NZXT Noctis 450 – A New Era Begins

So I had a crazy adventure idea on public transport from the city to home… After much intensive research, great debate and a little hand wringing I decided on a computer case. Between the NZXT Noctis 450, NZXT Phantom 820, Corsair Graphite 760T and Corsair Crystal 570X, I finally chose to go with the Noctis 450. It’s sleek with plenty of fan space, including all the bells and whistles you would expect. Now I am getting dejavu of similar misadventures including the 25kg weight set, the cd stand from Ikea, the coffee machine and a mates weight set (I must be a masochist for weight sets).

What quickly became apparent on the way to the shop was that I was getting sick and that after I bought the case, a box fitting a 220mm X 567mm X 544mm case weighing 11kg is unwieldy in a crowd. But temperature spiking, I claimed my prize.

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I should have brought the car. I should have brought the car…

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So trekking through the suburb of ultimo with this box about a third of my height, I took a moments pit stop, then took on the densely packed pedestrian tunnel to the train station. A 2hr round trip and I got it home. Then the joy of opening the box began.

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I have to give NZXT their due, as the case was snug as a bug in its box with its two polystyrene guardians. Neither guardian appeared to have been felled in global transportation by violent postman, courier or sheer bad luck because we all know accidents happen. Now for a better look.
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I am keeping most of the plastic on because it is now time for it to go back in its box for a little while longer. I did have a quick moment of fun double checking my graphics card would fit into hard drive bay zones, but it is not quite time for my case to shine.

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This entry marks the beginning of a small pc construction series, as I go along the journey of building a new gaming rig. The Noctis 450 is a foundation stone. It looks sleek and starshipesque, which fits the bill for me. This is going to be a fun little project, so hopefully, you guys can gain something out of it too.

Collected components so far:
1X NZXT Noctis 450 Case
1X EVGA 850 P2
1X NVIDIA 970

 

Samsung 32″ Monitor – LC32F397FWEXXY

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This has been an adventure, but finally at long last I have this monitor home. After a week and a bit of bartering between different shops and then a week on order this monitor came in. I didn’t take the car to my local shops, but in optimistic fashion I was like, its only a monitor. I can carry this! Oh god, it is about two times as wide as me. What have I done.

Optimism!!!! *Cough* sheer bloody mindedness *Cough*. I set out from the shops, the clouds had gone away. My arms were overextended as I clutched this monitor for dear life and began the walk home (This is just like the time, I bought a 25kg dumbbell set in a brief case and carried it across the train network home). Unperturbed by the odd stares, I commenced crossing the bridge and the wind struck me. It would not have my monitor! But boy if I had a boat, I would have a great sail. I checked the distance and in the end I wrestle this chunky monitor about 2.5-3km all the way home.

Anyway purchase story aside, what did I buy. I bought a Samsung 32″ curved monitor CF397. Its full name LC32F397FWEXXY, but that’s a mouthful. Let’s open her up. I am kind of excited, as I haven’t bought a computer monitor since 2000. 


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Ok typical goodies I suppose, your stand, a power cable, HDMI cable and the paper work.

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Now how am I meant to get the actual monitor itself out…..

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The answer is very very carefully. Square monitor you are all good, straight up and down. Curved monitor I was very nervous I was going to snap it.

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So having gotten it to the desk, I realise reading the instructions it is upside down and needs to face the desk to put the stand in. Back to the box it goes. Now looking at the stand, it was a very sleek and easy to assemble. It pretty much clips together. You the screw two small screws in and that is the stand assembled. Having assembled the stand and juggled the monitor bank onto the desk. I then had the nerve racking job of clicking the stand into the monitor. But click it went after feeling the strain exerted on the monitor.  Monitor dance time! Juggle juggle juggle.

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Ta da! Holy crap it takes up so much desk real estate. What have I done! Oh well she’ll be right. You have to admit it looks pretty smart. Final stage is plugging HDMI in and power cable. Naturally it is very straight forward you can’t get them in the wrong slots. In my case there is an extended step because I went out and bought a 3 or 5 metre hdmi cable so I could elevate my standing desk and also a display port cable to hdmi so I could dual screen my computer to the TV to watch Netflix still. Not that you really need a TV after you have a monitor this size.

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In reality the monitor doesn’t take up that much desk real estate. I can comfortably get a keyboard, a HOTAS and mouse on the desk with it. In reality, if you shift everything around a bit, there is room for my laptop. That just means shuttling things back towards the monitor. But having finally gotten all the paperwork off my desk and experienced it without all the clutter, I decided on a more spartan setup.

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Now down to the experience of the monitor. It has one of the crispest images I have seen on a monitor, the colour reproduction is really rich. I have had use of an IPS screen mainly in the past and well this really does wow me. Walking around a gazillion shops looking at turned on monitors this was the screen that really kept drawing me back. Lots of the research trail kept trying to take me away from it, but the on paper versus the in person experience kept bringing me back. To be honest that is kind of the way you have to do it though, go in person and look at the monitor turned on. Paper specs can say a world of things, but if the experience doesn’t fit to what you need then it kind of is silly buying that amazing beast on paper to get it home and be disappointed. For example, Samsung have a similar monitor which was about $500 more which had its quantum dot technology. I couldn’t see it in person and in the research I was getting a little bit stuck on it. I mean you have to semi-future proof right, a monitor will last you forever and a day. In the end though, I made the call against it because I couldn’t see it in person.

So what have I used it for thus far, well I have watched Netflix on it and it kind of leaves my TV for dead (Ironically my TV is only 8″ bigger). The colours and contrast just seem to have that edge. Now what about gaming? I mean lets be honest, the intention was to be able to play Star Citizen after all. Well it does an excellent job. I keep seeing in my research that VA (Vertical Alignment) panel monitors have great colour reproduction and contrast, better refresh rates, but don’t get it for gaming it will suffer from ghosting due to the slow response times. Well from my experience, I haven’t seen any ghosting or visual distortions in Star Citizen, Elite Dangerous, Cities Skylines or Stellaris. I haven’t even put it on gamer mode or adjusted any settings, beyond the brightness (It was up full and a 32″ flood light is no fun).

How can this be? Well Freesync for AMD graphics cards may be the answer. I do have an AMD graphics card, but it is older than dust so I doubt it has the capabilities to make use of the monitor’s Freesync capabilities. I doubt I have even downloaded the necessary driver software for it. So let us assume that it is the monitor doing its thing. Freesync for those who don’t know is AMD’s adaptive synchronisation technology, the equivalent is Gsync for Nvidia. It aims at eliminating visual tearing, frame stuttering and lag in response time. If memory serves for AMD’s variant it puts the graphics card in the drivers seat for governing refresh rate. Don’t quote me though haha.

What about the screen being 32″ with only 1920 X 1080 resolution? Well in my research journey there seems to have been people with the people that if you are going to get a big monitor especially a 32″, you really need a resolution above 1920 X 1080. This is because you will get large pixels you can see. Well I am going to debunk that one. The main time I can see the pixels is when my face is 2cm metres from the screen, but hey I can also see my laptops pixels when my face is 2cm from the screen. So I kind of shrug at that. I don’t find that 1920 X 1080 on this 32″ detracts from it.

Now what about the curved screen? Well to be honest I thought curved screens were a bit of a gimmick when they first came out. I kind of still feel this for curve screens on TVs, as I really don’t notice what it adds. In case of the monitor well that is a different kettle of fish. You are up really close so you do notice the difference. I don’t have to turn my head to use the screen. Some say it is better for your eyes, well I don’t know about that. I am not an optometrist. What I can say though, is that the screen draws you into what you are viewing and is far more immersive. To the extent in some ways it feels almost 3D, well I am not sure that is the best way to describe it. It just draws you in and in its own way it is easier to look at, as it is so big.

A comment I must make is that, I have to sit back at my desk. It just feels more comfortable looking at the screen sitting all the way back in my chair. This is probably personal choice for me, I bet there are plenty of people who would be up much closer. When my desk is in standing mode, I similarly am slightly back a little. Sometimes to the extent of the length of my arms. In part I feel you get a better experience of viewing the screen, but also because it is so big it doesn’t really matter if you sit back or walk a little bit around the desk. The size of the screen and really good viewing angle mean it doesn’t really matter where you are. I can quite happily sit 2.5 metres away at my dining table having coffee and watching the morning news (Apartment living).

Some people like to have two screens. I find this does the trick of having two in one. There is enough screen you can quite happily split the windows and look at multiple documents. It works from my writing I can research and write or go back to my stories notes as I go. In that same sense I guess if you were needing to eagle eye the stock market and fluff about on market announcements it work also be a valuable asset.

Is there any downsides or things I would like differently. it didn’t come with speakers. That was a little bit annoying. I have gotten so used to having laptops that I forgot about speakers so I had to go out and grab something. In my case it was a Corsair headset, but that is a story for another day. It is only a small annoyance that is easily solved and monitor speakers never seem that good anyway. The other oddity is the Eyecare mode, it dulls the colour and cranks the brightness up really high. I would really like control over the brightness in this mode as it is a bit bright. I guess it just takes a bit of getting used to.

Here are the major specs:
1800R Curved VA Panel
3,000:1 Contrast Ratio
Full HD Resolution 1920×1080
4ms Response Rate
60Hz Refresh Rate
1 x HDMI Input
1 x Display Port Input
1X Headphone Jack
AMD Freesync
Width: 72.4CM
Height: 53CM
Depth: 24.3CM

Nobody had done any reviews on this Samsung monitor or the more expensive range of Samsung monitors available. So I had to do a bit more research. I’d have to say the best advice is go and experience the screen in person, even if it checks out on paper. This is a nice monitor, clean sleek design, immersive and offers amazing images. I am a very happy chap and would give it a 10/10. At the end of the day it was a final calculated leap that saw me go with it and it looks like I got it right. Anyway back to the novel writing, have a good one!

YouTube – The Channel Launch

Well here goes nothing! I made an intro for the channel. Pressing public across the board!

(Well that auto embedded, nifty)

I don’t think it is as concise as I would like it, but you know that is alright. I chucked in a few game recordings in the background for a jist of what games I am going to be covering. You get the general idea of what my YouTube experiment is about.

Surprisingly, the Europa IV clip lagged at some points in the recording, so that required a bit of extracting. I was deep into the Thirty Year war when I recorded, so I guess it kind of makes sense. A gazillion tiny nations in the Holy Roman Empire and outside all going each others throats, is bound to make the CPU cry a tiny bit. Especially when everything is being effectively generated twice and when you think about it EUIV is an intensive number crunching game. Not that I experienced any in game lag, it was purely in the video feed.

It is kind of ironic, because Star Citizen is more intensive on resources. If anything was going to have video lag, it should have been it.  In many ways that is the problem with recording, you could have amazing content, only to find it has lagged on the cutting room floor. It will probably see me eventually change to my server pc, sooner than later.

The main thing stopping me is:
A. Wrestling with it on my TV
B. The keyboard and mouse setup is a bit of a lame duck, as it was originally meant for Netflix/YouTube and running a server (Albeit it is a beast, 32g ram, 8 core processor and a damn good graphics card in it).
C. Buying a monitor for my standing desk and decent wireless keyboard to alleviate A and B.

Overall, making the welcome video was rather relaxing. Especially the Cities Skylines part. I was like, right, lets just jump on one of the trains and roll around a city. I might actually do some city tour videos, after they are constructed, mainly from the perspective of a citizen or vehicle. The most annoying part about the camera, though is it bobs every time you hit a power line or a traffic light. As you can imagine, hit a city street full of intersections or a part of your train track filled with road bridges. Bump bump bump bump, teeth rattling.

Anyway, that wraps it up for now. I am going to go back to my morning writing, I have almost finished another short story. Amidst the pile of work and many other interruptions.

I hope you all have a lovely Friday and an amazing weekend!!!! Hahaha, I know I will. I’m yet another year older. Feel free to comment below or on my videos, happy to chit chat or discuss things and constructive feedback is a gift. Will see you around.

 

YouTube Channel – The Final Stage – Editing

Hello,

This is a retrospective piece today. I am kind of excited I have actually got my YouTube channel going. But let’s not jump the gun, editing I Lightworks has been easy and smooth. I find it like Adobe Premier, albeit better because it is free. The free version however is not as friendly as the paid version. There are a lot of easy efficient interface bits and all the tutorials are only for the paid version (But I might look into buying it, because face it. It’s a one off payment rather than a constant burn on money).

If you wanted to jump the gun, here is a link to my now established YouTube:
https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCTly8mpNh_Z3oJ7gKMs9m9A/featured.

Lightworks, is all pretty straight forward from my understanding.

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Here is your Log screen. It appears to be the easiest to navigate your computer and import video and sound files for your project.

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Here we have the cutting room floor. Chop change and fiddle with your clips  and audio on your timeline. You have your little box of imported items to use above and to the right the preview window. Little blue marks to mark out points in your video. Everything can be broken up by hitting c which cuts from the point your seeker bar (red diamond) is at.

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Audio is self explanatory. Here you alter all your audio files. Something too loud, click in your little points and then drag the sections volume down. Want to stretch the audio or put in audio fade ins and outs. This is your section. You can also easily turn your audio channels on an off. Plenty of audio alterations, like equaliser, cross fade and other such things up in the top left hand side. It really reminds me of Audacity and that after practice was a very useful piece of software.

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Here is the VFX screen. Things like dissolve handle your transitions. I spent ages on trying to work out how the hell to make such transitions so for a note, you remember those blue markers I was tell you about. Well this is were they shine. You put in an in mark and an out mark and then you can click the effect and tell it to apply on the marks. Can’t remember all the crazy stuff I was trying before but nothing work until I found dissolve tucked away, in a section that isn’t apparent in the tutorials for the paid version.

An issue I faced in my first video recording involving Star Citizen and the Constellation Andromeda tour, required editing my voice in. I recorded on OBS, but my voice had cut out funny at the end, so I never go to say goodbye properly. Right say I, well I have an Olympus  DM-720, I was using for a journalism major a couple of years back. This would be easy. So dumpty dum, di da, wham! I hit another wall.

The voice recording quality of my recorder was a gazillion times better than the mic on my laptop. It was very very apparent. Makes sense though, it’s designed for fighting amongst a marauding pack of journalists in a press conference. If you are the person that gets stuck at the back, this recorder saves your bacon.

I overcame the issue, by first cutting out the bad audio, putting my new recording in a separate channel set. From there I took a slice of background noise of the game out of the video and repeated placed a copy of it underneath the recording of my voice. I dropped my voice volume and in theory I patched it up enough that it isn’t extremely noticeable. You can tell me if you like, here is a link to my now operational youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EO3dTSf5ry4.

It’s been a week or a month building this channel and this editing is the final piece. I mean you don’t think as an author doing the writing thing, you are going to be doing a gazillion other things. I mean stuff like learning how to build a website, how to create picture and graphics content. YouTube and video editing, wasn’t even on the map, until tadaa, look what’s on the to do list for an adventure. I think if anything from this experience so far, I have learnt a lot of skills and polished old ones. Haha you can never say the life of an author is boring!

Anyway that wraps it up for now. I hope you have an amazing Thursday. Feel free to comment below. If you are using Lightworks and you need help, I’ll do my best to see if I can give you a hand. Please note though I am a beginner myself, but I dare say I have the basics under wraps.

See you next time.

Seb

 

YouTube – The Next Mountain

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Thank god, I don’t have to climb that mountain. I’m only going to be talking about figurative mountains. On my side quest, constructing a YouTube channel, I hit this mountain like an express train. What’s the issue? Well I thought I had my OBS settings perfect, but it appears this isn’t the case. The recordings are experiencing visual feed lag, even though the audio is coming out fine,

The scuttle butt is that if you are recording, you are using double the CPU and GPU power. The frame rate itself drops off astronomically on the recorded feed, unless you have a really powerful rig. So you could be getting 60fps in game, but the recording could come out the other end at 20fps as it generates the next screen.

I am using my laptop and not my desktop/server for recording, I just prefer using it, but that comes with its own price. Even though it has an I-7 4 core processor, 8g ram and a NVidia 650m. I had a chat with a few guys at my Star Citizen organisation and they were very helpful in chipping in some ideas on what to do.

A sudden idea had occurred to me after there advice had filtered through (takes a day cause of time zones). It was to force OBS to use my Nvidia card out of the Nvidia card manager, but this resulted in a black screen. I did this because normally my laptop fights over using the weaker intel card to save battery with fullscreen programs, rather than the Nvida. Whatever the reason, OBS chucked a wobbly. So I let it have its way and returned it to the intel card in the Nvida manager and just let it use the Nvidia from OBS’ own internal settings.

Anyway the recommendations were to drop the bit rate from 30,000 to 12,000-16,000, drop frame rate to lock in at 30fps output (Because at 60fps it just keeps demanding resources regardless of them being there) and also dropped the output to 720p HD. In addition, since I was using my laptop to use less intensive games like Battlefield 4. Well I am an optimist. So I kept with Star Citizen (Since its the most intensive game I have apart from DOOM), then tried each setting one at a time in the recording

Sure enough after this trial and error, it brought the video feed into alignment with what I was actually getting onscreen in game. OBS suddenly became quite smooth in its recording. So I think I am laughing now. All setup for the recording side in game. Here are my current video settings in OBS if you are curious. Hopefully that is of some use to you:

settings 1settings 2

Anyway that wraps it up for this segment, next time we are going to look at editing software. Have you used OBS, how are you finding it? Feel free to comment below or o my social media. Hope you have a great day wherever you are in the world.

YouTube Channel Update – Best laid plans…

Alright folks, as the saying goes, ‘the best laid plays go astray.’ I hit a minor hurdle with the banner, well not a super hurdle, but an annoying one. YouTube tells you its recommended banner size is 2560 X 1440 pixels. What it doesn’t alert you to, is the fact this is the banner size for all mediums, specifically it has TV’s in mind. So when it comes to looking at the banner on a laptop, you miss pretty much everything, but the centre. I tested out that first nebula field background experimentally and I only got blue and some stars. I am not saying it’s terrible, but considering the hard work that went into making planets happen, it was a little bit annoying.

That’s easy fixed though, just means moving in the planets, adjusting the background here and there. She’ll be right again before we know it. Onwards and upwards, I did a little bit of research into recording software and tried out FRAPS and OBS (Open Broadcaster Software). FRAPS doesn’t seem to like windows ten or at least doesn’t like my laptop. I jumped straight into a game of Stellaris, hit record and all I got after I had finished up, was sound and a black screen. It’s highly likely it could be my knowledge of the program, but it seemed to be working perfectly fine.

So back to the drawing board after FRAPS (It was the main one I knew). I had a hunt around, looked through forums and posted on the website for the organisation I am a part of for Star Citizen. I even managed to get into contact with ‘BoredGamer,’ a YouTube veteran I’m subscribed to.

After a few really helpful people chucked in their two cents, I did some more research, ummed and ahhed, then tried out a few more recording software. I am currently on OBS or Open Broadcaster Software, freebie and open source.

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I’m no video techie, but I managed to get it recording, utilising different sources e.g. my display, video camera and Stellaris. The quality out the other end was brilliant. Most of the hard yards was done by a setup wizard which is in beta, but I had a bit of a looksee in the settings.

Stating the obvious, you don’t want to change your file format to one with any compression for recording, lose quality (Think lossless image format like PNG then going to JPEG or something) and if it’s like any video software I used back in 2006….. Very bad things happen.

Here is a link to OBS if you are interested: https://obsproject.com/

Anyway, when plans go astray, just come up with a new idea. At present OBS is it, my placeholder draft banner can be modified and the next stage is finding some video editing software.  I will probably start by looking at Adobe Premiere, cause that’s what I know, but I will most likely do research and throw my net wide to find the best thing for me. Most likely a free open source alternative to begin the experiment.

If you have any thoughts on good video software, free or otherwise, feel free to comment or tweet me.  Happy also for any advice, video editing, banner creation etc etc.

Take care now.

Seb

 

 

YouTube Banner – A human needs a ship

There is of course the most important feature missing from my universe designs. That is a spaceship. What sort of spaceship? Well I am thinking of maybe trying to create a spaceship for one of my races in my sci fi universe from my stories. Going with sleek and elegant with a very advanced tech feel that outpaces humanity by a crazy long time.

What inspires me for ships currently well at the moment one of my favourite ships is a Romulan D’Deridex Warbird out of Star Trek the Next Generation onwards. I love the profile and the sleekness of the vessel and whilst it is sleek it is also intimidating in appearance. I mean look at them wings and profile. See that decloak and you sure as hell are not going to hang around for long.

Here is a picture of a model I own:
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You can see a much cooler picture, which Memory Beta have used here: https://goo.gl/images/bBVPAS

My next inspiration is Star Trek Voyager, I mean Voyager is a real smart looking ship that also gives it an air of speed. The slight ovoid primary section and streamline nature of the vessel just is cool.

If you haven’t see Voyager before, here is a link to Memory Alpha’s picture of it: https://goo.gl/images/bgDygZ

Ok ok, so from that info we know I’m a fan of Star Trek (My childhood), but I also have inspirations from outside that.

Turning to Star Citizen, the Endeavour class science ship. I love the fact she is big, sleek for a big ship and still manages to pull off a science look. Even with out bio domes attached, it looks pretty damn nifty. Gives me the feel, of older science fiction. Big lumbering behemoths, ploughing through space. Very very cool.
Image with bio domes: https://goo.gl/images/1UFtE4
Image without: https://goo.gl/images/dt4sED

I really like the reliant from Star Lancer, for similar heavy set old school feel that isn’t too old school sci fi. It of course like that D’Deridex is more military focused.
Image: https://goo.gl/images/DwQyvf

So these inspirations, what does that bring to the table? Well it brings me sitting at the table, trying to remember how to sketch and draw, another skill I haven’t used since the dawn of time.
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Let’s just say work in progress. I also need to devise how to turn an end product sketch into a fully blown 3Dish ship for the banner. But you know, I’m sure I will either figure it out or find a tutorial for that. I think it extends a bit beyond my grade 8 or 9, digital production skills.

I really want that advanced exploration feel, without dipping into old school or completely retro sci fi ship concepts/hard sci fi (E.g. no big rings for gravity or super bubble ships).  But we shall just have to see were my imagination takes me on this one.
Anyway, I am all up for tips, any thoughts or advice, feel free to comment.