Geek Ascension: Upgrade Time!

Today, I’m digitally staving off boredom the old fashioned way: With a hefty computer upgrade.  Yep, it’s finally time to upgrade from my AGP to a PCI-E system for me.  I’m only about 3 years late on that, but now it’s affordable enough for me to do.

My poor ATI X1600XT just isn’t hacking it anymore. BioShock, Crysis, and Age of Conan were largely played in the single digit frame rate for me, and that’s just awful. Even games that have been around a long time stuttered away some of the fun. For example: Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion, Neverwinter Nights 2, and EverQuest 2.

I did my homework prior to upgrading. Tom’s Hardware is a definitive place to study up. However, between my haste to order in time for labor day weekend and my own misguided impatience, I managed to make a few mistakes that I only noticed after the parts were in the mail:

  1. I purchased a P45 motherboard with only a single PCI-E slot when apparently the whole point of the P45 chipset is to provide a full rendering pipelines to two slots.
  2. I purchased 4 GB of DDR3 memory and Windows Vista 32-bit when I could have purchased 8 GB of DDR2 and Windows Vista 64-bit without any noticeable performance hit on today’s motherboards.
  3. I went with a GeForce 8800 GTS OC when I could have spent $100 more and got a ATI HD 3780 X2 or a GeForce 9800 GX2. Both of them are two-in-one boards.
  4. I accidentally purchased a computer case that has a door on the front of it. I don’t care how trendy they are, it takes some level of misplaced vanity to sacrifice accessibility of front ports and the DVD-ROM in the name of a stylish front.

Still, I’m pretty content with what I’ve got now. I’m a student who really isn’t looking to purchase the best-of-the-best so much as the best hardware I can reasonably afford.  If it can run Lost Planet at an average 60 FPS (and it can) then it’s as top of the line as I could ask. I’m now ready for Fallout 3, what else could I ask for?

Frankly, that I’ll probably spend most of my time on this system playing antiquated GameTap games or dabbling with BYOND is nothing short of confirmation that a facet of the casual computer purchaser’s ignorance extends even to the enthusiasts among us.

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