Friday, October 29, 2010

News : AMD Radeon HD6850 and 6870 ! Barts ! Barts ! Barts !

The new AMD Radeon 6 series, Barts core ! Yes, what took me so long to post this ? I'm pretty busy recently. lol
Now I've read through the review webs and let me make up a short conclusion of it.

"Be ready to see more improvements of the 6 series over the 5 series and 5 is gonna get pain in the ass!"

Noticeably, the improvements are better Tessellation performance, better thermal/power management, new Anti-Alias/Anisotropic methods and finally, 3D ! But not to mistaken, its not a direct replacement of the Radeon 5850 and 5870, it can be an cannot...depends on how you see it.
The recent 6850 is more of a direct head-to-head for the Nvidia GTX460 768mb and to fill in the gap of 5770 and 5850. As for the 6870 it's a direct competitor rank to the Nvidia GTX460 1gb and even the GTX470 too !

The most noticeable was the performance on higher resolution and power usage of the two new Radeon cards, sporting 10w~20w lesser to the competitor's solution. Oh boy they did fill in the gap against the GTX460.
At the same time, rumors are around that GTX580 and Radeon 69xx coming soon in a month or two.
Pricing will be a confusion, somewhat priced below the Radeon 5 series brothers..again to fill the gap.

My final words ? Read the reviews !!

Bit-tech Radeon 6870 Review

Bit-tech Radeon 6850 Review

HardwareCanucks Radeon 6870 and 6850 Review

Tom's Hardware Radeon 6870 and 6850 Review

Monday, October 18, 2010

My mini keyboard modding - CoolerMaster Alloy Keyboard

"Refurbishing it or giving it a new color will refresh you view towards it and love it again like before"

Here i go again, something to do with a little free time.But first let me introduce you to my trusty keyboard my friend said it sucks based on their personal point of view, I never got offended anyway, lol.
*Click to enlarge*

This is the CoolerMaster Alloy Keyboard, I liked the old CM stuffs compare to current CM stuffs because nowadays its more like looks instead of substance or content. Anyway, this keyboard has been my trusty mate of input for a few years since its release, 5~6 years ago ? I think so.
Today, being abit free than usual I took around 2 hours to do some fancy stuffs on it. Lets see what i've done, what you see above is the original non-modded brushed alloy surface.

*Click to enlarge*
First it was puke green, not sure what green should I call this. This green paint was first used on the old Microsoft 98 P/S2 Keyboard, the last time I used this paint was.....yeah, pretty much nearly as old as the Alloy keyboard, 5 to 6 years maybe ? lol.

*Click to enlarge*

Next was the metalic blue, man I love this the most ! look at the color ! Sparkling blue !

*Click to enlarge*
Here's another angle shot.

*Click to enlarge*
A close shot of the painted material.

Now, lets talk about how I do it, we need some of the below stuffs :
  1. 400 grit sandpaper
  2. 800 grit sandpaper
  3. 1500 grit sandpaper
  4. 2000 grit sandpaper
  5. Some remaining spray paints (my bro's metalic blue and what* what* green was used on this mod)
  6. Clear spray (very important)
  7. good weather (I will explain why)
  8. some ice cold water (same as 6th item reason)
  9. hair dryer (same as 6th item reason)
The sanding on the alloy was done quickly and lightly, instead of heavy sanding compared to the CM Stacker I did previously. The alloy material actually is more easier to get over-sanded, simply put it if i sand it too much it'll lose its shape, lol. From 800 grit to 2k grit and some water.

First, sand the thing from 400 grit and till 800 grit ONLY. I did this just to make it rough enough for the first layer of paint to stick on it. The finer sanding will be done later.

Now the first layer I used was the clear spray instead of the normal colored primer paints, due to the brushed material of the alloy, those color will stuck in bad in case I want to remove it. (in case I changed my mind or got bored with the color, lol)

After the first layer of clear spray, I left it there to dry up under then sun, weather wasn't really good today due to some hazy weather. So I got my girlfriend's hairdryer ready, thanks to her btw.

Once dried, again I went to sand it lightly with 1500 grit and 2000 sandpaper. The surface isn't smooth enough due to instant two layers of paint. Once sanding done fine sanding, the final part was done with a light layer of clear spray. After the fine sanding, the paint will look abit scratched, don't worry unless you sanded it too deep and might need to redo the 2nd layer of color paint. Nothing serious though.


Now, I have said above I will explain why the need of the good weather. Due to the hazy weather here in Malaysia recently without known actual reasons (weather guy said this is largely due to some open burnings), to make sure the paint dry fast enough I used the hair dryer to heat it up and then cool it down with cold water. This might not be the best method to prolong the paint's condition, without the sunny light it wont work good.

Once heated, cool it down with water and wipe it dry with tissue or some lint free cloth. I did this everytime a layer of paint is done. Actually, other than cool water I did try placing it in the freezer, lol. Works the same but overkill and you don't want your freezer smell like aerosol especially the foods.


I bet most of us have some old computer parts or anything non related to computer, being worn out, being old, being....outdated ? Refurbishing it or giving it a new color will refresh you view towards it and love it again like before. Say like you have an old speaker you loved alot or some table so old you find it useful but worn out with old colors, put on your thinking or creativity hat and make some skillful or n00b moves, who knows ? you made something unique out of it. And hey ! practice makes perfect aint it ?
Now you know how it works, I can gladly help more if you have any questions you can email me.

Btw, if you really wonder how many times did I painted the keyboard ? once each, ONCE each, lol. Because I own three of these keyboards. Painted two, one left in vanilla form - unmodded.

Friday, October 15, 2010

My case modding update - CM Stacker STC-01

I don't know if any of you guys seen the first generation Coolermaster Stacker before, this case is basically my dream case after so many years even I have looked into various difference cases from ATX to M-ATX or even ITX casings.

The CM Stacker STC-01, the big bad ass cases back in the days when CM Centurion was famous for its aluminum panel designs.  The Stacker, lets call it stacker shall we ? , Its design actually was one of the early designs that sparked the BTX factor for consumer market and also one of designs that created the idea of botom located PSU designs. Whoa boy, there's more to come !

This big baby packs a total of....lemme count, 11 drive bays !! What can you do with 11 drive bays ? well alot of stuffs i say. The 11 drive bays are 5.25" form, and no specific bays are designed for the 3.5" harddrives but WAIT, there's a so called 4-in-3 device included along its content. What does it looks like and what the 4-in-3 device looks like?

This is the 4-in-3 device for mounting HDD drives, it uses 3 x 5.25" bays and converts them into 4 x HDD slots. Neat eh ? at the same time it allows a 120mm fan to be mounted. Imagine 3 of these things mounted to the front bays and you'll get 3 x 120mm fans blowing cool air into the case or vice-versa.

If you notice, the bays above have these tooless clips or attachments that is used for mounting the device or optical drives to the 5.25" bays. They gave shitload of these for the case and with 11 bays, 11 for each sides and it make up 22 total. Madness !

As you can see, the buttons are located on the first bay, and yes baby ! this thing can be adjusted to any available bays. Total modifications !! Packs 6 x USB ports, some audio jack and the firewire port and finally the reset/power button.

The motherboard tray is removeable as well, and jolly hell it takes 15 screws removal to get this thing out, i guess this is what makes the case so damn solid. If you noticed, there is a rectangular hole at the tray and this hole is actually the exhaust/intake of the CoolerMaster obsolete crossflow fan.

Screws, screws, screws, screws and screws, this is what u get with the casing. There's so many of it and i doubt all of them are used.
And finally....WHEEEEELLLSSSS !!! This thing got wheels yo ! Seriously, this is a need because the case itself without internal hardware is 14 Kgs ! and with some stuffs in it say like 2 drives , motherboard, 1 ODD, few rams, heat sinks, fans, and lots of screws, it'll reach more than 17 Kgs. Heck heavy I say.
Now the interesting part !

It sure is my dream case, but when i had the money to buy it ? its already EOL (End of Life). Its considered as a rare case for me, even after 5 years, a new one still costs RM500+. One day while surfing a local forum, i stumbled upon a guy who is selling this rare case at a bargain price. This bargain price however is worth a new low end Coolermaster HAF or something similar. The seller includes everything that comes from the case, screws and everything. Nice and its a deal.
Now here comes the part where i was like WTFNEWYORKSAUCE! (picts by previous owner provided below)


I was told that the case had some minor scratches, well its acceptable. Unfortunately I don't have the detailed pictures of the case first condition. Anyway, the case was in bad condition, lots of dust, some stain marks, lots of worn out stickers, lots and lots of rusty parts. It made me sat there for a few hours trying to figure how am I supposed to clean it. The dusts collected are like black cottons, by meaning of black its like the case has grown some hairs in it.

I dismantled all the parts into bits, took it out to the compound and blasted it with water, full blast ! The dirts and dust is so stubborn till I have to use car shampoo to wash it. Took an hour to clean it part by part.
after cleaning the whole case and again I blasted with bla bla bla. Next.

After the wet cleaning, i went to some chemical cleaning with Brasso on the stickers and other obvious parts. The blackness is everywhere but Brasso took care of it. Again, bla bla bla, next.

Now here comes the pain in the ass and elbows and fingers part. I bought dozens of sandpapers and dug out some old paints. I thought of repainting it to a solid color, screw it. Sandpaper first. For almost two days I've spend all my time in the toilet sanding the shit out of the casing side panels. Now the previous owner painted the case without a layer of primer or in layman's term, then under layer paint. The primer is actually recommended when dark colors are used on the case, such as black for example. Black on aluminum is a no go and its a pain in the ass when you wanna remove it.
Before sanding, I bought a can of paint remover and using this can of stuffs without protection on your hands, eyes or feet can cause serious sting or skin cancer on the long run I guess ? Anyway, a tooth brush and half can of paint remover and a girl friend helping me. I've finally removed the black paint and it's still having dark stripes all over the side panels.

Now why the dark stripes ? the original panel is in silver color, which is brushed aluminum. Brushed aluminum have millions or billions of small stripe like gaps, with paints filling it up will be a bad time for someone who plans to remove it.
I went into sanding it, polishing it. Now remember what you have see above. And lets see my result. Notice the Before and After.

I thought of painting it, but heck it looks good just like this guy :

Shit, might as well name it S.T.A.C.K.E.R Mk II. 

Tools used for refurbishing the case ?

  • 20+ sandpapers from 100 grit sandpapers to 2000 grit
  • a can of clear spray
  • a bottle of Brasso polisher
  • a can of paint remover
  • a large amount of water for blasting
  • a few cups of sweet stuffs, Ice-cream soda i think ?
  • a lot of energy for moving the sandpapers
The result ? Priceless.

Now a note about the case performance, as expected to delivered superb cooling performance with only 3 fans excluding those on my CPU and VGA as both of these two are stock coolers. Everything is so damn cool compare to most of the cases I've tested.

Cooling tools :
  • 12cm Delta Brushless (Provided along by previous owner, kick ass high-perf fan)
  • 12cm Enermax Volcano bat shit fan 
  • 80cm Delta brushless i think ?
Future plans ?
  • more HDD
  • more crazy stuffs

Now more pictures:

* first sets of pictures are courtesy of Toms-hardware archives.
*second set is from the seller I bought it from.