Craptop City, Party of One

Tonight as I write, I'm using my infamous craptop (infamous to friends and guildmates at least). On Saturday night my regular PC blew it's second power supply in three months. I was actually talking on Vent to my buddy Squorg about my computer woes when a burning smell drifted to my nostrils. Thinking someone was mercilessly torching some unsuspecting food item in the kitchen, I continued my conversation with no thoughts of investigating. A few minutes later my screen went black as the burning smell started to take on a decidedly plastic-infused odor. Needless to say, this story does not have a happy ending.



That system is about five years old, and started life as a barebones computer to which I added my own components. Over the years I've upgraded it a few times, but it's not holding up well with the current state of WoW. It's functional, but I really wanted to put off on buying a new system until after Blizzard published some requirements for WotLK. Not that I expect them to be 100% honest, but at least it would be a place to start. In an effort to stave off the inevitable death of the aging relic, I recently did a fresh install of Windows XP and upgraded my 128mb video card to a 256mb video card. Alas it was to no avail. Saturday's firebomb previously known as power supply #2 drove the final nail into the coffin. The all-knowing hubby proclaimed the system unworthy of redemption and suggested I start looking for a new one.

After doing some shopping around (Dell, TigerDirect, NewEgg) we finally decided to go for broke and order a spiffy little mid-level Alienware system. I'm actually kinda stoked since this is the first time I've really bought myself a "nice" computer instead of building one on the cheap. I generally don't consider myself picky when it comes to computer selection, but it's hard to get an inexpensive computer with a decent graphics card in it. By the time you purchase the cheap system and upgrade the video and probably add more memory to it, you may as well pay the gamer PC price.

Now I just have to deal with the pain of TWO WEEKS of Craptop-Flavored WoW while I wait for the folks at Alienware to build and ship my new baby. And now that I've shared more than anyone really cared to know about my personal setup, I'm curious what the rest of you guys invest in your gaming habit. We all know that we spend $15/month to play WoW, but how much effort does the typical WoW player put into their hardware? Do you buy off-the-shelf stuff from the local electronics store or order a customized PC specifically for gaming? Do you upgrade the system yourself or try to buy one with all the necessary bits included?  I know I'm not the typical gamer, computers usually outnumber people at my house.  I just thought I'd toss the question out there and see what floats back... it's not like I have anything better to do for the next two weeks (ackackack - i'm dying i'm dying gurglegurglegurgle<plop>).

14 comments:

  1. The only upgrade I've made to my system since before WoW was released was to go from 1gb to 2gb of ram.

    I've recently talked myself into buying a 512mb AGP card to replace my 128mb card.

    I'm in the BIGTIME now...

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  2. While I am not quite hardcore, I have been playing WoW on a laptop since I started in 2005. First on a Dell Inspirion 5100, then on a MacBook Pro (17"). Both have worked just fine and I have not had to upgrade anything to make WoW work great.

    The only thing I have splurged on is a nice USB headset/mic when I started spending more time in Vent (and my two year old in the next room started waking up when I played!)

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  3. Hehe computers outnumber people in our house too, though there is only one laptop and one computer which can run WoW smoothly.

    Personally I've gotten new ram and cpu to upgrade my old do-it-yourself system to be more wow-friendly but, like you, am thinking of eventually going for something pre-built. I've always loved creating my own from scratch with what I want but, sadly, these days you can get something better and cheaper pre-made (and it works first time you switch it on, too!).

    /hug
    /vanish

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  4. In July of 2006, I purchased a Dell XPS 700 with duel core and 20inch widescreen. I haven't touched it except to go from 1gb RAM to 2gb last Fall when Best Buy was selling 1gb sticks for $16.

    This was the first time for me to purchase a high end system. Previous to that, I was always building/special ordering my computers. My free time in RL seemed more important than saving $50-$100 and building it myself. I have to say...the unpacking and booting up and immediately playing has me sold on the buying it pre-built model. 0.o

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  5. Just built a new pc, Quad core Intel Q6600, 8GB ram, two Evga 8800GTS's, and 2 500GB SATA drives in raid, yes, it kicks butt. And yes, its overkill for WoW, but i like it :D

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  6. I usually build my own system, every 2-3 years, with an interstitial memory upgrade when the system hits its half-life. Putting a PC together yourself is surprising easy, and you really know what your spending your money on. My last build I went for powerful but quiet, picking parts from NewEgg.

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  7. Well I have a 24" iMac and its working perfectly for my Wow habbit.. Play it usually in window mode when soloning for quick access to the internet and and chat if needed but when raiding with guild use the full 24" Widescreen and its great. Almost have it in full graphic and its playing very well as long as I have a good connection. And I changed only onw thing witch was the ram went from 1gb to 2 gb.

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  8. Stop buying crappy power supplies.

    You want to get a Seasonic S12. Seasonic makes some of the best power supplies on the planet. I swear by them. They'll outlast the rest of your system.

    Here's a decent one from Newegg...
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16817151035

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  9. > My last build I went for powerful but quiet

    Kevin F, can you expand on that? My system is fairly powerful for a 2 year old system (nVidia 7800GT card, 2GB ram) but pretty noisy and I would love to hear more about how to build a quite system.

    > I’m curious what the rest of you guys invest in your gaming habit

    Well Kaliope, personally, I would estimate around $2.5k U.S., once per 2.5-3 years. Not including screen, as I tend to be very conservative with that. Not as hard-core as the SLI uber-computer crowd but I have no problem running WoW at max-settings, which is the important thing for me.

    My screen has served me well for over 5 years now, although with the next computer I plan on finally switching it. It's a trusty LG 19" CRT, very good image quality, sharpness and colors. I play WoW at 1600x1200 and that's the way I like it so the 1280x1024 of 19" LCD screens is no good for me. Now that there reasonably priced 24" LCD screens with 1680x1050 I will finally switch at the next upgrade, probably in 6 months or so.

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  10. Krick: Agreed, my second power supply was used - purchased at the local PC parts store. I didn't expect to need it for too long so I didn't go out of my way to purchase something robust. Hopefully those Alienware folks will give me something decent, they certainly seemed proud of them :)

    Solid: I don't mind sharing, the system I just ordered was about $1300 minus the monitor. Not too long ago we bought some Dell flat-panel wide screen monitors for the WoW systems at my house, which were about $400 each. I also have a fancy gaming mouse and keyboard that hubby got me for Xmas/bday, so I'm pretty nicely accessorized at the moment. I hope I'll be able to run WoW at max settings when I get my new box, but with my old system I ran at mostly low to mid-range settings to minimize video lag.

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  11. I'd say the big thing to make my system quiet was choosing the right case. I went with an Antec P180b. It features triple-panel walls to reduce noise, and large, slow-spinning high-volume fans. The power supply is in a separate chamber from the motherboard, which seems to keep the air around the CPU cooler, as I seldom hear the after-market CPU fan spin up. I always use Seagate Baracuda HDDs, as they run very quiet. I was lucky in that the GPU fan was surprisingly quiet, but you can buy aftermarket GPU coolers if your OEM one is loud.

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  12. I used to be a Mac evangelist until I got shafted by Apple-- no, I'm not going to share the story here, just suffice it to say that it opened me up to more than just Mac systems in my house, Fallingwaterdamage.

    A couple-three years ago at the Trenton Computerfest, I and a friend each bought similar systems, whitebox PCs. I opted for a faster processor and better graphics card while they were building it (which took almost an hour) and later added more memory, bringing it to 1 Gb. It processor is an AMD Athlon XP 2400+ which generally logs about 2 GHz. The graphics card is a Radeon 9200. Cost was in the $600 range. At the time I was annoyed that it outperformed my dual processor Quicksilver running MacOSX.

    I tend toward large monitors but not high resolution. Because of my eyes (and the inability of designers to realize that some people can't read text that's less than a millimeter tall), having detailed graphics is not as important as having visible graphics. The Windows monitor is a 21" CRT, and the Xmac has a 24" wide-screen LCD that was top of the line when I bought it, about seven years ago.

    Blue Wilhelm-- that's the name of the Windows box-- has gone through one power supply and one Ethernet card. I found a USB 2.0 card for five buucks at the Fest and now have no shortage of ports. One of my favorite additions was the Nostromo Speedpad 2 by Belkin, a keypad specifically for gaming. This little beauty has assignable keys, a joypad, a wheel, and a few extra buttons that get along well with WoW.

    I'm comfortable for the time being. I'm also poor and can't afford better technology at the moment, so that's where it stands. Oh, and for a considerable amount of work like writing and databasing, I use my old, old PowerMac 9600 running MacOS 8.6-- which I prefer to OSX. Alas, it doesn't run WoW.

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  13. Kevin F - That is a freakin Awesome case! Best investment for a more quiet computer I've ever made.

    Myself I am running a Frankenstein version of a 4 year old computer that I've hacked and slashed into 2 running computers with 2gb of ram, 3500 AMD chip, and a old x800 card. By no means was mine top of the line by the chip standards when it was new, but besides a shorter draw distance in WoW (can't see the gankers coming from far away >.<) it runs smooth. I'll say it again that the Antec P180b case is amazing.

    My next box will be a dual or if I can talk the wife into (gotta compete with buddies) a quad core, with adequate ram and finally a PCI express vid card. The highlight of the box will be the box itself: the new Antec P190 case, check it out its pretty slick.

    ~Demon

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  14. Kevin F - thanks for the advice, I'll keep that case name in mind.

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