I think I previously mentioned that I was thinking about building a gaming rig from scratch. Ultimately I decided against that idea. I’m not a hardware guy, and trying to put together a machine in my tiny room didn’t seem like a good idea. If I had a big desk, or a work bench where I could spread the parts around and live them there overnight that would be a different story. I opted for paying a little bit more, and having a pre-assembled box shipped to me overnight.
Dell was having some discounts on Memorial Day, and so I bought a brand new XPS 630i machine with the following specs:
- Intel Core Duo E8500 3.16 GHz
- 8GB DDR2 SDRAM at 800MHz (4 DIMM’s)
- Nvidia GeForce GTX 285 (1GB)
- 500GB NCQ SATA Hard Drive (7200 RPM)
- Windows Vista Home Premium SP1 (64 bit)
- Integrated audio (Realtek HD)
I like everything on that list, except the Vista bit. But I figured out that there is no point clutching onto XP for much longer. It will be end of lifed in a few years and I sort of wanted to make the jump to the 64 bit world sooner than later. Also, when Windows 7 comes along sometime next year, it will likely be easier to upgrade to it from Vista than it would be from XP.
I could have paid $100 to get XP on this machine but at the time it seemed a good idea to just go with the newer OS. After all, Vista has been on the market for a while now. Most of the major annoyances were probably fixed by now, or there are workarounds for them.
In addition I figured that more and more games will be using DirectX 10 so it is worth for me to jump on that bandwagon now. It could have been a bad decision – I don’t know.
Once I got it set up, and configured properly (see the post tomorrow) I really don’t have major gripes about Vista. My main problem is the fact that Microsoft didn’t see fit to include any of their XP Powertoys in this release. I especially liked the Powertoy Calculator and the Image Resizer. I did find alternatives though – Speedcrunch and Microsoft Office Picture Manager (which is not as handy and not free but will do for now).
All the other software I use frequently is supported – including Vim, which does have a 64 bit windows version these days. It doesn’t have a nice GUI installer but it does work fairly well.
The best thing about this new machine is that it is a beast. Vista is famous for it’s incredible slowness – especially when you use the Areo theme. On my computer it just files – I have yet to notice any slowdowns or wait for anything to load. Everything seems instantaneous. The rig even boots up in mere seconds – it is quite amazing.
One of the first games I installed on it was Fallout 3 (topic for a whole new post) and it flies as well. In fact, I know that the game has those nice loading screens that tell you some statistical information (number of people killed, quests completed) and gives you a quote of some sort to read. These things disappear so fast for me that I can’t even read them. Changing locations is more or less seamless. I’m loving it!
I haven’t had a chance to test it on too many different games yet but I’m assuming that I can expect this sort of performance from most of the titles I own. It is such a huge difference after using my old machine it makes me giggle every time something that previously took several seconds now takes virtually no time whatsoever.
Last time I felt this much computing power under my fingertips was when I was working on the brand new Sun workstation my thesis mentor got on a grant. I get the same “holly crap, this thing is fast” feeling.
I know this will pass. One day this rig will become so sluggish and so outdated I will no longer be able to work on it. In fact, I’m pretty sure that in a few months someone, somewhere will release a game that won’t even run on this thing. But until then I will enjoy having more power that I know what to do with.
Anyway, this is my new baby. Tomorrow I will tell you how it all went wrong. First thing I noticed was that it won’t fit under my desk – which has one of those “computer shelf” things. It is a fraction of an inch to small for this machine to fit. It looked big enough when I was eying it, but I was wrong. Things only got worse from that point on.