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Formula 1 Austrian Grand Prix 2017

Red Bull Ring Statue

Mercedes’ Valtteri Bottas claimed his second career F1 victory in the Austrian Alps in controversial circumstances narrowly holding off the late charge of Ferrari’s championship leader Sebastian Vettel.

From the outset, there was controversy as Bottas appeared to jump the start, however, the FIA investigated and it came back as a clean start. But, watching the slow-motion replays after the race seem to suggest otherwise, we see onboard footage of Bottas’ front wheels rolling before the five red lights went out. That said, I don’t think it would have changed anything, the Ferrari’s were fending off Ricciardo.

Fernando Alonso, starting from 12th place, launched his McLaren upto 10th place, only to get tagged by Daniil Kvyat, tipping him into a spin, which in turn tipped Max Verstappen into a spin after the Dutchman made a poor start and found himself in the firing line. Both Verstappen and Alonso’s races ended before the second lap, Verstappen stopped on track while Alonso recovered to the pits, but retired his car.

Meanwhile, as his Red Bull team mate Verstappen was going for a spin, Daniel Ricciardo made a great start to be challenging Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen into turn 1, however, the Australian couldn’t make it stick and drag raced the Finn through the turn 2 kink and completed the move into turn 3 to claim third spot.

After the initial lap 1 action, the race settled down pretty quickly, Lewis Hamilton moved upto 5th place making his way past Sergio Perez and Romain Grosjean by lap 10 after starting from 8th due to his five place grid penalty for a gearbox change. Over the next 12 laps, the Briton closed the gap to Raikkonen to be just 1/2 second of the Finn’s gearbox, but couldn’t overtake the 2007 world drivers champion.

On lap 32, after following Raikkonen for 10 laps, Mercedes pulled Hamilton in for fresh tires and managed to overtake Raikkonen using the undercut, demoting Raikkonen to fifth place. After everyone had made their stops, it was Bottas, Vettel, Ricciardo and Hamilton and despite Vettel catching Bottas and Hamilton catching Ricciardo, neither pursuer could make an overtake to improve their position.

HAAS F1 will be happy with their days work as Romain Grosjean brought his car home in an excellent sixth place, hopefully the recurring theme of brake problems for HAAS is finally over. Seventh and eighth place went to Force India, Perez winning the inter-team battle. Followed by the Williams duo of Felipe Massa and Lance Stroll in ninth and 10th places, up from 17th and 18th after a disastrous qualifying.

I would give the ninth race of the season a 5/10 as for the majority of the race it was processional. Yes, Hamilton closed in on Raikkonen and Ricciardo and Vettel got within 1/2 second of Bottas to make the race climax exciting, but most of the race was dull. I don’t have the statistics on how many actual overtakes there were during the Austrian Grand Prix, but I didn’t perceive more than 5 on-track overtakes.

The more interesting thing about the Austrian GP is the points standings, Vettel extends his lead to 20 points while Hamilton’s team mate, Bottas closes to just 15 points of Hamilton, interjecting himself in the title picture. I would love to see Bottas make it a three way title battle, however, I doubt Mercedes would allow their drivers to take points off each other now they have competition for the World Drivers Title.

Austrian Grand Prix 2017 Results

1. Valtteri Bottas (Mercedes) 1:21:48.527
2. Sebastian Vettel (Ferrari) +0.658
3. Daniel Ricciardo (Red Bull) +6.012
4. Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes) +7.430
5. Kimi Raikkonen (Ferrari) +20.370
6. Romain Grosjean (HAAS) +73.160
7. Sergio Perez (Force India) +1 LAP
8. Esteban Ocon (Force India) +1 LAP
9. Felipe Massa (Williams) +1 LAP
10. Lance Stroll (Williams) +1 LAP

Naturalsoft; How Customer Service Should Be Done!

Natural Reader 13

My wife and I use a piece of software called Natural Reader, which is a text-to-speech application that we use to listen to online articles instead of reading them, particularly useful for TLDR articles.

After building new computers for the wife and I, I had issues with Natural Reader not accepting my license key. I would enter the license number provided to me in the purchase Email and nothing would happen, I launch the application again and it asks for the license number again. I tried several times and I admit I thought this was a way for Naturalsoft to force me to buy the new version, but I was very wrong.

I Emailed Naturalsoft support and it was explained to me that I had used up my activations and that I needed to deactivate the licenses on the older machines to install on our new computers. However, I didn’t realize that I had to deactivate older installs to install on new machines. I had formatted and installed a fresh copy of Windows on our previous computers, so deactivation was no longer an option.

I responded to Naturalsoft’s Email explaining this situation and to my surprise, Naturalsoft added two more activations to my license to be able to install on our new computers. Maybe I am just an old cynic, but I was expecting a response saying, I’d have to purchase a new license for the latest and greatest version of the software. So I was very pleasantly surprised by the response that I received from support.

So often when I contact support, not Naturalsoft, but generally, the response I get is “not our problem, hand over the $$$”. So the response I received from Naturalsoft was a breath of fresh air and more companies should take this approach. If Naturalsoft had responded negatively, I would never purchase anything from them again and tell all my friends to steer clear, but now I would recommend them.


Computer Sleep Problems

Windows Power & Sleep Settings

Recently I started running SETI@Home again on my main rig, the new Ryzen 1800X system I recently built, and discovered some issues with power and sleep settings resetting themselves. I had set the screen to go off after 30 minutes and the computer to never sleep in the Windows 10 settings, however, every morning, I’d walk into my office to find the computer asleep and for days could not figure out why.

After a week of head scratching and numerous hours of online research, I found a lead concerning Asus’ AI Suite 3 overriding windows power settings and lo and behold, there it was in the EPU settings within AI Suite. It was set to screen off after 1 hour and sleep after 2 hours, which is the exact settings Windows kept reverting to. As I didn’t use AI Suite for anything other than fan control. I uninstalled the software.

I rebooted, went into the BIOS to set up a fan profile at the BIOS level, it has the same functionality as AI Suite without the need for software installed within Windows 10. But then, I had a secondary problem, when my monitors went to sleep, upon waking, the whole machine would crash and then fail POST (BIOS), I thought it was a glitch, but it was repeatable time and time again, so it was a definite issue.

After finding no information online about this specific issue, I thought that I’d uninstall the AMD motherboard and video card drivers, reboot and reinstall a fresh copy of the drivers. This fixed the issue immediately and I can finally run my computer until such a time I decide to shut it off manually.

I find it very odd that AI Suite has settings for power profiles built into the software when it just mimics and overrides the exact same function in Windows, it seems completely redundant and annoying if like me, you were unaware of these settings. I was thinking it was related to SETI@Home as that was the only new software I had installed, so I uninstalled SETI@Home, which obviously didn’t fix the issue.

Hopefully, others who have this issue will find this blog and not have to contend with the struggles I did.

Update [Jul, 6 2017, 11:13]: I have discovered the issue and it’s specifically the Crimson v17.6.2 driver and my main monitor, a Dell U3415W Ultrawide. No matter whether the monitor goes to sleep or I turn the monitor on while the computer is powered on, my PC will immediately restart and get stuck at the POST stage. My U3415W is connected via the display port interface using a DP to Mini-DP cable.

If I roll back to Crimson v17.4.4, this fixes the Windows crashing problem, but I can’t launch Wolfenstein, The Old Blood, it crashes back to desktop before the splash screen. So I find myself with two options, not play Wolfenstein or have my machine crash every time my monitor resumes from the being powered off.

I have also tried Crimson v17.4.3, which has the same characteristics as v17.4.4 and v17.4.1, which doesn’t support the RX 580, so that is a no go. So I guess that I have no option but to leave my U3415W monitor powered on until AMD release a new driver to correct this issue or live without Wolfenstein.


Formula 1 Azerbaijan Grand Prix 2017

Ricciardo Wins Azerbaijan GP & Stroll Enjoys A Shoey...

Sunday’s Azerbaijan Grand Prix brought us a new race winner in 2017 in the shape of Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo, who must be amazed to be standing on the top step of the podium after starting 10th and dropping to the back of the field after an early stop on lap 5 to clear debris from his brake ducts.

The Baku race was definitely incident-packed and it all started on lap 1 with Valtteri Bottas squeezing Kimi Raikkonen against the wall resulting in the two making contact as Raikkonen challenged for second place around the outside of turn 2. Bottas limped back to the pits for a new nose and front wing and came out a lap down while Raikkonen dropped back to fifth but continued on with non-critical damage.

Toro Rosso’s Daniil Kvyat stopped out on track which caused a safety car period on lap 10 and because of the difficulty in recovering cars on Azerbaijan’s tight street circuit, it took seven laps to recover the Russians car. The race restarted on lap 17, however, the safety car returned to the track almost immediately, with the field rolling through the pitlane while further carbon fiber debris was cleared.

During this second safety car period is when the shit hit the fan with Hamilton allegedly brake testing Vettel with the German failing to react quick enough crashing into the back of Hamilton’s car. The controversy came afterward when Vettel pulled alongside Hamilton’s Mercedes and deliberately sideswiped Hamilton’s car, which is very petulant and he deserved his 10 second stop/go penalty.

I bet that Ferrari will have some choice words for Vettel back in Maranello, he threw away a certain race win with his childish actions, then made it worse by denying he did anything wrong when being called in to serve his penalty. Four-time world champion or not, that doesn’t mean he can act like a dick. I’m no fan of Hamilton or Vettel, but I acknowledge their talent, however, these actions tarnish the whole sport.

More craziness ensued on the second restart with part of Vettel’s front wing flying off after the Hamilton contact and the two Force India’s collided, Esteban Ocon squeezed Sergio Perez against the wall and the inevitable contact happened, dropping both drivers to the back of the field with Perez retiring in the pits. while Raikkonen suffered a right rear puncture which damaged his rear wing, ending the Finn’s race.

This brought the safety car out for a third time to clear debris from the turn 2 carnage on the restart before a red flag was thrown on lap 23. After a 20 minute delay, the race restarted and amazingly Ferrari fixed Raikkonen’s car, as did Force India with Perez’ car, both drivers taking the restart from the back.

The third restart saw Ricciardo make a double overtake to move up to 3rd place thanks to his aggressive super-soft tire strategy, which allowed him to move up through the field, Williams’ Felipe Massa suffered a damper failure dropping him back through the field before retiring the car. Renault’s Nico Hulkenberg followed Massa into retirement after clipping the wall and damaging his front right suspension.

There was more drama to come with Hamilton having to make an additional pit stop to replace his headrest which had come loose and was lifting up down the straight, which despite Vettel having to serve a 10 second stop/go penalty, Hamilton ended up behind the German in fifth place, allowing Vettel to extend his lead over the Briton; all because Vettel made the stupid decision to sideswipe his title rival.

In the meantime, Williams’ Lance Stroll found himself in 2nd place behind Aussie Ricciardo. But it wasn’t to be for Stroll, he was hunted down by the much faster Mercedes of Bottas who relieved the Canadian of his second place, but still finished on the podium to enjoy the sweet (not) taste of a Ricciardo shoey.

Force India’s Esteban Ocon still managed to score a sixth place finish despite his adventurous day at the races… and Fernando Alonso scored McLaren Honda’s first points of the season bringing his orange car home in 9th place. Kevin Magnussen finished the race in 7th, Carlos Sainz, recovered from his first lap spin to claim 8th place while Pascal Wehrlein scored a single point for 10th place for Sauber.

Azerbaijan Grand Prix 2017 Results

1. Daniel Ricciardo (Red Bull) 2:03:55.570
2. Valtteri Bottas (Mercedes) +3.904
3. Lance Stroll (Williams) +4.009
4. Sebastian Vettel (Ferrari) +5.976
5. Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes) +6.188
6. Esteban Ocon (Force India) +30.298
7. Kevin Magnussen (Haas) +41.753
8. Carlos Sainz (Toro Rosso) +49.400
9. Fernando Alonso (McLaren) +59.551
10. Pascal Wehrlein (Sauber) +89.093

Why are you blaming YouTube? it’s not YouTube’s fault!

No Youtube

This is what my 12-year-old son asked me after I informed him that I have blocked YouTube on his laptop. Obviously, I have not just arbitrarily blocked YouTube, there are reasons why I have revoked his access to YouTube. As parents, we have to monitor our children’s Internet access and take appropriate action.

My reasons are; for years, my son has been accessing YouTube any way he can, including sneaking a tablet into his bedroom at night and watching YouTube videos until 2 to 4 am, copying audio onto his mp3 player and listening during the night, resulting in him not wanting to get up for school the next day.

I have expressed to him that I don’t like or want him to watch game streams due to the language used in these streams, which includes sexually oriented, sexist, homophobic and racist commentary. Despite this, he continues to watch these sort of videos for hours on end, going out of his way to hide his actions.

He will sit in the corner of the sofa against the wall with earbuds in and noise isolating headphones on, and whenever I approach him, he frantically closes browser windows. Obviously, this makes me suspicious, so I try to log into his Google account and find he changed the password to cover his tracks. And as he would need to know the existing password, he must have spied my password when I typed it.

Since I have told my son that YouTube is blocked, he hasn’t wanted to touch his laptop, which is a clear indication of what he was doing. I just hope that he doesn’t believe in and support these sort of racist, sexist, homophobic views. I also believe that he has created a second Google account as there is no history since January in the account I set up for him and he knows I monitor the account I set up.

My son changed the Windows password on his laptop as well, where there was no password set. He also discovered the Windows 10 bug which allows him to bypass the standard account limitation of not allowing for installation of new software by hitting cancel when it asks for the administrative password.

At this time, I have regained control of his Google account by recovering the password to my Email address and set a new password as he clearly knows the previous password. I guess he thinks he is being smart working around our monitoring efforts, but I work in IT and know the systems better than he does. All he is achieving is getting himself in trouble for not playing by the rules we set out for him.

He served a computer, video game and Internet ban last week because he had downloaded the offensive game stream audio to his mp3 player and was listening when he should be sleeping. When I asked him for his mp3 player as I wanted to check what was on it, he did a factory reset to hide his actions. Of course, the wife and I knew what he did, in fact, my wife called it while he was resetting the mp3 player.

Going back to the title of this blog post, I said to him that I am not blaming Google or YouTube, I am blaming him, he is the one taking the actions, YouTube is just a platform, YouTube does not make him take the actions he takes. I truly wish I could trust him to obey our rules, but his actions over the past 2 – 3 years have proven that we cannot allow him to have free and unmonitored access to the Internet.


Review: Logitech C920 HD Webcam & H600 Wireless Headset

Logitech C20 HD Webcam & H600 Wireless Headset

For many years, I’ve been using a cheap no-name webcam and headset bought from eBay for $10. To be honest, it worked just fine, my Skype friends could see me and hear me just fine, but I felt it was time to step up my VOIP technology game and I did this with Logitech’s C920 Webcam & H600 wireless headset.

Starting with the C920 webcam, which features a high definition 1080p camera with a built-in stereo microphone which sits very securely on top of my 34-inch curved ultrawide monitor thanks to its grippy rubber backing and adjusts up and down for the perfect positioning. The lens is of all glass construction and offers a wide 16:9 field of view with great color balance and clarity using full auto exposure mode.

However, the stereo microphone does not match the quality of the video. It’s adequate for the people on the other end to hear and understand you, but it seemed a little muffled to me when recording the sound locally. I didn’t realize the C920 had audio capture, so I can’t ding it for the muffled audio from the built in mic, so it’s a nice added bonus should you want to have more than one person in front of the camera.

Installation could not be any easier, plug in the USB cable into any available USB port and Windows 10 finds the device, automatically installs the basic drivers and you are ready to go. After the driver installed, I simply fired up Skype and immediately had video presented to me. Rather shockingly, the quality highlighted what an ugly f**ker I really am, I looked better on the old no-name cheapo 800×600 webcam.

You can download software from Logitech which expands functionality including local video recording, face tracking, motion detection plus pan, tilt and zoom controls. I don’t need these added features so I didn’t bother to install the software package so I won’t comment on how well this software performs.

Moving onto the Logitech H600 wireless headset, again, installation was a doddle, simply plug in the USB dongle, flip the switch on the headset to the on position and Windows 10 installed the driver software. However, I would offer this advice, use a front panel USB port for the dongle as I found the signal to be weak, breaking up when moving more than six-to-eight feet from my PC using a rear panel USB port.

Sound quality is excellent, the microphone sounds clear and crisp with plenty of volume to be heard at the other end of the Skype call. Headphone quality is also clear, although lacks real low down thump and super crisp highs when testing with music. This can be forgiven as the H600 was specifically designed for VOIP calls where those frequencies are not important, that said, audio is pleasant and easy on the ears.

As a convenience, Logitech has included a mute button and volume up/down buttons on the right headphone, although using them can be annoying to the other person on the Skype call as the clicks travel down the boom mic and into the other person’s ear, which must be highly annoying for them.

The range is decent, I can walk to all extremes of my 1400 SQ.FT home without losing signal through up to 3 walls. My office and computer is centrally located in my home which obviously helps with that, but I can get up to 25-30 feet away without issue, the signal only dropped out after going beyond the firewall of the garage which is understandable and I am unlikely to be holding a conversation in a roasting hot garage.

Battery life on the H600 headset is excellent for most users, unless you are a hardcore Skype user. I don’t know the exact battery life, but I have had five-hour conversations with friends on Skype and the battery was still going strong, still showing a green LED, meaning there is at least 30 minutes of talk time remaining. Even if battery life is low, you can use the 5 foot USB cable to power and charge your H600.

However, there are a couple of issues, at least on my computer setup. When initially switching on the headset, it will not make a connection with the receiver/transmitter until I unplug the USB dongle and plug it back in again. The second issue is the open nature of the microphone boom, in my office, I need to have a fan running as it gets incredibly hot during the summer, and the wind noise is very apparent.

However, the solution is very simple, I pulled the wind/pop shield off my old headset and placed it on the Logitech boom, problem solved. If you don’t have a wind/pop shield, they are readily available online for less than $10 for a pack of five. That said, it would have been nice for Logitech to include this.

In conclusion, the C920 / H600 combo is amazing for video calling through Skype, the webcam is crystal clear and the headset allows you to hear your chat partner clearly and vice-versa and the freedom being wireless gives you is astonishing after previously being tied to a six-foot cord. If there is a downside, it’ll be the price, combined, this combo costs $150, which for some might be too much for VOIP/video calling.


Formula 1 Monaco Grand Prix 2017

Sebastian Vettel Wins Monaco Grand Prix 2017

This weekend was F1’s “jewel in the crown”, the Monaco GP. My personal belief is that Monaco is hopelessly out of date, no overtaking, position changes are strategic only and bonafide overtakes often end in disaster with the Armco being so close. And today’s race was no different, all position changes were through pit stop strategy and the few attempted on track overtakes ended in contact and retirement.

The start yielded just one overtake, Lewis Hamilton on Stoffel Vandoorne, there was a little wheel to wheel contact between the Red Bulls and Perez sustained front wing damage which forced him to replace it on lap 18, dropping him back from 7th to 16th place. Button and Wehrlein races almost ended in the pits as Sauber released Wehrlein into the path of Button, forcing the Briton to take avoiding action.

Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo managed to not only leapfrog his teammate, Max Verstappen, but also the Mercedes of Valtteri Bottas to move into the final podium spot. The Australian managed this feat by pumping in several fastest laps before stopping for the required change of tire compound. Max Verstappen’s reaction over the team radio was not for the easily offended, “what a beep, beep disaster”.

The lead of the race did change on lap 40, in what many, including myself, expected to happen, the old switcheroo of Kimi Raikkonen and Sebastian Vettel. I fully expected this to happen as soon as I saw Raikkonen had qualified on pole. Raikkonen was pitted on lap 35 while Vettel was allowed to continue for another five laps before pitting allowing the German to return to the track ahead of Raikkonen.

By pitting Raikkonen first, a whole five laps earlier than Vettel;, Ferrari knew that Vettel would be faster with Raikkonen needing to warm his tires for a couple of laps to get them up to operating temperature. If you want even more evidence, just take a look at the Thunder face of Raikkonen on the podium.

Jenson Button put an exclamation point on his F1 career by making an ambitious lunge down the inside of Pascal Wehrlein at Portier, going into the tunnel, tipping the German’s Sauber onto its side. Button, himself made it to the end of the tunnel before darting down the escape road with broken suspension.

Not to be outdone, Sergio Perez made a crazy lunge down the inside of Danill Kvyat for 9th place at La Rascasse, resulting in retirement for Kvyat and another stop for Perez, dropping him out of the points.

So, my final thoughts, it was a typical Monaco Grand Prix, position change by pit lane strategy. Vettel won the race, he claims that there were no team orders, but the manner in which he gained the lead has to be questioned, given the known quantity of slow warm up of fresh tires. Regardless, there is now a 25 point gap between Vettel and Hamilton in the world drivers championship after the Briton’s 7th place finish.

Monaco Grand Prix 2017 Results

1. Sebastian Vettel (Ferrari) 1:44:44.340
2. Kimi Raikkonen (Ferrari) +3.145
3. Daniel Ricciardo (Red Bull) +3.745
4. Valtteri Bottas (Mercedes) +5.517
5. Max Verstappen (Red Bull) +6.199
6. Carlos Sainz (Toro Rosso) +12.038
7. Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes) +15.801
8. Romain Grosjean (Haas) +18.150
9. Felipe Massa (Williams) +19.445
10. Kevin Magnussen (Haas) +21.443

MHP Insurance Of San Diego, CA

MHP Insurance

After my wife was made redundant back in late February 2017, she needed to obtain new medical insurance as her workplace insurance had expired. She did a search on Google for medical insurance and one of those hyphenated SEO domains popped up, which she clicked and completed a web form. Literally, no more than a few seconds passed before she received a call from Geoff at MHP insurance.

During the initial call, Geoff gave us a quote of $158.78/mo that would automatically be deducted from our bank account. I insisted on using a credit card as using a credit card offers a certain amount of protection that using a bank draft does not. The initial payment was $178.78 including the “sign up” fee.

Later that day, I get a number of Emails from the Healthcare Marketplace asking for proof of income. As I did not personally set up this insurance through the marketplace, I didn’t have a way to submit this information, so I called up the Marketplace and acquired control of the account and I find that the income that Geoff had inputted was $3,000 lower than I actually earn, so I went ahead and corrected that.

This instantly removed my kids from the plan as the Healthcare.gov website deemed that I don’t make enough money for my kids to be on the same policy, and that Medicaid will be in contact, However, I know for a fact that I make too much to qualify for Medicaid, we went through the same BS during 2016 and my kids went uninsured for four months. This is a well-established bug in the healthcare.gov website.

My next call I make is to Geoff at MHP Insurance, who explains that once I took control of the Healthcare Marketplace account, he could no longer help us. So we had him create a new application and I sent him my paystubs so he could submit them on our behalf. Everything seemed to be fine for about five weeks, then we get a bill from Blue Cross, Blue Shield of Kansas for $142.01, which is $88 more than last month.

I sent an Email to Geoff, asking why we are receiving a bill from BCBS when we were sold a package with automatic recurring payments. Geoff’s response simply said that once the policy is set up, we are responsible for making payments. This is NOT what we were told when we signed on the virtual dotted line. Our overall policy cost would end up being $246.78 with payments to both BCBS and Chesapeake.

At this point I want no further dealings with MHP Insurance, I feel that we have been deceived into buying supplemental insurance from Chesapeake. I went to the Chesapeake website and immediately canceled the policy as we really don’t need the supplemental insurance, especially when the overall cost has risen by $88, we only agreed to the supplemental insurance because we thought we were getting a deal.

I’m more than happy to pay Blue Cross, Blue Shield the $142/mo for insurance for my wife and kids, but I cannot afford to pay the extra $88 being on a single income at this time, money is super-tight right now.

To be clear, I’m not telling anyone not to use MHP Insurance, I am simply expressing our experience of dealing with them, you can make your own mind up. However, I would recommend not using third parties to set up Healthcare Marketplace accounts as you don’t have full control over your insurance.


Review: Asus ROG Crosshair VI Hero Motherboard

Asus ROG Crosshair VI Hero

I recently built myself a new rig for work and at the heart of this new build is an Asus Republic Of Gamers Crosshair VI Hero motherboard. I went for the Crosshair VI because of Asus’ regular BIOS updates for the new Ryzen Platform and the ROG series of boards overclocking pedigree. After owning and using the ROG Crosshair board for 2 1/2 weeks, the following are my thoughts and views on the Crosshair VI Hero.

Physically, the Crosshair VI Hero is; in my opinion, the best looking AM4 motherboard on the market today with it’s black, silver and gray color scheme and RGB lighting on the VRM heatsink and chipset, making the Crosshair VI a motherboard for just about any build. I also like the I/O panel cover and backplate, which creates a very clean and polished look, aesthetics are not everything, but it doesn’t hurt.

Connectivity is second to none with eight USB 3.0, 4 USB 2.0 and both Type A and Type C USB 3.1, gigabit Ethernet and 5.1 audio outputs plus digital optical out on the back panel. Internal connections include USB 2.0, USB 3.0 and USB 3.1 headers, eight SATA III 6GBPS connectors, six total 4-pin fan headers, CPU, CPU_OPT, AIO_PUMP, CHA_FAN1, CHA_FAN2 and CHA_FAN3, plus W-PUMP header for custom loops. The final connector is a M.2 socket for M.2 Solid State Drives, which remains unutilized in my rig.

I paired a Ryzen 1800X with the Crosshair VI Hero and overclocking was a breeze, the Crosshair UEFI has an easy overclock setting for 4GHZ on all cores, however, I changed the voltage to 1.35v, auto setting was getting up there towards 1.5v, which is way too high, AMD recommends no more than 1.45v and I manually set my Corsair Dominator Platinum 3000Mhz RAM to 2667Mhz. As of BIOS v1201, I am unable to up the RAM speed to 2966MHZ, it refuses to POST at 2966Mhz, but works absolutely fine at 2667Mhz.

I ran Prime95 for 8 hours and it remained stable running 4GHZ @ 1.35v and temperature never exceeded 68°C in Ryzen Master. The BIOS temperature reported 85°C, however, we know that AMD elected to create a +20°C offset, meaning the BIOS is reporting a 20°C higher temperature than the actual temperature, which is very annoying as my AIO fans ramp up to 2000rpm due to the temperature offset.

Back to internal connectivity, there are some annoyances, such as only a single USB 2.0 header. I have to choose between connecting my front panel USB 2.0 or Corsair Link cable from my H110i, I elected to use the header for the front panel. The second annoyance is the positioning of the USB 3.0 header at the bottom of the board. Given the nature of internal USB 3.0 cables, it comes straight out and interferes with the SSD mount in my NZXT H440. I am disappointed that Asus did not include a right side 90° connector.

The Asus ROG Crosshair VI Hero supports Crossfire through the motherboard, no Crossfire/SLI bridge required on the latest AMD GPU’s. I installed an Asus ROG RX580 OC Edition in the top PCI-E slot running at 16x. If two GPU’s are used, the top PCI-E slot is slowed to 8x, that’s 8x on both PCI-E slot 1 and 2.

A little convenience that many motherboard makers omit is a front panel block. This simple block allows you to connect your front panel connectors to the block outside of the case and then install the front panel block to the motherboard. This is a massive timesaver, I always struggle to connect the front panel connectors one by one, trying to read the tiny print on the board, more manufacturers should do this.

So overall, I really like the Asus ROG Crosshair VI Hero motherboard, it looks good, has RGB lighting, almost all the connectivity you could ever need, as long as you only need a single USB 2.0 header. The Crosshair UEFI makes overclocking super easy with presets built in, and more options than you know what to do with, unless you are an overclocking genius, which I am not in any way, shape or form.

1401 BIOS UPDATE (5/22): Before the weekend, I flashed the 1401 (AGESA 1006 RC4) BIOS for the Crosshair VI Hero and it’s better, but I still have issues with my 2 x 16GB Corsair Dominator Platinum RAM. I can now run at 2800mhz stable, but 2933mhz refuses to pass post from a cold start. The +20°C temperature offset has been, well offset back to what it should be. However, I am currently running at stock Ryzen 1800X speeds due to temperature/thermal shutdown issues when running SETI@Home unless I run my case/radiator fans balls to the wall, so I have sacrificed the OC for the sake of noise.


ASUS ROG Crosshair VI, AMD Ryzen 1800X, STRIX RX580 Build

BEAST Evolved

A few weeks back, I wrote about upgrading my PC to something newer; and this is the story of my journey with this new computer build, spoiler: It was not as straight forward as I’d have thought and liked!

Let’s start with the build; due to case design restrictions, I had to make compromises and even mod my 8-pin CPU power cable to make it work. The biggest problem I had was installing the 280mm Corsair H110i due to the NZXT H440’s top radiator/fan mounts not being offset. I had to cut away the 8-pin CPU cable shrink wrap to expose the thinner cables to make it fit without interfering with the radiator fans.

The secondary issue was installing the USB 3.0 cable to the header, which I guess is as much as a problem with the Asus ROG Crosshair VI Hero motherboard’s placement of the USB 3.0 header. The cable, like all cases’ USB 3.0 internal cables comes straight out, no L shape connector to make life easier for builders. The issue arose due to the SSD mount directly in front of the Crosshair’s USB 3.0 header.

I made it work by sacrificing cable management neatness with the cable slightly fouling the SSD caddy. You would have thought that being a premium motherboard, the ROG Crosshair VI would have had a right side 90° USB 3.0 header like the SATA connectors, which leaves me feeling cheated a little, especially when looking at B350 motherboards that are $100 cheaper having a 90° USB 3.0 header.

The third issue is that the installed rear case fan stops you from installing the H110i’s liquid tubes at the rear of the case, meaning that you have to remove the topmost 3.5-inch hard disk caddy. This, however, is not an issue as I intended to remove the 3.5-inch caddies to increase air flow from the front case fans.

Additionally, the H440’s built-in PWM fan hub does not work for the included 3-pin fans, the hub is supposed to convert PWM signals from the motherboard into voltage signals for the included 3-pin fans, however, it does not work at all. The included NZXT branded fans run at 100% consistently, if I connect a PWM fan to the 4-pin out, I can control that fan from 0 – 2000rpm, but the NZXT fans remain at 100%.

The manual states I should use the CPU or CPU_OPT headers and connect the CPU fan to the 4-pin header on the fan hub. I am not willing to do that as I like my CPU fans to be on their own header, to be notified of a failure in addition to speed control. I connected the PWM fan hub to CHA_FAN2, which provides the same signals as the CPU and CPU_OPT headers using CPU temperatures for speed control.

After the build problems, the Windows experience was also not the greatest when using AMD’s built in RAID controller for RAID 0 on my two 480GB ADATA SSD’s, which made Windows ‘pause’ for anywhere between 30 and 90 seconds before resuming as normal, which is incredibly infuriating while I work! Not to mention the extra 25 – 30 seconds that the RAID drivers add to the overall system boot time.

Just getting the RAID array recognized by the Windows installer was a real pain, I downloaded the AMD RAID drivers from the Asus Crosshair VI support page and none of those downloaded drivers worked. I ended up downloading the RAID drivers from an MSI X370 motherboard support page, which worked perfectly first time. Clearly, Asus dropped the ball on this one, guess they thought no-one would run RAID.

After a little over a week, my computer started to refuse to shut down. It would get to the point where the PC would normally turn off after shutting down Windows and nothing, nada… at least for five minutes, then it would reboot, regardless of whether I click shut down, restart or sleep. I thought it was related to the 1107 BIOS update for the motherboard, but it turned out to be unrelated, I never found the cause.

And I don’t care what the issue was as I wanted to start over with Windows on a single SSD, after living with the randomly ‘pausing’ Windows 10. I reinstalled Windows 10 after having some bizarre issues with my USB thumb drive unmounting itself half way through creating the Windows 10 USB media. And immediately, the computer booted into Windows 10 in 30 seconds including passing POST.

So, performance, it’s faster than my previous machine, which features an AMD FX8350 / 270X, which served me well for the last five years. I haven’t done any benchmarking, I have played Metro Last Light, which was pegged at 60fps as I set frame limiting in the AMD Wattman software. I have to say that for the most part, in general Windows use, the perception is that it’s no faster than the FX8350 system.

The 8 core, 16 thread CPU power comes when doing more processor intensive tasks, duh, obviously. I have noticed a significant improvement in speed while using Lightroom, specifically importing, zooming in and out, making exposure changes in the develop module and exporting. I guess I could run SETI@home and churn out 100+ units a day if I wanted to hear the H110i’s fans maxing out at 2,000rpm (very loud).

So, the bottom line, this PC (BEAST Evolved) was bought for future software releases, hopefully, the release of Ryzen will make software and game developers consider writing for more than four core CPU’s, which is the standard right now, thanks to Intel, no competition means no innovation in technology.

FINAL SPECS

NZXT H440 (Black) Case
Asus ROG Crosshair VI Hero Motherboard
AMD Ryzen 7 1800X CPU (OC’ed to 4GHZ @ 1.325v)
Corsair H110i Liquid Cooler
Corsair Dominator Platinum 3000 RAM (@2666Mhz)
Asus ROG Strix RX580 OC Edition GPU (@1360Mhz)
ADATA 480GB Premier SP550 SSD (x2)
Corsair RM750X Power Supply