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post #3481 of 3845
Thanks again Robert

I will certainly checkout the extreme processor availability you mention on EBay later on

In terms of the drives I use, currently I have 2 x 2TB Samsung spinpoint drives in the 2 available bays which have been very reliable and quiet, shame they seem to have been killed by Seagate since the buyout

I am running SSD's in all my other PC's, of particular note was the latest purchase a Corsair performance pro 256GB drive which sits in my main laptop - very fast but I think this has even been superseded by a new generation now - things are moving pretty fast in this market

I would be very interested in people's thoughts on using an SSD in a pure media centre machine as capacity seems more important than performance on the drive side of things. Although I think I saw someone comment that they had put an ssd above the DVD drive and said it just fits in ths case, so that might be a good way of getting an ssd in without sacrificing the capacity of a traditional drive?

I have tried to avoid the external approach as it is in the lounge and I don't (well my wife doesn't want) technology everywhere. The only external item I have is a bare drive docking station so i can back up my data and off site it to my parents (I can't stand the thought of having to re-apply all the metadata to my music and movies!!!)

Cheers

Chris
post #3482 of 3845
Hi Guys,

I'm pleased to say I've recently stumbled across your extremely useful thread. I can't say I've read it all yet but from what I've seen, it's a veritable font of knowledge. I've included below a post I made on the Sony Community website, regarding my recent experience of upgrading my VGX-XL201 XP O/S to Windows 8. Hopefully, some may find it useful.

I have a couple of questions which I'm sure you knowledgeable chaps can help with:

1.Regarding potential graphics card updates. I note that the current favourites seem to be the Sapphire HD6670 and HD7750. Unfortunately both of these have fans. I'm really averse to putting additional fans into my lovely almost silent machine. I had a bad and brief experience with a NVidia 9400GT which came out within 2 days when even my wife said, "what's that noise". I have been looking at the
HD6570 which is low profile and fanless. However, I have doubts over its dimensions and whether it would actually fit. The height including the heat sink may make it a non-starter. Not too sure about the length either. http://www.sapphiretech.com/presentation/product/?cid=1&gid=3&sgid=1087&pid=1241&psn=&lid=1

2. Is there any way of reinstalling the original Sony apps which came with the machine, chiefly Click to DVD which I find extremely useful? From what I can recall, it's not possible to recover just the apps from the recovery disc as it prompts you to do a full reinstall of the c: drive as a minimum.

Thanks.


"I've just upgraded my Sony VGX-XL201 to Windows 8. In theory, it should have been straightforward but due to the particular software configuration of my machine, it was something of a long winded process.

The actual Microsoft upgrade process is very slick. Once the upgrade advisor has run and you've examined the output, it's simply a case of clicking to go and the process looks after itself. It's also very quick, a world away from the Vista upgrade process, more of which later.

I was still running the original Windows XP Media Center edition which came preinstalled on my machine. Although I had the Vista upgrade discs, I'd never bothered to upgrade due to the bad press Vista had received. I'd also upgraded my graphics card to a Sapphire Radeon HD 4550. On completing the upgrade to Windows 8, I discovered that it was running off the on board graphics, rather than using the 4550 card. Much twiddling later, I discovered that there was an error message stating that my Bios needed updating. Some Googl'ing later, I found that the upgrade to Vista process for the XL201 actually included a Bios update to resolve an issue with a conflict with the graphics processing. Originally it seems that there was a version of this Bios upgrade which could be executed stand-alone from DOS. However, that no longer seems to be available on the Sony web site. As a result, I was forced to restore my XL-201 back to XP, then upgrade to Vista (sloooow!) applying the Bios update as part of the process. Then I had to perform the upgrade to Windows 8. With baited breath, I waited to see if the 4550 graphics would be recognised, which fortunately they were. This whole process took me around 2 weeks in elapsed time, including the investigation I had to do and a support email to Sony (who in effect told me to go away as my machine was no longer supported).

I'm very impressed with how Windows 8 is running on my XL201. It's very fast and as a result, has probably extended the life of my machine by a few years, providing no critical hardware components blow of course. I've not encountered any significant incompatibilities so far, with the exception that I can no longer eject DVD's by pressing the button on the front of the machine. That is a pain. I have to either do a software eject using PowerDVD, which I have installed. Or shut down the machine and eject by pressing the button during the Bios boot process. The IR blaster apparently doesn't work either under Windows 8 but I don't use that.

So all in all, it was worth the pain to upgrade."
post #3483 of 3845
Quote:
Originally Posted by chrisbt View Post

Thanks again Robert

I will certainly checkout the extreme processor availability you mention on EBay later on

In terms of the drives I use, currently I have 2 x 2TB Samsung spinpoint drives in the 2 available bays which have been very reliable and quiet, shame they seem to have been killed by Seagate since the buyout
Hi Chris.  I was also a fan of the Samsung SpinPoint drives, but don't despair. I have recently purchased a pair of the new Seagate 2TB "Green" drives, and as far as I can tell they are SpinPoints in Seagate clothing. They format to the exact bit size as the 2TB SpinPoints, have the new 4K sector format standard and they are whisper quiet and run very cool (which were two of the primary selling points for the SpinPoints). I recall an article posted on this thread about a year ago or so noting that Seagate's acquisition would add to their product line; not kill the Samsung technology. And it appears to be the case, just judging from the 2TB drives I purchased.


I am running SSD's in all my other PC's, of particular note was the latest purchase a Corsair performance pro 256GB drive which sits in my main laptop - very fast but I think this has even been superseded by a new generation now - things are moving pretty fast in this market

I would be very interested in people's thoughts on using an SSD in a pure media centre machine as capacity seems more important than performance on the drive side of things. Although I think I saw someone comment that they had put an ssd above the DVD drive and said it just fits in ths case, so that might be a good way of getting an ssd in without sacrificing the capacity of a traditional drive?
Yes, there is no reason to install a 2.5-inch SSD in an adapter and populate one of the bays of the HDD rack. I have my 80GB SSD System/OS/Boot/Applications) mounted atop the flat metal top of the optical drive, secured with two dime-size spots of Velcro (on diagonally opposite corners. The spots of Velcro are just to keep the lightweight little thing from wandering from optical drive vibrations. Since a SSD has no moving parts and produces almost no heat, it lives quite happily wherever it will fit. I also have a second smaller capacity SSD (which I use for OS backup images) which is similarly secured to the top of the flat plastic cover of the processor cooling assembly.
As to your question about using a SSD in "a pure media center machine", we aren't using the SSDs for media storage. Storage is on the large capacity HDDs (either individually addressed drives or 'RAID'). All the capacity that is needed for a VGX-XL* System/OS/Boot/Applications drive SSD (running Windows XP-MCE, Vista, 7 or 8) -- with ample additional overhead capacity for temporary read/write multimedia operations, etc. -- is between 80GB and 128GB (if one plans to install a whole lot of programs/applications I would go for the 120GB-128GB end of that range). I have read that a good rule of thumb for selecting a SSD drive capacity is determine the space required by your OS and all of your applications/programs installed on the "C:" drive, .... and double that. That provides plenty of extra capacity for doing all of your playback, burning, recording and ripping processes on the SSD, with the end results stored on the HDDs. 
If you do go the SSD route -- which I would recommend to EVERYONE running a VGX-XL* system -- just be sure to buy a SATA2 (SATA II) interface SSD rather than a SATA3 (SATA III) model. The advertised SATA3 read/write speeds cannot be realized on the SATA bus on our motherboards. The maximum throughput speed for the SATA bus on our motherboards limits the actual effective speed of a SATA3 SSD; and based on my own testing of both SATA@ and SATA3 SSDs I think the throughput speed of SATA3 models are congested by the slower bus. SATA3 SSD models ARE "backward compatible" with our SATA2 bus interface, ...but they actually run slower; i.e., they benchmark at inferior read/write performance to the SATA2 models.
Why spend money for something you can't use, and probably even get worse performance for your extra money! Economics 101: "Get what you pay for, or you spent too much."
 
I have tried to avoid the external approach as it is in the lounge and I don't (well my wife doesn't want) technology everywhere. The only external item I have is a bare drive docking station so i can back up my data and off site it to my parents (I can't stand the thought of having to re-apply all the metadata to my music and movies!!!)
Yes, aesthetic IS important; I agree with your wife (who says women aren't "visual" creatures?). Just to clarify, my comment about putting a SSD in a SATA external dock (such as your "bare drive docking station") was just for the process of formatting it and cloning (imaging) your present-state HDD Windows OS and applications to the new SSD. As you probably know, the SATA data and power connections spacing are identical for 2.5-inch SSDs and 3.5-inch HDDs; so both will pop right into an external SATA dock (Whether using a USB or Fire-wire connected model, an external SATA drive dock is plenty fast for "quick formatting" and cloning (imaging) "C:" drives with 30-50 GB of files.  
Then, after formatting and "cloning" (imaging) you just plunk the new SSD into your system, attach it to SATA port '0' (it's your new system "C:" drive) and after running for a few days and confirming that 'all is well' with the new drive, and everything works, you can delete the Windows and programs/applications directories on the old HDD to free up all of that additional space on the HDD for more data and media files storage. 
If you "clone" Windows from your HDD to the new drive, you don't have the laborious and time-consumming process of re-installing Windows and all of your updates and applications/programs. It's about a 10-15 minute process using Acronis, or one of the other back-up/cloning/imaging software applications. Or if you are installing a new Intel manufactured SSD, Intel's own OEM version of Acronis (called "Intel Data Migration") is a FREE download from the Intel website. The first file listed at the top of this page ( tih_s_english_14133.exe  - English, Version: 1.1) is the one I used. Plus, I downloaded the Data Migration Help.pdf file listed just below that, of course rolleyes.gif ...but I didn't end up needing it because the cloning process is so intuitive and simple:  http://downloadcenter.intel.com/Detail_Desc.aspx?agr=Y&DwnldID=19324
Our old VGX-XL* systems actually have a lot more potential than some of us (owners) have assumed. My now 6-year old US spec. VGX-XL2A model (with it's archaic and slow Pentium D processor) is presently running six (6) internal drives inside the case [the System SSD / the OS Backup SSD / 3x 1.5TB "Green" HDDs in 'RAID5' array, and the Blu-ray optical drive] ...and nine external HDDs: two SansDigital TOWERRAID e-SATA enclosures on a e-SATA/SATA port-muliplier support controller card populating one of the PCI slots on the PCI riser, each with 4x 2TB "Green" HDDs in 'non-RAID 'non-concatenated JBOD' mode (individually addressed), and one 2TB HDD in an external SATA 'EZ-Dock', for system imaging and critical data backups.
[Note: In non-RAID 'non-concatenated JBOD' mode you can just add additional drives one at a time as additional media storage capacity is needed. The newest SansDigital enclosures will also accept the newest 3TB and 4TB capacity HDDs. Up to 16TB of storage in a single 7" x 5-1/4" x 10" box isn't bad! I purchased the 4-disk enclosures for entertainment center fit (height) and visual aesthetic reasons (specifically: three of the 4-disk SansDigital enclosures fit side-by-side across the rear of the 17-inch wide top of my XL2A case with 1/2-inch of air-circulation space between them). But SansDigital also makes 5, 6 and 8 disk enclosures in piano-black and gloss white finishes.]
So, in all, that is fifteen (15) separate drives all happily attached, and managed by my relatively archaic ( but still beautiful ) old VGX-XL2A. Using Windows Media Center with the FREE Media Browser plug-ins, as a "pure media center machine" you just point Media Center and Media Browser to the folders containing your media files ...and it's all seemless.  http://www.mediabrowser.tv/

Cheers!
Robert.

Edited by REnninga - 11/26/12 at 2:41pm
post #3484 of 3845
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mackem View Post

Hi Guys,
Hello Mackem. Welcome!


I'm pleased to say I've recently stumbled across your extremely useful thread. I can't say I've read it all yet but from what I've seen, it's a veritable font of knowledge. I've included below a post I made on the Sony Community website, regarding my recent experience of upgrading my VGX-XL201 XP O/S to Windows 8. Hopefully, some may find it useful.

I have a couple of questions which I'm sure you knowledgeable chaps can help with:

1.Regarding potential graphics card updates. I note that the current favourites seem to be the Sapphire HD6670 and HD7750. Unfortunately both of these have fans. I'm really averse to putting additional fans into my lovely almost silent machine. I had a bad and brief experience with a NVidia 9400GT which came out within 2 days when even my wife said, "what's that noise". I have been looking at the
HD6570 which is low profile and fanless. However, I have doubts over its dimensions and whether it would actually fit. The height including the heat sink may make it a non-starter. Not too sure about the length either. http://www.sapphiretech.com/presentation/product/?cid=1&gid=3&sgid=1087&pid=1241&psn=&lid=1
Gosh, this certainly doesn't look like a "low-profile" card. It does say low profile in one line of the description text, but the photos show it wearing a full-height I/O panel insert and it doesn't include "LP" or "Low Profile" in the Sapphire model name or even show that it includes a low-profile I/O adapter insert plate. That said, the depth of this card and fin-tube radiator is actually 3mm LESS than the HD6670, so at least there wouldn't be a clearance problem with the PCI riser card in the adjacent motherboard slot. That fin-tube heat radiator assembly on top does look to be a clearance problem. If it fits it's going to be right up against the case cover stiffener ribs which run across the width of the cover; although at 180 mm length it might just miss actually contacting the closest of the two ribs (it's going to be close). 
Unless it's really inexpensive, the biggest drawback I see with this card (if it even fits in your case and you can purchase a low-profile I/O adapter plate which will fit the HDMI and DVI-D connections spacing), is that the DDR3 effective memory speed in this card is the same as the HD4550 you are currently running (1333 MHz). You are doubling the amount of on-board memory from 512 MB to 1024 MB, but looking at the other specifications of this card I don't think you will realize much perceivable performance improvement for your investment over your HD4550.
The performance specifications of the Sapphire HD7750 1GB GDDR5 Low Profile are slightly better than the HD6670 1GB GDDR5 Low profile card, and the HD7750 reportedly pulls less power under load and at idle than does the HD6670. The more efficient fan design of the HD6670 (ducted cowling and steep fan-blade pitch; similar to a lower speed "squirrel-cage fan) tests a tad quieter than the more conventional (open heat sink, shallow fan-blade pitch; air turbulence = noise) fan design on the HD7750.
However we're talking about a difference of 2-3 dB ... which unless you are able to hear a spider walking across the ceiling you will never even notice. The fan on the HD6670 in my VGX-XL2A is much quieter than the three OEM case cooling fans. So ....I wouldn't agree with any argument for going with a "fan-less" design simply for noise concerns, rather than these new GDDR5 cards with fans (well, at least the HD6670 which I can vouch for). The fan on mine is virtually silent. After all, these aren't cards designed for "gaming" systems; they are designed for Low profile multimedia Home Theater PCs.
I think you would be VERY happy with EITHER of these two cards. I was certainly impressed with the color depth and saturation, performance and HD & Blu-ray stability improvement of my own Sapphire HD6670 card (with 480 stream processors and 40 nm chip and 4000 MHz effective memory speed) over my old Sapphire HD4550 card (with just 80 stream processors, 55 nm chip and 1333 MHz effective memory speed). One of our contributors has posted that he is very happy with his HD7750 (with 512 stream processors, 28 nm chip and 4500MHz effective memory speed).
If you have not already done so, you can use the "compare" utility on the Sapphire website to get a side-by-side features and specifications display for the various cards.
 

2. Is there any way of reinstalling the original Sony apps which came with the machine, chiefly Click to DVD which I find extremely useful? From what I can recall, it's not possible to recover just the apps from the recovery disc as it prompts you to do a full reinstall of the c: drive as a minimum.
If you did an upgrade installation, rather than doing a clean custom installation, if you retained the Recovery Partition which holds all of the programs/applications installation files, and if you have 32-bit Windows 8 "Professional" (which will migrate from Windows XP-MCE, Vista and 7 retaining your programs, applications, settings and data (and like with Windows 7 "Professional" and "Ultimate" reportedly Windows 8 "Professional" has "XP compatibility mode"). If you are configured as noted, then I offer you a hedging "Well, ...possibly, yes." But you will need a short assistance session from Sony. More about that later.
If you did a clean, custom installation of Windows 8, or if you installed Windows 8 "Core", (aka: "Basic") version, or installed 64-bit Windows 8 "Professional" ...then unfortunately ...no, you're out of luck..
You will need to have the Sony® Firmware Extension Parser Device Driver installed on your system. In the US, If you open a chat session with Sony from your system support page, they will provide 15-minutes free assistance. Hopefully it works the same way for UK spec. VGX-XL* series systems?
Most likely, after explaining what you need, they will request permission to access your computer for a "remote assistance" session, and they may download and install a copy of their Advanced System Optimizer utility, with which they can check your drivers' compatibility and "push" (install) the correct version of the Sony® Firmware Extension Parser Device Driver for your VGX-XL201 system. This is what Sony Support and Windows update (as well as your own system) uses to identify your system as a Sony VAIO VGX-XL201 ...allowing you to receive firmware updates, driver replacements and install and update the OEM software.
BUT (<--- that's a big BUT), ... don't bother contacting Sony Support for your free assistance session unless you are already prepared for the short 15-minute free support session. If you are unprepared ... 15 minutes will not be fruitful. When the clock runs out you're done, even if your system isn't! They'll then inform you about their paid support sessions for "out of warranty" computers. If you are prepared, you might just get your fix (to turn a phrase) within the allocated 15 minutes! (I would keep my fingers crossed, but it makes keyboarding more challenging).
If you did not do an "upgrade" installation from your original XP-MCE to the new Windows 8 OS, you are not going to have the OEM programs/applications available in the recovery partition to install or upgrade. And frankly, if your OEM software applications/programs have not already been upgraded to Vista compatible versions with the Sony Vista Home Premium upgrade disk and the updates downloads from your system's Sony Support webpage, I doubt you will be fully successful:  http://www.sony.co.uk/support/en/product/VGX-XL201/updates
I have read that the OEM applications/programs can be installed individually from a set of Recovery disks (by opening the disk image, and extracting each application to separate directory folders and installing them as Administrator (if you have the registration serial keys card which came with your system), but I seriously doubt that applies to a VGX-XL* system which is not still running its original OS.
In my personal opinion there's no OEM Sony program/application which was really worth going to all that trouble ... compared to similar market applications ... many of which are free ( just my tuppence, of course  biggrin.gif ). If you are unsuccessful reinstalling the Sony OEM applications/programs you liked, I recommend registering, creating a free account on the "AfterDawn.com" website. AfterDawn has links and software applications reviews for almost every program/application applicable to media playback, conversion, burning, ripping, editing and home theater support. Many of the applications they link to are free ...
Another good website for obtaining free pc utilities and applications is FileHippo.com ...
FileHippo.com:  http://www.filehippo.com/
 
Good luck, and keep us informed on your upgrade solutions.

 

 

Cheers!

Robert.


Edited by REnninga - 11/29/12 at 5:51pm
post #3485 of 3845
Hi - I have upgraded to Windows 7 and upgraded the graphic card to a Radeon 4xxx.

Recently, I installed an OTA (never had cable/satellite) and found that the TV turner was not working. The device manager finds the TV turner, but WMC claims that it can't find it. Is this an indication that I have to update a firmware or does this mean that my tuner is broken? Any help would be greatly appreciated. If it is a firmware problem, could you kindly point me to a source? If it is a broken TV tuner, can you point me to a replacement tuner? Ideally something that can fit into the space where the current TV tuner is.

Many thanks!
post #3486 of 3845
Quote:
Originally Posted by ihhann View Post

Hi - I have upgraded to Windows 7 and upgraded the graphic card to a Radeon 4xxx.

Recently, I installed an OTA (never had cable/satellite) and found that the TV turner was not working. The device manager finds the TV turner, but WMC claims that it can't find it. Is this an indication that I have to update a firmware or does this mean that my tuner is broken? Any help would be greatly appreciated. If it is a firmware problem, could you kindly point me to a source? If it is a broken TV tuner, can you point me to a replacement tuner? Ideally something that can fit into the space where the current TV tuner is.

Many thanks!

 

Hello 'ihhann',

 

Please provide us some system information:  

 

* What model VGX-XL* do you have?  

 

* What manufacturer and model TV tuner card do you have in your system?

 

* What version of Windows 7 did you install, and is it 32-bit or 64-bit?

 

* Following your Windows 7 installation did you set Windows Update to automatic mode, and is your system status fully current with all updates?

 

I recommend that you attempt to run the Microsoft "Windows 7 Upgrade Advisor" (even though you have already installed windows 7). If you are able to successfully run it you will get a comprehensive report at the end of the analysis. It will identify your TV tuner card and tell you if the current drivers are compatible with Windows 7, and may provide you links for system component hardware updates, drivers, software upgrades, etc. Here's the URL/link:

 

http://www.microsoft.com/en-us/download/details.aspx?id=20

 

Did you run the "Windows 7 Upgrade Advisor" before your Windows 7 installation, and prepare your system prior to the OS upgrade?

 

Did you do an "Upgrade installation" (retaining your Sony OEM software, hardware drivers and your system settings) or did you do a clean, full installation of Windows 7 (abandoning your Sony OEM software, hardware drivers and system settings and the Sony® Firmware Extension Parser which identifies your system for Windows Update and Sony firmware and utilities upgrades)?

 

If you provide some information, either I or some other member of the discussion thread may be able to help you with the issue.

 

Cheers!

Robert.

post #3487 of 3845
Hi Robert,

Thanks for the response. I ran the upgrade advisor. Here is my info:

* What model VGX-XL* do you have?
- VGX-XL3 (a side question - is this the equivalent to the VGX-XL302 in Europe?)

* What manufacturer and model TV tuner card do you have in your system?
- ATI TV Wonder Digital Cable Tuner

* What version of Windows 7 did you install, and is it 32-bit or 64-bit?
- 32-bit

* Following your Windows 7 installation did you set Windows Update to automatic mode, and is your system status fully current with all updates?
- It is set up to notify me. I typically just install all updates. The system is fully current with all updates.

Did you run the "Windows 7 Upgrade Advisor" before your Windows 7 installation, and prepare your system prior to the OS upgrade?
- I didn't run the upgrade advisor before the Win7 installation.

Did you do an "Upgrade installation" (retaining your Sony OEM software, hardware drivers and your system settings) or did you do a clean, full installation of Windows 7 (abandoning your Sony OEM software, hardware drivers and system settings and the Sony® Firmware Extension Parser which identifies your system for Windows Update and Sony firmware and utilities upgrades)?
- I did a clean install, but followe the recommendations of this forum. There were a few drivers that were recommended and I think I patched the system up, except for the eject button. I used WMC for that.

Many thanks!
post #3488 of 3845
Quote:
Originally Posted by ihhann View Post

Hi Robert,

Thanks for the response. I ran the upgrade advisor.
Hello 'ihhann'. Did you get a system compatibility report at the end, and did it identify your ATi TV Wonder card?  If yes, did it offer any driver compatibility or updates info?
Here is my info:

* What model VGX-XL* do you have?
- VGX-XL3 (a side question - is this the equivalent to the VGX-XL302 in Europe?)
Similar, but of course they have a different television broadcast standard (and different TV tuner cards).

* What manufacturer and model TV tuner card do you have in your system?
- ATI TV Wonder Digital Cable Tuner
I would suggest FIRST trying the firmware update & Microsoft® Hotfix, Version KB938929 installations from the VAIO VGX-XL3 support page. Be sure to follow the instructions listed (removing the CableCard from the slot; disconnecting the coaxial cable; etc.):
 
If these do not resolve the issue, here's a URL/link for the AMD support page. You can check to see if downloadable updates (drivers / firmware / software ) are available for your model ATi TV Wonder model number card:

* What version of Windows 7 did you install, and is it 32-bit or 64-bit?
- 32-bit

* Following your Windows 7 installation did you set Windows Update to automatic mode, and is your system status fully current with all updates?
- It is set up to notify me. I typically just install all updates. The system is fully current with all updates.
Good. Although my personal opinion is that for the first few days after an OS upgrade, it's best to have Windows Update set for "Automatic" and to leave your system running. Windows Update parses / sorts the order of updates installations, and if left alone to update your system automatically, often conflicts are only fleeting (momentary) issues which get resolved without intervention. After a week or so you can reset Windows Update to have it notify you before installing subsequent updates.
The only Windows Updates identified in the past couple of years which our discussion thread members have suggested "do not install" are the drivers update for various manufacturer models of AMD/Radeon video graphics cards. We recommend ONLY upgrading using full Catalyst Software Suite upgrade packages downloaded from the AMD support page for your model video/graphics card. Individual driver updates from Windows Update have caused problems (video and audio) for several of our discussion thread contributors.
Here's the updates page for your 4xxx series video/graphics card. The most current Catalyst Control Center software suite version (Windows 7 32-bit) is Revision number 12.6 (download size = 112.8 MB)
Even though Windows Update hasn't resolved your ATi TV Wonder tuner card issue, at least you have got your system current.

Did you run the "Windows 7 Upgrade Advisor" before your Windows 7 installation, and prepare your system prior to the OS upgrade?
- I didn't run the upgrade advisor before the Win7 installation.

Did you do an "Upgrade installation" (retaining your Sony OEM software, hardware drivers and your system settings) or did you do a clean, full installation of Windows 7 (abandoning your Sony OEM software, hardware drivers and system settings and the Sony® Firmware Extension Parser which identifies your system for Windows Update and Sony firmware and utilities upgrades)?
- I did a clean install, but followe the recommendations of this forum. There were a few drivers that were recommended and I think I patched the system up, except for the eject button. I used WMC for that.
If you go to the VGX-XL3 system support page at the following URL/link you will find a link for "Live Chat" at the right-hand center of the page next to the photo of the woman Sony tech:
Your system is out of warranty, but Sony will give you a 15-minute free tech support "chat." If you haven't already resolved your ATI TV Wonder Card issue after trying the above options, ask the tech if he/she can provide your system the Windows 7 compatible drivers and the optical drive eject button software driver (it will work in Windows 7 32-bit). 
But ...15-minutes is very short for tech assistance, so be prepared. Make sure you have already enabled "Remote Assistance" on your XL3 before you start your support chat so that the Soiny tech can immediately begin to take control and "push" updates. To do that:
Click start > right click "Computer" > click "Properties" > under "Tasks" click "Remote settings" > remote tab put a check mark in the box "Allow Remote Assistance connections to this computer" > click "Apply" > click "OK".
When 15-minutes is up, your support session is finished (even if your system fix isn't). After that your option is to move to "Premium" (AKA: paid) support, for $50 per session.

Many thanks!
You're welcome. My own VGX-XL2A system pre-dated those with the OEM ATi TV Wonder CableCard tuner, so I'm not much help (no personal experience). But if the AMD support page doesn't help you to get your card recognized you might get some assistance here from another discussion thread contributor with an XL3 model.
Good luck, and let us know if you are successful.
Cheers!  Robert.

Edited by REnninga - 12/3/12 at 11:17pm
post #3489 of 3845
Need some help, recently purchased VGX-XL100 which is XL2. Seller upgraded to 3 HD's and total of 3 TB. Problem is he installed unactivated win 7 and partitioned drives giving the OS partition only 10 gigs..
Anyway I have WIN Vista ultimate with OEM key I would like to install. I would like to run Raid 0 but BIOS does not have RAID option installed?? How would you manage RAID on this system, provided I do not have original XP recovery disks? Is RAID 0 preconfigured and I do not need to mess with it, just back up data, format and install Vista? Is RAID 0 optimal or RAID 5 is preffered? I did alot of seraching on this thread without luck. Please help!
Thanks!
post #3490 of 3845
Quote:
Originally Posted by HTC VGXXL2 View Post

Need some help, recently purchased VGX-XL100 which is XL2. Seller upgraded to 3 HD's and total of 3 TB. Problem is he installed unactivated win 7 and partitioned drives giving the OS partition only 10 gigs..
Anyway I have WIN Vista ultimate with OEM key I would like to install. I would like to run Raid 0 but BIOS does not have RAID option installed?? How would you manage RAID on this system, provided I do not have original XP recovery disks? Is RAID 0 preconfigured and I do not need to mess with it, just back up data, format and install Vista? Is RAID 0 optimal or RAID 5 is preffered? I did alot of seraching on this thread without luck. Please help!
Thanks!

 

Hi HTC....,

 

The integrated RAID controller is automatically installed by Windows after it identifies your chipset. Look in Device Manager -> category "Storage Controllers"

 

I recommend you download and install a copy of the updated RAID management software and driver for your system chipset from Intel. You want the "ACHI: Intel Rapid Storage Technology Driver for Intel Desktop Boards" version: "10.8.0.1003"  You can grab a copy at the following link/URL:

 

http://downloadcenter.intel.com/Detail_Desc.aspx?DwnldID=20768

 

NOTE:  If you are using a 32-bit OS, be sure to grab the x86 version (rather than x64).  This software provides everything you need, including tutorials, for setting up your RAID array; you don't need to access your BIOS to do that on these systems.

 

If you decide on RAID-5 for your three 1TB HDDs, send me a "PM" and I can give you a few pointers (and a couple of cautions). You will want to setup your OS / Boot / Applications / Programs on a separate drive from your RAID-5 storage array. I use a 2-1/2" Solid State Drive (SSD) mounted atop the optical drive, and attached to SATA port "0", with my three matched HDDs in the Drive rack, attached to SATA ports "1,2 & 3")  My RAID-5 array benchmarks show its read/write performance to be nearly equal to my SSD; which surprised the heck out of me!  eek.gif

 

You can backup (image) your OS / Boot drive to your RAID storage array (for convenience ... and you'll have plenty-o'-space available); but I backup mine to a separate drive so that I can use that to Boot in the event of a disaster.

 

Cheers!

Robert.

 

 


Edited by REnninga - 12/13/12 at 7:51pm
post #3491 of 3845
Windows 7
post #3492 of 3845
Windows 7?rolleyes.gif
I'm not using Windows 8 on my VAIO Thanks, they are better than that.smile.gif
I ripped the original OEM Disc's for the VGX Series. My VGX XL 302 (OEM)/(Recovery) Disc's are pretty much identical to my VAIO VGX XL 301's and 201's. Thought I'd share them. I ripped them bit to bit, so there are no errors and I used K-PAC to unpack all the installers from the recovery disc's these are a collection of what I've got working.biggrin.gif

I can confirm all of these programs work in Windows 7.cool.gif

VAIO Action Setup
http://dl.dropbox.com/u/97517584/SONY%20VAIO%20VGX%20XL%20302%20UK/Windows%207/VAIO%20Action%20Setup.exe

VAIO Control Center
http://dl.dropbox.com/u/97517584/SONY%20VAIO%20VGX%20XL%20302%20UK/Windows%207/VAIO%20Control%20Center.exe

VAIO Dual TV Tuners Driver
http://dl.dropbox.com/u/97517584/SONY%20VAIO%20VGX%20XL%20302%20UK/Windows%207/VAIO%20Dual%20TV%20Tuners%20Driver.exe

VAIO DV Gate Plus
http://dl.dropbox.com/u/97517584/SONY%20VAIO%20VGX%20XL%20302%20UK/Windows%207/VAIO%20DV%20Gate%20Plus.exe

VAIO Event Service
http://dl.dropbox.com/u/97517584/SONY%20VAIO%20VGX%20XL%20302%20UK/Windows%207/VAIO%20Event%20Service.exe

VAIO Hardware Diagnostics
http://dl.dropbox.com/u/97517584/SONY%20VAIO%20VGX%20XL%20302%20UK/Windows%207/VAIO%20Hardware%20Diagnostics.exe

VAIO Icons
http://dl.dropbox.com/u/97517584/SONY%20VAIO%20VGX%20XL%20302%20UK/Windows%207/VAIO%20Icons.exe

VAIO Information Flow
http://dl.dropbox.com/u/97517584/SONY%20VAIO%20VGX%20XL%20302%20UK/Windows%207/VAIO%20Information%20Flow.exe

VAIO Intel Chipset Software Installation Utility
http://dl.dropbox.com/u/97517584/SONY%20VAIO%20VGX%20XL%20302%20UK/Windows%207/VAIO%20Intel%20Chipset%20Software%20Installation%20Utility.exe

VAIO Intel Network Controller
http://dl.dropbox.com/u/97517584/SONY%20VAIO%20VGX%20XL%20302%20UK/Windows%207/VAIO%20Intel%20Network%20Controller.exe

VAIO Intel SATA RAID Controller
http://dl.dropbox.com/u/97517584/SONY%20VAIO%20VGX%20XL%20302%20UK/Windows%207/VAIO%20Intel%20SATA%20RAID%20Controller.exe

VAIO Intel Wireless Software and Driver
http://dl.dropbox.com/u/97517584/SONY%20VAIO%20VGX%20XL%20302%20UK/Windows%207/VAIO%20Intel%20Wireless%20Software%20and%20Driver.exe

VAIO Memory Card Reader Writer Patch
http://dl.dropbox.com/u/97517584/SONY%20VAIO%20VGX%20XL%20302%20UK/Windows%207/VAIO%20Memory%20Card%20Reader%20Writer%20Patch.exe

VAIO Memory Stick Icon Registry Patch
http://dl.dropbox.com/u/97517584/SONY%20VAIO%20VGX%20XL%20302%20UK/Windows%207/VAIO%20Memory%20Stick%20Icon%20Registry%20Patch.exe

VAIO Resolution Setting Manager
http://dl.dropbox.com/u/97517584/SONY%20VAIO%20VGX%20XL%20302%20UK/Windows%207/VAIO%20Resolution%20Setting%20Manager.exe

VAIO Shared Library
http://dl.dropbox.com/u/97517584/SONY%20VAIO%20VGX%20XL%20302%20UK/Windows%207/VAIO%20Shared%20Library.exe

VAIO SigmaTel Audio Driver
http://dl.dropbox.com/u/97517584/SONY%20VAIO%20VGX%20XL%20302%20UK/Windows%207/VAIO%20SigmaTel%20Audio%20Driver.exe

VAIO Utilities DLL
http://dl.dropbox.com/u/97517584/SONY%20VAIO%20VGX%20XL%20302%20UK/Windows%207/VAIO%20Utilities%20DLL.exe

VAIO VGX XL Series User Guides
http://dl.dropbox.com/u/97517584/SONY%20VAIO%20VGX%20XL%20302%20UK/Windows%207/VAIO%20VGX%20XL%20Series%20User%20Guides.exe

VAIO Wireless Switch Setting Utility
http://dl.dropbox.com/u/97517584/SONY%20VAIO%20VGX%20XL%20302%20UK/Windows%207/VAIO%20Wireless%20Switch%20Setting%20Utility.exe

I hope these help. I will be sticking to Windows 7.smile.gif
post #3493 of 3845

Welcome back RJ. 

 

 

Yes, I will most likely stick with Windows 7 as well, although I sdid snag one of those $29.99 copies of Windows 8 Pro, and I plan to try it on a separate SSD; "cloning" (imaging) my current setup on my current system drive. Then by simply switching a SATA cable I can play with it, work out the bugs ( and get more familiar with that very weird new Windows 8 user interface, and try to see if it could ever be a friendly match to our VGX-XL* systems ). But ultimately I imagine my copy of Windows 8 will be destined for a separate system build, more current hardware, etc.

 

Thanks for the files download post. You went to a lot of trouble in order to share with us.

 

If I remember correctly, you had planned to do a clean, full installation of Windows 7 Home Premium (32-bit), and then install these OEM Sony drivers and utilities.  Is that what you actually did?

 

Did you manage to get your front panel optical drive eject button working again?

 

RJ, Do you have any particular "inside baseball" (oops), "inside cricket" insight as to whether these UK systems installation files will also work for the US spec. VGX-XL3 model? (I believe at least the motherboard of the XL3 is shared with the UK spec. VGX301 / VGX302 series?)

 

I ask because I am ( fingers crossed ) acquiring a currently non-functional but gently used VGX-XL3 system at the end of this month, after the holidays. However it will be coming to me without any hard drives and without any OEM Sony software / OS./ drivers, etc..

 

If I am able to repair it and make it function again ( rather than just keeping it for spare parts ) I am going to need to somehow acquire installable OEM Sony-Vista Home Premium OS / OEM Software / system hardware drivers, etc..

I am interested if these files which you have uploaded for us, for your own UK spec.system might work for the VGX-XL3? If you don't know, that's fine. Doesn't hurt to ask, right?  wink.gif

 

Forgive my ignorance: By using K-PAC to unpack all the installers from the recovery disc's, does that allow these files to be installed on a system, bypassing the system ID blocks one encounters from the Sony Support webpage versions?

I'm pretty vague on what Sony has done to their System Support page versions to cause installation blocking of those files; pop up warnings, installation errors, etc)

 

Cheers!

Robert.

 

 

PS. Thanks again for sharing these file uploads with us, RJ. Have a good Holiday. I visualize that Christmas in the villages of Cornwall in 2012 must still be exactly like Dickens' descriptions in "A Christmas Carol" (except that Scrooge would have Cornish Game Hens delivered, rather than a fat goose, of course).

 

biggrin.gif


Edited by REnninga - 12/18/12 at 1:56am
post #3494 of 3845
Why spend four times effort to post that here when half as many pointed words to Sony support can get you what you want ?

You want us email them for you ? Or call them.


Call Sony.
post #3495 of 3845
Quote:
Originally Posted by MfusickView Post

Why spend four times effort to post that here when half as many pointed words to Sony support can get you what you want ?

You want us email them for you ? Or call them.


Call Sony.

 

Nice post. And rude, too. "Call Sony" (wow, helpful!). But, whatever floats your boat..


Edited by REnninga - 12/22/12 at 3:03am
post #3496 of 3845
I did not mean it to be rude. I'm just questioning why you put forth so much effort in that post above. It seemed like you did 5 times more work than it would take to actually get the discs- and no good chance of success.

Asking in a HTPC forum for a MFG restore DVD seems a waste of time when you can ask the MFG directly @ Support. They would inform you how to obtain.

Otherwise just re-install windows from scratch and use the hardware without the MFG software. In which case- This forum could help you.

I am guessing that 48 hours later your still watching this post for a "solution" and have not tried contacting support yet.

I don't blame you. I understand. No one really wants to contact MFG support. It's not enjoyable. But it's what you need to do.
post #3497 of 3845
Hi everyone, I know this is random, but i thought I would ask anyways. I have two gently used VGP-XL1B changers that work perfectly that I need to get ride of. I was just wondering if anyone would know the best place to try to sell them. I have tried craigslist, but no luck. Just wondering, if anyone on this site is interested please email at oocchiverdio@gmail.com thanks guys!
post #3498 of 3845
ENABLING MORE THAN 4 GB OF RAM UNDER WINDOWS 7 (x86) 32-BIT
 
Hello all,
 
For those discussion thread members with VGX-XL3, XL201, XL301 and XL302 series systems wishing to take advantage of the 8GB of addressable RAM support of your motherboards and chipsets, without installing 64-bit Windows 7, here is an interesting article by Brandon Castellano about how to use Physical Address Extension (PAE) to break the 4GB RAM address limitation of x86 (32-bit) Windows. 
 
The obvious advantage is being able to double the usable RAM, and use the additional available address space, without encountering any of the hardware driver hiccups (such as the non-functional front bezel optical drive button) and applications/programs incompatibilities which come to us with installing a 64-bit operating system.
 
 
[ Please note: This information is not applicable for the earlier VGX-XL1, XL100, XL2 or XL2A series Digital Living Systems. Those models were built with a motherboard and integrated Intel chipset which limits those systems to 4 GB installed RAM, even if running a 64-bit operating system ]
 
 
 
If any of you wish to pursue this on your own VGX-XL3, or 301/302 series systems, I recommend two primary considerations (preparations):
 
1).  Set a System Restore point before proceeding; affords the easiest and most reliable way to back out of a system modification and return to your system's current status quo state.
 
2).  The RAM limit of your VGX-XL3 or 301/302 series motherboards / chipsets remains just 4GB if you install 800MHz RAM DIMMS (e.g., DDR2 800MHz PC2-6400 DIMMs). This is true even if running a 64-bit operating system. 
 
So if you intend to install more than 4GB of RAM you must use:
 
667MHz RAM DIMMS (e.g., DDR2 667MHz PC2-5300 DIMMS)   or 
533MHz RAM DIMMS (e.g., DDR2 533MHz PC2-4200 DIMMS)
 
The best throughput performance is obtained by installing matched pairs of DIMMS in both memory banks (i.e., 4x 2GB matched DIMMS).
 
 
So, with the preliminaries out of the way, here is Brandon's article:
 
 
Enabling More Than 4 GB of RAM Under Windows 7 (X86) 32-Bit
 
One popular answer I’ve written for "Super User" was to the question titled, “How can I enable PAE on Windows 7 (32-bit) to support more than 3.5 GB of RAM?” A great question, especially because there’s no technical reason limiting Windows from doing so.
 
Editing the Windows kernel using the free XVI32 Hex Editor. The maximum memory limit values for Windows are set in the actual kernel binary itself.
 
I came across a patch developed by UNAWAVE  http://www.unawave.de/index.html  a few years ago, which has a copy of the Windows 7 RTM kernel. Recently, however, the patch was taken offline, since the patch was apparently causing some virus scanners to report a false positive. http://www.unawave.de/windows-7-tipps/virusnote.html?lang=DE 
 
 
Fortunately, there are still two options for you to enable the use of more than 4GB of RAM under 32-bit variants of  Windows 7:  
 
 
1.   I saved a copy of the patch before it was taken offline, which you can download from here. 
 
 
 
While this patch does not replace/modify any Windows files (it simply adds another kernel .exe file and the appropriate boot menu item to use it), it does contain an older build of the Windows kernel (7600 from RTM, as opposed to 7601 from SP1).
 
While I personally haven’t experienced any issues with the patch, if you wish to use kernel 7601, see the next option. This patch adds another boot option when loading Windows, so you can easily disable the patch and boot the unmodified kernel (which may be useful if certain Windows updates require the kernel version to match 7601, but I haven’t had any problems yet).
 
 
2.   UNAWAVE have also released instructions detailing how to manually patch your Windows kernel. 
 
 
This follows the same methodology as the above patch, including making a copy of the kernel and adding an additional boot menu item. This process is significantly less automated than the patch from option #1, but if the patch is detected as a false positive on your system, or you require kernel 7601, you need to follow these steps instead.
 
 
While you should use caution whenever modifying your system files (especially the Windows kernel),  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ntoskrnl   the methods detailed in this post (both the patch executable and the instructions by UNAWAVE) don’t modify any existing system files. A copy of the existing kernel is made, and then patched and added as an additional boot-menu item. This ensures that even if there is a problem with the patched kernel, you can still boot into Windows using the unmodified kernel.
 
 
 
 
A big thanks and a tip of the hat to Brandon
 
Share your own experiences here, reporting your successes or hiccups with increasing your own system's 32-bit RAM limit. And Happy New Year 2013, everyone ....
 
Cheers!
Robert.

Edited by REnninga - 1/13/13 at 8:39pm
post #3499 of 3845

A PERMANENT FIX FOR THE WINDOWS 7 "VAIO" SPLASH SCREEN BOOT-FREEZE ISSUE FOR SONY VAIO VGX-XL* SYSTEMS

 

Hello all.   Most, if not all of us have encountered the now infamous "VAIO" splash screen boot-freeze issue after upgrading our operating systems to Windows 7.

 

The problem is the IEEE 1394 iLink (aka: "Fire-wire") bus driver update which is included with Windows 7, which replaces the Legacy IEEE 1394 bus drivers which were included with the earlier XP-Media Center Edition and Vista Home Premium versions of Windows. See this Microsoft extract for more details about the replacement driver, if you are interested:


http://www.microsoft.com/whdc/connect/1394_Windows7.mspx

 

 

One of our discussion thread's early adoptors of Windows 7 came up with a workaround, a couple of years ago, which the rest of us have been diligently sharing with others upgrading their own VGX-XL* systems to Windows 7.  The workaround does resolve the boot-freeze issue, but comes at the loss of IEEE 1394 iLink ("Fire-wire") support.

This may not be an issue for many, but for those of us who still want to use our system-matched iLink connected VGP-XL1B 200-disk Changers, or even just wish to be able to use a IEEE 1394 "Fire-wire" interface external Hard Disk Drive enclosure or HDD Dock, restoring the functionality of the iLink ("Fire-wire") support is desireable.  Afterall, the data throughput speed of "Fire-wire" can be as much as seven-times (7x) faster than USB 2.0

 

 

If you are presently running Windows 7, and have already disabled the IEEE 1394 iLink ("Fire-wire") and "VAIO" splash screen in your BIOS settings, but you wish to reenable the iLink support and reactivate the "VAIO" splash screen without encountering the boot-freeze issue, you can use the following steps.

 

 

[ NOTE: Be sure to first create a "System Restore point" (for easily returning to your current status quo, if something should get buggered), because sometimes you can "roll back" a driver update in Device Manager, sometimes not. It's always a good idea to anticipate the worst case scenario and be prepared for using 'Plan B' (system Restore) if necessary.  rolleyes.gif ]

 

 

Before proceeding, by pressing the 'F2' key during boot, get into the system BIOS and reenable the IEEE 1394 iLink ("Fire-wire") support so that it will show-up in "Device Manager", but leave the "VAIO" splash screen disabled for now.

 

Exit the BIOS, saving your settings changes, and allow the system to fully boot.

 

When you are back in Windows, proceed with the following steps:

 

1- Click the Start Button, type devmgmt.msc in the “Start Search” box and press Enter.

 

2- When the Device Manager utility opens, expand the device tree and look for the "IEEE 1394 Bus Host Controllers" node

 

3- Right click the host controller shown in that node and then select "Update driver software ..."

 

4- Select "Browse my computer for driver software"

 

5- Select "let me pick from a list of device driver on my computer ..." and add a check in the box before “Show compatible hardware”.

 

6. Choose the option -- "1394 OHCI Compliant Host Controller (Legacy)", and click next to update the driver.

NOTE: Depending on your version of Windows 7 it may be called "1394 OHCI Compliant Host Controller (Old)" rather than "Legacy"

 

7. Exit the Device Manager utility

 

After updating the driver (using the steps above), then do a full, cold shutdown of the computer, and disconnect the computer power cord.

 

Connect your VGP-XL1B Disk Changer(s) or your other external iLink/"Fire-wire" devices to one or both of the iLink ports on the rear panel of the VGX-XL* system, plug in the changers' (devices') power cords and power-on the changers (devices).

 

Reconnect the VGX-XL* system power cord, restart the computer and Boot fully into Windows and wait and watch the taskbar/tray area of the desktop (without interferring) for alert pop-up balloons telling you that Windows sees new hardware and identifies your VGP-XL1B changers (or your other "Fire-wire" devices) and attempts to install the Windows 7 drivers and Windows 7 Media Center support software for the changers.

 

If asked if you have the software disk for your new hardware, insert the Windows 7 DVD (do not insert the OEM Sony disk changer software CD. The drivers on the original software CD are not compatible with Windows 7).

 

Note: If you have already attempted to install the drivers and software for the VGP-XL1B disk changers using the old OEM software CD-ROM which came with the 200-disk changer(s), you can try to do a complete "uninstall" of that software in "Control Panel." As noted, the software which came with the VGP-XL1B disk changers supplied with the various VGX-XL* systems is "Windows XP Media Center 2005" or "Vista Home Premium" software and drivers, which are not compatible with windows 7.

 

If an attempt to "uninstall" the software in Control Panel is not fully successful, a system Registry edit may be necessary to entirely rid the system of conflicts. Let us know the status of your system, and if you need help doing a system Registry edit.

 

After the iLink ("Fire-wire") driver update, you should now be able to also reenable your "VAIO" boot splash screen in the BIOS, without getting a recurrence of the boot-freeze issue. It's not necessary to reenable the "VAIO" splash screen,of course,... but if you are like me you enjoy seeing the "VAIO" logo (rather than the boot info displayed in its place).

 

If you do not wish to retain the "VAIO" boot splash screen, or if you find that it causes the system to freeze while booting, simply leave it disabled or disable it again in the BIOS; but leave the IEEE 1394 iLink ("Fire-wire") support enabled.

 

Let us know it this IEEE 1394 iLink ("Fire-wire") Legacy driver fix, and Windows 7 Disk Changers support installation works for your system. Shared information ( as well as model-specific bugs discovery and fixes ) is what this discussion thread is all about.

 

 

Cheers!

Robert.


Edited by REnninga - 1/6/13 at 2:35pm
post #3500 of 3845
Nice one Robert, you sure are a stand-out contributor on this useful thread.
Kudos to all posters - imho these VGX systems hit a sweet spot in terms of features/performance/noise/looks that keep them relevant years after they might have been retired, and its nice to see people helping people keep these going.
I got a search hit on this thread about 20 pages back when I was searching for motherboard replacement options for my XL302 a week or so ago, and have just finished reading the rest of the posts - I was going to mention about the legacy firewire drivers, but in the meantime Robert has beaten me to it with a typically thorough breakdown, good work.
A quick potted history for any interested fellow users - I picked up an XL201 when they were first released here in London many moons ago, and after some initial consternation at the lack of 1080p support out-of-the-box (and a slightly peevish exchange with Sony support about 1080i not being "FullHD") have been very happy with it since.
Upgraded the video card to a 8600GT when they came out, replacing the stock fan heatsink with the fanless from the 7600GTL, which was excellent until it eventually died about a year ago (probably partly due to overheating, but it had a good life, on 24*7 for several years). I replaced that with an HIS ATI HD 5570.
In the middle I had picked up the 302 model from eBay a couple of years ago, migrating my video card and extra memory and that became my living-room HTPC - its been working well until the last few weeks, when intermittent lockups have been occurring.
It looked like a heat-related CPU or MB issue, which suspicion I partially firmed up by swapping out the memory, hard drives and video card and reproducing the issue.
A contributing factor may have been the new video card - the HIS 5570, which had a heat-sink that hooked over the top of the card and stuck out a little to far on the back to fit (this hadnt been apparent from the online photos and box art).
I had sorted this out with a trusty hacksaw, taking off nearly half the heatsink - this shouldnt have increased the overall heat output, but will obviously have reduced the heat conduction away from the card, shortening its life. A year later the card still seems fine, but the rest of the system is not so happy.
I decided to take the 302 into the local PC repair shop to check out the MB, but wasnt comfortable asking them to look for a potentially heat-related issue while there was a card with half the heat-sink sawed-off, so I've replaced the 5570 with the VTX3D 7750, my first fan-cooled gpu in one of these machines - it is very quiet, but I'm not yet sure that its quiet _enough_ - silence is golden wink.gif.
The repair shop claim to have identified some overheating issues around the BGA MB chipset, and removed, cleaned and resoldered some of these components, but a week later the lockups started again.
I was wondering if complete MB replacement was an option, but the posts of Robert and others make that look unlikely - expensive to find a like-for-like replacement and too complicated to retro fit a more modern board.
Then I read DickeFix's post about capacitors, which sounds like a likely culprit - thanks DickeFix, I'll get those checked out. I'll also get the CMOS battery changed while I'm about it - I understand things can get flakey when these start to run down, which must be sometime soon.
I guess our systems are getting to the age where these kind of issues will start to pop up, more frequently for those like me who put more wear on their units with hotter components and poorly ventilated AV cabinets.
Edited by BoyWombat - 1/8/13 at 9:38am
post #3501 of 3845
Quote:
Originally Posted by BoyWombat View Post
Welcome 'Wombat'! ( I'm uncomfortable referring to you as "Boy" biggrin.gif )

>>> The repair shop claim to have identified some overheating issues around the BGA MB chipset, and removed, cleaned and resoldered some of these components, but a week later the lockups started again. <<<
Have you tried installing a heat-sink with more radiating surface area over the chipset?  You could also duct some (not all) of the cool air from the 60mm case fan which is tucked under the optical drive, to flow directly across the chipset heat-sink. The "elegant" way to do that is with a piece of 1" to 1-1/2" thin-wall PVC pipe / tubing which is diagonally cut-off ("French cut") at approx. 30-degrees at both ends and laid just in front of the fan and diagonally to the chipset heat-sink.  It can be secured with two very small spots of Velcro just to keep it from wandering from system vibrations.
That can reduce the O.A. operating temperature of the chipset by a few degrees. That's the "elegant" way to do it. The "inelegant" way to do it is to just use the cardboard core of a finished roll of toilet paper ( hey, whatever works, right?! rolleyes.gif ) 
Yes, heat is definitely our enemy with these systems. One of the trade-offs for the quiet. And an additional option for improving overall system cooling is to replace all three case fans (1x 60mm front, 2x 80mm rear) with quieter, and more efficient units. I did this about a year-and-a-half ago and it was a relatively inexpensive upgrade. I think my total cost was under $30 (USD) The system is overall quieter, and moves more air. I started my shopping for replacement fans with lowest dBA sound pressure as the number one criteria; and then from that sub-group I searched for the highest air flow.

>>> I was wondering if complete MB replacement was an option, but the posts of Robert and others make that look unlikely - expensive to find a like-for-like replacement and too complicated to retro fit a more modern board.
Then I read DickeFix's post about capacitors, which sounds like a likely culprit - thanks DickeFix, I'll get those checked out. I'll also get the CMOS battery changed while I'm about it - I understand things can get flakey when these start to run down, which must be sometime soon.
I guess our systems are getting to the age where these kind of issues will start to pop up, more frequently for those like me who put more wear on their units with hotter components and poorly ventilated AV cabinets. <<<
That's very insightful, and yes, it's true, the button-cell battery could indeed be a culprit. It's a cheap and easy swap, even if it's not the problem. Yours is probably approaching end of life anyway. The experts say 6-10 years, depending on usage. I think that's pushing it to the limit.
As for the MB, I can't HONESTLY say definitively "yes", nor definitely "no". The actual truth of the matter is that I gave up after spending quite a lot of time looking, trying to find a matching form factor MB, without success. Last spring, with the gracious shipping assistance of one of our discussion thread contributors in the UK, I had obtained a replacement MB for a XL3/XL200-XL300 series system.  I took that motherboard with me to every computer components retailer within 25-30 miles of Portland, OR, USA without finding a board with a matching form factor (specifically the case mounting post locations and the correct PCI-e slot location).  Even the mega-retailers here in the states like Fry's Electronics looked at my spare XL* motherboard with bewilderment (and some with expressions that seemed a whole lot like scorn, to me! redface.gif). My own conclusion after that effort was that our MB's are proprietary / purpose built derivatives of ASUStek's P5 motherboard architecture.
And of course it's a given that even if a matching form factor board was found, most of the rear of the XL* system case behind the CPU cooling assembly would need to be removed / cut out in order to accommodate a standard I/O panel ( that portion area is notched-out and completely removed from our OEM Sony/ASUStek MB's). 
My personal conclusion after my fruitless search was that I should focus on discovering what the actual limits are for upgrades which will work with our aging systems, without destroying an irreplaceable component (as opposed to Sony's published "tested" upgrades). And we contributing to this discussion thread over the past few years have made quite a few interesting and unexpected discoveries about these systems. 
But ultimately, the more sensible course when hitting the inevitable brick wall of upgrade limitations for these systems is to find an attractive HTPC case, and scratch build a system which is new, state-of-the-art, upgradeable, and expandable. It's surprisingly economical to build ones own HTPC with performance well exceeding our XL* systems (and it's fun and rewarding, too).
I'm building a mini-ITX HTPC for my younger sister right now. She's in a small efficiency apartment, so "size matters." This tiny little thing is about 1/3 the desktop footprint and perhaps 2/3 the height of my XL2A and yet is a quantum leap faster, and more capable than is my XL2A; and it boots in half the time (Windows 7 Ultimate 64-bit with 16GB DDR3 RAM).
I think I'm into it less than $350 (USD) total, including the OS. Put in that context, it does make one wonder just how long it makes sense to put aesthetic ahead of performance and upgrade-ability? ( Oh gosh, ... eek.gif I can't believe I actually wrote that on THIS discussion thread. I now need to go wash my mouth out with soap and spend some quality time stroking and apologizing to my beautiful old XL2A. She gets VERY jealous, and acts up when I neglect her!)    Later!

 

 

Cheers!

Robert.

 

 

PS. Be sure to let us know if you find the cause, and resolution to your system issue. Sharing issues and fixes is what it's all about..


Edited by REnninga - 1/8/13 at 2:52pm
post #3502 of 3845
Cheers Robert.
Yes, I've considered rolling-my-own HTPC but I'd like to keep the faith a bit longer. The XL302 is capable of handling everything I want it to, and I still want to have my XL1B Media Changer hooked up - they look better as a couple smile.gif
Actually, like so many things in my life, I dont really need or even use the XL1B but I like having it around - I have a bunch of DVDs in there that I cant be bothered ripping (the kind of titles that I have picked up on sale because I'd like to watch them once and they were priced cheaper than a rental) and a couple of dozen CDs that I want in full-definition.
These CDs are mostly Jazz/Opera/Classical - most of my collection is actually alternative rock/pop, but I think when youre in the mood for these more chilledout sounds then its nice to know youre not missing out on too much of the music "between the notes" if you know what I mean...
I know there are various lossless formats I could rip them to, but I've found it a bit of a pita to manage the metadata for lossless formats.
If I was to jump ship anytime soon, I would probably just pickup a little media pc I could chuck behind the TV, like the REVO, as a hassle-free quick-fix, at least until we discover whether something like Steam's new PISTON console might support any multimedia apps - or how hackable it is smile.gif.
I do like those tooled-aluminum HTPC cases tho - I'm sure it would be very satisfying building a killer HTPC with those.
A while back you mentioned a USB-Firewire adaptor - do you know if they actually work with our XL1Bs?
Its just that I remember looking at similar adaptors a couple of years back and reading various comments and between the lines I got the impression that is was unlikely that these would provide even partial let alone full functionality.
I will keep you posted on my XL302. It'll probably be a couple of weeks before I get the chance to sort that out - If I cant get it fixed I can always canabalize the MB from my 201, although I'd rather not.
post #3503 of 3845

THANK YOU JEFF! ('rjeffb')  <---Yes, that's a BIG thank you.

 

I want to post this public "thank you" to Jeff ('rjeffb') one of our longest-term and most prolific contributors to this Sony VGX-XL3 discussion thread for his much appreciated help in providing me my sought-after set of XL3 Recovery DVD's. 

 

As it turned out my much hoped-for acquisition of the gently used VGX-XL3 fell apart when the seller had second thoughts, and alas I am no closer to that goal. But thanks to Jeff answering my pathetic and mournful call, I am better prepared now when that day arrives and I am able to pursue my long-planned project.

 

Thanks again, Jeff. You have been my guide and mentor on this discussion thread for the past 2-1/2 years; just as you have so-often helped dozens of other fellow XL* owners. All I can conclude is that "Ol' Blue Eyes" (Francis Albert Sinatra) had it right when he said  "They grow 'em good in Jersey." (actually, he may have said "Joisey")

 

Cheers!

Robert. 


Edited by REnninga - 1/10/13 at 3:57pm
post #3504 of 3845
Quote:
Originally Posted by BoyWombat View Post

>>> Cheers Robert.
Yes, I've considered rolling-my-own HTPC but I'd like to keep the faith a bit longer. The XL302 is capable of handling everything I want it to, and I still want to have my XL1B Media Changer hooked up - they look better as a couple smile.gif <<<
I couldn't agree more.

>>> Actually, like so many things in my life, I dont really need or even use the XL1B but I like having it around - I have a bunch of DVDs in there that I cant be bothered ripping (the kind of titles that I have picked up on sale because I'd like to watch them once and they were priced cheaper than a rental) and a couple of dozen CDs that I want in full-definition. <<<
Yes, that's one of the downsides of ripping DVD-9 disks to HDD's, ultimately one has to decide what to rip, and inevitably the bonus features and extras are given the heave ho in the interest of the quality vs.disk space equation. Having the original retail DVD's in the changer(s) is a plus.  I was never able to get my own XL2A and Changers to load meta-data for backup DVD's so I eventually opted for 100-disk wallets which I keep on a shelf with an Excel spread sheet indexing their location. So it doesn't take more than a minute to access the original if I want to replay the special features, etc.
I'm still convinced in my own mid that I'm going to one day figure out how to replace the high-speed DVD burner inside on of my XL1B Disk Changers with a Blu-ray drive. I have contemplated that before (when I removed the tops to apply the sound-deadening sheeting inside the covers. But the inner workings of those things looks like one of Rube Goldberg's best ever contraptions; and I was confounded by what I saw ... and quickly screwed the cover safely back in-place before I fixed that visual image on my brain ( in order to hold the inevitable night-terrors at bay!) eek.gif

>>> These CDs are mostly Jazz/Opera/Classical - most of my collection is actually alternative rock/pop, but I think when youre in the mood for these more chilledout sounds then its nice to know youre not missing out on too much of the music "between the notes" if you know what I mean...
I know there are various lossless formats I could rip them to, but I've found it a bit of a pita to manage the metadata for lossless formats.<<<
It sounds like we have similar collections, or at least similar tastes ...although I'm wagering my collection is a good deal "older" (Miles Davis Charlie Parker, Stan Getz, Dave Brubeck, et al, are my stalwarts). 
I have of course ripped all of my CD collection to mp3 format (320 kbps bit rate) so I can load up the 80 GB iPod and take it with me; but I agree ... the Lossey formats aren't the same. Frankly, for my own listening preference I have concluded even lossless doesn't hold up to my original vinyl for audio warmth and "space."  In the past year I have pulled my old Sony turntable and my vinyl collection out of storage and have fallen in love all over again.
>>> ...and If I was to jump ship anytime soon, I would probably just pickup a little media pc I could chuck behind the TV, like the REVO, as a hassle-free quick-fix, at least until we discover whether something like Steam's new PISTON console might support any multimedia apps - or how hackable it is smile.gif.
I do like those tooled-aluminum HTPC cases tho - I'm sure it would be very satisfying building a killer HTPC with those. <<<
Yes, I agree. Although the aesthetic sense we all share which led us to our beautiful VGX-XL* systems immediately led ME astray when I started shopping for an attractive HTPC case for building my own system. I found myself salivating over a $500+ 'Moneual Lab MonCaso' which I couldn't get out of my head. ( Sort of like meeting Heidi Klum as your first 3-minute "date" of an evening of speed dating, and then trying to regain your focus for the remainder of the evening! )  frown.gif 

>>>  A while back you mentioned a USB-Firewire adaptor - do you know if they actually work with our XL1Bs?
Its just that I remember looking at similar adaptors a couple of years back and reading various comments and between the lines I got the impression that is was unlikely that these would provide even partial let alone full functionality. <<<
No, I can't speak to personal experience with one (and what I was referring to is a IEEE 1394 ("Fire-wire") PCI controller card, occupying one of the rear I/O panel horizontal slots from the PCI riser card.  But now, of course, with the permanent fix discovered for the Windows 7 boot-freeze issue, it's not necessary.
The key was bypassing the iLINK ("Fire-wire") interface altogether (and bypassing the driver conflict). And because the data transfer speed of DVD playback is well within the PCI bus 1.5GB/s spec., there shouldn't be a playback issue with the Changers running off of a controller card. Technically our systems are equipped with IEEE 1394 "iLink" (as opposed to the Apple proprietary "Fire-wire" standard architecture. However they are almost entirely interchangeable. But I think if I were shopping for a IEEE 1394 controller card with external I/O insert ports, I would focus on the specifications mentioning compatibility with the "Sony iLink" standard architecture.
Frankly, I can't imagine why that wouldn't work, because Sony itself maintains that the VGP-XL1B 200-disk changers are compatible with any manufacturers PC equipped with "Fire-wire" and running any version of Windows Media Center (beginning with XP-MCE 2005 through Windows 7; I don't know yet about Windows 8).  
 
>>> I will keep you posted on my XL302. It'll probably be a couple of weeks before I get the chance to sort that out - If I cant get it fixed I can always canabalize the MB from my 201, although I'd rather not. <<<

 

Yes, I believe it's the same motherboard. And being able to pull your problem motherboard and have a replacement HTPC system available suggests  one other option which was mentioned to me recently, .... and I am NOT recommending this ... but just passing it along.

 

Some shops maintain that they are able to "re-flow" a motherboard. Specifically they "bake" the board suspended on a specially made rack assembly at a precisely controlled temperature. The process "re-flows" the solder connections "without damaging the printed circuits and on-board components."  Apparently a lot of video/graphics cards are repaired the same way.

 

My personal thinking is that I wouldn't try that process on one of these motherboards unless I was prepared to have it returned to me "toasted" as opposed to "baked." ( biggrin.gif sometimes I crack myself up ) 

 

Given that we can't even get these motherboards anymore as replacements (Sony has their limited remaining inventory now locked-up for use by their repair centers at well over $1,000 a pop, plus their labor costs), "baking" (re-flowing) a XL* board would seem to be the absolute last recourse. I think the approach you took, having individual components re-soldered is the far better course, ... if you can find the culprit.

 

I'm keeping a positive thought for you. I have a STRONG suspicion that the issue with your system is something very simple (like the button-cell battery) and that you will find the fix.  And yes, please do keep us in the loop. Every issue and fix we find will help someone else down the road.

 

 

Cheers!

Robert.

post #3505 of 3845
Dang, perhaps my memory is playing tricks - I was sure _someone_ mentioned a cheap usb-firewire adapter on this thread, but I've just scanned the last year's posts and not found it again.
In the process I noticed again that you havent received much response to some of your own queries Robert, such as upscaling questions and using a Q6600 CPU.
You've probably long since sorted these out, but just in case;
The resolution any HTPC sends to the TV is down to the application that is running. This will generally be the same as the desktop resolution, but not always. My venerable Sony 40X2000 HDTV reports the signal it is receiving - the desktop is output at 1080p, but I have run some old games for example from the desktop and they automatically switch to 720p or lower.
The thing is that these still display _full screen_, i.e. the TV is doing its own upscaling, filling in all the pixels of its 1920x1080 display, just as it would with the 576i input of an old, non-upscaling, DVD player.
For general multimedia, Microsofts Media Center app that most of us use outputs at the desktop resolution, so your TV & DVDs are being upscaled to your desktop resolution by the video drivers/codecs in your PC.
These do an outstanding job - I was impressed when I setup my first all-digital HTPC, the OTA digital TV looked almost DVD-quality and the DVDs looked almost HD, both noticeably better than the STBs/DVD players I had been using.
Typically theres too much made of the "upscaling" features of blu-ray players or AV receivers - its generally completely unnecessary for most people. Some prefer the upscaling performed by certain chipsets, e.g. the "Faroudja" chipset in my Denon AV, and go to some trouble to route a raw signal via these rather than let the source or TV handle it, but these are just doing the same task that most TVs already handle and my experience is that the TV does a good job already and the HTPC the best job.
Of course the main thing for us, as I know you've already worked out, is to match the desktop resolution to the pixel resolution of our monitors and turn off all overscanning etc. (on both the TV and video driver) for the clearest results.
Re: the Q6600, I'm curious about this myself - I seem to recall looking into this about 2 years ago, checking clock frequencies, multipliers, steppings etc., but cant remember where I got to (stupid alz-thingamabob), although I suspect there was an issue with having the 4 cores. I believe I still have one of these CPUs up in the attic somewhere - did you ever find out if they were compatible?
Re: the XL1B Media Changer, yes I think most of us have considered how cool it would be to make this a blu-ray changer - there has been on-off attempts at this documented on the "Unofficial XL1B2" thread (e.g. http://www.avsforum.com/t/692413/unofficial-vgp-xl1b2-thread/1500#post_19206761 ) - it looks tricky.
I did use some good DVD metadata editing software a while back tho that let me update the metadata and album art used by WMC's built-in Movies app and that I'm sure would work with your backups. I think it was called "Media Center Master" or somesuch - you may have tried it, but if you are interested I can find out exactly what it was.
Thanks for your feedback,
Tony. ( possibly my real name wink.gif )
Edited by BoyWombat - 1/10/13 at 12:56pm
post #3506 of 3845
Quote:
Originally Posted by BoyWombat View Post

>>> Dang, perhaps my memory is playing tricks - I was sure _someone_ mentioned a cheap usb-firewire adapter on this thread, but I've just scanned the last year's posts and not found it again. <<<
Hi Tony.  I may have confused you with my last response. I did, in-fact, in an earlier post make reference to the possibility of installing an adapter/controller card to provide working IEEE-1394 ports. Here is just one example: http://byteccusa.com/index.php/i-o-card/pci/bt-pci-u2fw-html.html
i/Link / "Fire-wire" is a very good interface for video / video capture / CD-DVD playback / cancorders, etc. Probably why Sony chose that interface for the XL1B Disk Changers.  There are many of these PCI to IEEE-1394 controller cards available, in all price ranges and flavors, starting as low as about $8 (USD) on EBay. However I have personally never used one in my own XL2A so I can't personally vouch for them working on the XL* systems' PCI riser  I do have one running in each of my other PC's, and have even connected a VGP-XL1B Disk Changer to another PC running Windows Media Center, using one of  the i.Link / "Fire-wire" ports of the controller card. No problems.
I DO however have a PCI SATA/eSATA controller card populating one of the PCI riser card slots on my XL2A, and I have an internal SSD (backups / system image), and twelve (12) external large capacity HDD's running on and managed by that one PCI SATA/eSATA controller card. So, as you said, our XL* systems can handle a lot. I wish I could find a PCI SATA/eSATA card which also provided additional USB 2.0 ports in addition to the three eSATA ports I need. The two USB connections on the rear I/O panel of our systems are inadequate, and adding USB hubs are just ..."messy."
I see no reason why a PCI to IEEE-1394 controller card would not work in the XL* systems; but if I were purchasing one I would try to make certain that the card's specifications note its compatibility with the ".iLink" IEEE-1394 spec. architecture. For instance, the PPA Int'l USB 2.0+1394 FireWire Combo cards I have installed in all of my other PC's state the following in the specifications:  "Complies with Standard for IEEE-1394 High Performance Serial Bus / i.Link." The cards I purchased were recognized by both Vista and Windows 7, and drivers were loaded automatically (didn't need the drivers on the included CD which were for older operating systems). I do know that some of the integrated chipsets on older model controller cards are simply incompatible with Windows Vista and Windows 7.
And yes, if it was my post you saw, I did make note that some PCI adapter/controller cards I have seen have both USB and IEEE 1394 "Fire-wire" external ports on the same I/O panel  insert ( like the BYTECC unit at the link above and those I have installed in my other PC's). Not all have Windows 7 certified drivers available, but many work using the Vista drivers.
 My post, was one suggestion to a XL* system owner wanting to continue to use his / her XL1B Changer after disabling the i.Link support in the BIOS (and that response of course preceded the discovery of the Legacy driver fix; so it's effectively moot). 

>>> In the process I noticed again that you havent received much response to some of your own queries Robert, such as upscaling questions and using a Q6600 CPU.  <<<
You know, Tony, for some reason I seem to get quite a few responses to queries by 'PM', rather than by posts to the thread. Frankly, I wish everyone would feel comfortable just posting responses and suggestions directly to this thread, even at the risk of maybe writing something which isn't correct, because the discussion itself - even correcting posted errors of others, or adding nuances such as   "yes, but that fix won't work on the VGX-XL* model, because of ....."  I think the whole dialog is important and valuable to see on the thread, because it might also help someone else. But that's just me. 
And of course I can't really get upset at someone for offering help or a response to a query, just because they choose to do it privately by 'PM', right?  smile.gif  I have asked for and received permission to re-post some of those 'PM' responses on this thread so others can benefit from the information. I'm working with a US owner of a UK spec XL100 right now. We have exchanged probably 15 'PM's and email messages so far, resolving issues with the XL100 and making it compatible with US broadcast standards, etc., but unfortunately not a word of the assistance has been shared with this thread. I think that's unfortunate.
>>> You've probably long since sorted these out, but just in case; The resolution any HTPC sends to the TV is down to the application that is running. This will generally be the same as the desktop resolution, but not always. My venerable Sony 40X2000 HDTV reports the signal it is receiving - the desktop is output at 1080p, but I have run some old games for example from the desktop and they automatically switch to 720p or lower.
The thing is that these still display _full screen_, i.e. the TV is doing its own upscaling, filling in all the pixels of its 1920x1080 display, just as it would with the 576i input of an old, non-upscaling, DVD player. For general multimedia, Microsofts Media Center app that most of us use outputs at the desktop resolution, so your TV & DVDs are being upscaled to your desktop resolution by the video drivers/codecs in your PC.
These do an outstanding job - I was impressed when I setup my first all-digital HTPC, the OTA digital TV looked almost DVD-quality and the DVDs looked almost HD, both noticeably better than the STBs/DVD players I had been using.
Typically theres too much made of the "upscaling" features of blu-ray players or AV receivers - its generally completely unnecessary for most people. Some prefer the upscaling performed by certain chipsets, e.g. the "Faroudja" chipset in my Denon AV, and go to some trouble to route a raw signal via these rather than let the source or TV handle it, but these are just doing the same task that most TVs already handle and my experience is that the TV does a good job already and the HTPC the best job.
Of course the main thing for us, as I know you've already worked out, is to match the desktop resolution to the pixel resolution of our monitors and turn off all overscanning etc. (on both the TV and video driver) for the clearest results <<<.
When my Sony/Nvidia card failed - and I learned that Sony wanted $527 (USD) for a replacement - I purchased my first Sapphire Video/Graphics card for my XL2A. After installing it I struggled for a day or two with scaling and settings issues in Catalyst Control Center. I couldn't get the 720p setting to mesh with my LCD flat-screen to save my life. The color appeared sort of gray and muddied. The image quality appeared greatly inferior to TV broadcast quality and the varying black bars at the image edges had me spitting with frustration.
And then, as the most remarkable of coincidences, the daily How-To-Geek" newsletter arrived in my e-mailbox, and the headline article of the day was something like "Why You Should Always Use The 'Native Resolution' for your LCD Flat Screen Monitor"  eek.gif What?  "Native resolution." I was gobsmacked. I read the article, then grabbed the User Manual for my Sony 720p LCD flat-panel TV, and looked at the specifications: "Native Resolution 1366x768. "Sheesh"!!!  I had been trying to force the television to receive an input resolution which was inferior to its "native resolution", and the result was crap.
I immediately went into Catalyst Control Center, clicked the "defaults" reset button (to get rid of all of the numerous tweaks and settings changes I had made trying to fix the scaling and image issues), then opened the "Basic" mode menu in CCC and selected "1366x768" resolution. Instant fix!  Perfectly sized desktop image. Beautiful, crisp, vibrant image and deep beautiful color saturation.  I felt like a complete idiot for trying to force a 720p display. But, gosh ... we all have to learn somehow, right? At least I didn't do any permanent damage.. 
To your other point, I swapped-out my OEM Sony slot-load slimline DVD burner for a Blu-ray burner (Matshita BD-RE UJ-225S IDE/PATA interface). I have the original slot-load slimline DVD burner mounted in a little black plastic USB enclosure, just large enough to hold the drive, and I use both drives together when I want to accelerate the ripping of a backup copy of a DVD (it saves about 50% of the time it would otherwise take if just burning files to the hard drive and then inserting blank media and burning the backup.
I find that when I play back a DVD in the OEM Sony DVD drive, the screen image looks just as good as when I play the DVD on the Blu-ray drive, so I have personally concluded that the our XL* systems and video/graphics cards do a very adequate job of handling image improvement / up-scaling (whatever we want to call it) from DVD.  In fact (just a personal preference note), I tend to prefer up-scaled DVD over Blu-ray. Sometimes watching Blu-ray disks makes me queasy. I think the interpolation of up-scaling from DVD helps eliminate that queasiness, somehow.
I don't even rent Blu-ray anymore, ... and I wouldn't watch a Michael Bay or one of "The Bourne ..." series 'shakey camera movement' movies on Blu-ray if you paid me. I would be motion sick and praying at the porcelain altar for a week!!!!  biggrin.gif  

>>> Re: the Q6600, I'm curious about this myself - I seem to recall looking into this about 2 years ago, checking clock frequencies, multipliers, steppings etc., but cant remember where I got to (stupid alz-thingamabob), although I suspect there was an issue with having the 4 cores. I believe I still have one of these CPUs up in the attic somewhere - did you ever find out if they were compatible? <<<
Well, unfortunately, the early XL1, XL2, XL100 models are not upgradeable, as pertains to the Pentium D dual-core CPUs. Our systems have the processor microcode locked in the BIOS; and as we all now know there is no supported workaround for unlocking the BIOS or any supported BIOS updates.  So, after a small handful of trials of faster processors with failure to boot, or "microcode error" I have moved on.
I believe that most owners of the later model systems (the XL201, XL202, XL3, XL301 and XL302) have concluded that the two fastest replacement CPUs which run reliably in those systems are the Core2 Duo E6700 and the Core2 Extreme X6800. If you are considering an upgrade, you should double check my memory on this, but it's those two processors which stick in my mind (and both can be found in quantity on EBay for killer prices relative to their original Intel suggested retail) You can find "new" (OEM packaged), "working system pulls" and "used" on EBay, and I have seen these things go for as little as about $20 (USD).

Thanks for your feedback,
Tony. ( possibly my real name wink.gif )
You're welcome, Tony (possibly my real sentiment)
Cheers! Robert.

Edited by REnninga - 1/10/13 at 3:33pm
post #3507 of 3845
Yes, I forgot that the US-spec XL2 uses the previous generation MB. You're not missing out on much - the SSD and Video Card updates will have a _much_ greater practical impact on perceived performance. Having said that, if/when I get this MB reliable again, an X6800 upgrade may be next... perhaps I have a little trouble understanding "leave well enough alone".
I understand what you mean about Blu-ray - HD in general seems best with things like slow pans in nature documentaries, thats the only time I really go "wow". Fast moving scenes dont work nearly as well, altho I do appreciate the extra clarity generally.
You mentioned the MC app "Media Browser" recently - I second that as a great multimedia app that will automatically update your library metadata, it works very well.
I recently trialled JRivers Media Center software and that too was very impressive, working well on my system - potentially a little more tweaking required than "Media Browser", but it provides all its own codecs and can put out audiophile-quality sound.
The only downside for me is that neither of these support our changers.
Apart from the MC built-in "Movies" app, Brian Binnerup's "My Movies" is the only one I've found that supports the changer with a "10-foot interface".
If anyone has any other "media library"-style apps they use with the changer, or even just great ones without changer support, I'd love to hear about them.
Cheers,
Tony.
P.S. I just noticed I didnt respond to your original question about alternate heatsinks/ducting, only because I have established that there is a permanent issue that isnt alleviated by better ventilation, albeit probably the result of too much heat over time. If I can fix the current issue I'll definitely look at improving the cooling, starting with fan replacement.
Edited by BoyWombat - 1/11/13 at 7:28am
post #3508 of 3845
Quote:
Originally Posted by BoyWombat View Post

>>> Yes, I forgot that the US-spec XL2 uses the previous generation MB. You're not missing out on much - the SSD and Video Card updates will have a _much_ greater practical impact on perceived performance. Having said that, if/when I get this MB reliable again, an X6800 upgrade may be next... perhaps I have a little trouble understanding "leave well enough alone". <<<
Hi Tony. 
No, I think so long as you don't do anything which can damage your motherboard (and your 'budget' can tolerate it), there's real merit in "not leaving well-enough alone". After-all, if the rest of us had left well-enough alone we would all be running our systems within the limitations Sony has published for them, which we now know is complete hooey!
You might also check-out post #3480 of this thread, where I provided Chris ('Chrisbt') with the benchmarks for both the Core2 Duo E6700 and the Core2 Extreme X6800 compared to the Core2 Duo E6300 processor.  I think the performance info is telling. Also, if you instead decide to purchase an E6700 processor (to save some scratch), be sure to get the "Core2 Duo" E6700; because Intel ALSO produced a Pentium E6700 (and you don't want that one).
Intel processors comparison:  http://ark.intel.com/compare/27251,42809
The sad thing, from my perspective, is when I compare the Benchmarks for the OEM Pentium D 920 2.8GHz dual-core processor in my XL2A with even the OEM E6300 and E6400 processors in the later model P965 chip-set XL* systems. It's enough to bring one to tears. I guess the UP side, however, is that the Pentium D processors are proven workhorses. And THAT is worthwhile, too. wink.gif
I understand what you mean about Blu-ray - HD in general seems best with things like slow pans in nature documentaries, thats the only time I really go "wow". Fast moving scenes dont work nearly as well, altho I do appreciate the extra clarity generally.
I think in my case it's probably inner ear 'vertigo' issues combined with the "wimp factor." HA!  Fast action and motion movies just leave me cold (and sometimes nauseous). Blu-ray seems to enhance that issue.  Not a bad situation, really, when I think about all the money I am saving by avoiding Blu-ray. I avoid theater 3-D movies, too, for the same reasons  ( ... and still more money saved! )
 
You mentioned the MC app "Media Browser" recently - I second that as a great multimedia app that will automatically update your library metadata, it works very well.
I recently trialled JRivers Media Center software and that too was very impressive, working well on my system - potentially a little more tweaking required than "Media Browser", but it provides all its own codecs and can put out audiophile-quality sound.
The only downside for me is that neither of these support our changers.
Apart from the MC built-in "Movies" app, Brian Binnerup's "My Movies" is the only one I've found that supports the changer with a "10-foot interface".
I'm not familiar with the terminology "10-foot interface"? What does that mean? 
Yes, I think Media Browser is a terrific plug-in for Media Center. Especially because of the meta-data interface, and the superior speed it provides in changing from one media file to the next. I have also downloaded and installed ALL of the "free" add-ons; I don't think I am currently using any of the 'premium' (paid) add-ons.
Have you tried the Windows version of XBMC? ( It was originally written/coded for XBox, and then Ubuntu ).  It's pretty slick, interesting, and visually striking. And it's also 'FREE" and open source.  http://xbmc.org/download/   I'll check-out "JRivers Media Center" and Binnerup's "My Movies". I'm not familiar with those two. 
Tony, have you already set-up a user account on "the Green Button"?  It's not what it used to be (since purchased by Microsoft), but it's still a terrific resource for "all things Windows Media Center."   http://www.thegreenbutton.tv/forums/

If anyone has any other "media library"-style apps they use with the changer, or even just great ones without changer support, I'd love to hear about them.
Cheers,
Tony.

P.S. I just noticed I didnt respond to your original question about alternate heatsinks/ducting, only because I have established that there is a permanent issue that isnt alleviated by better ventilation, albeit probably the result of too much heat over time. If I can fix the current issue I'll definitely look at improving the cooling, starting with fan replacement.
Yes, if it's not the button-cell CMOS battery, it could very well be a micro-fracture (solder points, printed circuit, etc.) which opens-up when the board gets warm enough to expand.
I once saw some "copper paint" for repairing printed circuit board micro-fractures. It came in a little bottle with a brush (like a bottle of finger-nail polish). A very thin solution which gets sucked into the micro-fracture by capillary action, to close the breaks/fissures in the printed circuits under the plasticized coatings on the board. I guess it works pretty well, ... IF you can find the micro-fractures! Sounds like a job for Superman and his x-ray vision! 
About a year, maybe a year-and-1/2 ago I had a lengthy phone conversation with one of Sony's techs at one of their Indian Call Centers ("Bill" in Bangalore), and "Bill" told me that one of the most frequent issues they were seeing with the XL* system motherboards were "micro-fractures" caused by the heating & cooling cycles expansion and contraction. "Bill" didn't say so, but I suspect that might be a result of the compromises Sony made to make these systems quiet, which allows for more internal heat and more thermal expansion than we might see in systems with more fans circulation. The OEM video/graphics and tuner cards alone produced a whole lot of waste heat.

 

Cheers!

Robert.


Edited by REnninga - 1/11/13 at 7:48pm
post #3509 of 3845
"10-foot interface" just means one designed to be used with a remote from the sofa, I.e 10 feet away.
Yes, I've heard good things about XBMC, but not actually tinkered with it myself yet - it sounded too close to Media Browser, which I was pretty happy with, but I might check it out. I would actually like a slightly slicker UI than is available with the free MB skins, but am reluctant to pay for other skins that may or may not work for me.
Both MyMovies and JRivers MC have both desktop apps to maintain libraries and metadata, as well as "10-foot interfaces" to 'consume' them smile.gif
MyMovies interface is a plugin to Windows MC, with the latest versions creating (optionally) 2 menu strips, 1 for movies and 1for TV shows. The free version is very good, you need to pay to unlock fancier configuration and ripping options.
JRivers "10-foot interface" is part of its desktop app, although you can configure it to start in this mode. It comes with a 'Van Gogh' theme by default - sounds odd, but its actually very nice. It has a good trial period, but no free features after that.
Neither seems to have the 'set-and-forget' metadata retrieval of MB - you need to go into the app to update the library if you have just ripped a new DVD for example - but to be fair this is very simple, and may well have been remedied in more recent versions. Both will scan folder trees for you, so 'watching' folders shouldn't be hard for them and might already be a feature that I've just missed.
They don't have user 'skins' either, but the UIs are very configurable.
I'd strongly recommend people to check these both out if they are at all interested - even tho there are some great free apps like MB & XBMC, I'm sure some would find the extra features in these well worthwhile.
Yes, I remember the GreenButton, I think I may have even posted there some years ago, it was very useful although I haven't checked it out for a long time now.
Good point about the hot tuner cards - my 302 has 2 of them, which I don't even use any more. We used to watch TV via my XL a lot, and I still have thousands of hours of recordings goin back about 6 years, but I don't watch live TV on it currently, it's used for disks, downloads and music. I wanted to watch HD TV - I even got an HD USB dongle so I actually have 3 OTA tuners in my 302, but I couldn't get a decent HD signal, so I went with Sky (satellite) and have just recently switched to Virgin (cable). I should probably remove these 3 unused tuners.
Cheers,
Tony.
Edited by BoyWombat - 1/12/13 at 4:33pm
post #3510 of 3845
Quote:
Originally Posted by BoyWombat View Post

>>> "10-foot interface" just means one designed to be used with a remote from the sofa, I.e 10 feet away. <<<
Hi Tony.  Ah, I see. Of course, that makes perfect sense ( although I use my system from approx. 11-feet away - often 12-feet when the recliner is tilted back - so ....would I need to look for a different interface?  biggrin.gif )

>>> Yes, I've heard good things about XBMC, but not actually tinkered with it myself yet - it sounded too close to Media Browser, which I was pretty happy with, but I might check it out. I would actually like a slightly slicker UI than is available with the free MB skins, but am reluctant to pay for other skins that may or may not work for me. <<<
I PERSONALLY wouldn't recommend XBMC over Media Browser; I just mentioned it because of your query. I personally find XBMC a bit less 'intuitive' to set-up, and unlike Media Browser, it does not integrate inside Windows Media Center but runs alongside as an entirely separate Windows Media Center application. The acronym "XBMC" is derived from "XBox Media Center."
I discovered XBMC when I scratch-built a little project Mini-ITX Media Center computer (for a small beach house) using only inexpensive components which were the smallest I could find, and running only "free" applications / programs (such as the free 'LibreOffice' alternative to MS Office) and coupled with the free / open source operating system "Ubuntu" (built on Linux code) and its hundreds of free applications. 
There was at that time a version of Ubuntu with XBMC integrated (I believe it was called 'XBMCbuntu'). I love that little computer. I believe Ubuntu and XBMC are separate installations now, but that actually makes more sense (from an application repair / re-installation / update frame of reference. One of my primary complaints about Windows Media Center is what to do when it gets buggered!
That little Mini-ITX It is the most reliable, fastest booting (17-22 seconds) and trouble-free computer I have ever built (or owned) and it's used as the Media Center computer for the beach house as well as all other computer tasks. It has a tiny 135-watt power supply, but when I tested it on my plug-in 'Kill-a-watt' device I found that it was only pulling 87-89 watts at peak load while we were playing a DVD (it has processor supported chip-set integrated video/graphics with HDMI out; no separate video/graphics or sound cards). There is something especially compelling about "inexpensive" ... and "free" ... and "green."
As I recall, some of the "premium" skins for Media Browser work like shareware, or trial-ware. You can try them before you buy them.  But you do have to have your copy of Media Browser 'registered' in order to download and try them.  I'm using the free "Diamond" skin for Media Browser on my XL2A, because I found it to be a pretty nice complement to the base blue scheme of Windows Media Center and offered nice visual integration, as well as the functional integration with Windows Media Center. And ... it's quick! Media Browser seems to like our VAIO VGX-XL* systems, and vice versa.
>>> Both MyMovies and JRivers have both desktop apps to maintain libraries and metadata, as well as "10-foot interfaces" to 'consume' them
MyMovies interface is a plugin to Windows MC, with the latest versions creating (optionally) 2 menu strips, 1 for movies and 1for TV shows. The free version is very good, you need to pay to unlock fancier configuration and ripping options. <<<
Well, if they're 'FREE" (or even free trials) I will certainly try them!  redface.gif

>>> JRivers "10-foot interface" is part of its desktop app, although you can configure it to start in this mode. It comes with a 'Van Gogh' theme by default - sounds odd, but its actually very nice. It has a good trial period, but no free features after that.
Neither seems to have the 'set-and-forget' metadata retrieval of MB - you need to go into the app to update the library if you have just ripped a new DVD for example - but to be fair this is very simple, and may well have been remedied in more recent versions. Both will scan folder trees for you, so 'watching' folders shouldn't be hard for them and might already be a feature that I've just missed.
They don't have user 'skins' either, but the UIs are very configurable. <<<
Have you already tried creating scheduled automatic meta-data refresh tasks for those applications in Windows Control Panel > Administrative Tools > Task Scheduler?
>>> I'd strongly recommend people to check these both out if they are at all interested - even tho there are some great free apps like MB & XBMC, I'm sure some would find the extra features in these well worthwhile.
Yes, I remember the GreenButton, I think I may have even posted there some years ago, it was very useful although I haven't checked it out for a long time now. <<<
Your registration and posts should still be there, then. When Microsoft purchased the Green Button they rolled the database over to their own servers; although it seems to me that they also did some aggressive "editing / filtering." The original Green Button posts contained a lot of Microsoft bashing & trashing ... and for SOME reason, those posts seem to have miraculously disappeared. Funny thing, that? eek.gif <--- color me 'surprised.' HA!
>>> Good point about the hot tuner cards - my 302 has 2 of them, which I don't even use any more. We used to watch TV via my XL a lot, and I still have thousands of hours of recordings goin back about 6 years, but I don't watch live TV on it currently, it's used for disks, downloads and music. I wanted to watch HD TV - I even got an HD USB dongle so I actually have 3 OTA tuners in my 302, but I couldn't get a decent HD signal, so I went with Sky (satellite) and have just recently switched to Virgin (cable). I should probably remove these 3 unused tuners.
Cheers,
Tony. <<<
If those tuner cards are anything like the OEM AverMEDIA tuner card in the US spec. XL1 & XL2 systems, they run hot even when not in use (mine runs hotter than my video/graphics card, even when idle). Yanking those, since you're not using them, would certainly free-up I/O slots and ports, and give you some options for your XL* for new and interesting possibilities (such as controller cards). There is also a new, (and CHEAP, like $3-$5 USD cheap) PCI-e 16X flexible ribbon riser on the market now which would allow one to remove the PCI riser card which supports those two unneeded tuner cards, install the PCI-e ribbon riser in the PCI-e slot on the motherboard and support a state-of-the-art full-height profile 2GB+ GDDR5 dual-slot 3-D support Video/graphics card (with external supplemental DC power adapter), populating those two horizontal I/O panel slots.
And one could still use the PCI slot on the motherboard for a low-profile headless PCI card such as a multi-port and port-multiplier SATA / eSATA  controller card for multi-disk external HDD enclosures (running the cable connections through the no longer filled I/O insert opening for the PCI-e slot.
I suspect you could probably sell those unneeded tuner cards on EBay UK. Do you have a UK version of "Craig's List" on your side of the pond?

 

Cheers!

Robert.

 

EDITED:  Removed erroneous information regarding enabling of META-REFRESH in IE9


Edited by REnninga - 1/15/13 at 11:25am
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