New Computer

My old gaming rig has started to fall apart lately. Last year my video card blew up and took one of the PCIe slots with it. It took me a few weeks to sort it out. I purchased a replacement, and then it turned out that my PSU did not supply enough juice to power it. I returned it, and bought a less powerful card but could not get it to work because I did not know the bottom slot was fried, so I returned that one too. Eventually I figured it all out, re ordered a card but at that point Win7 decided it did not like the new hardware so I ended up doing a complete re-install. Fast forward a year and the machine died again, this time in even more disheartening way. After a half assed, failed attempt at replacing the PSU I gave up upon it.

So I bought a replacement: Alienware Aurora-R4.

Alienware Aurora R4

Alienware Aurora R4

I know, I know – Alienware is the hallmark of the gamer n00b and all that. There might have been a time when I cared about that, but I think I’m too old to worry about my street cred. If anyone wants to revoke my gamer card, they are welcome to it. And yes, I probably grossly overpaid for the brand name but after futzing with unreliable hardware on my own for several weeks now, I just wanted something off the shelf and with reliable warranty. Dell support can’t diagnose problems for shit, but if you diagnose for them, they will reliably keep replacing parts until the damn thing starts working. That alone gave me a safe and fuzzy feeling of assurance in the midst of frustration. This probably wasn’t my best purchasing decision, but I did take advantage of one of their big sales events and got pretty decent hardware setup without having to take all the money out of my bank (you know, just most of it):

  • Quad Core 3.70GHz i7-4820K CPU with 3701 Mhz bus
  • 16 GB of RAM (upgradable to 32)
  • Two NVIDIA GeForce GTX 780 video cards
  • 256 GB SSD (6Gb/s data rate) as main drive & 1TB 7200RPM HDD as secondary

This ain’t a Titan setup, but it’s close to it so I should be able to play all the new games on high without too much headache. The old machine was starting to get a bit log in the tooth in the recent days. Both the new Thief and Metro were choppy even on the lowest settings. I didn’t particularly care for those games but I was starting to get worried I might get locked out of new releases I do actually care about – like new Elder Scrolls games, or new Bethesda properties “fixed” by Obsidian. This shouldn’t be an issue anymore.

The former gaming rig valiantly survived 5 years of almost continuous usage. I never really shut it down, and I specifically prevented it from going into sleep mode so that I could download torrents or run batch jobs overnight, or VPN and remote desktop into it when I was at work. Hopefully this machine will do equally well, though I might try to ride it a little bit less hard to extend it’s life a bit.

I’m mostly posting this here for my own future reference so that I have a rough idea when I bought this machine when it decides to break at some point in the future.

Next post will be a review of a game that I totally did not need this rig for. In fact I played it on my MacBook while waiting for this machine to be delivered.

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5 Responses to New Computer

  1. Sorry to hijack, but how’d you do vpn and remote desktop to it?

    Nice rig too :)

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  2. Tormod Haugen Google Chrome Windows Terminalist says:

    The times where I sat on the bedroom floor with parts for two computers spread in a flower-shaped pattern around me are long gone. I too went with the “send me a complete box and I’ll re-fasten the screws” strategy (a year ago).

    I ended up with half the ram and half the number of GFX cards (and GeForce GTX 760 at that), but since I prefer old, turn-based games – it kind of doesn’t matter. :)

    It just needed to do Civ V and X-COM (and maybe a bit Diablo 3 and Borderlands co-op)

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  3. Luke Maciak UNITED STATES Mozilla Firefox Windows Terminalist says:

    @ Mads Johansen:

    I think at the time I was using Hamachi and the standard Windows Remote Desktop feature that’s built into Win7 Pro. That said it was temperamental and didn’t work properly half the time. :P

    @ Tormod Haugen:

    Civ is a bit hit or miss for me. I played a lot of the original back on Amiga and after that I haven’t really felt the urge to come back. I loved X-COM and I really wish there were more turn based tactical games like that out there. That and RPG games with turn based combat.

    But like I said, I do have a soft spot for bit Elder Scrolls games, and the big Bioware titles like Mass Effect and Dragon Age so I figured I’d splurge on some graphical power. :)

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  4. Karthik INDIA Mozilla Firefox Windows says:

    @ Luke Maciak:

    Let’s talk about the games first. You mentioned a desire for turn-based tactical games and RPG games with turn-based combat, so here are a few options. My apologies if you’ve been keeping an ear to the ground and know about all of these already:

    1. More like XCOM, you say? I assume you’ve played Enemy Within? I liked how it it added new incentives to XCOM without ruining the balance of the vanilla version. Speaking of balance, I’ve heard good things about the long war mod for XCOM. Apparently it injects a bunch of new systems into XCOM that brings it closer to the more simulation based 1994 X-COM.

    2. And speaking of the 1994 X-COM, there’s Xenonauts now. Someone who prefers the new XCOM might say Xenonauts is XCOM with all the fiddly stuff included. But Xenonauts goes all the way to being an actual simulation, which makes it much less contrived and gamey than XCOM. I find myself switching between the two every other month.

    3. Massive Chalice: Think XCOM’s tactical combat with a meta-layer of a eugenics program and King Of The Dragon Pass’ (Or Banner Saga’s, or FTL’s) event system laid on top. The setup is really cool too: You’re an immortal ruler tasked with protecting your kingdom from an encroaching otherworldly miasma by breeding and raising heroes. The game plays out over centuries. And it’s not out yet. :(

    4. Wasteland 2: Well, there’s no way you’re not aware of this, but this one’s out now. It’s the Fallout 3 we never got, and it’s utterly mad and brilliant. The game reacts to everything–who you’re with, when you do a quest, the gender split of your party and so on. They also fixed Fallout’s frankly awful combat by adding cover, elevation and making the initiative system transparent, but excised aimed shots (except headshots) and the perks system. The production values and quality are surprisingly high for a $3 million kickstarter attempt at making a massive full-featured RPG.

    5. Divinity: Original Sin: Where Wasteland 2 picked up the Fallout (and Wasteland) mantle, Original Sin picks up where Ultima VII left off. The world appears to be mostly simulated (as opposed to scripted), and it commits to the “all the systems, available all the time” philosophy that’s missing in “modal” RPGs like, well, everything else. I haven’t played it, but the turn based combat is apparently fantastic too, with elemental and spell interactions that let you do crazy things. The marketing line is “The freedom of a tabletop RPG in a computer game”.

    Then there’s a bunch of stuff not on my radar that may or may not be good: A new Jagged Alliance (Not the real time Back In Action), Hard West, Halfway, Blackguards and more that I can’t recall right now.

    None of these games might give your new hardware a workout, but that comes with asking for turn based tactics games, I guess. :)

    The interesting common thread to almost all of these games is that they’re Kickstarter funded. We have XCOM to thank for more of these popping up every month, either on Kickstarter or Steam. Firaxis really dragged the genre back into the mainstream again, and frankly I’m spoilt for choice right now.

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