My Gaming/Entertainment Setup

4. March 2017 17:22 by Cameron in gaming  //  Tags: , , , , , , , ,   //   Comments

In my living room, I have an open back 3 shelf entertainment console. For my TV, I have an early 2016 model 58" 4K Vizio Smart TV. Unfortunately, this was before HDR was widely available and affordable. I'll need to wait some before upgrading to an HDR capable TV. For gaming/entertainment, I have an original Xbox One, an original PS4, a custom built mini PC, an XBMC hard modded original Xbox, and an Hitachi VCR. 

Xbox One

 I've had this Xbox since 2014 and have thoroughly enjoyed being able to play titles such as Gears of War 4 and RARE Replay. I've also been able to play several of my Xbox 360 games through the backwards compatibility introduced in 2015. I need to finish up Red Dead Redemption before Red Dead Redemption 2 is released this fall!

PS4

 I purchased the PS4 in the fall of 2013 with the anticipation of being able to play Uncharted 4 on PS4. I had to wait 3 years for the release of Uncharted 4, but it was well worth the wait. The game engine and graphics really demonstrate the hardware capabilities of the PS4. I knew the game would be great since I had played the original Uncharted trilogy on the PS3 a few years before.

 

For now, I am happy with sticking to my original PS4 and Xbox One as I am waiting for the HDR market to settle down some before investing in an HDR television. With Xbox Scorpio launching this fall, I'm interested to see how it stacks up to other 4K gaming platforms. I may stick with PC for 4K gaming however as I will be getting a GTX 1080 Ti for my desktop PC this summer.

Original Xbox

I purchased my original Xbox so that I use it as an emulation box. Prior to my original Xbox, I used to have a Sega Genesis, NES, SNES, and N64 and my entertainment console was quite full. I plan to get controller adapters so I can use the original controllers on my Xbox. A guy from Brazil makes a neat device called the Kade MiniConsole+ that works with several input and output configurations. It allows multiple plug and play configurations with classic game controllers and various systems. I outfitted my original Xbox with a 250GB HDD which is plenty for my Xbox game library and all of the emuXtras and mabdab edition emulators. My original Xbox connects to my TV over component video and connects to my sound system over optical audio.

Hitachi VCR

You may find it odd that I have a VCR in 2017, but I used it primarily to do a video conversion project for my family for Christmas. I converted all of our VHS tapes, Hi-8/Video-8 tapes, and 8mm film to digital video for long term storage. I meant to blog about it before now, but I'll make a blog post soon about the details of my video conversion project.

PC

I recently built a new desktop for use as a home media server and a gaming machine for the living room. Last year, I had purchased a Steam machine (Zotac NEN), but ultimately sold that and my Surface Pro 3 for my Alienware 15 R2. I liked the concept of a Steam machine, but it was very limited in terms of upgradability. The main issue I had was the limitation on the 2.5" hard drive height and not allowing a 3TB or greater HDD in the drive bay. It was manufactured with 9mm and smaller drives in mind. Also, the GPU was soldered onto the main board and non-upgradeable. I was looking for a more long term gaming solution. I purchased an Alienware 15 R2 and a Graphics Amplifier in hopes to solve this, but learned that there was a 10% performance decrease due to the card running at x4 speeds when running desktop graphics cards through the Graphics Amplifier. This ultimately led to my decision to build a desktop PC with support for leveraging the full bandwidth of PCIe 3.0 at x16 speeds.

Specs

Corsair Air 240 Case (Micro ATX)

ASROCK Z170M Extreme 4 Micro ATX motheboard

Intel i5 6600K 3.50GHz

Corsair H75 AIO Cooler

16GB of DDR4 RAM (1 x 16GB (I plan to upgrade to 32GB this summer))

ZOTAC GTX 1050 Ti (I plan to upgrade to a GTX 1080 Ti this summer)

Samsung 850 EVO 500GB M.2 SSD

4TB HDD (Internal)

4TB External HDD

Plex

I have converted all of my Blu-ray and DVD collection to mkv/mp4 files that are made available on Plex. Through Plex, I can watch my library through the Plex app on my PS4 or Xbox One. Plex supports transcoding video and audio on the fly to native formats supported by a Plex client. I've also synced some of my library to my iPad and iPhone for when I travel.

Gaming

I am very pleased with this machine as a gaming rig. With Steam Big Picture Mode, I can have a console like experience. It brings back the same fun I had with my ZOTAC NEN.

Graphics

I purchased a ZOTAC GTX 1050 Ti as I was happy with the build quality and reliability of my previous Steam machine. The ZOTAC GTX 1050 Ti crushes gaming at 1080p on high/ultra and 1440p on medium/high for most games. Some of my older games can even play at 4K! These games are several years old: DiRT 2 and DiRT 3 run buttery smooth at 4K on the GTX 1050 Ti. I am impressed by this card's capabilities being that is a sub $150 card. I was primarily looking to get decent framerates at 1080p until I can replace with a GTX 1080 Ti this summer. The bottom line: If you're looking for a budget low power card, please give the GTX 1050 Ti a look! You won't be disappointed!

Audio

I have a Sound Blaster Omni sound card with Dolby Digital LIVE! encoding for 5.1 surround sound. The sound card encodes any surround sound signal into a Dolby Digital compatible signal. In addition, I have an optical audio 2x4 matrix splitter to enable switching between different inputs and outputs in my entertainment center. One of the outputs is to my speakers and the other output is to my wireless 5.1 surround sound headset. I frequently switch between my PC, TV, and original Xbox as inputs. My TV acts as a switch for my consoles as both the Xbox One and PS4 have HDMI surround sound passthrough on the TV's optical out.

Input Devices

I rarely use my keyboard and mouse while playing games in the living room, but I use a variety of controllers to play the different games in my collection. I have a Steam controller and Xbox 360 controller for playing most of my games. I also have a GameCube adapter so I can play GameCube games through Dolphin. I have a Wii remote and nunchuck for playing Wii games in Dolphin.

Future

Capture Card

I'm considering getting a high-end capture card for capturing game play from analog and digital sources. I've been reading up on different options and the best option for doing both analog and digital appears to be the Micomsoft SC-512 PCIe card. One of the most attractive features of this card are recording at 60fps from any source (HDMI, VGA, DVI, component, composite) at up to 1080p. From my research so far, it looks like HDMI audio is preserved from its original source. This means that if the source is Dolby Digital 5.1, then the resulting capture will have Dolby Digital 5.1 audio. This is quite cool as most cards only support stereo or 2.1 audio. I'm not sure if YouTube has official support for 5.1 audio, but it would be neat to have surround sound in game recordings.

Super 8 by Innovation - Review

7. April 2013 18:34 by Cameron in   //  Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,   //   Comments

I recently purchased a rare accessory for my SNES that allows me to play NES and Famicom games on my SNES called the Super 8, designed by Innovation in 1993.  One can also play SNES and Super Famicom games using the pass-through slot. The system uses a NOAC for playing NES and Famicom games in a similar fashion to how the Super Gameboy used Gameboy hardware for playing Gameboy games on the SNES. Since I have an NES, it's more of a novelty item for being able to use only one console to play each set of NES and SNES games. It's compatible with most NES and Famicom games out of the box including Castlevania III with the MMC5 mapper and Akumajou Densetsu, the Japanese version of Castlevania III, with the VRC6 mapper and enhanced audio. Some games do not work due to the system being a NOAC and not original NES hardware. The NES PowerPak by RetroZone does not work on the Super 8 for some reason, but perhaps this will be fixed in a later firmware update for the PowerPak.

Once my unit arrives, I will begin compiling a list of compatible games and how it compares to the NES.

Known issues with fixes:

  • The Super 8 does not include native support for SNES games that use co-processors, but this can be fixed by adding a few solder points on the mainboard - I will update this later with the exact guide on how to fix
  • The Super 8 suffers from the same jailbars issue that the top loading NES and some Famiclones experience - this can be fixed by soldering a 470micro farad cpacitor - I will update this post with where to solder later

Windows 8 Gaming

28. September 2012 12:51 by Cameron in Windows 8  //  Tags: , , , , , , ,   //   Comments

I recently installed Windows 8 Professional x64 RTM on my MSI GT70 0ND-202US and thus far I like it. I've been trying all of my games that I purchased from Steam and so far everything I've run works quite well in Windows 8. The only game I had trouble with getting to run initially was Just Cause 2. I came across this post that shows how to fix it: http://www.jc-mp.com/forums/index.php/topic,733.msg5785.html#msg5785 If you add /dxadapter=0 to the launch options for Just Cause 2, you will no longer get an error message when launching the game.

MSI GT70 0ND-202US Gaming Laptop/Hackbook

28. August 2012 00:51 by Cameron in   //  Tags: , , , , , , , , ,   //   Comments

I recently bought a gaming laptop from MSI on Newegg with some pretty excellent specifications:

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16834152347

Laptop: MSI GT70 0ND-202US Z77M, Intel Core i7-3610QM 2.3GHz, 12GB DDR3 RAM, 750GB Hitachi, 250GB WD, NVIDIA GTX 675M / Intel HD 4000 (Optimus), Realtek HD Audio (voodoohda), Wireless-N Atheros 9285 Half mini PCI  Express Card - Windows 8 Professional x64 RTM, OS X Mountain Lion 10.8.2 Retail

Preinstall

To install OS X Mountain Lion, download the Mountain Lion installer from the App Store (MacOS X 10.6.8 or higher) and use Unibeast to create a USB installation disk. Once the disk is created, you can then boot from the flash drive to install Mountain Lion! At the boot prompt, be sure to boot verbose using the '-v' option and also set 'GraphicsEnabler=No' as at the time of writing this guide, the NVIDIA GTX 675M cannot be used as the primary GPU and the Intel HD 4000 will need some tweaks later to get QE/CI. Once in the installer, you will need to choose where to install OS X Mountain Lion. You can install to your existing disk on a separate partition or install to a secondary disk (recommended). You will need to make sure that the hard drive you are installing ML to is using the GUID partitioning map and not MBR. If you need MBR, you'll need to patch the installer.

Postinstall

Multibeast

Wifi

The MSI GT70 0ND-202US comes stock with an Intel Centrino Wireless-N 2330 mini PCI Express card which will need to be subbed out with another compatible card. Swapping cards is fairly simple. All you need to do is pop up the speaker panel and disconnect the existing card and replace with the new one. One thing that you must do is make sure the Wifi LED is lit, otherwise, you won't be able to use the card. Here's a complete guide on how to choose an appropriate replacement card and how to get it working: http://www.tonymacx86.com/network/58146-guide-airport-half-mini-pcie.html

Intel HD 4000 QE/CI

Using the MacBook Pro 9,1 SMBIOS, LegacyAGPM.kext, 1920x1080x32, and DSDT injection for 01660004 you can achieve QE/CI. It should also be noted that I have removed AppleIntelSNBFramebuffer.kext as it is not needed with the Intel HD 4000 (probably could stop the kext from loading with DSDT later). Here's the DSDT patch for injecting the ig-platform-id:

into method label _DSM parent_adr 0x00020000 remove_entry;
into device name_adr 0x00020000 insert
begin
        Method(_DSM,4,NotSerialized)\n
        {\n
                Store(Package(0x02)\n
                 {\n
                                "AAPL,ig-platform-id",\n
                                Buffer(0x04)\n
                                {\n
                                   0x04,0x00,0x66,0x01\n
                                },\n
                        },Local0)\n
                DTGP (Arg0,Arg1,Arg2,Arg3,RefOf(Local0))\n
                Return(Local0)\n
        }\n
end


Using DSDT Editor, you'll have to apply the above patch as well as the DTGP patch from the patches directory.

Sound

VoodooHDA 2.7.2 - note, you'll have to edit the Info.plist in VoodooHDA.kext so that there isn't a hissing sound coming from the VoodooHDA prefpane. 

USB 3.0 fix (temporary)

One thing that I have found is that if you remove AppleUSBXHCI.kext from the plugins in IOUSBFamily.kext, it will treat USB 3.0 ports as just USB 2.0 ports and crashing no longer happens. This is a temporary fix until full USB 3.0 support exists (possibly in a later update). Make a backup of your existing IOUSBFamily.kext and then do the edits and re-install using Kextbeast.

Kexts

 Here's the voodoo kexts that I use for my laptop. Included is a kext for the battery, audio, and trackpad (multitouch).

voodoo_kexts.zip (212.01 kb)

 Here's my patched DSDT. As I make edits to my DSDT, I'll upload this attachment. I hope this helps for anyone with my laptop or similar.

dsdt.aml (47.02 kb)

 

 

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