Your issues may be more than the game’s fault…

I started dinking around with computers in 1986 (almost 9 years after I got into table top gaming) and ever since then I have had a passion for computers that is borderline obsessive…okay, not quite that bad, but close.  I am always looking for the next great toy to add, or the next best look to craft, or the next best whatever!  When my wife agreed to marry me (and I still think it was partially to get released) she knew I was, and am, a gamer. She had some fears about the couch potato most gamers are depicted to be, and the fact that she had known gamers who had been fired, or lost work due to camping a mob being more important that a job. But, she loves me, and surprisingly she even supports my computer habit whole-heartedly! I am thankful that when I say, “Honey, I need a new video card” she smiles and says, “Just keep it under $700.00 if you can.” So, if some of what you read here today seems out of range of a realistic budget, I apologize ahead of time.

Ark's Current Rig

First and foremost, never buy a rig off the shelf unless you have no money, but can afford to make payments. I know a lot of people don’t have $2000 sitting around, so doing the credit thing is the only choice. But, if you can avoid it, never buy off the shelf. I have had my nose in many systems since ’86 and most Dells, HPs, Gateways, Compaqs, etc, etc, etc. all have very generic parts built to minimal spec requirements to be called a certain type of card or board. When upgrading a friends rig a few years ago (it was a Dell), I could not find part numbers or serial numbers on any of the components, including the motherboard. That is bad, especially when you are looking for a board that should be populated like a city, but turns out to be a wide spread town.  A good, solid, motherboard should have a good population of capacitors and chips spread across it. If you can go more than 3/4 of an inch without hitting another chip, capacitor, socket, or pin the board is probably minimum to mid spec. So, if you experience game crashes for no reason, zone lag, city lag, sound crackles… It doesn’t matter how much you paid for your rig, or how cool the specs sounded when you bought it… it is probably a low to mid spec machine.  Even a rig with the latest gear can be a mid to low SPECIFICATION machine.

A minimum spec is what a company tells anyone who wants to manufacture their parts is a required amount of compliance with their brand. You can look at the multitude of companies that make Nvidia’s GeForce cards. Just hold a few next to each other and you will quickly see how one 8800 GTX looks different than another 8800 GTX, and costs $100.00 less.

Another important thing to remember about building/ordering a rig is making sure it well exceeds what the game manufacturers are RECOMMENDING. Never go by minimum requirements. Take the recommended specs, and double them. If it says 1 gig or RAM, install 2. If it needs a 1.2 ghz chip, go 2.5 or 3. The reason? No top end gamer is ever happy with glitches, lag, low graphics settings, or even slow boot times or transitions in a game. I havent experienced unexplainable crashes, reboots, freezes otr even zone or city lag in about 10 years… and I beta test alot.

Now a-days you should also pay attention to slot type on your board and the drive interface. IDE is out. AGP is out. Your video should be a form of SLI, and your drives should connect at least through SATA, if not optical. The newer slots and cable connects have a much faster and more stable transfer rate. That means the data that tells your game what to show on your monitor gets there cleaner and faster, so less chance of ghosting and stutters. Raid arrays are fun, but a waste for the common gamer. High end and hardcore gamers may need some form of data backup protection, but for most people if your hard-drive dies, you just throw a new one in and reload your games. If on the other hand you do spread sheeting, data mining, web designing for your guild, or machinima you may want to run at-least a dual raid array. That way if one drive dies, you have all of your data on the second one safe and sound.

Cooling. What?  COOLING!… My room doesn’t get that hot man. COOLING!!! Your system runs super hot on everyone of those high end components. Cool each one. Take the time to upgrade any off the shelf rig with more fans. If ya hate the noise, buy 4 to 6 fans and run them all at 1/4 to 1/2 speed. A good mother board will have extra fan connects built in. The only time a system is too cool is when it has ice on its chips.  They can only withstand minus 45 for a few hours before they will start ruining your stability.

Scotty, more power! Your power supply may just be the second most important unit in your machine. If you are buying o.t.s., ask for an upgrade, or change it out when your system arrives. One of the best ways to tell if a power supply is well built is to look inside one of the vents… well populated? Good.  Now, how is the weight? A light power supply, or PSU, will be more likely to under power your system, or die sooner.  A nice heavy PSU will usually indicate good heat sinks, solid components, and better performance.

I will tell you more later, but for now… spend the money!  Cheap parts means cheap parts. There are many things that are overpriced and a ridiculous waste of time and cash.  For the most part, if you think the price is amazing… the design and performance probably won’t be.

Oh, one more thing. That lag you’re getting?  It can also be attributed to the dozens of bounce points your internet connection has to move through before it gets to the server your tune is on… then the data has to make it back. So give the devs a break next time your game crashes or your system does mystery reboots.  It may just be as much your fault as it is theirs.

But hey, I’m Ark, and that’s my angle on it.

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