Monday, August 23, 2010

Upgrade!

Back in the day when Warhammer 40K table top gaming was my raison d'etre I didn'd have much need for a high end gaming PC. I played games but they tended to be strategy games with abstract squares and circles or static pixelated models that an on board GPU could handle. A big boxed stored special off the shelf had more than enough horsepower for those games and mainly saw use for browsing the internet forums for new army ideas and fighting in holy wars over rules interpretations.

When Eve came into my life, the Shelf Special PC could not keep up. It often crashed warping into belts with three other players, and had performance issues all around with the graphics. So I upgraded.

But I was still fairly afraid of hardware (my strengths being in software) and I was constrained by budget on how much I could spend. So I went to Dell and in March of 2007 I purchased a Dell Special for my gaming needs. With a 19 inch monitor this PC proved adequate for Eve and other games; some lag was encountered but overall it was operable and playable.

Then in Christmas 2008 I upgraded to the 24" widescreen monitor which looked beautiful... but gave my Dell Special graphics card a stroke in trying to keep up drawing Eve in 1600x1200 display. So I delved into the complex and archaic world of hardware, specifically graphics cards, and managed to get a decent card to help my PC overcome the extra real estate. It took some wrangling, including bending some cooling sink prongs and sacrificing my DVD drive's ability to burn DVDs, but it worked and Eve was beautiful once more. The only time Eve lagged was in situations of gas clouds or grids with lots of structures and ships like complexes or missions.

But all was not well in my world still. Switching to voice comms to change channels often meant 10-15 seconds waits between alt-tabs, bringing up a browser sometimes was good and sometimes caused my machine to thrash for 30 seconds, and as the corp moved into 0.0 and did complexes together I found the client lag very frustrating and trying.

But most importantly, my wife discovered that her photo editing was taking longer due to a new 12 megapixel camera. Since she was taking more photos of large size, they had to be moved to an external drive and the lag involved with browsing them and editing them was driving her crazy. I got the green light to get a new PC.

The Search

I didn't want to make the mistakes of the past, but at the same time I was leery of trying to construct a PC from scratch. Worried about socket compatibility, adequate power, distilling the best parts for a reasonable price since I still had a modest budget... it was all very stressful.

I avoided Dell and the big box store knowing now that they cut corners on quality and use big numbers to try and make the sale sound good, and I went to a local shop that specialized in servicing the more knowledgeable clientele. I saw that they had a series of "bundles" built for various purposes and I found one that was in my price range. I then took every piece of hardware in it and checked up on reviews on the internet, confirming that the piece appeared adequate for my needs.

Motherboard with decent CPU? Check.
Graphics card with comparable Frames per second in benchmarks to my old one? Check, big improvements actually.
Memory? Harddrive? Check.
Windows 7 64 bit compatible? Check.

I checked with some corp mates into PC hardware and got confirmation: decent setup for the price. I pulled the trigger last Thursday and went home with my new PC. MUHAHAHAH!

The Result

Last night I logged into Eve from the new PC, setup voice comms and overview settings, and overall I have to say.... WHAT A SWEET RIDE! Client side lag in the fleet gate camp I participated in (~200 ships) was non-existent with high graphic settings and all effects turned on. Switching programs to Teamspeak was seamless, and the browser loading was not even noticeable. So far, its been extremely satisfying.

I haven't tried dual clients yet, nor compared windowed mode versus full screen mode, but I'm confident it will all be good for the next three years for Eve playing. Next big challenge will be to see how Batman: Arkham Asylum looks and performs on the new PC. My old PC didn't even match up to minimum requirements (CPU was too low) yet I slogged through it and finished the game anyways on worst graphic settings and horribly laggy fight scenes in some cases. We'll see.

4 comments:

  1. Gratz on the new machine! I upgraded myself back in May and it's a HUGE difference from my old monster.

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  2. So they have computers in Canadia now?
    I thought they still called them "devil boxes, eh" and chased the owners out of town.

    But seriously folks, congratulations on your new machine, I hope it helps you enjoy Eve.

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  3. Very nice!

    Next a second monitor. Can't let that second DVI port go to waste. :) You'll be able to have voice and browser and more on one, and eve on the other - no more alt-tab.

    The selling point can be that your wife can photoshop (or equivalent) on one and keep ancillary windows open on the other - making her photo editing and management easier and less time consuming. I'm serious - it does make a difference.

    Try windowed mode. I find no benefit to full screen anymore. I doubt you'll see any impact on performance.

    L.

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  4. Hey, grats on the upgrade! I recently upgraded my system too, went from a PC to a pretty night multi-media laptop and have never looked back. :) It's amazing what's been going on in the hardware end of the gaming world, eh? I was astounded!

    ReplyDelete

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