PC Upgrades

New computer front Damn, it’s hard to work out what to do about my PC at the moment.

In the good ol’ days of simple x86, one basic graphics card architecture etc, when RAM was simpler and when AMD and Intel each only had about two basic CPU socket types, it was relatively straightforward. This time around, with my desktop beginning to grunt under the strain of newer games and applications, and reaching its 2 year birthday, I was a little less certain what to do. There’s a few things that occurred to me.

(1) I have 1GB of RAM. Surely that’s not the problem.
(2) I have a 3Ghz P4 processor. Most current processors don’t exceed that speed dramatically… and a lot of mid range PCs have that as a standard. So is that the problem?
(3) What the hell is a Core Duo / Core 2 Duo?
(4) Let’s upgrade the graphics card!

I therefore ignored (1), researched (3) because of (2) and went out shopping for a graphics card on Saturday. For those who don’t know, Core Duo and Core 2 Duo are the latest generation of Intel chips. They’ve decided to give up on the ‘Pentium’ naming convention and are running with the ‘core duo’ naming system to reflect that these new processors can actually have two, erm, processors on the core. Like having two CPUs in one machine. Even though the clock speeds are significantly slower (1.8Ghz – 2.9 Ghz), performance is smokin’.

intel core 2 duo allendale E6300 I know what you’re thinking. Well, maybe not, but I thought: awesome. I’m going to get me one of them when Vista comes out… But for now, it’s not worth the investment for me. It’ll cost a bomb (new motherboard, CPU, RAM, etc required) and I can wait. Still, waiting for AMD to play catch up for once; whilst from benchmarks its clear that the AMD 64 series is pretty hardcore, this dual processing power seems to kick its ass on a number of things. Anyone found differently? I have found all the benchmark tests I’ve read fairly heavygoing… but Anandtech has a good one, which also explains how Intel have decided to go green and produce a less power-hungry processor.

You go, ‘ntel!

More Cellfactor Fun! Much more confusing is the graphics card question. I thought: I have PCI Express, I’ll just go and buy the best card I can afford. That’ll make a difference… but, to my dismay: all the cards require a minimum of a 450w PSU. So before I got around to understanding which card would be the best upgrade from my crummy ATI X300SE, I have to buy a new PSU — as Dell seem to have deliberately sabotaged me with a 300w nit, which is unlikly to power an additional lightbulb, much less a power-hungry graphics card. After a *lot* of tedious research, btw, I decided on an Nvidia 7900GT. It has GDDR3 RAM (which I understand is good), benchmarks well but isn’t ridiculously expensive, and (for once) is at the higher end of the spectrum of graphics cards I could be looking at. I’m ignoring PhysX for the moment, cool though it looks, as Dell also don’t provide me with a lot of expansion slots and no games I want are written to support it just yet.

First I have to fit the power supply though.

If anyone does have a different view on a useful graphics card for me (thinking of getting Oblivion, the new C&C game when that comes out, possibly WoW and Second Life…) — let me know. The benchmark tests for graphics cards were even more unintelligible than the CPU tests. I have no idea if a 7900GT w/256MB of GDDR3 RAM is the one for me.

3 thoughts on “PC Upgrades”

  1. This screams more geek than ever, Armand. I’m worried. Well, luckily there is a new Feist book coming out so you can embroil yourself in wizards and rifts and… won’t be… so geeky… ah, yes. Ahem.

Comments are closed.