Hard Drives

Crucial M4 CT128M4SSD2 2.5″ 128GB SATA Benchmarks in an Lenovo x220

I recently purchased an awesome little laptop…the Lenovo x220.

Specs :

Intel Core i7-2620M Processor (3.4GHz, 3MB L3, 1333MHz FSB) w/ USB3
Genuine Windows 7 Home Premium 64bit
12.5″ Premium (IPS) HD (1366×768) LED Backlit Display, Mobile Broadband Ready, 2×2 Antenna
Intel® HD Graphics 3000
4 GB PC3-10600 DDR3 SDRAM 1333MHz SODIMM Memory (1 DIMM)
250 GB Hard Disk Drive, 5400rpm
ThinkPad Battery 29++ (9 cell)
Intel Centrino Advanced-N 6205 (2×2 AGN)

I decided I wanted to get an SSD, and opted for the Crucial M4 series. It required a little tweaking to get into the x220. I had to unscrew the middle spacer, and it slide right in.

Benchmarks in IDE mode:

[zp src=”m4-crystal.png” album=”blog/CrucialM4/” width=”600″]

Benchmarks in AHCI mode:

[zp src=”m4-crystal-ahci.png” album=”blog/CrucialM4/” width=”600″]

These aren’t bad numbers at all, considering the manufacturer rates them at :

Sequential Access - Read
Up to 415 MB/s (SATA 6Gb/s)

Sequential Access - Write
Up to 175 MB/s (SATA 6Gb/s)

What I really like about this drive is the low power consumption, SATA 6/Gbp/s, as well as the 40,000 IOPS. I still think SSD’s are the number one upgrade for any PC (as long as they are SATA 3+ capable). They just make the system that much faster.

Video Cards Water Cooling

ATI/AMD XFX 6950 crossfire benchmarks – water cooled

I recently water cooled my XFX 6950 2gb reference cards. The specific model I am testing is (XFX HD-695A-CNFC AMD Radeon HD 6950 2G). I put on some XSPC water blocks, as with air and unlocked bios, they were hitting 95C + on load, which was worrying me.

hardware / test setup :

CPU : i5 2500k (also water cooled with an HK Supreme HF)
Motherboard : Asus P8P67 PRO
Case : Corsair 600T
PSU : Corsair HX1000
Memory : 4x4GB G.Skill DDR3 1600
GPU : 2x Reference 2GB XFX 6950’s shader unlocked and oc’d
Hdd : OCZ Solid 2 120GB

You can view the rest of the rig here :×6950/

The load temp will be running OCCT v3.1.0 for about 15 minutes.

Benchmarks – shader unlock bios only – 800/1250

idle – 38C (GPU1) 40C(GPU2)
load – 44C(GPU1) 46C(GPU2)
average fps – 635

Benchmarks – shader unlock bios and OC – 840/1325

load – 45C (GPU1) 47C(GPU2)
average fps – 650

Benchmarks – shader unlock bios and OC – 900/1400

load – 46C (GPU1) 49C(GPU2)
average fps – 675

Benchmarks – shader unlock bios and OC – 1000/1500


If you want me to test some games, let me know. I can always switch the BIOS back to stock as well.

Operating System Deployment

WinPE automatic windows 7 activation

We run Landesk, using the HII (Hardware Independent Imaging), which is run within a WinPE environment. I ran into issues where Windows 7 would not auto activate, which was causing issues, as some of the techs were forgetting to activate windows 7. We have a lot of internet restricted users, so once logged in as that use, they would not be able to get activated themselves. What I found was very simple.

The fix :

On your windows 7 image, browse out to : C:\Windows\Setup\Scripts\ and create a file called SetupComplete.cmd. In that file, you want to put in :

cscript C:\Windows\System32\Slmgr.vbs /ipk xxxxx-xxxxx-xxxxx-xxxxx-xxxxx
cscript C:\Windows\System32\Slmgr.vbs /ato

You will want to put your CD Key in the area where x’s are. Now sysprep, and roll out a new build!

General Computing

USB 3 vs USB 2 – speed tests with corsair flash voyagers



I decided to run a test on the similarly looking USB devices from Corsair. Test rig :

Asus P8P67 PRO
i5 2500k
16gb ddr3
Corsair 600T case

Test devices :

Corsair Flash Voyager 16GB USB 3 (CMFVY3-16GB)
Corsair Flash Voyager 1GB USB 2 (CMFUSB2.0-1GB)

At first glance, you notice the USB 3 is a little bigger, almost 35% larger then the original USB 2.

[zp src=”corsair voyager.JPG” album=”blog/corsair usb3/” width=”600″]

The first test is USB 2 running off the USB 3 front panel, with 1GB USB 2 Flash Voyager.

[zp src=”usb2-front.png” album=”blog/corsair usb3/” width=”600″]

Second is USB 3 running off USB 3 front panel, with 16GB USB 3 Flash Voyager.

[zp src=”usb3-front.png” album=”blog/corsair usb3/” width=”600″]

The third test is USB 2 running off USB 3 rear panel (on the motherboard), with 1GB USB 2 Flash Voyager.

[zp src=”usb2-rear.png” album=”blog/corsair usb3/” width=”600″]

The fourth test is USB 3 running off USB 3 rear panel (on the motherboard)l, with 16GB USB 3 Flash Voyager.

[zp src=”usb3-rear.png” album=”blog/corsair usb3/” width=”600″]

Those are some very solid numbers coming from USB 3. I was expecting to see in the 100MB/s, but solid 68MB/s is pretty good as well. It was good to see zero difference between my rear, onboard USB 3 as the front panel USB 3 though.

*UPDATED with write tests

USB 2 on the front panel USB3 slot :

[zp src=”usb2-atto.png” album=”blog/corsair usb3/” width=”600″]

USB 3 on the front panel USB3 slot :

[zp src=”usb3-atto.png” album=”blog/corsair usb3/” width=”600″]

USB3 on front panel USB2 slot :

[zp src=”usb3 on usb2-read.png” album=”blog/corsair usb3/” width=”600″]

[zp src=”usb3 on usb2-bench32.png” album=”blog/corsair usb3/” width=”600″]

If you want some other tests run, let me know, I am more then happy to accommodate :).

Computer Hardware Uncategorized

Dell D620/D630 PCMIA slot stops working

Have you ever run into this issue? We have MANY aircards and ran into this a handful of times. The first time around we went through drivers, different PCMIA cards, etc. So we called Dell, that had no idea, and sent us out a new PCMIA card. I decided to install it myself, instead of a tech this time. What I found out was that the ribbon cable (seen in the following picture), is actually coming loose. So if you push down on the left side of the palm rest (with the laptop off, the hard drive is right there as well, we do not want that spinning). That’s right the fix is :

Push down on the left side of the palm rest (with the laptop off), and it should make a connection. If you notice, the adapters naturally want to pull out of the little socket they plug into.

I later found out that this was a huge issue with D620’s, and with D630’s, they actually have a thicker pad between the palm rest and the ribbon…go figure!

[zp src=”d620_adapters.JPG” album=”blog/etc/” width=”600″]


ATI/AMD 6950 crossfire flicker at desktop and in games with 2 monitors

I have 2 x XFX 6950 2GB (reference) cards water cooled, great temps, great scores with a little overclock from within the CCC. I noticed a pretty bad flicker on both monitors when playing youtube/flash videos. I also noticed it when I was gaming (bad company 2, starcraft 2, League of Legends, etc). I tried new drivers (11.4, 11.5 + associated hotfixes), and I tried old 10.x drivers as well, with different crossfire profiles. I also tried running with 1 monitor, 1 gpu, etc.

The Fix :

Disable ATi overdrive in the CCC panel with driver 11.5 I am running solid, no more flickering! I then just use MSI Afterburner for my OC. I wrote a quick article on how to open up overclocking on there as well


ACPI SMO8800 driver missing for Dell E6410/E6420/E6510/E6520 – unknown device ACPI SMO8800

We received a bunch of new Dell E6420’s at work, and needed to get them prepped for drivers and our image deployment. We run a deployment process through Landesk OSD, with HII (Hardware Independent Imaging), which basically means that we have 1 image for multiple model computers.

I installed our basic Windows 7 Pro x32 image on the new machine, and was going through drivers that needed to be installed, and ran into one tricky one. In Device Manager, right-click the device and click Properties. Under the details tab, choose Hardware ID from the drop box. You’ll see something like ACPI\SMO8800 (that’s what the unknown device was on mine). Google that hardware ID and you’ll find that it’s an accelerometer, a device that detects when your laptop may be falling and instantly stops the hard disk so it isn’t damaged on impact.

I went through and extracted the drivers for it in Windows 7 x86/x64, Vista x86/x64, and XP x86/x64. The zip file is 2.79 MB (2,926,227 bytes). You can download the drivers here : LINK IS DEAD

All you have to do is extract it (I use 7zip), and navigate your update drivers to your respective OS version and x86/x64 version. If you want a more detailed write up on how to do it, with pictures, let me know.

Hopefully this helps :).

Computer Hardware

IBM Lenovo X220 break down/tear down for mSata SSD (intel 310, Renice X3 (SF1222), etc)

After doing some research on the best sandy bridge, ultra portal … I have decided on this awesome new laptop .. the IBM x220.

You can view the x220 datasheet (hardware options) : linked here (PDF).

I know some people will want to get an mSata SSD installed, this is a break down for that, with pictures!

1) RENICE 50mm mSATA.
[zp src=”1.jpg” album=”blog/x220″ width=”600″]

2) Flip it and remove screws.
[zp src=”2.jpg” album=”blog/x220″ width=”600″]

3) Turn it over, take the keyboard out.
[zp src=”3.jpg” album=”blog/x220″ width=”600″]

4) Remove the keyboard connector, be careful here, it looks delicate!
[zp src=”4.jpg” album=”blog/x220″ width=”600″]

5) Keyboard removed.
[zp src=”5.jpg” album=”blog/x220″ width=”600″]

6) Flip it again, and remove the front screws.
[zp src=”6.jpg” album=”blog/x220″ width=”600″]

7) Remove the back ‘shelf’.
[zp src=”7.jpg” album=”blog/x220″ width=”600″]

8) Now we have access to the mSata area.
[zp src=”8.jpg” album=”blog/x220″ width=”600″]

9) Slip your mSata drive in.
[zp src=”9.jpg” album=”blog/x220″ width=”600″]

10) screw in the mSata drive.
[zp src=”10.jpg” album=”blog/x220″ width=”600″]

11) Put it back together, start with the palm rest.
[zp src=”11.jpg” album=”blog/x220″ width=”600″]

12) Snap the blue connector for the touchpad.
[zp src=”12.jpg” album=”blog/x220″ width=”600″]

12.5) Flip it over, and screw in the palm rest, and attach the keyboard, screw that back in as well.

13) Assembly done, let’s boot.
[zp src=”13.jpg” album=”blog/x220″ width=”600″]

14) BIOS see’s our mSata drive.
[zp src=”14.jpg” album=”blog/x220″ width=”600″]

.. Enjoy!

Hopefully someone finds this useful! I pulled these images from a thread in Anandtech, to make it more searchable.


Corsair 600T – Full Acrylic Side Panel

So, after a few cuts of my acrylic piece, Bill, the owner over at, came over to my place, and dropped it off! It looks really clean, and it fits perfectly….without further ado :

[zp src=”P1000125.JPG” album=”vivi/600T/acrylic” width=”500″]

[zp src=”P1000121.JPG” album=”vivi/600T/acrylic” width=”500″]

[zp src=”P1000123.JPG” album=”vivi/600T/acrylic” width=”500″]

Water Cooling

Water Cooling an Antec 300 – Q9550 Round 2

So, I have decided to water cool my Antec 300 case….which acts as my 24/7 HTPC workhorse.

Specs :

Antec 300
2GBx4 DDR2
3 x 2TB Samsung HDD
2 x 2TB WD Drives (backups)
Asus P5N-D

I started with an RS240 XSPC kit, but found the pump to be far too loud and not adequate for my set up, so I am moving to the following build :

Water Cooling specs :

Reservoir : RS240 pump/res comboKoolance RP-402X2 Dual 5.25 Reservoir for 1-2 DDC Pumps + RP-402X2 KIT
Pumps : Swiftech MCP 350’s
Radiator : RS240 from the RS240 Kit/Combo
Tubing : rimoFlex Pro LRT UV Red Tubing – 1/2in. ID X 3/4in. OD
Barbs : What came with the kit
Fans : 4 x SCythe SFF21G
90 Degree Fitting : 4 x Koolance G1/4 Swivel 90° Angled Barb
45 Degree Fitting : 2 x Koolance Swiveling G1/4 Threaded 45 Degree Low Profile Angle Fitting
CPU Block : Came with the kit – XSPC CPU block
Northbridge block : Custom fabbed block from a guy on
PCI Tube G1/4 Slot : Koolance L-Bracket with Dual G 1/4 Socket Fittings (BKT-PCI-G)
Radblock Mount : Swiftech MCB-120™ “Radbox”

This is my Antec 300 water cooled as of today.

[zp src=”P1000025.JPG” album=”vivi/300″ width=”500″]

[zp src=”P1000026.JPG” album=”vivi/300″ width=”500″]

I had an issue with the rad out back, and a major kink. This is what it looked like :

[zp src=”P1000027.JPG” album=”vivi/300″ width=”500″]

This is what it looks like now :

[zp src=”P1000119.JPG” album=”vivi/300″ width=”500″]

[zp src=”P1000120.JPG” album=”vivi/300″ width=”500″]