I’ve been busy with work and family stuff lately, so I didn’t write a blog post last week. This one is on a pretty relevant topic: gaming PC building and upgrades. Now, I own several gaming desktops and laptops, and messing with and collecting gaming hardware is one of my hobbies, both consoles and PCs. In the last few years, as console gaming took more of a center role in the games industry, I stopped lusting after the “latest and greatest” in PC gaming hardware. There were several reasons for this. First, as console game development took center stage, PC games stopped “pushing the envelope” … instead of a time where companies like Origin Systems put out a game like Wing Commander, which made many people buy new systems or upgrade their graphics cards just to play the game, now developers were making the console version first, and the PC port as an afterthought. That means that, at least until very recently, the PC has been getting wither Indie, low budget games that, while fun don’t really push the hardware, or quick-and-easy console ports that run only on DirectX 9, and thus sun blazingly-fast on even middling gaming PCs. The other reason was cost… a top-of-the-line graphics card can cost from $700 to $1000 these days, and that’s not even taking into consideration the high cost of the latest and greatest Intel Core i7 or Xeon processors. That’s hard to swallow in today’s economy, especially when the games don’t really require it.
So what I’ve been doing is targeting strictly the mainstream/middle of the road in gaming PC hardware. This allows me to do a hardware upgrade/refresh every year, which keeps my gaming computers current and it’s cheaper in the long run. This year that means an Asus Intel Core i7 with a Geforce GTX 660 GPU, and an HP AMD A10 system with a Radeon HD7870 GPU, 16GB RAM and 2TB HD drives. Both graphics cards are able to run the latest and greatest games at blazing speeds and higher than 1080p resolutions, and support multiple monitors if you want that kind of setup. In the case of the Asus system I went with the Geforce GTX 660 instead of the newer 760 because they simply didn’t have the newer card at CompUSA, and I didn’t want to order it online. Go with the 760 if you can – the 660 has more CUDA units, but the 760 is clocked higher, and is even faster.
I went with a 600W power supply for both computers. Though modern GPU power requirements have gone down, especially in the middle-of-the-road cards, putting in anything lower than that is just asking for trouble.
Both systems came with Windows 8 installed, but I put Windows 8.1 Preview Edition in (just because I like to live dangerously :P). This caused some hiccups in the case of the Asus system, since it insisted in going into auto-repair mode every other boot cycle. The problem disappeared after I uninstalled the drivers for the original graphics card that came with the machine, and did a clean install of the newest drivers from the Nvidia website.
In the case of the AMD system I had no trouble at all… everything just worked from the first try (maybe because it’s all made by AMD to work together in the first place?)
The end result of my hardware tinkering is that I now have two new gaming PCs connected to my old Viewsonic 28” monitor, and all my games look awesome running at full resolution and with full details. The Asus feels and is faster, because the Intel Core i7 processor trumps AMD’s best by a long margin, but the AMD A10 system works just as well, and it costs a couple of hundred dollars less.
Now that I’m done with the PCs, I’m thinking of how I’m going to re-organize my entertainment center to make room for that Playstation 4 and Xbox One. 😉
GAME OF THE WEEK
The game of the week is Naughty Dog’s “The Last of Us” for the Playstation 3. Playing through the game was quite an emotional ride, and it really brings a lot of feelings to the surface, especially if you’re a parent. I wish Sony and Naughty Dog didn’t mess with it and just leave the game as is, but I believe they’re making at least two sequels on the Playstation 4. Damn good stuff.
MMO OF THE WEEK
The MMO of the week is “Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn”. I know the game’s Early Access phase has been a total clusterfuck, but it’s still a beautiful, fun game… if you can play it. 😛
THIS WEEKS RELEASES
Hmm, Killer is Dead certainly snuck up on us, didn’t it? Sweet Fuse is an Otome dating sim for PSP/PS Vita, and looks to be lots of fun.