New PC and Windows 7

Okay, so not many posts recently, since I’ve brought myself a new PC and am currently battling the beast that is Windows 7, the ATI drivers from Hell and EDID monitor information being lost. Many reinstalls right now (when I’m writing this Windows 7 is “Expanding Windows files” 🙂 ).

This is my site so I’m putting down what I’ve got. Why not? I spent enough on it all 🙂


So, I decided basically to plan it around the i5 CPU, that recently came out, based on its lower cost and the fact i7’s had no massive amount of speed boosts and HyperThreading isn’t necessary on a gaming box. Made some discussions (which include prices I won’t bother to list below) on my clans forum, mainly going around what to get between SSD’s and HDD’s, with some coming out just at the right time (and lower price then they are now) at Overclockers, meaning I went for 2x64GB SSDs with a complementary 1TB HDD. This was, I hoped, going to be fun (to run in RAID-0).

Graphics card was the newly released 5850 (which was a darn bit cheaper then the 5870), from ATI (who’s drivers I never liked, and we’ll see why I dislike them more soon). I reused my sound card (Creative X-Fi ExtremeMusic), got a ASRock motherboard based on price and because it both had PS/2 ports and lacked some of the rubbish other boards had (more then having a ton of features), and an Antec case with 4 fans slots I filled so they could be run at low/medium speeds for constant air.

I also went for 8GB of RAM – so it’s 64 bit all the way. Final details are:

  • i5 Processor
  • 8GB G.Skill Ripjaw DDR3 PC3-12800C8 1600MHz (This needs a bit of overclocking to get 1600Mhz. Still fast though)
  • Antec 200 Two Hundred Ultimate Gaming Case (yes, that’s its title. Main thing was 4 fan slots and a reasonable design – it also has a nice hot-swapping thing for SATA drives I might well use).
  • Corsair 620W HX Modular PSU (basically worked well on my old PC).
  • XFX ATI Radeon HD 5850 1024MB (mainly got this for 2 reasons – better then nVidia’s offerings at the price, and supports 3 displays)
  • Crucial M225 64GB (supposedly up to 200MB/s read, 150MB/s write).
  • Maxtor 1TB Hard Drive (mostly cheapest 1TB drive. Also provides a good benchmark for the SSD’s performances)
  • 2 LG DVD writers

I also ordered (and am awaiting on) the cheap HANNSG 27.5″ screen (hooking it up via. HDMI should be okay), to make up the 3 monitors along with my 2 existing ones.

My old PC will be used as a new server (redundancy with RAID-5 and RAID-1 setups, constant backups, services running on it, etc.) which is a good use of the box 🙂

Windows 7

Why get this at all? I’ve been using XP for ages. Windows 7 finally, I think, makes Vista useful enough to use. Basically tones down a lot of the unresponsiveness and useless parts of Vista and gives back a button to shut down in the start menu 🙂

In any case I mainly wanted it to, as I said above, upgrade to 64bit properly. This introduces annoying driver signing (which can at least be temporarily disabled for certain tools I might need to use), but otherwise means I can make use of lots of RAM.

Windows 7 Installs – RAID/SSD stuff

I’ve been using the Windows 7 RC this week until this evening when I got out the Windows 7 Professional that got delivered today. The first point of concern was the use of RAID-0 and the SSD’s. HDTune decided that instead of massive performance gains from RAID-0, it should be slower then my 1TB HDD!

Secondly, there are issues using any RAID with SSD’s. TRIM is useful for keeping speeds constant, and there is no wiping tools made for RAID to do garbage collection for my Crucial SSD’s (and likely won’t be for a while).

Therefore, rather then fight for RAID-0, after I updated the firmware of my Crucial SSD’s, I’ve decided to just use them separately. Windows 7 plus the XP VM is 35GB alone, making it fill most of a single drive in any case.

In the future, if software RAID correctly supports SSD’s I’ll make a change over – if I can get Windows 7 installed so many times I’ll have it down to a T.

Odd thing is I need to enable RAID or IDE in the BIOS (rather then AHCI) to get the CD ROM drives to boot to install the OS. I’m going to mess around to see which is best…(just before I sleep after this, got 200mb/s read, 150mb/s write basically on larger files as advertised, which is nice, and better then before I updated the firmware). whew…long time doing all these combinations.

ATI Drivers

Stay tuned. I’ll get Windows 7 fully installed and tested before complaining that my RC experience was bad!

(However it was terrible. Constant crashes and blue screens – with no overclocking and seemingly no overheating from any part of the system – along with random bursts of 99% usage on the desktop, for no apparent reason, with random fixes I’ve still got bookmarked just in case I need to try them on what should be working drivers although the control panel is utterly terrible regardless…I tell you they’re trying to kill me here, I swear! Never again ATI! even if the performance far outranks nVidia!).

EDID woes

EDID is the Extended Display Identification Data in the firmware of monitors, set along DVI connections to the OS to check what modes a monitor can do.

Sadly, out of my two duplicate 22″ Iiyama monitors, one of them has an obvious EDID deficiency. Luckily XP never noticed this, except saying it was Non-Plug and Play. Windows 7 (and I assume Vista) however doesn’t like this.

My experience has been of utter frustration first of all figuring out that EDID existed in the first place. Then using several tools to read what Windows thought, what the monitor actually reported (which ended up being nothing – ie; there is an issue!) and so on.

Once I figured it out, I unsuccessfully failed to update the EDID with a copy from my other monitor (the tool simply didn’t work), and using Windows 7’s promising EDID override feature failed – likely because of two issues. The first is the ATI drivers (they barely noticed it existed at all most of the time), but secondly, since it never reported any EDID information in the first place, Windows likely didn’t notice the fact I provided EDID information in the new driver file (as it should be to override it). Or maybe it was the ATI drivers there again. I had some random success adding some custom resolutions, kinda, but it was a bit of a mess and ATI didn’t allow me to actually input a custom resolution despite the fact that Windows itself detected it simply as a Generic Doesn’t Want To Tell Me What Monitor It Is item!

I’m going to contact Iiyama if it is still in warranty (and likely even if it isn’t), and hopefully get it fixed that way.

Now, to sleep for me, I’ve got a long weekend ahead of me fixing this mess, or figuring out what I’m doing wrong overall at least 🙂

One thought on “New PC and Windows 7”

  1. The weakness in every new version of windows is the lack of 3rd party support. Nvidia at least learnt their lesson with vista, and have been putting out good beta drivers since the beta started.

    I hear what you are saying about the price of the ATI card vs Nvidia in the same bracket, but the drivers are a big dealbreaker for me, nvidia just seem to do a good job, most games even seem to get along with SLI without too much fuss thesedays.

    Sounds like a nice build though. I’m sure once the drivers are ironed out it’ll be good. I’ve heard very good thing about the performance of the new 58xx series.

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