Saturday, March 8, 2008

I am still here

I am still battling computers, but have found Wiki formats more satisfying than a blog - so you can find me at

I have five quad-cores and three dual-cores (plus other misc systems) all slaving away for me, all running in fairly low-cost setups. Ubuntu's up to 7.10 and has literally evolved to the point where anyone satisfied with OpenOffice and internet access will be happy with it. I use OpenOffice all the time - am writing odd fiction (which I'll soon start putting up at my Wiki site).

Two months ago I finally upgraded my "fun system" away from an AMD A64 solo-core to a Intel Q6600 quad-core. I also abandoned the old XP-OEM license I technically lost the right to use years ago. Instead last year I bought (horded) two legal OEM Windows XP Pro licenses which came with a free VISTA Business upgrade. Cost was $108 each, which isn't bad considering the cost of a "real" VISTA license. Just remember that such cheap OEM licenses don't allow changing motherboards ... which is why I waited until my Q6600 to install & activate.

I did try VISTA again in Jan 2008 when I swapped in the new hardware, but couldn't even last the week as one doesn't expect a quad-core to run slower than a Celeron - plus my backup app hosed the VISTA filesystem - odd, it created a 20GB backup in a portion of the filesystem with PATH NAMES TOO LONG FOR VISTA TO HANDLE! Shocking, I have no clue why an operating system - especially one as over-bearing as VISTA - would allow this. But using VISTA's explorer or even CHKDSK, VISTA just couldn't show, delete or trash the directory created. So I reformatted the VISTA away and went back to Windows XP Pro.

Since all the reviews still say WinXP is 30-40% faster for games anyway, this seems the best answer. I occasionally play Morrowind or Oblivion and see a huge difference in graphics refresh (aka - detect none) compared to my old A64 at 2GHz plus ATIX1600. But, now that graphics are blinding I detect the hiccups where the hard-disk (a Raptor pinging away) needs to thrash in a new game map. Maybe I'll look into RAID 0 some day.

If you're curious, my home play-system now includes (prices as-of Dec-2007):
  • Intel Core 2 Quad Q6600 2.4Ghz ($274)
  • Asus P5K with Intel P35 chipset ($126)
  • EVGA/NVidia 8800GT factory over-clocked ($290)
  • 2x1GB Curcial DDR2-1066 RAM ($114)
  • Windows OEM XP plus free Vista Business upgrade ($108)
The case is my old (but beautiful) Coolmaster Wave, and I reused all the drives, fans, power supply etc.

In theory both the CPU and MoBo support DDR3 and faster than DDR2-1066, but the cost of anything above DDR2-1066 was too crazy to consider. As I'm just running Windows XP
Pro (with legal option to run it or VISTA) I've not seen the value in more than 2GB RAM yet either.

Also, this Asus includes some nice auto-over/under clock features ... which is nice since my machine tends to spend more time editing OpenOffice documents than gaming. Thus my Q6600 generally is running down at the 1.4Ghz range and the system chews up about 120-watts idling, whereas the old A64+X1600GPU system idled at 95-watts.

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