Saturday, February 28, 2009

Laptop Revived

Well the laptop arrived back 2 days ago after some more through tests I can confirm that the new video card is working fine.

Unfortunately I do feel like I can't endorse Dell anymore 2 times failure is now a pattern. I've ordered some thermal gap fillers from the other side of the world these are the same ones that go over some laptop IC components in order to dissipate heat. I'm hoping I can replace my current pads with these ones which are suppose to perform better.

When these pads arrive I will also put a new layer of OCZ freeze on which is generally 5 degrees better than my current Xigmatek brand thermal compound.

I also have another GPU I'm bidding on with a dual slot cooler provided the bidding doesn't get out of hand this will become my primary while the current card becomes the spare.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Laptop Video Dead

It would appear that after my recent laptop video replaced under warrenty this new one also died.

I'm starting to suspect nVidia QA issues with my GeForce Go 7900 GS as well. What's strange is both GPU cards died from a vram related issue. I suspect that the cooling pads for the vram are not sufficient to cool down the chips. Unfortunately I don't really see a way of correcting this issue.

Perhaps with my next unit I will put better thermal compound between the GPU core and the heat shield but I doubt that will fix the issue because the ram chips are the ones that are dying no doubt due to thermal expansion and contraction of the solder joints.

if you have a Dell Inspiron 9400/e1705 with an nVidia or ATI graphics card and suddenly get a BSOD with a NMI: Memory Parity/Check error, you can be pretty sure your video card is starting to go bad and the memory in question is vram.

For my next mod once the video card is back I will try and replace the thermal pads with a solid aluminum block along with buffing the surface to hopefully improve the thermals just enough to prevent another premature failure. Failing that my only solution is to continue buying new video cards off ebay as they are a "hot" item (excuse the pun) for this model of laptop.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

SpeedStream 4200 Cooling MOD

After having the SpeedStream4200 around for about 2 weeks I decided that the tiny diminutive DSL modem has serious cooling issues. Under normal conditions when it's allowed to lie flat on the table the bottom will get too hot to touch.


The problem became more serious when the modem was taken apart, the main processor on the board was hot enough to give you a burn.



Although I have no doubt the modem is operating within operating ranges it's still inexcusable how sometimes a simple heatsink that would've cost less than a dollar would've remedied the situation and greatly reduced the number of these modems that have been known to fail.

An easy fix for those of you DIY'ers is to take some aluminum thermal duct tape and to fold your own semi-pro looking heat sink.



Remember the trick when trying to create your own is to start with an accordion fold. The higher you can get the cooling fins the better your cooling will be. The denser you can pack them together likewise will help as well. Passive cooling is a function of surface area so when designing your heat sink try and maximize that. Although I haven't done it another good idea is to mount a cooling fan nearby to encourage airflow over the chip.

I hope in the future manufacturers won't take shortcuts after an hour of testing temperatures appear to be dramatically reduced.

Monday, February 09, 2009

Source Dedicated Server On Linux

Here's a quick guide to how to get any server up and running on linux from scratch.

  1. Go to the steam website and download the "hldsupdatetool.bin"

  2. Make a new directory for your steam install mkdir steam

  3. hldsupdatetool.bin is actually a self extracting executable it extracts the executable steam into your new directory

  4. Now you need to execute steam auto-update to grab the binary files
    ./steam -command update -game [gamename] -dir [installdir]

    The [gamename] can be:

    • tf: Team Fortress 2

    • l4d_full: Left4Dead

    • esmod: Eternal Silence

    The [installdir] is where you want it to put the game for modular installs you should place sub directory so each game will live in it's own directory.

    ./steam -command update -game l4d_full -dir .

  5. To run your server you navigate to your server directory and execute the following command
    ./srcds_run -autoupdate -game left4dead +maxplayers 4

Have fun!