want it. I went for the tempered glass version afterall.

New CPU Cooler

Ever since I started transcoding a lot of DVDs/Blu-Rays, I've been meaning to get a new CPU cooler, so that the CPU will run both cooler and quieter during the long amount of times that it does run at 100% usage, sometimes for weeks.

For the last 2-3 years or something, I've been using the famous Cooler Master Hyper 212 EVO, but with the fan replaced by a Noctua something, NF-P12 PWM or something like that. And honestly, it's been great. It's not that loud during load, and it's silent when idling.

But I've been wanting to get a Noctua CPU cooler for a long time so I figured I'm just gonna do it now. Ideally, I would've gone for the NH-D14 or NH-D15 but those are soooo huge that it just seems ridiculous to me, and I don't think I can access almost anything around my motherboard with those beasts on. The NH-U14S seemed like a better choice for me, except that it's probably gonna run slightly hotter than the NH-D14/D15. I think I'm gonna be happy with it, and I can use it for years to come.

(I don't want to use water cooling or AIO solutions because I am afraid they will leak.)


So what will I do with my current system, namely the motherboard and CPU? (I will keep the RAM, because it's good RAM (G Skill FlareX 2x8 GB 3200 MHz))

First, I will try to sell it, and I'm pretty sure I will manage to get it sold and cover maybe 40-50% of the expenses with this new build.

If I don't manage to sell it, I will have a very overpowered Unraid/Plex server, and I'm gonna have to get a new motherboard that has atleast 6 SATA ports.

We shall see. And I will probably make some benchmarks with x264 and x265 encoding and get those numbers on here.

I hope AMD does well even though I am leaving them, because Intel seriously needs some competition. Coffee Lake is so great because AMD pushed them.

I will probably have to be on Intel for the forseeable future, because of Hackintoshing.

Oh, and before I forget. Here's a updated table showing how good the Ryzen 1700X was.

Computer CPU Avg. Transcode Speed
12" Macbook, Early 2016 M3-6Y30 7.25 fps
Mac Mini, Mid 2011 i5-2415m 8.03 fps
My Plex Server, Late 2016 i3-6100 15.32 fps
15" Retina Macbook Pro, Late 2013 i7-4960HQ 21.71 fps
My Desktop PC, Early 2015 i7-4770K 26.66 fps
My Desktop PC, Late 2017 Ryzen 1700X 53.33 fps

Chart

(Handbrake x264 transcode of Friends S05E21, at 1080p with the medium-preset)