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The upgrade that wasn’t…

I decided late last year that I was going to take the year off from the computer upgrade process. That doesn’t mean that I planned on absolutely zero upgrades, but that I would defer the “big stuff”. This came after a tremendous amount of hassle and fuss trying to get Vista and my 2006 PC upgrade working to my satisfaction, and after the satisfying experience I had with my MacBook Pro.

But things change… and the upgrade that wasn’t going to happen, did…

It started out relatively small, in keeping with my plans for 2008- a video card upgrade. I am back playing EverQuest 2 a lot more lately, and it seemed like a nice idea to get a faster video card. So I bought an ATI 3870 X2…

It is a really nice card, and nearly doubled my benchmarked video speed from about 5200 to about 9500 3DMark06 points. I mentioned previously that this didn’t work out as planned for EQ2, and so I moved on to upgrade… pretty much my whole computer. And I did this in the knowledge that it probably wouldn’t make much of a difference at all to my main game, EverQuest 2. Here are the parts:

The parts include a Asus Maximus motherboard, an Intel Q6600 2.4 GHz Quad core processor, 2 x 1066 MHz G.Skill 2 GB Ram components, and a Sceptre Ninja Rev B processor cooler. When I assembled all the bits, the result is pretty much a new computer. If you want to see some more pictures of the parts in various poses, you can check out the gallery.

The combination of the Asus Maximus, the Q6600, and the Ninja cooler means I have a pretty good platform for over-clocking. I’m running the system at 3.4 GHz at the moment, and intend to get to 3.6 GHz once I’m satisfied with stability. Interestingly, even overclocked by almost 50%, the Intel processor is actually running cooler than my normally-clocked AMD Athlon 64X2 (about 35 degrees C versus 45 degrees C). Another interesting fact: the new configuration enters and exits from Windows standby without a hiccup.

Total cost of these upgrades: approximately $1,300. $475 for the video card, and $800 or so for the rest of the bits. I planned on spending no more than about $800 this year on upgrading my main PC, so…quite a bit over budget. But I get two things out of this upgrade that are worth more than money:

  • A nearly 18,000 3dMark06 system (as currently overclocked)
  • The ability for my wife to say “My husband as an enormous cooling unit!”

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