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> Di­ag­nos­tic Dilemma > Au­then­ti­ca­tion > Fu­ture 4K Fun

Prob­lems With Power?

Hi Doc, I have been hav­ing is­sues with my PC for the last year or so. It all started when the sys­tem stopped wak­ing from sleep mode. I had to flip the PSU’s power switch be­cause the case’s power and re­set but­tons were non-func­tional. Even­tu­ally, the prob­lem evolved into the ma­chine un­ex­pect­edly shut­ting down dur­ing nor­mal use, though the fans kept spin­ning as if noth­ing was wrong. As be­fore, I needed to flip the PSU’s power switch off and back on to restart.

I sus­pected that my CPU was at fault, so played games that put a load on the host and graph­ics pro­ces­sors. How­ever, those games ran fine, and I was un­able to re­pro­duce the symp­toms. But if I browsed the In­ter­net or jumped on YouTube, the ma­chine shut down. The is­sue be­came so bad that shut­downs hap­pened dur­ing startup, trig­ger­ing Au­to­matic Re­pair. Of course, Win­dows couldn’t get through that be­fore run­ning into is­sues.

Now I think my PSU is the cul­prit. I un­plugged the hard drives and the op­ti­cal drive, and the ma­chine won’t boot up. So, as of this writ­ing, I have a PC that won’t start. The fans spin up and that’s it. My specs in­clude an Asus M5A97 LE R2.0, an AMD FX 6300 CPU at 3.5GHz, 16GB of RAM, an HIS Radeon HD 7350 graph­ics card, and an OCZ 500W power sup­ply, all run­ning Win­dows 10 Pro. Any ideas?

– Chris Gfr­erer

THE DOC­TOR RE­SPONDS: It sounds like your PC’s bad be­hav­ior is elim­i­nat­ing trou­bleshoot­ing steps that the Doc would rec­om­mend, all on its own, Chris. The fact that your moth­er­board won’t even POST any­more with stor­age dis­con­nected means the prob­lem isn’t re­lated to Win­dows or a drive fail­ure.

Now it’s a mat­ter of nar­row­ing the fo­cus to an­other hard­ware com­po­nent. Try boot­ing with a sin­gle mem­ory mod­ule to elim­i­nate faulty RAM as the cause. Oth­er­wise, it may be nec­es­sary to find a spare PSU or moth­er­board. Dam­aged sur­face-mount com­po­nents on ei­ther de­vice could be caus­ing the death spi­ral.

Solv­ing USB Is­sues

Hello, Doc. In a re­cent is­sue, a reader wrote in about a prob­lem with his Cor­sair K95 key­board. He thought it was re­lated to USB, as the key­pad would not work af­ter en­ter­ing his PIN. That re­minded me of an is­sue I had with my Cor­sair Strafe RGB—its key­pad sud­denly went “ran­dom.”

What I dis­cov­ered (af­ter the usual frus­tra­tion of check­ing driv­ers) was that I had down­loaded a cus­tom RGB pro­file with Cor­sair’s iCue soft­ware, and that pro­file also changed the key­pad lay­out. Once I changed it to an­other theme, the prob­lem was solved. When Win­dows boots up to its lo­gin screen, iCue isn’t loaded, so the key­board works fine. But once the app fires up, ev­ery­thing goes hay­wire. I never re­al­ized that I did it to my­self, so maybe Le­land didn’t ei­ther.

–Robert Proven­sal

THE DOC­TOR RE­SPONDS: Thank you for the tip. Af­ter re-read­ing Le­land’s symp­toms, it’s plau­si­ble that he’s suf­fer­ing from some­thing sim­i­lar. If the Doc’s suggestions didn’t solve his is­sue, hope­fully yours does.

To­ken Talk

Al­though I’m a fan of twofac­tor iden­ti­fi­ca­tion, I’m also con­cerned about SMS be­ing the only op­tion for the sec­ond fac­tor. Even though cell phones are gen­er­ally re­li­able, they do break and get mis­placed, and cel­lu­lar net­works go down oc­ca­sion­ally or are un­avail­able. At work, we use RSA to­kens that work well and don’t need an In­ter­net con­nec­tion. Do any email providers or banks use to­kens or some­thing other than a cell phone?

–Den­nis Benker

THE DOC­TOR RE­SPONDS: There are email ser­vices and fi­nan­cial in­sti­tu­tions us­ing hard­ware to­kens for au­then­ti­ca­tion (along with en­ter­tain­ment sites, pay­ment ser­vices, gam­ing plat­forms, and cloud-based hosts). Check out www.twofac­torauth.org for a com­pre­hen­sive list of sites with two-fac­tor au­then­ti­ca­tion. The list in­cludes whether that au­then­ti­ca­tion is done via SMS, a phone call, email, hard­ware to­ken, or soft­ware to­ken.

On­line Back­ups

I used to use Car­bonite for on­line backup. Re­cently, the com­pany im­ple­mented a new pol­icy where it will only pro­tect one hard disk per PC. I have four drives (one SSD for the OS, and three stor­age drives to­tal­ing 15TB). The cost of mov­ing to Car­bonite’s busi­ness plan was pro­hib­i­tive, so I can­celed the ser­vice.

Are there any other op­tions that would help me with

real-time off­site backup of my con­fig­u­ra­tion (which I ex­pect is the same multi-drive setup as 99 per­cent of read­ers)?

I cur­rently back up to a home server, a se­condary PC in the same house, and take ex­ter­nal hard drives to a safe de­posit box twice per year. I also have a Ver­i­zon Fios Gi­ga­bit ser­vice at home.

– Cory Notrica

THE DOC­TOR RE­SPONDS: Who says you can’t teach an old dog new tricks? Al­though the Doc is in­fa­mously re­luc­tant to rely on cloud-based ser­vices, mul­ti­ple con­ver­sa­tions with Max­i­mumPC read­ers and in­creased wari­ness of his decade-old NAS ap­pli­ance have him shop­ping around for on­line backup op­tions. Back­blaze is the ser­vice he’s lean­ing to­ward cur­rently. No­tably, it pro­tects in­ter­nal and ex­ter­nal stor­age de­vices, there are no file size re­stric­tions or data lim­its, you get mul­ti­ple re­store op­tions, and a $5/month price tag seems ex­ceed­ingly rea­son­able.

As for its lim­i­ta­tions, Back­blaze doesn’t do baremetal restora­tion, so you can’t re-im­age Win­dows af­ter a cat­a­strophic fail­ure. That’s fine; the Doc has copies of his op­er­at­ing en­vi­ron­ment saved lo­cally, and doesn’t need on­line stor­age for that. Also, Back­blaze isn’t a file synch­ing ser­vice. Again, no prob­lem. The Doc uses his free OneDrive stor­age when he needs ac­cess to doc­u­ments on mul­ti­ple de­vices, or when he wants to share them with col­leagues.

Time For an Up­grade

Hi again, Doc. You have bailed me out sev­eral times be­fore, and I’m back for sage ad­vice. I have two is­sues. I read your res­cue me­dia ar­ti­cle, and have a ques­tion: I own mul­ti­ple PCs, in­clud­ing one I use as a server with lots of stor­age. My main sys­tem is used half of the time for gam­ing, and the rest of the time for Adobe apps, Of­fice, email, and web brows­ing. I clone the hard drives twice per year, and keep the im­ages backed up to an ex­ter­nal USB drive off­site. Should I care about all of that me­dia res­cue stuff, though? If I take a hit, I can throw a new drive in there and per­form a full re­store, right? What are your thoughts?

Se­condly, my main PC is based on a Core i7-3770K, GeForce GTX 1060, and a SATA SSD for boot­ing up. It’s start­ing to show its age big time. When I play my AAA games with the graph­ics good­ies maxed out, they’re start­ing to stut­ter. The per­for­mance is still very playable, but I think it’s time for an up­grade. I have a sec­ond Cor­sair 600T White that I bought when I built my cur­rent sys­tem, along with a Cor­sair 1050W PSU, so I’m well on my way. I’ll prob­a­bly buy a de­cent moth­er­board for an In­tel Core i7-8700K, an NVMe SSD for Win­dows, a cou­ple of hard drives for data that doesn’t need to go on solid-state stor­age, and a 1TB SSD for my Steam li­brary.

My big­gest ques­tion marks are the graph­ics card and mon­i­tor. I’ve been us­ing a 27-inch Dell at 1920x1080 for eight or nine years, but want to up­grade to ei­ther 1440p or 4K with a killer GPU. I could wait an­other year or more if it meant mak­ing the jump to 4K. It’s im­por­tant that I step up to a higher res­o­lu­tion, though.

– Jim Lawrence

THE DOC­TOR RE­SPONDS: It sounds like the foun­da­tion of your next build is solid, par­tic­u­larly for an all-around PC bi­ased to­ward gam­ing. If you don’t plan to buy a new mon­i­tor for an­other eight or nine years, con­sider stretch­ing your bud­get for the best screen pos­si­ble. There are plenty of great-look­ing op­tions in the 2560x1440 seg­ment. But you clearly have your eye on 4K. In that case, Acer’s Preda­tor X27 and Asus’s ROG Swift PG27UQ are the hottest mod­els avail­able. They both have na­tive res­o­lu­tions of 3840x2160, em­ploy 27-inch IPS pan­els with over­clocked re­fresh rates of 144 Hz, and sup­port Nvidia’s G-Sync HDR tech­nol­ogy.

Driv­ing playable frame rates at 3840x2160 is an­other mat­ter. Nvidia’s Pas­cal-based GeForce GTX 1080 Ti doesn’t quite get there on a con­sis­tent ba­sis. And as of this writ­ing, we still don’t know how the re­cently an­nounced GeForce RTX 2080 Ti will per­form. If you have the cash to spend on a $1,200 Founders Edi­tion card, though, on top of $2,000 for one of those 4K mon­i­tors, the 2080 Ti will un­doubt­edly be your best bet for smooth per­for­mance in the lat­est games at such a de­mand­ing res­o­lu­tion.

With re­gard to your first ques­tion: It de­pends. Do you have a highly cus­tom­ized Win­dows con­fig­u­ra­tion that would be tricky to set back up in the event of a hard­ware fail­ure or un­re­cov­er­able soft­ware cor­rup­tion? Or, are you dili­gent about keep­ing data pro­tected, but don’t have any rea­son to worry about the op­er­at­ing en­vi­ron­ment it­self? At a cer­tain point, the Doc stopped cloning his drive (it’s an old in­stal­la­tion of Win­dows, and could prob­a­bly use a re­for­mat any­way), and fo­cused on mak­ing sure his im­por­tant files were safe.

4K Video Play­back

Hi Doc. My goal is to one day have a seam­less 4K en­ter­tain­ment cen­ter, but I’ve been wait­ing for more con­tent to be­come avail­able, and maybe the abil­ity to archive UHD Blu-ray discs that I own.

I have two ques­tions. First, are there any AMD pro­ces­sors that can play back Net­flix or other stream­ing ser­vices in 4K? My un­der­stand­ing is that In­tel’s seventh-gen Core pro­ces­sors and higher are the only ones with sup­port for HDCP 2.2, along with maybe Nvidia’s Pas­cal ar­chi­tec­ture. Sec­ond, can any AMD prod­ucts play UHD Blu-ray discs yet? Again, it sounds as though In­tel has this locked up with AACS 2.0. Any­thing ex­pected in the fu­ture? THE DOC­TOR RE­SPONDS: Stream­ing Net­flix con­tent at 4K is sup­ported on newer In­tel, Nvidia, and AMD graph­ics prod­ucts now, so long as you’re us­ing Mi­cro­soft’s Edge browser (un­der Win­dows 10, of course), an HDCP 2.2-com­pat­i­ble con­nec­tion be­tween your graph­ics card and dis­play, and up­dated driv­ers.

Un­for­tu­nately, the lat­est build of Cy­berLink’s Pow­erDVD 18 only sup­ports Ul­tra HD Blu­ray play­back on seventh-gen Core CPUs with Soft­ware Guard Ex­ten­sions sup­port, on-die HD Graph­ics 630/Iris Graph­ics 640, and a com­pat­i­ble mobo.

Nvidia’s new GeForce RTX 2080 prom­ises to push per­for­mance higher than ever—at a pre­mium price.

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