8 Oct 2013

Upgrade Season


Just over two years ago, I built a PC that would be able to play the ‘next generation’ of MMOs. It was a silly notion considering that, at the time, I didn’t have an idea what next generation truly meant. I just wanted to build something that would provide obscene frame rates without leaving me penniless.

It’s a strategy that worked. I’ve gone from WoW: Cataclysm, to SWTOR, to TERA, to The Secret World and Guild Wars 2, all without a hitch. I’ve managed to run them on high settings and capture stunning video. Whatever game I’ve wanted to play, my hardware hasn’t held me back.

This time round, I’m being a little more pragmatic. Getting technical, the latest Intel Haswell processors don’t provide a dramatic bonus over my Sandybridge i5, so I’m in no rush to strip out the guts of my rig. Instead I’m going to double-check the cooling, replace some fans and overclock the processor.

There is one part that’s getting the boot though, and that’s my NVidia GTX 480. Although it has graphical grunt, it’s not nearly as powerful as the latest cards from both them and AMD. It also guzzles electrical power and gets pretty hot as a result. Plus, the triple-fan variant I bought makes an absolute racket when installed. I’m not sure if it’ll be replaced by Team Red or Green this time round, but I’m eyeing both carefully.

As a result, I’m going to be upgrading my wife’s gaming PC. She’s also an avid MMO player, and has been suffering from poor frame rates in Guild Wars 2 and SWTOR. With both WildStar and Elder Scrolls Online around the corner in 2014, we’ve got enough time to do some major upgrades. I’m going to be swapping out her first-generation i3 with something that has substantially more horsepower.

Apart from that, both systems will get backed up, scrubbed down and reformatted with a fresh installation of Windows 7. Microsoft’s newest operating system doesn’t offer us anything that our existing versions don’t already have, and we’re not fans of the touch-inspired interface.

One area that I haven’t previously considered is peripheral upgrades, instead buying replacements as needed. I’m still rocking the same Razer Naga Molten that I bought some two years ago, although I get the feeling that it’ll need replacing soon. I’m also using an excellent Logitech G930 wireless headset, so audio is fine. I’m considering a couple of new 1080p displays, but it depends heavily on cost.

Which leaves me with one more thing – a new workhorse laptop. Something that’s durable, lightweight, comfortable and professional. Perhaps a MacBook Air?

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