Category Archives: Hardware

Gaming Computer Upgrades

I last wrote about a computer upgrade back in 2008 when I re-established my geek-fu. It seems like I was upgrading every 3-4 years for a long time, but then the upgrades slowed down as my computer had enough horsepower for any demanding daily tasks and ‘fast enough’ for gaming so long as I was prepared to not run on max resolution and graphics detail on full.

Next upgrade came in 2014 with the following (I forgot to write about it at the time):

  • Asus Maximum VII Ranger Motherboard
  • Intel Core i7 4790 Quad Core LGA 1150 3.6GHz CPU Processor
  • EVGA GeForce GTX 970 Superclocked ACX 2.0 4GB
  • Corsair 8GB (2x4GB) DDR3 1600MHz Vengeance Pro
  • SanDisk Extreme II SSD 240G
  • Antec Eleven Hundred Black Gaming Case
  • Antec 620W High Current Gamer Modular PSU

Fast forward to September 2020 and it was time again, I was able to keep my existing case, PSU, DVD-RW and existing hard drives. Below was the new component and the first truly new item was the hard drive had changed from a 2.5″ solid state drive to a newer and even faster NVMe drive which basically looks like a stick of RAM:

  • Gigabyte Z390 Aorus Ultra LGA 1151 Motherboard
  • Intel Core i9 9th Gen – Core i9-9900K 3.6 GHz (5.0 GHz Turbo) LGA 1151
  • EVGA GeForce RTX 2070 SUPER 8GB GDDR6
  • Corsair Vengeance LPX 32GB (2 x 16GB) DDR4 3600
  • Samsung 970 EVO PLUS M.2 2280 1TB PCIe Gen 3.0 x4, NVMe
  • Cooler Master Hyper 212 RGB Black Edition CPU Air Cooler
  • Microsoft Windows 10 Home 64-bit

When we first moved to the USA, Hugo and Evie enjoyed playing the PlayStation and the idea of playing games on the computer just didn’t make sense and when attempting to wrangle the mouse/keyboard combination it was completely foreign. A few years later and the PlayStation is sitting virtually idle and unused, gaming has transitioned to the PC.

For Hugo’s 14th birthday, the big present that he really wanted was a new graphics card for the computer. Hugo would tell me that the GeForce RTX 2070 Super didn’t have the oomph needed to maintain 100FPS in taxing games, he was lagging and we all know, if you’re laggin’ you aint livin’ ;-).

To address said lag, we upgraded to an EVGA GeForce RTX 3080Ti 12GB GDDR6X memory. One hiccup we did run into with this upgrade, my Antec 620w PSU which was designed for the era previous GPU only had two PCI Express power connectors. I didn’t have a third with the correct connectors, so I ordered a custom made cable which arrived a week later. Suffice to say, once installed, the computer nearly lifted off the desk.

In June 2023, Diablo IV was going to be released and I wanted to be able to play it with Hugo but needed a second gaming machine. To address that ‘problem’, it seemed like a good idea to build a new blazing fast PC:

  • Gigabyte Z790 Aorus Elite AX LGA 1700 Intel Z790 ATX Motherboard
  • Intel Core i9 13th Gen – Core i9-13900KF 3.0 GHz
  • Samsung 980 Pro M.2 2280 1TB PCIe NVMe
  • Samsung 980 Pro M.2 2280 2TB PCIe NVMe
  • Corsair RMx Series (2021) RM1000x 1000w PSU
  • Corsair Vengeance RGB 32GB (2 x 16GB) DDR5 6000 RAM
  • Corsair 4000D Airflow Black Steel Tempered Glass ATX Mid Tower Computer Case
  • LG External CD/DVD Rewriter
  • Cooler Master Hyper 212 RGB Black Edition CPU Air Cooler
  • Microsoft Windows 11 Home 64-bit

I’ve put Hugo’s new GPU in the above PC build which are much better matched in terms of overall age and performance characteristics. In doing so, I’ve restored my ‘old’ computer from September 2020 to it’s former glory as I had a working GeForce 2070 Super sitting in an anti-static bag. Granted, not the fastest by today’s standards but it’s enough to play the new Diablo IV on moderate settings.

The costs of lower-end computer parts is relatively cheap today, which I’d say by comparison 10 years ago wasn’t as true. Prices have certainly moved on in that time, the 2014 computer components above were AU$1535 (~US$1380 at the 2014 average AU/US exchange rate of 0.9). By comparison, the 2020 components above were US$1840, the new GeForce 3080Ti GPU was US$1130 and the 2023 components were US$1850.

If I can get another year or two out of the 2020 component list above I’ll think that’d be pretty good overall value given that games are much more computationally expensive now, so I’m taxing that system more and more in the next two-ish years.

Let There Be Light

Since Claire & I moved into our house a couple years ago, we’ve had a constant battle with the lights throughout the house.

Like most modern houses, it has a mixture of standard light bulbs and the small halogen lights. Neither one of those types of lights have been particularly long lasting, however the small halogen down lights have been particularly flaky.

In the last few months, we’ve had a collection of different light globes blow throughout the house and after replacing the blown light bulbs – no banana. We tried switching different bulbs from other light sockets, different brand lights and different types/styles of lights but to no avail. Claire and I were at the point where we thought the light socket had some how died because no matter what we tried, we couldn’t get the lights to work.

Today we tried again and were able to get them to work with a lot of wiggling & jiggling of the light bulb in the socket. I’m not really sure how that works but even when screwed in tight to the socket, the light bulbs won’t shine but after unscrewing them a little, wiggling this way, jiggle that way – they seem to come good. You’d assume that if it works less than 1/4 of a turn from tight, that it’d definitely work when tight but that doesn’t seem to be the case.

Despite the annoyance of them not working for so long, its good to have all the lights in the house working again.


Intel CPU & Heat Sink Clogged With DustI got home from work and Hugo met me in the garage like normal and he says to me:

I’m grumpy!

After checking with Claire about why he might be grumpy, it turned out it was because the computer kept freezing when he was trying to watch one of his favourite shows via ABC 4 Kids.

Claire tells me that it did it a few times and that at some point, the computer was giving her a temperature warning – which I haven’t seen since the days of overclocking CPU’s.

A quick investigation shows that the fan & heat sink for the CPU are covered in dust. The photo probably doesn’t do it justice but the heat sink is completely filled in with dust and the fan blades are coated as well.

I clean everything up with a small stiff bristle paint brush, which Claire graciously let me use and we’re back in business. Claire walks past the computer and on the way to the bedroom tells me that the computer is making a weird humming sound.

Further investigation shows that it isn’t anything usual except that the CPU fan can actually spin properly now as it isn’t being restricted by the dust between it and the heat sink and the additional weight of it caked on the underside of the fan blades.

Canon EOS 600D Digital SLR Camera

Canon EOS 600D Digital SLR Camera With 18-55mm LensToward the end of last year, Claire & I went on the hunt for a new portable point and shoot digital camera. We’d had our Canon Ixus 65 for about three and a half years and while it functions perfectly & is in near new condition – it is getting a little long in the tooth.

For the last couple of years we’ve wanted to upgrade from a pocket sized digital camera and add a digital SLR into our photography arsenel but for whatever reason – we never got around to it. Conveniently, Harvey Norman happened to have a 20 month interest & repayment free promotion on at the moment – so we figured now was a perfect time to jump in with both feet.

My original plan was to buy a Canon EOS 550D digital SLR, as they’ve recently been superseded by the Canon EOS 600D and figured that it’d offer a good bargaining chip for me, as they’d want to clear their old stock.

After talking to a really helpful older staff member at Harvey Norman, I’m quite sure that plan would have worked swimmingly – up until he said that they have virtually no stock of any make or type of digital cameras as a result of the March 11 tsunami in Japan. He’d said that within a day or two of the tsunami, they’d been contacted by three or four of the major camera manufacturers and told that their orders had been cancelled and not to expect new stock until September at the earliest.

Instead of Harvey Norman having dozens of Canon digital SLR cameras in stock of various models, with a plethora of lens to boot – they had four – 1x Canon 550D and 3x Canon 600D. I thought I was still going to be in luck, until I realised that they had no lens kits availabile for the Canon 550D -which after talking to Andrew last night, he recommended getting a second larger lens.

In the end, we opted to pay a little more and go with the latest model – a Canon EOS 600D digital SLR twin lens kit. The Canon 600D packs some pretty kick arse figures – 18 megapixels, 3″ LCD screen, shoots full 1080p HD video, does 3.7fps continuous shooting with 9 point auto focus and 100-6400 ISO. The two lens that come with the kit are an 18-55mm and a 55-250mm, which seems like a good spread at this stage. We’ve now got to learn how to wrangle it – but what I know without knowing anything, is that it takes a mean photo by just point & clicking!

Best Men’s Razor

Schick RazorsA couple weeks ago, Stephen mentioned to me at work that Schick had a promotion running in facebook in which you’d receive a free Schick Hydro 5 – the latest Schick men’s non-disposable shaving razor, just for liking the Schick for Men Australia facebook page.

Like most males, I’ve tried a whole swag of different razors from cheap disposable razors, various Gillette, Schick and electric razors. For my skin, I find that a razor gives me less irritation then an electric razor and for quite some time now I’ve settled on the Schick Quattro Titanium as my razor of choice. It is sharp, a nice flexible head and it gives a close shave.

After trying the new Schick Hyrdo 5 razor, I’ve now found a replacement and my new favourite razor. While the head of the razor feels a little bigger than the Quattro Titanium, the razor glides through stubble and over your skin. I was particularly impressed with the closeness of the first pass as well, it was nearly completely smooth and I had even less irritation than I normally would with the Quattro Titanium.

Schick are suggesting that the new Schick Hyrdo 5 is the best shave for your skin and I whole heartedly agree. I really do think it is the best men’s razor I’ve ever used, certainly for my skin. If you do use a razor, I’d recommend you pick on up next time – if for no other reason than to see what the latest shaving innovation is – it might surprise you!