Thursday, February 25, 2016

Fix UEFI Boot on Surface Pro if you've Installed Linux

At work I wanted to test run Linux on a Surface Pro 3. I installed Ubuntu Gnome 14.04 to a flash drive so I wouldn't disturb the Windows install, ran it up a few times, played around, etc., then unplugged the flash drive and tried to boot back into Windows.

Got the "Minimal BASH-like line editing is supported..." grub error message.

Seems that, due to the way UEFI work with Ubuntu, the EFI partition is mounted in the Linux file system, and grub is half written there, and half written to the "regular" file system in /.

So when the Linux drive is removed, the boot loader is still looking for the Ubuntu install that no longer exists. FML.

The (workaround) fix, it turns out, is pretty easy — but only if you still have access to the Linux install. In my case I did, so I booted up from the flash drive one more time, and did as suggested in this askubuntu answer:

cd /boot/efi/EFI/Boot
sudo mv ubuntu/ ubuntu~

This will cause the bootloader to fall back onto the Windows install when it can no longer find the Ubuntu one. It's not a clean fix, but it works.

Disappointing that this is how it works in UEFI — one of the golden features of trying a Linux install on a separate drive is that it honoured the existing boot setup so you could revert back instantly.

(As an addendum, I would never buy a Surface Pro 3 myself — they are flaky in all sorts of ways. Yuk yuk yuk).

Sunday, February 21, 2016

How Much CPU Does CS:GO Use?

I ran a quick test on CS:GO to see how much CPU it was using. Turned out to be more than I expected, regularly getting 60-80% on an i5, sometimes in excess of 80%.

This screen cap is taken on my system with an i7 4790K hyperthreading off (aka "i5 mode"), using a GTX970 at 1080p. It was taken during online deathmatch. With hyperthreading on it was similar usage, but only using the 4 real threads makes it easier to see how much the CPU is being used.

If you're looking for a CPU and can afford an i5, it would seem like a quad-core CPU is useful even for an "old" game like CS:GO.

Interestingly though, when running with 2 cores + hyperthreading activated, the usage didn't go up by a whole lot:

This cap is with 2 cores and hyperthreading activated — essentially an i3. It gets into the 80-90% more regularly, but it's not that much more. I can only guess the engine is a bit clever in scaling what it does based on the resources available. I did notice a few frame drops into the low 100s, but the gameplay didn't feel particularly different.

The i7 has a higher base clock speed and a much bigger CPU cache, so it's not a true test for how an i3 would behave

Thursday, February 11, 2016

SSD Status Summary

I was relatively late to the SSD bandwagon — and so seemed to have dodged the worst of the unreliable phase.

Now I detest using a machine without one, and have collected quite a few over the past few years for my own and my family's machines. Thought I'd throw up the status of them all, including when they fail. So far I've had pretty good luck — worst problem was the DOA Patriot Blaze.

Home Use:

DevicePurchasedPurposeIssues
Samsung 830 128GBOct 2012General use/Gaming PC
Samsung 830 128GBDec 2012General use
Kingston V300 60GBMar 2013HTPC
Plextor M5S 128GBAug 2013General use
Sandisk ReadyCache 32GB2014Scratch/test drive
Sandisk UltraPlus 128GB2014General use
Plextor M5 Pro 256GB2014Gaming PC
Transcend SSD370 256GB2015General use
Patriot Blaze 250GB2015Gaming PCDOA — returned for Ignite
Patriot Ignite 250GBAug 2015Gaming PC
Samsung 840 Evo 120GB? (2nd hand 2015)TBD
Transcend SSD370S 128GBJan 2016General use/Gaming PC
Intel 535 240GBApr 2016Work laptop
Intel 330 120GBJul 2016 (2nd hand)General use/GamingPC
Sandisk SSD Plus 480GNov 2016General use