Random Tech Questions you want answered.

Your card may be having issues with the thermal compound or just that the heat sink on the card may not be making the best contact with the chip. Either or both could lead to overheating issues.

Have you tried playing without MSI afterburner running?

Tycho the Mad wrote:

Are you running the games with uncapped frames? I've had vaguely similar issues to that with games that defaulted to uncapped and i forgot to cap it.

No, capped at 60FPS. That's one other thing I tried.

Gaald wrote:

Your card may be having issues with the thermal compound or just that the heat sink on the card may not be making the best contact with the chip. Either or both could lead to overheating issues.

Is there any way to tell if I open up my case and check? Anything I can do about it if it turns out to be the case?

kazar wrote:

Have you tried playing without MSI afterburner running?

I tried that when CIV VI caused issues, it didn't help then - Afterburner turned out to be malfunctioning due to outdated drivers. But worth a shot now, or at least turn off vent control so I can keep an eye on the temps.

Gaald wrote:
Your card may be having issues with the thermal compound or just that the heat sink on the card may not be making the best contact with the chip. Either or both could lead to overheating issues.

Is there any way to tell if I open up my case and check? Anything I can do about it if it turns out to be the case?

No unfortunately not. You would have to remove the video cards, fans and heat sink to see if the the thermal paste had dried out, or if it wasn't applied properly. You would then need to reapply new thermal paste and make sure it all went back together properly. It's not something everyone is comfortable doing.

83c shouldn't be causing crashes, that is a bit worrying.

Gaald wrote:
Gaald wrote:
Your card may be having issues with the thermal compound or just that the heat sink on the card may not be making the best contact with the chip. Either or both could lead to overheating issues.

Is there any way to tell if I open up my case and check? Anything I can do about it if it turns out to be the case?

No unfortunately not. You would have to remove the video cards, fans and heat sink to see if the the thermal paste had dried out, or if it wasn't applied properly. You would then need to reapply new thermal paste and make sure it all went back together properly. It's not something everyone is comfortable doing.

I just ordered some thermal paste, tomorrow afternoon I have some time to check the internals of my PC. At least I can check whether there are any obstructions, dust pile-up, etc.

Chairman_Mao wrote:

83c shouldn't be causing crashes, that is a bit worrying.

From what I found online, temps under load tend to vary a lot by model, for my specific model (Gigabyte EAGLE) users are reporting 80+ is fairly normal apparently. Afterburner has a temp limit of 83C linked to the power limit of 100%. If I increase the temp limit the power limit goes up as well, not sure what that means? Maybe Afterburner forces the crash?

I disabled Afterburner fan control yesterday, the temp and fans behaved about the same as before, around 83C but no crashes during 1,5 hours of play.

Does anyone know if this is a good hard drive to add to a Windows-based Plex Server?

https://www.newegg.com/seagate-const...

It’s been a bit since I’ve bought a drive and there are a bunch labeled “NAS,” “Pro,” and even “Surveillance” (whatever that means).

It's replacing ~7 year old drive that streamed just fine over a wired network to my Apple TVs so I don’t need anything super high end.

I'm a big fan of the WD Red drives.

Surveillance drives are made to run constantly, since you are usually writing video to them from a surveillance camera. The NAS ones are probably best for something like Plex, though the standard WD Blue would work fine too. I think I am using a WD Blue on mine because it was cheaper for the capacity I wanted. I am sure the same is true for other brands.

I just built myself a NAS for my Plex server, and I used Toshiba's N300 drives. It's literally days old so I can't attest to their performance and reliability just yet, but Plex still works without a hitch, so...

For my Plex server I bought WD MyBook 14TB external drives and shucked them to get the internal drive, which were WD140EDFZ. The external drives are often cheaper. This was 2-3 years ago, not sure what they have out there for externals now.

Another vote for WD Reds.

My QNAPs aren't Windows based, but I have a 4-bay and a 2-bay running off WD drives. Running for 4 years and 7 years essentially 24/7. Plus a 4-bay expansion.

All WD Reds or shucked WD "white label" drives.

If you decide to shuck, something to keep in mind is the "3.3v pin" on Western Digital drives:

https://www.instructables.com/How-to-Fix-the-33V-Pin-Issue-in-White-Label-Disks-/

I recently upgraded the drives in my 2-bay NAS, and put the shucked 6TB drives in my desktop, then couldn't figure out why they kept powering off. I forgot that shucked WDs will work fine in a NAS, but connected to a PC they're designed to shutdown, which is annoying.

You can tape over the extra pins, or power them via a Molex adapter (which is the solution that I went with, since it was just easier for me.)

If you've got a budget or capacity range in mind, folks could probably make some pretty granular suggestions.

I've never had to do the 3.3v pin trick on any drive I've shucked (so maybe I just got lucky?). I currently have 5 14TB drives in my Plex machine, all WD drives. Never had any issues with them crashing. 14TB just went on sale for $199 recently, they had been $229 for quite a long time.

It mentions it in the post, but whether you'll be affected varies. I had forgotten about it originally because one example where it doesn't matter is putting them into a QNAP NAS. And the drives weren't crashing, they shutdown or won't be detected by your machine.

Out of the six drives I shucked, five had the 3.3v pin issue, so you take your chances. It's possible you won't run into it, but it's common enough that I shared the link so that if someone runs into the same issue they won't think the drives are defective, when a little tape or Molex adapter will solve it.

If you never experienced it, congrats on your good fortune.

My stepfather (71) wants a Windows-based laptop. He does some Internet stuff and doesn't use a lot of applications, mainly web-based things like dealing with his investments and crap. Maybe some YouTube and reading news sites.

His last laptop had a 17" screen and I don't think he would want to go any smaller. I'll verify this soon.

I asked him what he wanted to use it for and said "You're not going to be playing any games, are you?" I expected a scoff and a solid "No." Yet, he said "Well, that one space game I saw you playing seemed interesting." I had to think about bit on what that could have been and finally figured out it was Elite Dangerous over a year ago. While I don't think he'll really want to play Elite, I do need to take some gaming into consideration. I'm thinking the machine should at least have the equivalent of a RTX 3050 in it.

I told the stepfather we could get him something decent for $600 (the cost of fixing his 7-year old MacBook), but that was before he dropped the possible gaming bomb on me. I'm probably looking at a budget of around $800 for the laptop and then extra $$$ for paid support, etc.

I know the normal things I need to check like: RAM amount, M.2 size, num of M.2 slots, IPS vs. TN (vs. VA), Processor, USB-C/Thunderbolt ports, etc.

If a laptop says it has a "RTX 3050" can I be sure that it's not sharing the computer RAM with a discrete card like that or do I need to check that? EDIT: Looks like I do need to look into how much RAM the card has to itself.

What are some other things I need to consider? Are there any budget semi-gaming machines that you can recommend?

Appreciate the help.
-BEP

RTX 3050 will not be much better than onboard GPUs in laptops.
There should be an overwhelming amount of decent laptops in the $600-800 range.

From what I'm seeing, the 15.6" gaming laptops are the ones you'll get well configured in the $800 range (but not high-end). Look for ones that are on sale - Acer Nitro, HP Pavilion, Lenovo Ideapad Gaming 3, etc. The problem is that the 17" ones knock you up into the $1200 or $1500 range...

The 15.6" form factor is going to be much less trouble to lug around airports and subways. I know this from experience. The 17" ones, I'm always afraid they will bend and deform (I've had that happen, actually) over time from being wedged into seat corners and overhead bins. Never had that problem with the smaller ones.

The other thing to bear in mind is that you can get about 50% more performance from an $800 desktop as from an $800 desktop. So back up and ask him if he actually wants the laptop, or if it's just what he's used to. However, that would mean adding keyboard/mouse and looking for a good 1440p monitor on sale (likely in the $300 range).

It's a poser.

He will be here in a few moments. I was wrong on the 17" - his current (dead) MacBook is 15.x" screen so 15.x" should be fine.

There's no question he wants a laptop; a desktop is not in consideration.

I'll know some more info in the next hour to narrow down the options. Thanks for the input.

-BEP

Is there an easy way to clear up space in my iCloud account by copying photos to my PC other than downloading, unzipping, then deleting? Can I just move them from the iCloud folder on my PC to a different folder on my PC?

I don't know anything about iCloud, but both OneDrive and Google Drive have options to act like a hard drive in Windows, where you can treat it just like a normal file system to copy, move, and delete. It requires a small app on your PC, and I don't know if iCloud has something like that or not, but they might.

But I would bet they only support something like that on MacOS or iOS devices, knowing Apple.

NSMike wrote:

I don't know anything about iCloud, but both OneDrive and Google Drive have options to act like a hard drive in Windows, where you can treat it just like a normal file system to copy, move, and delete. It requires a small app on your PC, and I don't know if iCloud has something like that or not, but they might.

But I would bet they only support something like that on MacOS or iOS devices, knowing Apple.

iCloud has an app like that for Windows and it acts a lot like OneDrive in that the local copy is a pointer to a remote file until you explicitly open the file and it downloads. You can tell it to keep some files always downloaded but I haven’t seen a way to tell it to always proactively download new files.

There is one big difference you’ll run into tho: edits/deletes you make to photos/videos on the PC do not affect the cloud stored files. I’m not sure why they made that choice but that’s how it works.

You can still copy the files that are synced using that app to a new location then delete on your phone or the iCloud website. I’ve sometimes run into cases where the sync times out when I try to sync down a lot of files at once. Last time I ran into this I gave up and just downloaded big zip files of photos from the iCloud website. You can delete files from the website.

bepnewt wrote:

He will be here in a few moments. I was wrong on the 17" - his current (dead) MacBook is 15.x" screen so 15.x" should be fine.

... and that was wrong. I'm on a roll. He does want something close to a 17".

We ended up deciding on looking at the Acer Nitro 5 17" machines. I spec'd a lower end model on Acer's site with the intent of upgrading RAM / SSD later if needed. It has 2 RAM slots and 2 M.2 PCI slots so there's room to add another drive and adding 1 (or replacing 2) RAM sticks later.

I'm going to place the order pretty soon if he's OK with it.

-BEP

Nice! I'm sure he'll be happy with the end result.