time for a new difference engine.

The time draws near once again for the trickle-down upgrade cycle of the computer hardware here at the Castle.  The lord of the manor is still quite content with his Core 2 Duo-powered magic elf box, but the lady’s Pentium 4 system is definitely showing its age.  The CPU in it came out of a house brand rig I bought from Best Buy in 2004 or thereabouts, and all the other components in it have been upgraded over time.  With the recent World of Warcraft update, I can tell that even with the upgraded video card, the frame rate doesn’t get much above 30FPS anymore even in the calmest of environments, so it’s about time for me to pass down the C2D system to her.

I’m toying with the idea of getting a Mac mini, now that their graphics chips can run World of Warcraft at more than single-digit frame rates, but for two thirds of the Apple price tag, I can order a whole new computer in parts from TigerDirect, and have a system that’ll blow the doors off a Mac mini.  I don’t have much time for playing games these days, but when I do have an hour to kill some zombies, quest in Azeroth, or noodle around in my virtual bush plane, I like to see frame rates that at least correspond to the room temperature.

(Of course, there’s always the Hackintosh route, which is totally wrong from a moral standpoint, seeing how it violates Apple’s EULA, even if you legally own a copy of OS X…)

Of course, this upgrading is all for the benefit of my dear wife, who deserves to play WoW at a tolerable frame rate.  I’m being entirely selfless here, you see.


16 thoughts on “time for a new difference engine.

  1. vince says:

    Marko the Magnanimous! 😉

  2. Kristopher says:

    She needs to get a quad 4 with all the bells and whistles, and a $300 GeForce video card. WoW is much more important than random surfing.

    You should ask her for her quad 4 as a hand me down when it gets obsolete in a few years.

  3. Dave says:

    I disagree on the “morally wrong” part. If you didn’t pay for OSX, yes, that would be stealing, but if you paid good money for it, the doctrine of first sale applies. Tell Steve Jobs to suck eggs and build the computer you always wanted.

  4. tam says:

    I’m getting the upgrade itch, too. It’s compounded by the fact that VFTP Command Central is still in the configuration it was when last you saw it, which means it is still in the configuration it was in Summer of ’03.

    What was a bitchin’ gaming rig six years ago is barely a pocket calculator now. It’s sad when my Eee outperforms my P4 Desk Howitzer on YouTube…

  5. Eric says:

    I’ve not heard good things about Tiger Direct. I buy my parts from either Newegg or mwave.com.

    • Marko says:

      I’ve been buying just about all our computer parts from TigerDirect for the last three or four years. Never had anything but prompt service, and their prices are generally better than Newegg’s.

  6. MarkHB says:

    You know my position, old stick – for what you use your Mac for, the notebook flavour is everything you need. “Performance Macs”, the 8-core Pros, are actually one of the cheapest ways to put 8 Xeons in one place, but what will you do with 8 Xeons? (Unless you want some crosstraining in 3D, anyway).

    You’ll get lots more bang for your buck on a PC. What would you do with a Mac Mini or indeed any other Mac that you can’t do with your existing Macbook? (Including taking it into the garden).

    Revel in the irony that for a kick-ass gaming rig, the dude in the tweed jacket beats the Tissot out of the pretentious twit every time. 😉

  7. “Revel in the irony that for a kick-ass gaming rig, the dude in the tweed jacket beats the Tissot out of the pretentious twit every time.”

    nevermind that i have no idea what the credentials of a kick-ass gaming rig should be, i still find myself in support of mr. h-b’s position here, on purely principle and moral grounds…yes, that is a rarity, but i do so hate those commercials, and especially that twit.


  8. scotaku says:

    Then again, if you opt for the mac hardware, you can run Windows on it through Boot Camp – this is native now, not emulation – thus getting two (2) computers for the price of one (1). Yes, I am a MacHead. No, I don’t give a hoot what you get. It’s just that a twofer always appealed to me.

  9. Jay G. says:

    Interestingly enough, as our ancient (nearly 7 years old) desktop has apparently gi’en up the ghost for good, we find ourselves in need of a second computer as well.

    And BJs Warehouse has an Acer netbook with WinXP for $250… And I’m going there tonight…

  10. MarkHB says:

    scotaku, without in any way wishing to get into a bunfight over it, I have to respectfully point out that to get Gaming Performance out of his new rig, Marko would have to pay so much more for Mac Components that it’s really not a twofer. It’s maybe a one-and-a-halfer once you’ve paid the Mac Tax on RAM, graphics card, CPU and Designed in Cupertino.

    Don’t get me wrong, Macs are nice, and at the right price-point they will outperform PCs for the price (just, as long as you buy your own RAM, GPU and HDs), but that price point is wayyy-ay-ay up the scale from “PC Competent to Run WoW and Stuff” and into “Turbonutterbastard 3D workstation/Small Server” territory for the Mac Pros. For a gaming rig, you don’t need anything like that. *shrugs* Anyhooo, back to X3: Terran Conflict for me… 🙂

    • scotaku says:

      No “Platform War” here. I understand completely. Owned/used Mac and Windows, don’t really see a difference. I prefer the Mac is all because over the years I haven’t had *any* issues – my mileage varied, you see.

      As always, I’d rather the person got the rig they prefer. I won’t proselytize.

      • MarkHB says:

        To be utterly clear, I’d really rather still be using WorkBench on some kind of multi-cored Amiga with current-gen GPU/CPUs. I would also like a pony. 😉

  11. Laughingdog says:

    I’m a little confused. Are you saying that you can play WoW in incredibly moderate doses, instead of playing for 40-60 hours a week?

    I’ve heard that such creatures existed. But I always thought it was a myth. I had friends that started off as “casuals”. But that generally never lasted more than a month or two before the hardcore addiction set in.

    Probably the best thing that came from my years playing WoW was that it made me finally realize that I just don’t have a healthy approach to competition of any kind. I was never the “sore loser” type. But I could obsess for hours with perfecting my technique in whatever the current competition was. When you had to leave the house to compete, it was a lot harder to realize just how bad it was than when I just had to walk across the room.

  12. Carteach0 says:

    I have no gamer creds, and my computer building knowledge is all need-to-know, as in I learn it again when I need to know it again.

    But, I do know a good brand of clacker wax. Would that help?

  13. Dave Knowles says:

    I`m building my own gaming pc on a budget of under £400, i think i have the best system for the budget i have, you can follow my progress at the squidoo lens.

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