> 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.
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.
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?
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.
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.