Hardware Revolution: Questions and Answers #5

| August 16, 2009 | (19)

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Every other Saturday, Mathieu from Hardware Revolution goes through his e-mail inbox and previous comments and answers five to ten of the best questions left by you, the readers, on computer hardware topics and many other things.

Got a question? Post it in the comments and make sure to subscribe to the comments to read other people questions and my answers!

Let’s get started!

Q: Which versions of Windows 7 support the virtual Windows XP mode?

A: Windows 7 Professional and Windows 7 Ultimate, both in 32 and 64 bit.

Note that you can buy an eligible version of Windows Vista and upgrade to the corresponding version of Windows 7 when it’s available on October 22nd.

Eligible Windows Vista Business copies will get you an upgrade to Windows 7 Professional. You can obtain them here, in:
32-bit: http://bit.ly/tYQeE
64-bit: http://bit.ly/Fyj1C

Eligible Windows Vista Ultimate copies will get you an upgrade to Windows 7 Ultimate. You can obtain them here, in:
32-bit: http://bit.ly/18y3J3
64-bit: http://bit.ly/qZSkn

Q: Will I see any performance difference if I use a motherboard with 8X PCI-Express slots, for a Crossfire or SLI setup?

A: Only in one case and that is if you use an older motherboard that still uses the older PCI-Express 1.0 slots. With any recent motherboard equipped with PCI-Express 2.0 slots, you will not see any difference between 8X and 16X and this is true for even the highest-end setup. You will get a performance hit from using a 4X slot though.

You can read an excellent review on this matter with a Core i7 920 and three Geforce GTX 285 in Three-Way SLI by Hot Hardware here.

Q: Are there any good SSD (Solid State Drive) available for less than 100 dollars?

A: Hardly. There’s a PQI 32GB at $85: http://bit.ly/bywma but I have very little information on it, regarding the controller and if there’s TRIM support, which I highly doubt.

It’s not the fastest drive, but it’s the really low latencies that matter for SSD and quick booting/quick launching applications. I wouldn’t recommend it, it’s more at your own risk.

Instead, I would recommend that you read my latest guide, the Best SSD for your money: August 2009 edition where I give many tips regarding SSD, what you need to know and which SSD offer the best value right now.

Q: Are SLI ready motherboards also support Crossfire?

A: No, with one exception: Motherboards based on Intel’s X58 chipset, with the socket 1366 for Core i7 CPUs, all support Crossfire.

Q: Is there a cost efficient way to combine SSD with RAID to make a relatively cost efficient system at the same time as having a fail-safe auto-backup system?

A: You can use RAID on SSD in the same way as you can use RAID on mechanical hard drive, it’s the exact same process.

However, it’s hardly cost-efficient to do so at this point as SSDs are still very expensive and you have to remember that if you use RAID 1 for data redundancy, you will effectively only have the capacity of one of two drives. Considering the capacity of SSD, this is hardly desirable.

The best solution is to use a single SSD to host Windows and frequently used or heavy programs to have them load faster and to use two higher capacity mechanical hard drives in a RAID 1 setup by themselves for data redundancy.

Once you installed Windows, make a copy of your SSD and save it on your RAID 1 hard drives. That way, you can restore your Windows installation back to when it was working flawlessly if you run in any trouble.

You can also use a software to automatically backup important files to your RAID 1 setup on a daily basis.

Conclusion

Have any question? Leave it below in the comments and I’ll answer it.
That’s it for today. Have a great weekend!

Category: Questions & Answers

About Mathieu Bourgie: HR Founder - Computer expert with over 14 years of experience in building, fixing and modifying PCs. Over the years, I’ve developed a passion for PC hardware and now I enjoy helping others build their own PCs! In April 2008, I launched Hardware Revolution and ... Read more at my about page .

  • galahad1313

    i've read and bought your recent $1500 gaming rig recomendation with a few of the upgrade choices. now what monitor would you recomend that would fit well with this system? i'm not sure if my acer AL1916W widescreen (i also have the same model in a normal non-WS as a 2nd monitor atm) will be sufficient(or it might). i blew the budget on the system so i can only go about $250canadian(roughly 200-210 american) on a new monitor if i need one.

  • galahad1313

    i've read and bought your recent $1500 gaming rig recomendation with a few of the upgrade choices. now what monitor would you recomend that would fit well with this system? i'm not sure if my acer AL1916W widescreen (i also have the same model in a normal non-WS as a 2nd monitor atm) will be sufficient(or it might). i blew the budget on the system so i can only go about $250canadian(roughly 200-210 american) on a new monitor if i need one.

    • http://www.hardware-revolution.com/ MathieuB

      Your Acer Al1916W will work just fine with the $1500 Gaming System, however considering the power of the rig, you can easily upgrade to and might want to get a 1080p monitor (21-22″ are less expensive) to enjoy an higher resolution and more screen estate. Besides, you can keep the Acer monitor and use it as a secondary monitor if you wish.

      Seeing as you told me your price is in Canadian dollars, I'll link you to NCIX.com, probably the best online store for Canadians.

      Right, this LG monitor is on sale $50 off, at only $150, which is a terrific deal: http://bit.ly/7sPyTB Just make sure to use the Savings Code 37492-1065

      Otherwise, this Samsung monitor, at $190, is also a good deal: http://bit.ly/5Plic7

      Hope that helps.

      • galahad1313

        cool! many thnx for the recomendation. will look them both over on the weekend since i'm still waiting for my new computer(stupid ati 5850's were on back order). cheers!

  • http://feeds2.feedburner.com/hardware-revolution MathieuB

    Your Acer Al1916W will work just fine with the $1500 Gaming System, however considering the power of the rig, you can easily upgrade to and might want to get a 1080p monitor (21-22″ are less expensive) to enjoy an higher resolution and more screen estate. Besides, you can keep the Acer monitor and use it as a secondary monitor if you wish.

    Seeing as you told me your price is in Canadian dollars, I'll link you to NCIX.com, probably the best online store for Canadians.

    Right, this LG monitor is on sale $50 off, at only $150, which is a terrific deal: http://bit.ly/7sPyTB Just make sure to use the Savings Code 37492-1065

    Otherwise, this Samsung monitor, at $190, is also a good deal: http://bit.ly/5Plic7

    Hope that helps.

  • galahad1313

    cool! many thnx for the recomendation. will look them both over on the weekend since i'm still waiting for my new computer(stupid ati 5850's were on back order). cheers!

  • RanLwr

    What is the best computer for watching streaming video on the internet?
    I have Road Runner Cable.
    4 gig of ram
    T5600 processor dual core
    I still get choppy results.
    I watch HULU.com ,and they test your upload and download speeds,mine were stellar according to their specs.
    I have a friend who has 8 Gig ram,and he says his plays perfectly.
    I am on a wireless network with no traffic,but even when I hardwired to the router I got the same results.
    I wonder if the RAM is my main problem?
    I am on a Laptop also,with about 800 front side bus speed.
    I am running VISTA ,I don't know if it might be sucking up my RAM.

  • RanLwr

    What is the best computer for watching streaming video on the internet?
    I have Road Runner Cable.
    4 gig of ram
    T5600 processor dual core
    I still get choppy results.
    I watch HULU.com ,and they test your upload and download speeds,mine were stellar according to their specs.
    I have a friend who has 8 Gig ram,and he says his plays perfectly.
    I am on a wireless network with no traffic,but even when I hardwired to the router I got the same results.
    I wonder if the RAM is my main problem?
    I am on a Laptop also,with about 800 front side bus speed.
    I am running VISTA ,I don't know if it might be sucking up my RAM.

    • http://www.hardware-revolution.com/ MathieuB

      RanLwr,

      From an hardware point of view, your laptop should be able to stream video without a problem. I suspect that the problem comes from either your browser, an out of date plugin (Flash or Java) and/or a background program that is sucking up all your laptop resources.

      I'd try a different browser (Try Firefox, IE, Chrome to name a few), make sure to update everything, use crtl-alt-del to see your program usages, etc.

      4GB of RAM is plentyyyy of RAM for streaming video, even for Vista.

      If you can't figure it out, I'd suggest getting in touch with HULU directly, they would probably be able to help you out better than I can.

  • http://feeds2.feedburner.com/hardware-revolution MathieuB

    RanLwr,

    From an hardware point of view, your laptop should be able to stream video without a problem. I suspect that the problem comes from either your browser, an out of date plugin (Flash or Java) and/or a background program that is sucking up all your laptop resources.

    I'd try a different browser (Try Firefox, IE, Chrome to name a few), make sure to update everything, use crtl-alt-del to see your program usages, etc.

    4GB of RAM is plentyyyy of RAM for streaming video, even for Vista.

    If you can't figure it out, I'd suggest getting in touch with HULU directly, they would probably be able to help you out better than I can.

  • RanLwr

    Thank you I really appreciate you taking the time to answer my question.I am using Firefox.I'll check my background programs.
    I know there is nothing running that I am aware of , but maybe there is something in Start Up.

  • pizza face pizza

    Hey Mathieu, what's the best program to use to automatically overclock
    an AMD processor, Ati graphics card, Intel processor and an Nvidia graphics card.

    I mean I heard AMD OverDrive and Ati OverDrive work, but what about for
    intel and Nvidia. Thanks.

  • pizza face pizza

    Hey Mathieu, what's the best program to use to automatically overclock
    an AMD processor, Ati graphics card, Intel processor and an Nvidia graphics card.

    I mean I heard AMD OverDrive and Ati OverDrive work, but what about for
    intel and Nvidia. Thanks.

    • http://www.hardware-revolution.com/ MathieuB

      Quite frankly, I have no idea. I'm “old-school” when it comes to overclocking, I do everything manually in the BIOS for the CPU, which allows you to do much more tweaking. As for the video card, ATiTool for Radeon and Nvidia nTune for Geforce.

      It's not as simple to learn, but to overclock safely and further, manual is the way to go.

  • http://www.hardware-revolution.com/ MathieuB

    Quite frankly, I have no idea. I'm “old-school” when it comes to overclocking, I do everything manually in the BIOS for the CPU, which allows you to do much more tweaking. As for the video card, ATiTool for Radeon and Nvidia nTune for Geforce.

    It's not as simple to learn, but to overclock safely and further, manual is the way to go.

  • vernon08

    Thanks for the great site and info.  It’s my intention to build a high end system for flight sims and for other future gaming. My question arises from the flight sim boards holding a loose consensus that nVidia cards are somewhat better because their open gl performance is better than AMD’s. They also say that sli and cf don’t improve performance in MSFS X or X-Plane, and may actually deteriorate it somewhat. Do you see any problem with going with a GTX 590 for now and adding another for sli in the future? Will appreciate any advice you are able to give.