Cheap game PC upgrade for my son (is the AMD A10 becoming to hot?)

After upgrading my sons PC (see my previous blog entry) with a AMD A10-7800 processor and a AsRock FM2+ motherboard we downloaded the Steam client and played two games: Left4Dead and Kingdom Rush. Especially during Left4Dead the temperature of the computer case felt uncomfortably high but we didn’t know how high. I do know however that AMD CPU’s in general tend to become hotter that the Intel competitors and was a bit worried. We therefore installed Psensor to monitor the CPU and motherboard temperature. During Left4Dead the CPU temperature rose to 63 degrees Celsius which left us with the question: is this too high?

I decided to turn to the PC Gaming community on Google+ with this question.  As it happens this community proved very helpful and according to them 63 is nothing to worry about. The critical temperature is 74 degrees Celsius. To be on the save side we installed an additional case fan. Finally we ran a test with a Linux program called Stress. Stress is a simple workload generator and maxes out the CPU to 100%. During the test the temperature rose to 66 degrees Celsius which is, again according to the PC Gaming community, acceptable. Happy with this result we decided to stop tinkering and start gaming.

stress running on our AMD A10-7800 with Ubuntu 14.04LTS. The CPU’s are at 100% while the temperature didn’t go beyond 66 degrees Celsius.

Cheap game PC upgrade for my son.

With kids growing up their PC performance needs change rapidly. My son has a small PC that served him well for a couple of years. It had a Celeron (1610) processor, a MSI B73MA-E33 mini-ITX motherboard, 4Gb of DDR3 RAM and a 1 TB HD which fits nicely in a LC Power computer case (1400mi). The operating system was Linux Mint 16. The case didn’t allow an decent additional graphics card because of its limited height. The total sum of all components was $220 at the time which even by today’s standards cheap. The PC booted fast, was quiet and cool and could even run some modest games like Minecraft and simple 2D games.  But now my son wanted to move to more advanced 3D games like Team Fortress and DOTA 2. These games simply cannot be played on the Celeron.

For his new PC we wanted maximum (game) performance for a minimal amount of money (about $200). To reach this goal we had to use the LC Power case, the 1 TB HD and the 4Gb DDR3 RAM. My son wanted a AMD A10 processor because of the on-board graphics capabilities (8 GPU cores). But the LC Power case has a modest 200W power supply so he chose the AMD A10-7800 which has a TDP of only 65W. Additionally he choose a ASRock FM22A88M Extreme4+ microATX board.

The LC Power 1400mi, a cheap computer case with 200W power supply built-in. It even looks nice.

The ASRock board fits in the case but everything is so cramped that there is hardly any room left for the cables. One look at the image below of the inside of the case shows that this is not my finest hour in PC builds but it works. Getting the software to work was a bigger problem. Linus Mint that was already on the HD could only be started in recovery mode. After a couple of tries I gave up and installed a fresh version of Ubuntu 14.04LTS (which is somewhat similar to Linux Mint). This worked perfectly. It appears that all hardware is supported by Ubuntu and the OS is very zippy.

Inside of the LC Power. The microATX fits but there is hardly any room for cable management.

For just below $200 we have upgrade a PC with office like specs to a game PC. It is not a speed monster but hopefully we can squeeze just enough performance to serve my sons needs. The next couple of days were going to test games on the PC. Hopefully we get some adequate frame rates.

My son behind his PC running Steam on Ubuntu. He’s quiet happy with the speed of the system right now.

Cryptolocker removed

A friend of mine brought in his PC that had, according to him, some issues. I’m not an IT security expert but I’m the guy that family and friends turn to if they have problems with their computer. These problems can vary from malware, adware, slow computer and so on. I decided to boot the PC and take a look. After start-up it was clear that his PC (generic ASUS laptop with Windows 7 installed) had been infected with CryptoLocker.

I’ve red about it but had never seen in the ‘wild’. My normal strategy when I encounter malware/adware is to run MalwareBytes first and then AdwCleaner. Just to be save I also run DrWeb Cureit!. However in this case, because of the severity of the problem, I started with Kaspersky Rescue Disk 10. I created a bootable CD (on a Mac) with the Rescue Disk iso file. I booted the PC with the CD and a full day of scanning the Rescue Disk only found a few infected files (see image below). After I rebooted the PC with Windows 7 CryptoLocker was still very alive.

So I decided to return to my regular Malwarebytes/AdwCleaner strategy. Malwarebytes came up with hundreds of infected files but was not able to remove CryptoLocker. Next I tried booting in Windows Save Mode. Normally this is F8  but somehow the PC didn’t respond to that (due to CryptoLocker?). A bit desperate I interrupted the next boot process. This gave me the option to Launch Startup Repair (from the Error Recovery Window). This brought me in the Advanced Boot Options Window and from there I could start Windows Save Mode with Networking.

Next I ran Malwarebytes (update first) and Adwcleaner. This time Malwarebytes did detect CryptoLocker and could remove it. From then on it was simple to remove the other unwanted programs. With CCleaner I fixed issues e.g. with the registry. The PC is clean again however all document (jpg, docs etc) are encrypted. Luckily my friend had a back-up disk of the documents. I scanned with Malwarebytes and McAfee (which was on his PC).

Cryptolocker in the wild.

Results Malwarebytes with Windows 7 in Normal Mode already gives 326 infections.

Malwarebytes in Safe Mode finally nails CryptoLocker.

All documents on the PC are encrypted.