Thursday, September 08, 2005

Zoom zoom zoom

And the latest addition to the game Guild Wars, Sorrow's Furnace, has been released unto the world. Everyone flooded into the servers, towns, and the like, streaming content down to their computers like madmen. I was about to let others do their streaming first, and wait until the surge slows down. However, I became a little curious as to what was changed. Amazingly, the changes are vast. But some of the changes weren't all that great. But that's only my opinion.

As I mentioned in the previous post, I broke down and ordered parts. They all arrived a day earlier than usual. And once the boxes were opened and the parts inspected, I went back to the system to do a final preparation and backup. It is then I issued the final command: Shutdown. And so begins a grueling six hour hardware swap process that includes unmounting the motherboard, cleaning the parts, evicting dust bunnies. The process would have gone a lot quicker had it not been for a piece of metal backplat being stickied onto the motherboard. It took me a good amount of time just to tear it out. Fortunately, the plate came off without any damage to the board. Although I must admit that doing so put me on the highest level of fear and anxiety. Once the plate was removed, it was the usual -- applying thermal compounds, place the CPU in, mount the heatsink, and so forth.

When the system made that single beep after powering up the system, I was happy. The greatest fear to anyone who tinkers with their own system was not hearing that single beep after the system goes through a simple series of tests (aka POST). It was there that the next phase of the upgrade begins: testing the memory. To absolutely ensure that the system runs at the specified speed, I have to test the memory in order to ensure that nothing got fried when I handled the sticks of RAM. So this was a priority.

7 hours later, a reboot, and the third phase of the upgrade begins. There I ensure the CPU has no "defects," as this is also as important as the RAM. After confirming that it works and runs (to a point), I rebooted and start overclocking, a process that pushes the CPU beyond its advertised specfication. After a series of tests, I landed on a very nice 2.4GHz, 2 models beyond the original speed (4600+ vs 3800+). At this speed, it has effectively saved me a couple hundred dollars. But how long it'll last. That's something I won't be able to know for a long time.

The system runs fantastic. After a couple of mishaps in configurations, the system is stable and I am very happy with the performance. Having two cores is unbelievable, and I am thankful that a low-end model can be had for an affordable price point. Given that Intel's Pentium-D is cheaper, the performance benefit and its architectural design doesn't meet what I'd want to do with it. Meaning, as a gamer, I'd like to have it perform. And sadly, Intel just can't perform with their architecture. To add to that, to go dual-core with Intel is perhaps much more costly than one might think, for Intel shoved too many things to the consumers without considering the DIY (Do It Yourself) market.

I am happy with what I have now. I hope this system will last a long time. All that's left now is getting a pair of 1GB sticks or a new video card. Hmm....