Archive for February, 2010

Dead Drive? – You’re not alone!

Sunday, February 28th, 2010

As I sit here getting ready to RMA my 3rd hard drive this year!!! – I began to wonder if I’m just snake bit, or if there isn’t something else going on. We purchased an HP ex485 Media Smart Server a little over a year ago. It came with a Seagate 750GB 7200rpm drive. That drive just gave up and died without warning at about 3 months old. Fortunately we also had a second drive in the Server and had folder replication turned on, which saved a copy of our data. Still, the operating system had to be reinstalled after the drive was replaced.

Knowing I needed to reinstall Windows Home Server OS, I purchased a new WD Caviar Black WD2001FASS 2TB 7200 RPM 64MB Cache SATA drive. Dual processors, 64Mb cache, 7200rpm, and a $300 price tag! We just replaced that last week. Once we got the new WD drive, we decided to use it as the primary drive in a new WHS custom build. It would run alongside two Seagate drives, both 1.5TB, one 7200rpm, the other a 5900rpm LP drive. It took a lot of configuration testing to get the WD drive to run at the proper speed. The drive has the ability to use the Clock Spectrum feature on the motherboard and until we enabled it in the BIOS, the drive ran at about 10% of its rated speed.

Ok – we get the primary drive up and running, transfer files from the 7200rpm Seagate Drive, roll it into the storage pool for WHS, and now it’s time to copy the files from the 5900rpm Seagate to the WHS file shares and we’ll be up and running as we should be. Click,…Click,…Click, hmmm, Houston, we have a problem. Yes indeed, drive number 3 is about to go belly up! Fortunately, we get all the files copied. Now it’s time to test with diagnostics, attempt repartition and reformat, and inevitably, just RMA the thing in hopes of getting a replacement that will last more than a year.

If you think our experience is unique, just go to Newegg and pull up the reviews on hard drives 1TB and larger and read the reviews. Users are reporting between 10% to almost 40% failure rates depending on the model. The 5900rpm Seagate LP drive shows a 37% DOA or quick failure in the reviews.

The only manufacturer I see getting consistently good reviews is Samsung. Their Spinpoint drives have been getting good reviews for years. I’ll be trying one of their 2TB Drives next. Buyer beware, quality control just isn’t what it used to be.

nVidia’s GeForce PC Kit

Thursday, February 25th, 2010

Instead of a fully working Fermi prototype, nVidia’s announced yesterday a new Do-It-Yourself kit simply named ‘GeForce PC Kit’.

It’s main purpose (aside nVidia getting some fresh cashflow) is supposed to be teaching more people how to assemble their own machine.

Don’t expect any fancy parts, though. Here’s what you get in the box:

CPU: Intel Pentium Dual Core E5300 @ 2.6GHz
Cooler: GlacialTech Igloo 5058
Motherboard: MSI G31TM-P21
Memory: 2GB DDR2-667 Corsair Value Select
Graphics Card: XFX 9800GT 512MB (most likely using DDR3)
Hard Drive: 3.5″ Seagate Barracuda 250GB SATA2
Optical Drive: LG DVD-RW burner
Power Supply: Ultra LifeTime 500W
Keyboard and Mouse: Microsoft keyboard and mouse
Chassis: CoolerMaster Elite 334 NVIDIA Edition

Included are the standard cables and adapters one can expect to find in such a kit, and some glossy color manuals, making life easier for ordinary users.

As a bonus for giving 500 dollars to nVidia, you also get a limited edition nVidia screwdriver. Oh, the irony… 😉

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AMD’s new 12-core Magny-Cours Opterons available for sale

Wednesday, February 17th, 2010

Missouri-based custom server and workstation maker Oakville Mehlville Computers started selling four 12-core Opteron 6174 processors on eBay today. The starting bid for the four-pack is set to 7,000$.

Magny Cours

The interesting thing here is that these processors are not announced by AMD yet. Still, judging from their markings, they don’t seem to be engineering samples. Each one of them features twelve cores running at a clock speed of 2.20GHz, has 12MB of unified L3 cache and 6MB L2 cache (512KB of cache per core). The central processing units code-named Magny-Cours have quad-channel PC3-10600 (DDR3 1333MHz) memory controllers and are designed for the socket G34 platform.

Magny Cours

The processors are tray-packaged, so the lucky bidder must think of a way to cool them. More over, at the time of writing this, there are no announced socket G34 motherboards available for sale… 😉

The Best All in One Printer Solution: Brother MFC-9840CDW

Tuesday, February 16th, 2010

Released almost a year ago, the Brother MFC-9840CDW is still by far one of the best solutions for printing, scanning, an sending/receiving faxes. Targeted towards small business, the Brother printer integrates seamlessly into a existing network, having both ethernet and wireless capabilities. It is also equipped with two Automatic Document Feeder paper trays, USB port connectivity for automatically printing pictures off a camera, and a standard 128MB of RAM easily upgradable to 640MB. The stock printing toner gets about 3000 pages before replacement, and handles Duplex printing and high resolution printing and scanning with ease.Varying in price from 550-600 USD, the options outweight the price, and the printer will pay for itself in the long term. It is also fully certified with Windows 7, and has an easy to use interface that makes printing even easier.

Computer Limbo