Tuesday, 11 December 2012

Far Cry 3 Driver Crash/Black Screen

Hi all, another quick fix post here.

Some people have been reporting some Far Cry 3 crashes lately.

A few fixes if you've been having this issue are listed below:

First off the basic ones - drop your GPU and CPU back to stock clocks, if you have overclocked them. Just to rule this out.

Secondly make sure you are using your latest GPU driver, sometimes the beta drivers can throw some screwy things into the mix.

Try running the game in DirectX 9.0 mode (you can find this setting in the game options), this can be a popular solution to some of the nVidia issues.

Some have found that creating a short cut to the far cry executable (find it in the far cry directory - wherever you have saved it to) and adding -offline into the 'target' section can help. For instance: "C:\Program Files (x86)\Ubisoft\FarCry 3\bin\farcry3.exe" -offline 

If you use a program like MSI Afterburner, set your power to something like 80 or 90%, not the full 100%, this in a way is almost downclocking your card, but it can help in newer models.

If any of these fixes solve your problem post up! If they don't, let me know as well, even more so if you find a solution so I can add it on the end!


Thursday, 23 August 2012

GTX 680 4GB SLI Benchmarks

I've had the opportunity of testing a pair of Palit Jetstream GTX 680 4GB cards in SLI and thought I should share some of the benchmarks and screenshots with you all.

The setup is as follows:

i7 3930K @ 4.2Ghz Cooled by Corsair H100 in Push/Pull
Gigabyte X79-UD5
2 x Crucial M4 256GB in RAID0
2x Palit Jetstream GTX 680 4GB
3x iiyama Prolite 24" E2473HDS screens giving a resolution of 5760*1080

These aren't perfect benchmarks, they were all run for varying amounts of time but in that time I tried to simulate what would be the highest and lowest FPS situations.

BF3 - Operation Guillotine (Max graphics)

Frames Time (ms) Min Max Avg
2464 49412 36 62 49.866

World of Warcraft: Cataclysm (Flight Around Stormwind) [I am running max graphics with about 5 custom settings which advance them beyond what is controllable in the UI]

Frames Time (ms) Min Max Avg
11028 124856 47 214 88.326

Dear Esther

Frames Time (ms) Min Max Avg
7574 56207 110 204 134.752

Elder Scrolls: Skyrim (With texture packs up to 2.8GB and ENB series, Vsynced at 60fps hence max)

Frames Time (ms) Min Max Avg
8292 141952 50 59 58.414

Guild Wars 2

Frames Time (ms) Min Max Avg
3645 79888 32 64 45.626

There are certain games in which it would be silly to benchmark, for example DotA 2/LoL don't run well without Vsync, so with this setup they quite happily sit at 60fps, CS:GO will run anywhere between 140 and 290fps across all three screens. Tera will run at a fairly constant 60fps as well, maybe dropping to 55 occasionally.

Monday, 20 August 2012

DotA 2 Black Screen Fix

Just a quick note here really, if you're having issues with DotA 2 playing properly with your graphics card setup and just get a black screen when loading (and then sometimes following by a really jittery DotA background music), you should try this:

Right click on your DotA 2 in Steam, go to Properties and Set Launch Options, then enter the following:

-windowed -w 1920 -h 1080 -noborder -novid

Replace the 1920 and 1080 with your actual resolutions.

This will launch the game windowed and maximised without the Valve intro video.

UPDATE: Also try removing your DotA2 config files located in steam/steamapps/common/dota 2 beta/dota/cfg and then in the launch options described above, add +autoconfig

EDIT: If you are still experiencing issues after applying this fix, a good precautionary measure is to update to your latest video card drivers, but to also do a full uninstall of the old ones too, a good program to use to completely clear them is Driver Sweeper.

As in the comments - you have to replace the numbers with the correct resolution of your screen, mine won't always be the same.

Monday, 11 June 2012

Palit Jetstream GTX 680 4GB Overview

Skyrim was proving incredibly demanding in the VRAM department due to the massive amount of higher definition textures I have installed now. Bearing in mind I'm also running triple 1080p screens the 2GB 680 couldn't handle them.

With the move up to 4GB came a few setbacks, a little less overclocking. The Jetstream does +100 core, the reference 680 did almost +200. That may have given the POV a slight fps boost over the Palit.

Aside from that though, I am very pleased with how quiet this card is, along with obviously the gain in memory size.

Skyrim now registers a decent 2.7GB of VRAM usage and a constant 60fps V-Sync'd.
Diablo III proves no issues for the card either. 60fps V-Sync'd across three screens with GPU usage sat at around 40-50% and temperatures no higher than 48 degrees!

Wednesday, 28 March 2012

nVidia GTX 680 Surround Setup & Summary

I was lucky enough to bag myself one of the new nVidia Kepler offerings - the GTX 680. It has been a slightly longer wait than expected since putting together the Sandy Bridge E system. I've been sat with three screens but no ability to play surround as the 570 isn't capable of it alone, it requires another running in SLI and unfortunatley my second one failed.

Point of View were the only models in stock

I've been far too caught up in fiddling with the clocks and playing the odd game to sit down an run a long winded benching session, but a few scores are below.

GPUZ showing the highest clocks/temperatures achieved (MSI Afterburner was clocked at +214Mhz core and +360Mhz memory):

3DMark11 scored 10952 P points.


Battlefield 3 Benchmarks running in surround at 5760x1080 resolution:

Ultra Settings (Game used all 2GB of VRAM)

Frames Time (ms) Min Max Avg
3815 141647 21 37 26.933

High Settings (Game used 1.7GB max of VRAM)

Frames Time (ms) Min Max Avg
8198 187708 33 59 43.674

Ultra settings in single player were just about bearable, but an average of 27fps wasn't all that enjoyable. High was just right to play at, only a minimum of 33fps, so I was happy with that across a triple screen setup.

Skyrim isn't really worth mentioning, with everything set to full, official texture pack and the 2K texture pack, it will still return anywhere between 50 and 60 fps (Vsync on) on constant gameplay. I could unlock the vsync and see what more it can give at a later date.

Pics and screenshots to follow!

A quick phone snap of WoW spread across the three screens:

UPDATE: 24/7 Clock at +194 core, +500 mem, scored over 11.5K 3DMark11

Friday, 2 March 2012

Kepler Confirmation for April?

Yet again, no official announcements, however we've seen a lot of very similar rumours flying around now that indicate the release of Kepler cards around the second week of April.

If there is any truth in it, we'll be seeing some form of official statement in the next few weeks I would think.



Sunday, 19 February 2012

Mass Effect 3

It's been around 2 years now since Mass Effect 2 was pushed onto our shelves. Since then there have been a lot of eager gamers awaiting the launch of the third title in the series.

Well, as luck would have it, we have just under 3 weeks until the official release!

However, without spoiling it too much, ME3 brings the fight home; the Reapers launch an all-out assault on Earth. You take the role of Commander Shepard, as with the previous games, to carve your own path through the Mass Effect universe and to seek out a way to defeat the Reapers.

Expect to see many diversions to the main story arc though, with multiple quests that will take you to far out planets in search of god knows what.

ME3 brings something new to the table though, 4 player co-op mode! You will be able to team up with 3 friends to take on various challenges that will also reflect back on your single player campaign. Taking over enemy strongholds has been mentioned as one of these scenarios.

The demo is currently available to play at http://masseffect.bioware.com/ so if you're a fan of the series I'd grab it now!

Saturday, 28 January 2012

Beta Roundup - Tera, Guild Wars 2, Diablo III & Others

We've got three games kicking around at the minute that are set to release quite soon. Most are now in beta stages or are set to enter beta fairly soon.

Tera Online
Pre-Beta. Registration open.

An MMO with a difference. Tera brings a new aspect to the world of MMOs - skill. You can, more often than not, get by in most of the MMOs around with some semblance of common sense and hand-eye coordination, specifically in PvE fights. However, Tera takes targeting to a whole new level.

With a crosshair.

That's right, you have to physically aim your spells. After all of the standard 3rd person MMOs I've played, this has been predominantly the case: Click target, cast damage/healing spell, wait for cast time, boom. Next.

Take a look at this video of the Archer gameplay. The mobs know when you've taken aim at them, there is a skill aspect involved in actually targeting your enemy as opposed to just having them on your targeting pane. I have a feeling this will be absolutely hilarious in a PvP environment and cannot wait to give it a try.

Guild Wars 2
Closed Beta, Open Beta in March. Registration not yet open.

We finally see a sequel to the much loved Guild Wars. Again, another MMO doing something different this year. Guild Wars 2 brings a slightly different take to the traditional roles of tank, dps and healer, they name them Control, Damage and Support. For a start, every class will be able to resurrect, at level 1! There are no dedicated 'healers' in the game so to speak either. All healing will be done via self heals, support heals or defensive abilities, protective domes (positional) and so on.

Death is not the end. When you are pummeled to the ground in GW2, you do not die. Nope, you are given a second chance. You are placed into a 'Downed' mode, in which you can fight to your last dying breath. You can still be attacked and defeated in this state, but you are able to use certain abilities to turn the tides of battle. Certain professions (classes) have instant resurrects, that can get you straight back into the thick of the fight again.

Diablo III
In beta - limited keys available.

It's taking a very, very long time for this to be released. The original promise was Christmas last year if I recall. That didn't happen. It was then 'early 2012', which, I suppose is still around now, but no release date as of yet (but we all know what Blizzard are like with their release dates). I would suspect it will arrive at some point during March as they will want to be competitive with other releases at this time, else they risk losing out.

The beta has technically started, however, I've not spoken to one person just yet who has a beta key here in the UK though that may just be not knowing the right people. If you are signed up for beta access, keep an eye on your battlenet account and the associated email address to see if you get in!

A few more...

It may be worth mentioning a few other releases I've had on my radar for a while. Some of these are works in progress, some are just rumours.

WoW: Mists of Pandaria 

We all know WoW is a lumbering behemoth of a game nowadays, so with the current content already complete, yet again comes the time for a new expansion. The next major delivery to the monster is Mists of Pandaria. Information was released last BlizzCon on the zones, dungeons, enemies, classes and so on.

The new playable race (Pandaren) are neutral and can 'side' with a faction at level 10 it seems. A new class (monk) is also being released. No auto attack is present on the monk! Their abilities are all active.

I think we should see MoP beta hit in the next three months some time. I would be disappointed if they released the actual game any later than early August, as with half the level increase in each expansion, they should really be bringing the packs at least 6 months closer between each one, so an 18 month release schedule as opposed to a 2 year one. I would hope for a June/July release of MoP.

Infinity Universe

I am hoping for big things from this project. It's being managed by a small team of 8 people but has been going for years now. In short it is a space simulator, similar in a way to EVE, however, there seems to be more emphasis on skill than how long you've had to train a certain ability. Their aim is to create a seamless universe, in which you can travel through space, head towards a planet and instead of a loading screen where you 'land' and then can walk around etc, you should technically be able to fly towards the planet, enter the atmosphere, fly around the surface, and just head towards space again to leave the planet.

This video was recorded almost two years ago:


In conclusion, I think we have a few good games on the horizon for 2012, and some (Infinity) to watch develop into something possibly fantastic over the coming years.

Monday, 23 January 2012

nVidia Kepler Rumours

So, the mill seems to have been turning! We've seen an article appear on Tom's that has taken some of its information from the Chiphell website. It seems to indicate the timescale for the arrival of the new nVidia Kepler cards:


Again, this is a rumour, not fact. It speculates that the new series of cards will hold the 600 series nomenclature, which opposes some previous rumours stating that the 600 series was being ditched for mobile GPUs, as the 300 series was, and that they were skipping to the 700 series instead.

Not only that but it also states that the new '680' card, may not actually host their flagship core, as has mostly been the case before. Hosting a 780MHz clock speed and 2GB of VRAM, it sounds half decent.

[Speculation]I personally think, if this is to be believed, that this card could be a quick release from nVidia. With AMD currently holding the top spot, they are losing out on cash. I also have a feeling that this is not going to be all nVidia have to offer. Again, if it's to be believed, this card may well be the successor to the '560(Ti)' card, with another release of an even higher single GPU card later in the year. Of course, I could be entirely wrong![/Speculation]

Wednesday, 18 January 2012

SOPA Stopped Me

I've taken myself offline for today in protest of SOPA and PIPA. A bunch of ridiculous bills the US Congress are trying to pass.

Read more here: http://sopastrike.com/strike/

Support the strike!

Site now back up - thanks for the support and let's hope it achieved something.

Monday, 16 January 2012

Crucial Release Firmware Fix for M4

Crucial announced last Friday that their firmware fix for the M4 SSD went live.

The release was to fix the issue with the drives, where once they reach 5184 power on hours, they would become unresponsive and cycle down. This is just over 7 months of power on time for the drives.

The fix includes all of the changes made in 0009 and you can upgrade from any lower firmware version.

I have just run the update across my two M4's in the desktop and the one in the laptop too without any issue.

See Crucial's website for the files:  http://www.crucial.com/support/firmware.aspx

Friday, 13 January 2012

Dell L702X & ThermalTake Massive 23 Review

Dell L702x

Right, so I'll give you the premise to this upgrade. I purchased a laptop from Dell in around January 2010, it was a Studio XPS 1645 with an i7 720 and the mobile Radeon 4670. It was a nice looking machine but unfortunately there was an inherent issue with it, when you stressed the computer and more specifically, the CPU, the BIOS would clock back the CPU, so that in the middle of a game, it would drop the clock down to 82%, 66%, 32%, and finally around 15.7%, so I was effectively running a 0.25Ghz i7 dual core... great!

After two years of promises, switching to a 130W adapter and trying countless BIOS updates, nothing would stop this laptop throttling, other than a program called ThrottleStop, but even then it a) only worked half the time and b) I didn't want to run a program every time I used my laptop, as it forced the CPU to 100% and got very hot. End result being an angry email to Dell and they promised to replace the machine for their new L702x model.


1920x1080 HD WLED screen
Intel i7 2640M 2.8GHz (3.5Ghz on Turbo)
4GB 1333MHz RAM
(I fitted 8GB Corsair 1333MHz)
750GB 7200rpm SATA 2 HDD
(I added the 64GB Crucial m4)
3GB nVidia GT555M GPU (New revision chip)
Win 7 Pro 64bit
2 Years in house, 3 years collect and return

(I must apologise for the quality of some of the images, I need to sort the lighting out in this room)

It has a nice exterior design, I still prefer the 1645's looks, but I'm sure this will grow on me

Good sized screen without a ridiculous bezel size. 

Features a backlit Keyboard, complete with numpad. Speakers are JBL, a fairly decent brand.

The package came with installation disks for the OS and drivers/software, the laptop itself and the 150W charger.

A quick look at the ports first:
On the left hand side there is just the one USB2.0 port as the fan vent takes up the rest
Taking the rear top left corner first, it has the charger slot and 2xUSB3 SS ports
Top rear right corner has what I think is the Infrared sensor, a standard size DisplayPort, HDMI and ethernet port

The first thing I did was to put the 64GB crucial m4 in the second bay, which runs at SATA3 speeds and to replace the 4GB standard RAM with 8GB of the Corsair 1333MHz kit. From this respect I can't comment on how the standard system would have performed but technically it should really only alter loading speeds by changing the drive and RAM.

Now, this machine came with the factory set A14 BIOS, however, there is a known issue due to the BIOS build which will not allow you to reinstall certain drivers due to unrecognised hardware (whether this was just not programmed into the BIOS correctly is anyone's guess, Dell have not rectified it yet). This obviously affected myself as I did a fresh install of Windows to the SSD. The affected drivers were the WavesMaxx Audio, Intel HD3000 graphics driver and the nVidia drivers, I'm still trying to rectify the USB3 driver.

It took a frustrating evening to set up the machine and finally get various programs installed. I did run a few benchmarks as standard and recorded the temperature.

Seems like fairly decent colour reproduction (Thanks to Digital Blasphemy for the background!) - the desktop uses the HD3000 graphics on the CPU

A incredibly fast boot for a laptop of 10.56 seconds, mainly due to the m4

Very good read speeds (552.8MB/s) again, write (114.4MB/s) is only low due to the small size of the SSD (64GB)

Shows mobile processors can do alright in a PCMark test! 14089 score

Most people tend to be using 3DMark06 on the L702x as laptops aren't quite as powerful as desktops, this scores a decent 10684

Temps still well within limits there at 74.5 average on load and 42 at idle

It doesn't score too badly on these benchmarks, however the real crux of this laptop is the overclocking potential of the GT555M. As standard it comes at 590MHz core clock with a memory clock of 900MHz, however my MSI Afterburner would push up to a stable 760MHz (can get 770 in benches but sometimes not in games) core and 960MHz memory, though pushing the memory won't give you as large of a gain as the core clock does.


12915 3DMark06 score - a 20.9% increase over stock
7043 3DMark Vantage
1555 3DMark11

As you can see it really did improve the performance in 3DMark06, and after running Vantage and 11 benchmarks didn't do so badly in them for a laptop.

I won't run FPS tests in games as it's not primarily a gaming laptop, more so I at least have the option of playing a game or two when I'm out and about. All I can say is that it runs Skyrim fairly well on medium/high settings on the overclock!
ThermalTake Massive 23

Along with the L702x I also purchased this little piece of kit:

The purpose of it is to provide a decent platform for cooling the laptop, be it on a desk or on your lap. It has four rubber feet to provide extra grip and is very lightweight for its size. A USB2.0 lead is packaged with it, which fits into a small flap at the rear of the fan so you can keep it stored in a safe place.

The side panel contains two USB2.0 ports, one for plugging the unit into the laptop, the other as an 'extender' so you don't lose out on the functionality of the port you are using on the laptop. The buttons are quite self explanatory, to turn on and off the LED and the fan.

I'm a fan of blue/black in components generally, as you can tell from my main setup, but I wasn't so sure of the LED on this, I leave it on mostly because it's 'bling' but I still can't scratch the feeling that some LED's can be tacky.

In short, the cooling potential of this varies greatly with the laptop type, as it all depends on where the fan ducts are. If I'm honest, after running a 3DMark11 test, the highest temps reached were only around 2-3 degrees lower than without the unit. So the answer to the question of 'does it do anything?' I would say is yes, it does, but not a great deal. I can imagine it doing more as temps go up, really these CPU's have a TJunction of 100, I think they start to throttle around 95ish, mine only capped at around 75 on load, without the pad.

Test Result Summary

Boot Time: 10.56 seconds
SSD results: 552.8MB/s read, 114.4MB/s write
PCMark Vantage: 14089
Geekbench: 6150
3DMark06:  10684 (Stock), 12915 (Overclocked)
3DMark Vantage: 7043
3DMark11: 1555


The L702x in itself is a fantastic piece of kit. It doesn't look much from the exterior but I'm happy with that. It can take most of the applications and games I throw at it, and run them to a decent standard, especially the games. It will cope with even Skyrim/BF3 on medium settings.

Load speeds are great, very quick to boot and run most day to day programs, primarily down to the SSD I would say though. The standard hard drive isn't so bad though, it's obviously not as quick but I have a few programs/games installed to it and it doesn't do so bad.

One good thing is that it can't take advantage of a 20% price hike because it looks cool and has a certain, *ahem*, extra-terrestrial brand name on it (yes, Alienware, I'm looking at you). Bear in mind that while Dell and Alienware are effectively the same company the equivalent hardware in the Dells are always cheaper.

I would recommend this laptop as I think it's a great unit, however, I would caution you if you plan on  reinstalling windows, due to the dodgy BIOS, to make sure you have all the relevant information before you do this reinstall and to confirm you can reinstall the drivers successfully. The only other criticism is that the charger doesn't quite fit properly in the port, an issue Dell is aware of but when issued with a 'replacement' charger, it's the same model! I can't comment on value for money, but I would say this system would cost you around £1100 if you purchased it through the Dell store. I paid just over that for my 1645 two years ago and in my eyes they are around the same performance for their era, but I am impressed with the L702x. Definately think of getting 8GB or more RAM in there and a decent spec SATA3 SSD, does wonders for everyday performance.

The ThermalTake, well, that's all down to you. It does work, a little, looks alright and is quite comfortable when just resting on your legs, however is it worth ~£30? I'm not sure, I found mine cheap, but I'm not sure I would pay quite that much for one, maybe £20 tops.

I hope you find this useful and if you have any queries don't hesitate to ask away.

Wednesday, 11 January 2012

WoW 64bit Client in Testing

It's now possible to download the 64bit WoW client from the PTR page. This will address a few issues, mainly memory related due to drawbacks of the 32bit client. It should also provide a small FPS boost.

A user from wow-serbia has been posting his findings. As you can see from the below images, it's giving some decent gains in both min and max FPS, along with running quite smoothly with 100+ addons and over 3GB of RAM usage.

See the full thread HERE.