ASUS Let me down… again!

The Git has long been a fan of ASUS products starting in the 90s when he discovered the company manufactured reliable, well-documented motherboards. He currently owns two desktop PCs with ASUS MoBos and a Zenbook that travels with him almost everywhere. The deterioration in The Git’s admiration for ASUS began when he purchased a motherboard to replace the aging Gigabyte MoBo in the home theatre PC.

The replacement board had a non-standard connector for the front panel USB sockets and audio jacks. One can purchase an add-on connector to the motherboard for front-panel USB and audio, but that connects to a panel intended to sit in the 3.5 inch drive bay. A drive bay that doesn’t exist in the Silverstone HTPC case! Further, the PCI slots were of a new and much shorter type, so the TV tuner card needed to be replaced by a USB stick tuner. Ditto for the WiFi connection. The front panel USB socket problem was solved by plugging two USB cables (one USB 2 and one USB 3) into sockets at the back and brought around the side of the PC. The USB 3 cable is a tad short and attempting to purchase a longer one from Dick Smith, The Git discovered “there’s insufficient demand for USB 3 for us to stock them any more.” WTF!

The latest problem arose when the fan on the MSI video card died. Have you ever attempted to purchase a replacement fan for a video card? Instead of four holes, this one has but three. While the problem was fixed with an Antec fan of somewhat larger depth and diameter and the judicious application of hot glue, The Git decided to purchase himself a Christmas present in the form of a new video card. After much research and reviewing, he decided upon an ASUS Radeon R7 250 with 1 GB of DDR5 RAM and a “dustproof fan”. The card appeared to offer all that The Git needed: an extra turn of speed, capability to provide a resolution of 2560 by 1440 pixels on the Dell U2711 27″ display and the modest cost of $117.30, somewhat less than he had paid for the MSI card a couple of years ago.

When the card, the driver and utilities installed, the display was a meagre 1920 by 1080. Nothing The Git tried could persuade the video card to drive the display at any higher resolution. The ASUS website The Git originally accessed states quite clearly that the card is capable of 2560 by 1600. Accessing the “same” information via ASUS.com.au the spec now reads “DVI Max Resolution : 1920×1200“. What The Git had failed to notice during his research was that DVI was limited to 1920 by 1080 and that the higher resolution was “Digital”. The penny dropped; the higher resolution was only supported on the HDMI socket. The odd thing here is that the HTPC has a TV for a display and that is connected via a DVI cable and an adapter to convert DVI to the HDMI requirement at the TV end. Acquiring an HDMI cable this close to Christmas was only possible by asking The Gitling to bring one with him when he came on Christmas Eve to enjoy the festive season with us.

When The Git put the proposition to The Gitling he was firmly told “It won’t work!” Our Dell U2711 displays are getting a bit old and won’t support the new, higher resolution HDMI spec. The Git responded by saying he didn’t give a flying fuck; he wanted to try it anyway. The Gitling remained adamant that it wouldn’t work and to purchase a better video card. Somewhat less than an hour later, a sheepish Gitling told his father that yes, it did work, albeit by setting a custom resolution and fiddling with the pixel clock to remove some jitter. This was with his nVidia card.

So, The Gitling duly brought along his HDMI cable and we proceeded to install the new card and connect the display. However, there was no way the ASUS-supplied utilities would allow us to set a custom resolution. We found two utilities that purported to do such by Gurgling the Interwebs, but neither of them worked. One merely crashed on launch and the other generated memory exception errors. Some further Gurgling by The Gitling revealed what we needed to know.

The Git had already tried some noodling around the Registry, but lack of familarity with what needed to be changed and where, had failed to solve the issue.

REGISTRY/MACHINE/SYSTEM/ControlSet001/Control/CLASS/

contains entries for DALNonStandardModes and you need to set a custom resolution here by following the instructions at [Hard]|Forum. Once we had done that, we were home and hosed. The Git’s display is once more 2560 by 1440 and the only downside is that the display now doesn’t go into power save mode, so it needs to be put to sleep via the power button.

While all this was happening, The Git was awaiting ASUS Tech Support’s advice. This arrived after The Gitling’s discovery that the HDMI cable connection worked. ASUS fix was:

Please remove the GamerOSD and GPU Tweak (or SmartDoctor) first. Then update/reinstall the latest driver again.

ATI Display Driver 13.251WHQL for Win7 32/64, Win8 32/64, Win8.1 32/64
http://dlcdnet.asus.com/pub/ASUS/vga/ATI/AMD_VGADriver_Win7_Win8_Win8_1_VER13_251WHQL.zip

So that you can adjust the resolution again for a try.

Yes, we were supposed to fix the single link DVI connection not supporting any resolution higher than 1920 by 1080 by uninstalling the software and reinstalling it. Talk about magical thinking! If doing that converted single link DVI to dual-link DVI, why couldn’t they do that when it was manufactured? More to the point, why wasn’t the connector dual-link DVI in the first place? Hopefully this will save some other poor fucker the hours I wasted because of crappy design and woeful support.

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