Crank that S#!t Up
Life After DX 11
I Heart EVGA!
Biostar P45 Overclocking Contest Gr...
Coolermaster Contest Group
NVIDIA SLI GIVEAWAY CLUSTER
Universe At War: Earth Assault Beta...
Fireside Chat with Brandon
AMD Contest Group
Editors Challenge Sponsored by Inte...
Lord Of The Rings Online Beta Conte...
FiringSquad Video Challenge - Preli...
Foxconn Graphic Design Contest
FiringSquad Editors Challenge Round...
||16 entry(ies) in this category
| Gaming PCs, Vista, and You: Part 1 of 3, Upgrading (3 comments )|
by: p4l1ndr0m3 (499) | Posted in cluster FiringSquad Editors Challenge Round 1 Prelim 1
Posted 76 months ago ( edited 76 months ago ) in category DEFAULT
Due to the graphics and external links in my article, I'm listing 2 ways to download and view the article, plus the mediablog version. This is all original work created solely for this competition. Enjoy!
|» MEDIA (2)|
for .doc, click the "external link" at the bottom or copy and paste the following:
for .pdf click the "subject link" at the top or copy and paste the following:
Please note that anything in blue with a (1) beside it was intended to be hypertext and the links can be found at the end of the article.
•••••••••••••••••••••••••Gaming PCs, Vista, and You: Part 1 of 3, Upgrading•••••••••••••••••••••••••
According to Microsoft, a new age in gaming will emerge with the revolution that is Windows Vista. We’ve been promised so much, whether it’s DirectX 10, better driver support, improved GUI, or a new file system. I mean… hmm, well, maybe next time? Though Microsoft pulled the plug on a Vista release for WinFS back in 2005, there are still plenty of features to be sought after with this new “gaming” operating system. There is only one problem. Most computers out there still cannot run the full version of Vista, let alone play the latest games. So here you are, stuck at a crossroads, frantically debating, “What should I do?” Hopefully, by the end of this article, you will come out with a much better understanding of the options available to you.
The three options up for debate are: upgrading current systems, buying a PC from a major retailer, and scratch-made gaming rigs. Using real life examples, I hope to find the good, the bad and the best general solutions in each category.
First, let’s look at some of the basic differences between Windows XP Professional SP2 and Windows Vista.
Windows XP Professional SP2
Windows Vista Ultimate Edition
2x1GB Kingston HyperX PC3200 KHX3200AK2/2G, Timings 2-3-2-6-1T
Ati Radeon X1800XT w/Catalyst Drivers 7.1 @1600x1200
Sound Blaster X-Fi Platinum
Abit AT8 32X
Opteron 165 @ 2.4 GHz
Western Digital Raptor WD740AD
Refer to picture VistaXPGraphs
I, personally, just upgraded to 2GB of RAM because of the burden Vista placed on my PC. Those of you who have 1GB of RAM and took algebra clearly see that Vista will tax 68% of your system’s RAM at idle. This is after it “settles down” a bit as well. During my testing I found that XP would level out in less than 2 minutes and didn’t fluctuate more than 1 to 2 percent. Vista, on the other hand, bounced anywhere from 30 to 45 percent for a 7 or 8 minutes before settling down to an average of 34 percent. The CPU usage was even more ridiculous. XP would hiccup once every few seconds or so and pop up a percentage point or two. The Vista CPU usage gauge was like a metronome on drugs, sporadically bouncing anywhere between 3 and 50 percent. Hopefully this spastic behavior will erode as updates keep getting released through the year.
Refer to picture CPU Tach
We can rebuild it. We have the technology…
Possibly the least expensive option of the three categories, upgrading necessary components will put the extra oomph in your old clunker to make it Vista gaming worthy. Keep in mind, when I refer to upgrade, I don’t mean overhaul. So, let’s make a list to clarify.
Motherboards – Most people buy CPUs and motherboards at the same time, so this one is out
CPUs – Too much $$$ unless you really get the upgrade itch, so this one is out too
Soundcards – Most onboard sound cards have at least 5.1 capabilities, so no need here
Power Supplies – Oddly enough, I’m not nixing the PSU, details later
RAM – An obvious, inexpensive upgrade
Hard Drives – Definitely no need for an HDD for most, but drives running about $0.22 - $0.25 are fairly easy to come by
Optical Drives – Unless you are still one of the few without a DVD burner, the short answer is no
Graphics Cards – Another obvious, but tough one
Cases – Unfortunately, Vista does not affect the aesthetics of your case… but go ahead if you really want to
To recap, motherboards, CPUs, soundcards, HDDs, and optical drives are out. Power supplies, RAM, and graphics cards are in. Cost and necessity are two crucially important factors when upgrading a PC on the budget. Before purchasing upgrades for your sub-Windows Vista PC, make sure that you will actually benefit from what the new hardware has to offer.
This is probably the most painless upgrade, both on your wallet and in terms of ease of installation (assuming you don’t have some massive CPU cooler covering your RAM slots…).
•DDR1• – Since the age of DDR1 is dying (and fast), some simple bargain RAM should do the trick. But what kind and how much should you get? If your motherboard has 2 or 3 RAM slots, go with a 2x1GB configuration. This way, you get all the benefits of DDR and have plenty of space to dump your World of Warcraft prefetch. Anyone with 4 slots has the option of going with 4x512MB in addition to the other options. But, please check with your motherboard manufacturer to make sure that you can handle the amount of RAM that you want. Also check to be sure your RAM clock won’t be nerfed to 333 MHz (PC2700) with all four slots full, some boards will do this, and some won’t. If that is the case, 2x1GB is your best option. 2GB should give you the best performance and keep your RAM purchase “on the cheap.”
Pricing - PC3200 Corsair ValueSelect is a great example. Major online retailers have this for ~$80 shipped for 2x512MB kits. 1GB chips of Corsair, as well as many other top name brands, seem to start in the low $80s as well. Also, Kingston recently ran a deal on their enthusiast HyperX RAM that also made it a logical choice to consider. So be on the lookout for good deals as the price of RAM continues to drop since the price spike last year.
•DDR2• – Due to DDR2 being the universal standard right now for both AMD and Intel, it is an extremely easy decision to upgrade your RAM. Just be sure to get the proper speed of DDR2 RAM for your setup.
Pricing – 1GB chips of Kingston ValueRAM start at about $70 for some halfway decent PC5300 (667 Mhz) RAM. 2GB chips seem to hover around the $200 mark, but I would expect that to start coming down a bit in the next few weeks.
I strongly suggest you read Tom Hardware's: Best Gaming Video Cards for the Money (1). It gives a ton of valuable information on cards in specific price brackets. Just to give my 2 cents, I don’t think it would be a great idea to “invest” in an expensive graphics card just yet. If it were me, I would be looking for a graphics card to serve my needs for the next 6 to 8 months. As it stands now, there are only 2 graphics cards on the market that support DirectX 10, the 8800GTX and GTS… The cheapest GTS on Newegg.com is just shy of $400. That is a lot of money to drop on first gen equipment. Also, there are still so many graphics cards that don’t support HDCP. This situation doesn’t bode well for those looking to buy now for a long term card. I say wait and see if AMD can steal the show with the R600(2).
Now, for all of you AGP guys out there. Don’t give up yet! AGP isn’t quite dead yet and the latest offerings from NVidia(3) and AMD(4) prove it.
Okay, so maybe it’s not an upgrade for performance’s sake, but keep in mind the important of a power supply, especially as components become more and more power hungry. Many if not most graphics cards out there are completely useless, or close to it, without another power connection, whether it be a 4-pin molex, 6-pin PCI-E, or the new 8-pin configuration coming out with the high end R600 monsters. Power supplies are the backbone to any gaming rig. It is imperative to have the right PSU for the right job. In my experience, I’ve noticed power supplies seem to be a major player in hardware device failures.
Active PFC is your friend. Why? It’s like a magic gnome that keeps your computer cooler, lowers your electricity bill, and sends clean power to your expensive components. Active Power Factor Correction limits the amount of power drawn by the power supply to an approximation of what is needed in order to improve the efficiency rating. Most decent power supplies have efficiency ratings of 65% or higher, with or without Active PFC.
Power, measured in Watts, is also a crucial factor in choosing the proper power supply. Gaming rigs with a single graphics card requiring a 6-pin PCI-E or molex connector should consider at least a 500watt power supply with Active PFC. Expect to pay around $60 to $70 for a decent PSU of this caliber. Now for anyone uncertain of what to shoot for, there is a great web utility, found(5) here, that lets you input your system specifications and it gives you an estimate of how much power you will need. But, please take the result with a grain of salt. It’s no Bible, but the utility will at least give you some idea of what kind of power you need.
Hopefully you now have a better understanding of whether or not your current PC can be upgraded into a Vista gaming powerhouse. If upgrading is not for you, then perhaps the next two sections will be of better use.
(5)-http://www.extreme.outrvision.com/powercalc.jspExternal Link: http://www.yousendit.com/transfer.php?action=downl...
|12 User Comment(s) • 8 root comment(s)|
| suibhne (65) Feb 18, 2007 - 11:05 am|
|On the one hand, this seems aimed at a basic audience, but you still toss around some more abstruse details without context or explanation (like HDCP and prefetch). Personally, I disagree with your recommendation of "bargain" RAM, unless you combine that with "name-brand" or "reputable"; most average (non-tech-savvy) readers will read "bargain" and think that generic RAM makes your cut, and I think that's problematic advice. (There's plenty of bargain RAM offered by major manufacturers like Crucial and Kingston, as you note, so it's important to go for the solid warranty and reputation when choosing such a vital system component - even if you're buying on the low end.) Overall, though, I like your basic approach to what should and should not be considered for upgrade.|
» Login to reply to this
| hdaniellec (2) Feb 19, 2007 - 04:03 pm | Edited on Feb 19, 2007 - 04:09 pm|
|I agree, a little polishing and this article would have been pretty good.|
» Login to reply to this
| omgasaur (2) Feb 17, 2007 - 05:28 pm|
|I liked the writing style and firingsquadness of the article, well done. (though you might want to double check some of your facts, not so sure some of the power supply info is correct.|
» Login to reply to this
| indigo196 (258) Feb 08, 2007 - 02:31 pm|
|Interesting name -- Palindrome... do you ever write programs to search for Lychrel numbers?|
» Login to reply to this
| p4l1ndr0m3 (499) Feb 08, 2007 - 02:39 pm | Edited on Feb 08, 2007 - 02:42 pm|
|196, 295, 394, 493, 592, 689, 691, 788, 790, 879, 887, 978, 986, 1495, 1497, 1585, 1587, 1675, 1677, 1765, 1767, 1855, 1857, 1945, 1947, 1997|
Yeah, I wrote a program like that for my python class. It might be fun to do a more sophisticated version to run with the Core 2 Duo Extreme I hope to win :)
» Login to reply to this
» Note: You need to be logged in to write a comment!Login here, or if you don't have an account with FiringSquad, register here, it's FREE!
My Media-Blog categories
No categories created yet.