Articles & Editorials: Hardware Guide #4

Live from my brand new PC, here is Rogue Leader’s Hardware Guide. Yes, after months of waiting and trying, my new computer has finally been assembled, and I must say, I am thrilled. The beast has performed well in all of my tests, and the only major error I have encountered is an issue Renegade has with my system. Since Earth & Beyond runs perfect on my machine, I assume it has something to do with Renegade, not the system itself. So, to the Hardware Guide itself. I’ll only talk about the latest video development this time around, and then give you a run-down on how the construction of my PC went.

Video Cards

In a surprise move, ATI Technologies has released the first DirectX 9 video card. It comes in two incarnations, the economical Radeon 9000, and the high-end version called the Radeon 9700. This is surprising for the simple fact that DirectX 9 hasn’t been released yet. So this card is prepared to utilize all the new features of DX9, but will be unable to do so for at least a few months, since DX9 won’t be released until year’s end. What does that me to gamer’s like you and I? Well, since DX9 hasn’t been released, there is still the possibility of changes that could affect Radeon’s performance. It could include something new that ATI failed to take into account this early, leaving the card outdated before it is usable to its full capacity. The odds of that happening are slim, but still present nonetheless. Now, this new card is supposed to be the most powerful card yet, and judging from the Doom 3 screens that were powered by it, it is capable of some amazing things. But looking at ATI’s past record, the drivers issued on release will be so bad that my G4 Ti4600 will still outperform it until they get the drivers right, which will most likely be around the same time Nvidia launches NV30, their DX9 board, which promises to be a bad-ass card. So if you are thinking about upgrading, I suggest waiting until we know more. And besides, the Radeon 9700 uses AGP 8x, so chances are that you will need a new mobo to use it at all anyway, adding more cost to an already hefty price tag for the card. Use discretion, my friends.

The Broken Arrow Project

I built my machine over two weeks ago, and it was the most enjoyable experience I’ve ever had with a computer. Putting everything together and seeing it start for the first time brought joy to my little digital heart 🙂 That being said, it wasn’t problem-free. Setting up the Koolance system presented its challenges. Trying to attach the PVC tubing to the plastic CPU cooler was pure hell, but not nearly as bad as realizing you forgot to thread the crimp to it after getting the thing on there. I had to battle for twenty long minutes to get the tube off and put the crimp on, and then another twenty re-attaching the tube. Other than that, Koolance assembled easily. The only other issue was attaching Koolance to my video card, which was rather frustrating seeing as how the extender heads kept falling out whilst I tried to screw them in. But after much blood, sweat, and tears, I was ready for my first power-up. After some stupidity on my part regarding monitor connections, the machine booted up perfectly, and I was ready for Windows XP Professional, which I was bale to obtain from school for a substantially reduced rate. Since then, everything has worked perfectly. I ran 3DMark2001 the other day, and my system scored an exquisite 10710. If anybody has even the slightest inkling that you want to build a new computer yourself, do it. The feeling of pride and joy when it you play your first game on maximum detail is worth every hardship and trial. Trust me…..

That’s it for this month’s hardware guide. Since there has been very little change in the hardware industry, I won’t bother posting a set of system specs. In next month’s hardware guide, I’ll know more about the Radeon 9700, and I’ll be able to give you a full review. I’ll also write a step-by-step guide to building your own PC, so don’t miss it. As always, send me an e-mail to let me know what you think. Happy gaming!

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