Upgrading from Sandybridge to Broadwell-E

An informal review of upgrading to X99 and Broadwell-E 

Last month I treated myself to a new computer build. My Sandybridge 2600k CPU has been by my side since 2012, but I find I’m pushing it to its limits and need more power. I’ve re-purposed the build into a second gaming PC, so it is still humming along at my house. I’m just not its primary user anymore.

Old Specs:

CPU: 2600k Sandybridge overclocked to 4.3ghz
Heatsink: Coolermaster Hyper 212 EVO
RAM: 4x8GB 1866 DDR3 (9-10-9-28-2N)
Motherboard: Asus P8Z68-V Pro/Gen 3
Graphics: Powercolor R9 290 PCS+

New Specs:

CPU: 6850k Broadwell-E Overclocked to 4.2ghz
Heatsink: Noctua NH-D15
RAM: 4x16GB 3200mhz DDR4 (15-15-15-35-2N)
Motherboard: Asus X99 Strix
Graphics: Powercolor R9 290 PCS+ (overclocked to 1125mhz core/1525mhz mem)
Case: Fractal Design Define S (Ordered this after I had the system and reviewed temperatures)

No case? No problem! Time to test my upgrade!

No case? No problem! Time to test my upgrade!

My main reasons for upgrading was twofold:

  1. I regularly hit the 32GB limit of memory that my CPU and motherboard supports when running virtual machines and other tasks on my computer.
  2. I notice a performance hit when playing games when multitasking, for example when I’m watching Twitch streams.

There’s been a lot of talk on forums and Reddit when it comes to upgrading from Sandybridge. For most, overclocking their 2500k or 2600k should be more than enough to let them stick with what they have. However, as I read through posts and looked at how I use my computer, I concluded that these statements and opinions don’t necessarily apply to my own usage scenarios. (Or maybe I just wanted to see what all the fuss was about with X99.)

When the initial reviews for Broadwell-E were released I was disappointed. A lot of high expectations were killed in their tracks, such as high overclocks, but I saw some gains in the new architecture. For one, the memory controller supports faster memory. This is important for me, since I’m buying some fast DDR4 to go with my purchase. Why? DDR4 is relatively inexpensive at the moment, and there are some reviews out there that show higher speed ram helps improve minimum frame rates.

Exhibit A – Convincing yourself it’s time for an upgrade:

Skylake vs. Sandy Bridge: Discrete GPU Showdown

This review shows how even though Sandybridge fairs well with average frame rates, it tends to have more difficulty maintaining consistent frame output. This is turn results in stuttering or slight hangs in more demanding scenes.

Exhibit B – Upgrades are too expensive, upgrading memory is the answer:

Is it finally time to upgrade your Core i5 2500K?

Intel Core i3 6100 Skylake Review – The Best Budget Gaming CPU?

Both of these reviews show that the old age arguments of “1600Mhz DDR3 is more than enough” or “fast memory is overrated” might not be looking at the whole picture. It’s not necessarily max frame rates, but I’d rather keep frame time consistent or minimum frame rates high as I feel this translates into a better gaming experience. Unfortunately, this opinion has yet to gain popularity in favour of “OMG! Max framerate only went up by 2%!”.

How does the new system feel?

I’ve had a chance to play Battlefield 4, CS:GO, and World of Tanks with the new setup. All I can say is that each game feels “buttery smooth” in comparison. It honestly feels like a much better experience and I kind of wish I hadn’t waited so long to upgrade. Oh, and Twitch/VM’s and gaming is a thing now, and I’m able to multitask without any noticeable performance hit.

If I didn’t have a need for a second gaming PC I would have stayed with my Sandybridge system a while longer. However, this need is what convinced me it was time to upgrade and I’m honestly glad I did.

Broadwell-E overclocked on air!? How!?

This came up on the Overclock.net forums. The initial reviews show really poor overclocks for the 6800k in particular, which is one of the reasons I opted for the 6850k. I figured I’d just have a better chance at keeping the temperatures down since the review samples of the 6850k handled higher overclocks on lower voltage.

I was shooting for a 4.3ghz overclock but I’m still not fully stable at 1.28v. My 64GB of DDR4 is probably a factor here, but I backed off to 4.2ghz for now until I can take another look. I’ve been fully stable at 4.2 for a couple of weeks now.

Overclocking the upgrade!

Testing 4.3ghz

With my current overclock I top out at around 77-78C when stress testing with avx instructions, but the CPU stays between 60 – 70C for other heavy loads (with an ambient temperature of around 25C). It’s a bit warm as I’m still using air cooling, but I’ve yet to run into any overheating issues with my setup.

Fully stable at 4.2 but here's an attempt at 4.3.

Fully stable at 4.2 but here’s an attempt at 4.3.

Benchmarking the upgrade!

Cinebench R15 at 4.3ghz

Conclusions

I’m very happy with my upgrade and look forward to have a new system that will serve me well in the future. It’s been one of the easier builds I’ve worked on so it was fun to get this system up and running to see what it had to offer.

Maybe you’re reading this and trying to decide on what to do. If so, I hope you’ve found this review to be helpful and offers some insights you might not have found elsewhere. I don’t think jumping to X99 is for everyone. Keeping your existing build is more than okay too! Everyone’s situation is different.

If you insist on a new build my advice would be to try to wait and see what AMD’s Zen line has to offer this fall. Competition should help benefit you as a consumer and might help push down Intel’s prices.

Alternatively,  you might just want a small upgrade while you wait for something new to release. If so, consider grabbing an SSD (if you don’t already have one) or take a look at your graphics card or memory. You can always carry some parts to your new system or sell them after you upgrade.

 

Getting things up and running again

I spent some time this weekend re-organizing my dev environment and updating software to the latest versions. I’m hoping to take some time this week to working on some of my projects after work.

The trouble is, I have tons of things I want to do but not enough time to tackle them all. I might see what state the Android apps are currently in and go from there.

A Quick Update

For those checking up on things hello, and well, this post for for you!

Things have been busy as usual it seems and I haven’t been updating the site as much as previously promised. It’s been a busy and sad year overall with personal matters to tend to during the summer months so development has slowed down signifigantly as a result.

That being said, I’ve started to turn around and thinking about new projects or features to work on which reminded me of posting an update on the web site so here we go.

I’ve started brainstorming for a new game using Unity and am beginning to flesh out more details on what I’d like to create. I did update both School Scheduler and Price Compare at the end of the summer and implemented some new features and functionality, including my first widget on the Android platform. All-in-all the deployments of these updates went over very smoothly and I’m pretty proud of myself for that.

Along with my side-job developing for Cryptopone Software I work a full time job, and needless to say a lot of my free time has been spent winding down playing various games and learning about new and interesting topics. Computer/Network/Information Security is still a subject very close to my heart and is something I spend a lot of time reading up on and thinking about.

But when it does come to kicking back and having some fun, outside of work, I am a gamer at heart and as of late my time has been filled by playing World of Tanks and GTA V.

Gaming has changed a lot for me over the years, and my previous work history has helped me appreciate how much effort goes into greating a virtual world to immerse gamers into. I’m not sure if it’s competition, sheer volume of games… or just growing up that has made enjoying games much more difficult compared to years past.

Before, I could rent a game for a weekend and immerse myself in the world, following the rules laid out by the developers to play the game they designed. As years have gone by, games have been played, and as a part of growing up, I’ve been less interested in the actual game rules laid out and have been more interested in the actions that can be performed as a result of the rules that have been laid out. More specifically, I enjoy exploiting the actions that are available to me as a result of use cases that remain undefined or were never thought of in the original development. I’m of course, referring to the metagame.

My time playing GTA V Online has made me realize this more and more, as I can’t remember the last time I’ve had this much fun playing a videogame. The amount of laughter that has come out of me the past couple of weeks has been insane. I think years ago playing Left 4 Dead 2 and Team Fortress 2 with friends has been the last time I’ve had such a great time playing a game.

Perhaps actively seeking the metagame could be considered a skill, and is something I should document for both my own and others benefit. As a result, I’m considering documenting some of my metagame thoughts and comments with regards to GTA 5. I’ll gather some info on some areas that I’ve been actively embracing and post it for the world to see and discuss.

Lexmark x658de Reset Maintenance Count

While installing a new maintenance kit on a printer I ran into the issue of resetting the maintenance count. Unfortunately, Lexmark seems to have hidden this functionality and even Google wasn’t able to bring up any results for me.

That being said, I was eventually able to figure out how to reset the counter and this post is an attempt to make finding this answer easier for myself and others in the future 🙂

This printer is now called Bob Marley because it is constantly jamming!

If your x658de can be summarized with this image, you may want to order a new maintenance kit sooner rather than later…

To reset the maintenance counter after installing a maintenance kit in a Lexmark x658de printer, perform the following steps:

1. Power down the printer.
2. Hold 2 and 6 on the printer’s keypad.
3. Power on the printer.
4. You’ll see the progress indicator as per normal but will eventually end up in a configuration menu screen instead of the regular home screen.
5. Select the option to reset maintenance count.
6. Exit the config menu. The printer will restart back into the home screen.

It seems there are steps for other Lexmark printers however I couldn’t find this one no matter how much I looked.

Happy New Year! Upcoming School Scheduler Changes!

Hi all,

It’s been a while since I’ve posted an update, so here’s a little info of what I’ve been up to in recent months.

After spending some time learning about web based vulnerabilities I’ve also started looking into operating system vulnerabilities and exploitation by analysing malicious software. It’s been a blast so far and I hope to make use of these skills in the future.

As a result of my research in this area, my Android apps have taken a bit of a back seat in recent months. That being said, over the Christmas holidays I started to push ahead and began working towards a new update for School Scheduler, as more and more students are installing the app with the winter semester starting. The next update to School Scheduler will include bug fixes and a new (well requested) feature – the ability to cancel classes or block out holidays within the semester.

While working on the feature I’ve identified a number of areas within the code base that requires re-factoring and in some cases a better implementation all together. As a result I’ll probably look at re-writing the app which will take some additional time, but should yield a much more positive result. I’d also like to improve sync abilities between devices, so I’ll have to put some thought into the best way of implementing that. So the update with holidays/cancellations will be released as 1.3 and the rewrite of the app will most likely arrive as a version 2.0.

 

School Scheduler – Now with Tablet layout support

School Scheduler and School Scheduler – Lite has been upgraded to 1.25 on Google Play. An Amazon update will be done soon after any initial reported issues have been addressed.

The biggest change in this update is taking advantage of Tablet’s screen size and keeping the main screen in view while managing courses and tasks.

This update also gave me a chance to do some re-factoring while moving things from activities into fragments. I did a fair amount of internal testing to catch as many bugs as I could before releasing the update (there are also bug fixes for importing classes/tasks from the calendar) but please contact me via e-mail if you notice any issues after the update.

This update will make it easier to work on new features in the future. I’m hoping to do another update soon, as one of the features I’m looking forward to implementing is exclusion dates (so you can mark off holidays or cancelled classes). Stay tuned!

Freelance Options Available

Are you in need of a professional freelance developer? Do you require a skilled software developer with valuable quality assurance experience?

If you’re interested in hiring me as a freelancer for software development and/or mobile/software/web testing please send an email to

I have over 4 years of experience in the computer games industry! I’ve worked on Eve Online, a massively multiplayer online game created by CCP. I also have 6+ months of Android application development experience. I am a quick learner and eager to help you with your development efforts. Consider hiring me if you’re looking for a freelance programmer/tester who is knowledgeable in Python, Java, C/C++, PHP, SQL and more!

Services:

  • Android Application Development
  • Windows Software Development
  • Quality Assurance Testing for Windows/Linux software and Android devices (phone or tablet)
  • Penetration/Vulnerability Testing
  • Exploratory Testing
  • Performance/Crash testing
  • Technical Support

My LinkedIn profile can be found here and my freelancing page is located here.

Price Compare now on Amazon Appstore

Price Compare is now available on the Amazon app store.

Features:

  • By entering price, amount and a unit type (such as grams, liters, pounds or gallons) you can compare against previously entered prices instantly. Conversions between imperial/metric are performed automatically.
  • Categorize products under one or more categories.
  • Track stores along with prices to build a price history.
  • Use a star rating to rate product quality when comparing across various brands
  • Supports metric and imperial system (mg, g, kg, oz, lb, mL, L, Liquid Oz (UK), Liquid Oz (US), Gallons (UK), Gallons (US)
  • Quickly compare various quantities of items to find the best deal.
  • Many opportunities to compare and save, from groceries to gas, track anything that is sold by mass/volume.
  • View both via $/Amount and Amount/$

This app is a great way to find hidden deals given price inflation for food this year.

Get it on Google Play

Price Compare Version 1.0 Now Available!

Price compare is now available on Google Play!

The app differs from other grocery/shopping apps on the market by focusing on tracking the amount of product per each dollar spent. It works for products that are sold via mass or volume (think groceries, and anything with a mass/volume attached to it such as pop, chips, fruit, gasoline, etc).

Core Features:

  •  By entering price, amount and a unit type (such as grams, liters, pounds or gallons) you can compare against previously entered prices instantly. Conversions are performed automatically.
  • Categorize products under one or more categories.
  • Track stores along with prices to build a price history.
  • Use star ratings to rate product quality for comparing across various brands
  • Supports metric and imperial system (mg, g, kg, oz, lb, mL, L, Liquid Oz (UK), Liquid Oz (US), Gallons (UK), Gallons (US)
  • Tons of options to save, from groceries to gas, track anything that you buy based on mass/volume.
  • View both via $/Amount and Amount/$

Visit the store page and try it out. The starting price for the app is $2 which is very cheap considering how much it can help with tracking prices and always having them by your side.