3.03.2008

tech { My compy died...


So I had to rebuild a new one.

I was never able to fully identify what was wrong with my old computer, but I suspect bad RAM, a failed power converter on the mobo, or a dead proc. The symptoms were that a random, the computer would lock up with a high pitched squeal in the headphones. At first I thought it was some kind of compatibility problem with the new (as of patch 2.3) sound engine in WoW and my Creative X-Fi sound card. But last Wendesday it locked, and in this situation, a reset would usually fix it, but this time, a reset caused the monitor to go into 'No Signal' mode and nothing happened anymore, no HDD spin up, speaker beep or anything. I was crushed. I built the computer back in 2002, it was my companion while I was house bound during my recovery from AML.

Well the computer is dead, long live the computer.

I put together a new system. Here is its specs:

Motherboard: Asus P5E Pro WS; LGA775, 1600/1333MHz FSB, 2xPCI-Ex16 slots, 1 PCI-X slot, 2 PCI slots, I'm an Intel man and after my first Asus mobo a few computers back, I'll be hard pressed to ever switch
Memory: Corsair XMS2 DDR2 800 PC2 6400 4-4-4-12 CAS 2x1GB memory kit (soon to be 4GB)
Processor: Intel Core Duo 3.0GHz 4MB shared L2, E6850 Conroe
Video Card (new motherboard required a new video card): BFG Tech GeForce 8800GTS 512MB 256-bit GDDR3 SLI ready, I went nVidia even though I prefer ATI because this card received good benchmarks and most games now have been optimized for nVidia chipsets (which is sad)
PSU: 500W CoolMax M-500 ATX12V
Soundcard (only piece I carried over from the old system): Creative Soundblaster X-Fi Fatal1ty

The parts arrived last Friday. I was hoping to have the system rebuilt and re-installed before 9pm, in time for our Karazhan raid (which didn't happen because 1/3 the raid never showed up). The brain and CNS transplant went successfully and I was done at 8pm. The WinXP re-install was a pain, but it always is since I refused to go Vista, it mean about 3 hours of WinXP install, SP2 install, and about 900 patch updates. I then installed and updated the mobo, vid card, soundcard, and various drivers. I didn't have to play with the BIOS beyond setting up my boot devices, which is one thing I like about Asus mobos, jumperless, fully customizable settings from the BIOS. The biggest problem I've had was re-installing and re-importing my iTunes library. I install my iTunes onto a separate disk in a non-default location, which makes importing it a pain, but it can be done.

This computer is about 2 generations newer than my old one. I was going to upgrade it sometime this year anyway because graphics technology has moved from AGP to PCI-E, and my ATI X1650 was the last AGP video card I was going to buy.

Performance specs (anecdotal):

World of Warcraft (about the only game I play routinely):
Resolution (old/new): 1680x1050/1680x1050
Settings (old/new): Minimum Vid settings + high texture detail/Full Vid settings, all sliders maxed
Average FPS (old/new): 30/170
Average Latency (old/new): 120ms/120ms

Yeah, I'm averaging 120-170fps in most of the world. In Shattrath City, the main hub, most populated, worst performing area of the game for everyone, I used to get 7-17fps around the central area and banks, with my new system, the lowest I've seen was 70fps in the Scryer's bank. In instances I'm doing about 90-120fps. In battlegrounds (also low performing due constant updates from server) I'm averaging 80fps. It feels like a whole new game with the level of detail I've never played with before.

Sins of Solar Empire
Resolution: 1680x1050 (both old and new)
Settings (old/new): Minimum + ship detail = high/Full, all settings max
Average FPS: unknown/unknown, the game has no easy FPS meter

This game plays smooth as silk on maximum detail and environment settings. I even created a custom map with 500 planets, and there was no slow down or lag. I can now have the detail turned up to the level where planets are richly detailed as are the ships instead of vague geometric blobs with different colors.

This computer build should last me for years to come. I generally get 5 years or so of life out my home built computers and I picked this one so that it would last me another 5 years.

I <3 my new compy and I <3 Nerdwife who puts up with my tech addiction and understood my need to build a new computer.

3 comments:

AllThingsSpring said...

The spec I was looking for was the one you didn't include: Storage.

My current workstation is RAID 5 with .75 TB useable.

My next desktop (file server really) will be something in the RAID 1 with 2 TB useable area.

I've been pretty happy with nVIDIA Quadro cards (FX540, FX550, 3450), although those are less gaming-centric. ATI drivers always left me wanting. WoW 2.3 has not been playing so nice on my laptop with its nVIDIA GeForce Go 7900, but then I'm running at 1920X1200.

Sound cards haven't mattered much for a while, although the retrogamer in me wishes I could get some pitch-perfect Roland MT-32 MIDI love. I guess there are some software emulation projects, but no idea how well they play.

I would never do a desktop without ECC memory.

Avindair said...

How is Sword of the Solar Empire? Good?

I'm currently playing Civilization IV. Dear god, it's good.

GeistX said...

I enjoy it alot. It has an edge over Gal Civ II i n that you don't have spend time designing new ships. They get abilities as they get experience. Also minimal ground based stuff.