All Geek to Me

January 28, 2009

The Wait is (Nearly) Over

Filed under: Geek Stuff — britinla @ 7:57 am

A new trailer for the much anticipated (By all True Geeks at any rate) Star Trek movie has arrived. My favourite touch is that Simon Pegg as Scotty still has an accent that bears as much resemblance to a Scottish brogue as cheap bourbon does to a Single Islay Malt.


January 14, 2009

New PC

Filed under: Geek Stuff — britinla @ 9:23 pm

I bought by first PC in January 1995, having used Amigas for the previous five years. It had a P60 processor, 16Mb of RAM, and 520Mb of hard disk. It was replaced in the autumn of 1999 with a unit that had a 500Mhz processor, 128Mb of Ram, 16Mb on the graphics card and a hard disc whose size I no longer recall. My third PC was bought in the middle of 2002 and came with a 2.4Ghz processor, 512Mb of Ram,  60Gb HDD, and 128Mb on the HDD. It seemed that each new PC had as much memory on the graphics card as my previous one had on the main board. The first and third PCs both had upgrades to RAM and disc to extend their life. The first PC was also upgraded from Windows 3.11 to Windows 95.

In looking for a new PC I wanted to purchase one that would run recent games and give me a better experience playing Everquest II. I also wanted a machine that would last me five years as my last unit had done. I don’t believe in purchasing top of the line items for which you always pay a premium and I had a fairly specific of requirements. I wanted a high clock on the processor, but did not care about the number of cores as games generally do not scale beyond two. I wanted to have a fast drive for applications, to improve load speeds. I wanted a powerful graphics card, but not right at the leading edge. I wanted 4Gb of RAM, as my existing PC was already under pressure with 1.5Gb. I wanted to spend less than $2000.

My budget gave me a fairly wide choice, but the larger manufacturers offer less customization offers so I ignored the likes of Dell and HP. After a lot of careful comparisons and reading of feedback I decided to go with a Bay Area company called DigitalStorm. They specialize in performance gaming PCs, all the way up to an $11,000 beast of a machine. May requirements were far more modest, but I could get what I wanted without  purchasing items I did not wish. I spent several more days deciding on the precise spec. The most difficult decision was not to take the offered Windows XP, but go with Vista 64 bit. This allows me to make full use of the 4Gb and with the sort of hardware at hand the resource hog tendencies of Vista would not be noticeable.

I ordered it on Boxing Day and it arrived two weeks later, just in time for my birthday. It was well packed, with a full of restore and utility disks included. The case is well ventilated with four fans; two in the front, one in the rear, and one on top. There are twelve USB ports, six on the motherboard, and two on the top of the case. The Graphics card has 896Mb of RAM and 192 Processor Cores clocked at 1.2Ghz and can support resolutions of  up to 2560×1600.

The machine arrived with a crapware free install of Windows which was already registered and had UAC disabled, so the PC did not interrupt with requests to proceed every 5.3 milliseconds. The PC already had my name as did the default user; which is a very smart touch. My only quibble is that having had a second 500Gb data drive added, they had not moved the user folders to that drive. I did this as one of my first steps, as the main drive is a, relatively small 150G VelociRaptor drive which was bought for speed and not capacity.

The case has a side window, so you can see the neat cabling work and marvel at the size of the graphics card which is about half the size of my iBook. The blue lighting looks cool, both through the window and through the front cooling grille. I was impressed with the process of purchasing from DigitalStorm, who kept me updated through the build process via email and updates to their website. When I did need to call to make delivery arrangements, sort out a credit card SNAFU, and then with a technical enquiry, I was not left hanging on the phone. Each time I received an email confirming the conversation and the name of the person with whom I had spoken. I was treated as well as if I had purchased a $10,000+ water cooled rig

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