> Droves of Drives Mon­i­tor Mad­ness Power Op­tions

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Checker­board Screen

Hey, Doc. I’ve started ed get­ting a checker­board pat­tern at­tern on my lap­top’s dis­play, ei­ther across the whole screen en or limited to cer­tain dia­log boxes. I have a 15.3-inch Sager ger note­book with a Core i7-6820HK 820HK pro­ces­sor at 2.70GHz, an n Nvidia GeForce GTX 980M graph­ics mod­ule, a 64-bit op­er­at­ing sys­tem, and nd 16GB of sys­tem mem­ory. Is my graph­ics card in its death throes? – John Dig­ilio THE DOC­TOR RE­SPONDS: The is­sue you’re de­scrib­ing can be caused by soft­ware or hard­ware. Some of the po­ten­tial prob­lems are easy to trou­bleshoot and solve; oth­ers may be harder to di­ag­nose.

A sim­ple first step is to ver­ify that you’re run­ning the lat­est driv­ers for your graph­ics adapters. Unin­stall the ex­ist­ing pack­ages for In­tel’s HD Graph­ics 530 en­gine and Nvidia’s GeForce GTX 980M us­ing Win­dows’ Con­trol Panel. The Doc likes to fol­low up with a util­ity called Dis­play Driver Unin­staller, which en­sures old files and Registry en­tries are cleaned up, too. Download the most up-to-date ver­sions for both, and see if they re­solve your dis­play cor­rup­tion.

If they don’t, try dig­ging deeper. Is your in­te­grated

Many Hard Drives

Hi, I’m up­grad­ing my mother­board to an Asus ROG Strix X299-E Gam­ing graph­ics en­abled nabled when the checker­board pat­tern ttern ap­pears? Try switch­ing to the dis­crete rete GPU ex­clu­sively. Over­clock­ing and over­heat­ing are two more po­ten­tial causes. How­ever, in a prop­erly func­tion­ing PC, the Win­dows desk­top doesn’t gen­er­ate much of a load. Soft­ware such as AIDA64 or HWiNFO64 can tell you when ther­mal read­ings get too high. If tem­per­a­tures spike, ver­ify that Sager’s cool­ing sub­sys­tem is op­er­at­ing cor­rectly.

Hope­fully, your symp­tom doesn’t in­di­cate a more se­ri­ous malfunction. Un­der­clock­ing your sys­tem RAM and the graph­ics board’s GDDR5 mem­ory may help de­ter­mine whether a mod­ule is fail­ing. with a Core i9-7900X. I als also plan to add 20 to 25 3.5-i 3.5-inch me­chan­i­cal hard drives drives. I bought a cus­tom Origi Ori­gin PC desk­top a while ago, so I’m us­ing its ts Gen­e­sis ch chas­sis, which has a bay tha that can store a dozen 3.5-inch hard drives.

What I can’t fig­ure out is what PCIe-at­tached SATA cards I can get to con­nect the hard drives, each with its own ded­i­cated lane. I need at least 12 ex­tra ports, and the best I can find are four-port PCIe SATA x2 adapters. Aren’t those go­ing to re­duce the through­put from each disk to less than its max­i­mum? Is there some­thing else I should be look­ing at that will al­low for peak through­put on each drive? I don’t want to cre­ate any chance of con­tention, be­cause I’ll be us­ing soft­ware RAID once the disks are in­stalled, and who knows what prob­lems proble I’ll en­counter if there are lim­i­ta­tions be­cause of the th PCIe SATA card?

–Mike Baryl­ski THE T DOC­TOR RE­SPONDS: Your mother­board fea­tures three PCIe x16 slots, one of which ac­com­mo­dates 16-lane de­vices, and two of which are wired for x8 links. As­sum­ing you plug a graph­ics card into the top slot, each of the x8 con­nec­tions of­fers nearly 8GB/s of through­put in both di­rec­tions. That’s quite a bit of band­width—so far, so good.

Let’s say you can get a max se­quen­tial trans­fer rate of 250MB/s from one hard drive. With 24 disks, you need 6GB/s to avoid bot­tle­neck­ing, which is less than what’s avail­able from an eight-lane PCIe 3.0 slot. Again, the math is promis­ing.

A host bus adapter such as Broad­com’s SAS 9305-24I or Mi­crosemi Adaptec’s HBA 1100-24i drops right into a x8 slot and sup­ports 24 di­rect­con­nected SAS or SATA drives through a sex­tet of Mini-SAS in­ter­faces. Each costs more than $500, but if you’re se­ri­ous about stor­age, op­tions abound be­yond four-port SATA cards.

4K/144Hz Mon­i­tors

Hey Doc, In the June is­sue, you sug­gested that Erik

Auk­er­man wait for next-gen graph­ics cards and 4K/144Hz mon­i­tors. The is­sue is, those pan­els don’t dis­play in full 4K at 144Hz with HDR; Dis­playPort lacks suf­fi­cient band­width for those specs. Right now, it would likely be bet­ter to dig into where that band­width be­comes an is­sue, and pur­chase a dis­play with the cor­re­spond­ing re­fresh rate, be it 75 or 100Hz. As he said, su­per-high frame rates aren’t nec­es­sar­ily im­por­tant.

–Kurt Col­bourne e

THE DOC­TOR RE­SPONDS: Thank you for bring­ing this up. The Asus ROG Swift PG27UQ and Acer Preda­tor X27 both claim sup­port for res­o­lu­tions up to 3840x2160, peak bright­ness of 1,000cd/m² with high dy­namic range en­abled, and re­fresh rates as high as 144Hz over a Dis­playPort 1.4 in­ter­face. How­ever, DP1.4 only pro­vides enough band­width for 3840x2160 at 120Hz at 8 bits per chan­nel color depth (that is to say, without HDR). So, im­ages are en­coded with less color in­for­ma­tion through a process called chroma sub­sam­pling, re­duc­ing the band­width they use. This com­pro­mise in pic­ture qual­ity is what makes it pos­si­ble to run at 4K/144Hz.

If you look at both mon­i­tors’ spec­i­fi­ca­tions, you’ll see that Acer and Asus claim na­tive sup­port for 3840x2160 at 120Hz over Dis­playPort. They re­fer to 144Hz as an over­clocked set­ting. But even at 120Hz, you’re limited to 8 bits per chan­nel color depth if you want true YCbCr 4:4:4, or full res­o­lu­tion on all com­po­nents. In short, they im­pose some trade-offs to achieve 3840x2160 at 144Hz. Run­ning them at 4K/120Hz and 8 bits per chan­nel may be the best com­pro­mise for now. It’s just a shame that such a word is nec­es­sary in the con­text of a $2,000 mon­i­tor.

More 4K Mad­ness

Hi Doc­tor, I have been hap­pily us­ing a Dell U3011 for quite a few years. Once video card and mem­ory prices re­turn to nor­mal, I will be up­grad­ing to a 4K-ca­pa­ble desk­top PC. In the mean­time, I would like to up­grade my mon­i­tor to a 32inch 4K model as well. Nei­ther curved nor wide pan­els in­ter­est me. Are there any dis­plays su­pe­rior in every way to what I have? What about Dis­playHDR? I know there are 400 and 600 mod­els avail­able, but is a 1000 model on the hori­zon? I don’t mind spend­ing a good chunk of change, since I will be look­ing at it every day.

–Rob Swan

THE DOC­TOR RE­SPONDS: Your U3011 was a pre­mium dis­play back in 2010, sport­ing a 30-inch IPS panel with 10-bit color depth, a na­tive 2560x1600 res­o­lu­tion, and a bright­ness of 370cd/m². By all ac­counts, it was a win­ner, at un­der $1,500.

There are plenty of mon­i­tors that would be an up­grade, but if you fil­ter them down to 32-inch 4K-ca­pa­ble mod­els, Asus’s PA32UC looks like one of the best (as of this writ­ing, it’s not widely avail­able, but pre­views praise its per­for­mance and func­tion­al­ity). VESA does not list the PA32UC as Dis­play HD Rcer­ti­fied yet, but it does bear an Ul­tra HD Pre­mium badge, in­di­cat­ing a 3840x2160 res­o­lu­tion, sup­port for 10-bit color depth, and HDR10 com­pli­ance. Asus spec­i­fies a max­i­mum bright­ness of 1,000cd/m² and 95 per­cent DCI-P3 color space cov­er­age. Ex­pect to spend around $2,000 for the priv­i­lege of own­ing one, once sup­ply im­proves.

If you’re will­ing to com­pro­mise on screen size, Acer’s Preda­tor X27 and Asus’s ROG Swift PG27UQ are both 27-inch mon­i­tors that sport 4K res­o­lu­tions, along with $2,000 price tags. Al­though gamer-ori­ented, the pair rep­re­sents two of the three prod­ucts cur­rently boast­ing Dis­play HDR 1000 cer­ti­fi­ca­tions. The third is Philips’s 43-inch Mo­men­tum—a much dif­fer­ent beast, with an MVA panel over­clocked to fa­cil­i­tate 80Hz re­fresh rates.

PSU Up­grades

Doc, In the lat­est is­sue, you replied to a ques­tion from Leon Garfield con­cern­ing the in­stal­la­tion of a new power sup­ply in his Dell Pre­ci­sion Tower 3620, but your an­swer didn’t re­ally solve his is­sue.

I, too, have a Dell Pre­ci­sion Tower 3620 that I wanted to up­grade with a PSU larger than any­thing Dell of­fered. Af­ter search­ing around, I found sev­eral so­lu­tions from com­pa­nies such as COMeap, Eye­boot, and mod-DIY that were af­ford­able and easy to in­stall. I pur­chased one, along with a much more pow­er­ful 80 PLUS Gold-rated mod­u­lar power sup­ply. Now I have plenty of juice to drive any com­po­nent I want to up­grade.

Tier-one man­u­fac­tur­ers may con­tinue to pro­duce pro­pri­etary parts for their ma­chines to gar­ner a cap­tive au­di­ence, but where there’s a will, there’s a way around them.

–David A. Glasser

THE DOC­TOR RE­SPONDS: Thank you for shar­ing your ex­pe­ri­ences, David. Based on the t links you sent, it ap­pears there t are sev­eral 24-to-8-pin adapters a able to stan­dard­ize Dell’s D pro­pri­etary con­nec­tor and a ex­tend com­pat­i­bil­ity to fa­mil­iar f ATX PSUs.

As men­tioned in the Doc’s re­sponse r to Leon, sto­ries abound a of DIY ef­forts to splice ca­bles c to­gether. Some work, oth­ers o don’t. Lack­ing ev­i­dence of o a de­fin­i­tive fix, the Doc was not n com­fort­able sug­gest­ing an a adapter with un­proven com­pat­i­bil­ity, c not to men­tion po­ten­tial p safety im­pli­ca­tions. It’s good to know that there are vi­able ways to make a 24-pin ATX con­nec­tor work in Dell’s Pre­ci­sion Tower 3620, though.

Please, Don’t Sleep!

Dear Doc­tor, My PC’s power plan changes on its own, de­fault­ing to sleep mode af­ter 15 min­utes every time I boot up. The power set­tings worked fine un­der Win­dows 7, but Win­dows 10 doesn’t save my pref­er­ences, forc­ing me to se­lect “Never” in the “Power & sleep” menu every morn­ing. I have tried cre­at­ing cus­tom plans, but they don’t work. I also tried mod­i­fy­ing set­tings in the Registry to no avail. Do you have any ideas? This was a fresh in­stal­la­tion of the OS and not an up­grade from Win 7, so there wasn’t any bag­gage car­ried over.

–Arvin Gil­man

THE DOC­TOR RE­SPONDS: It’s probable that some soft­ware on your ma­chine is chang­ing the power set­tings. In­tel’s Ready Mode Tech­nol­ogy is one of­fender, though it tries to serve a use­ful pur­pose by al­low­ing the re­ceipt of email, mes­sages, so­cial me­dia posts, and so on through an al­ter­na­tive low­power mode. You can dis­able it from within Win­dows or in your mother­board’s BIOS. Var­i­ous an­tivirus suites re­port­edly con­tain op­tions that al­ter Win­dows’ power plans. And mother­board util­i­ties, such as Asus’s AI Suite, are also guilty of ma­nip­u­lat­ing OS op­tions on startup. If a quick check fails to turn up a so­lu­tion, parse through Win­dows’ Event Viewer for more ev­i­dence.

At­tach up to 24 SATA hard drives to Mi­crosemi Adaptec’s HBA 1100-24i without com­pro­mis­ing per­for­manc per­for­mance.

PA32UC of­fers ff 4K 4K, HDR HDR, and d ac­cu­rate t color l re­pro­duc­tion d ti f for $2 $2,000. 000

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