Hardware upgrade bliss

Against my better judgment and my business income, I bought an Nvidia 6800GT video card last week. At $400, it's more or less their top-of-the-line card right now (save for one higher that gets only slightly better performance). In my history of buying 3D cards, going back to the amazing Rendition cards that threatened 3Dfx at the time, I've generally only bought cards when they came down to the $150-200 level. This time I was planning on the $300 model, which had less memory. Then CompUSA had the sign there about getting Doom 3 for free with it, and Stephanie told me, "Just buy it."

Of course, I theorized that I might be CPU bound with a two-year-old Athlon 2000+, and this was more or less the case. So after great success with a mobile Athlon in my HTPC, I decided to buy one for me.

This thing is so easy to overclock that it's like getting twice the chip for half the price. I'm pushing the 2600+ (spec'd for 2 GHz) to 2.4 GHz without a problem. From the benchmarks I've seen, this puts the performance about on par with a P4 3.2 GHz, only the P4 sells for more than twice as much.

I also have to give great props to the Thermaltake Silent Boost heatsink/fan (along with Ceramique thermal compound). Even though I'm overclocking, it runs really quiet and idles around 45 degrees C. My old CPU idled at 49! Now if I can just get the other five case fans (plus the power supply, motherboard chipset and graphics fans) to be a little more quiet!

I'm thrilled to be getting 45 fps in Doom 3 at 1280x1024, with all options on 4x anti-aliasing. Believe the hype... it's beautiful and scary. This is the most interesting shooter visually since Half-Life.

I also have a preview build of RollerCoaster Tycoon 3 that Atari was good enough to send me for review on CoasterBuzz. It runs reasonably well at high resolution, maxing at 100 fps on an empty screen, but it does get bogged down into the 30's with busy maps. I suspect there are a lot of tweaks that were made for the gold release, seeing as how this build appears a month older that the released demo. They really polished up the UI!

This is a great season for games, probably the best ever. Stephanie has a list longer than mine. While I'm geeked up for RCT3 and Halo 2, she's playing Sims 2 and Leisure Suit Larry, and looks forward to Bloodrayne 2 and others.

No Comments