Tales of the Rampant Coyote

Adventures in Indie Gaming!

The Comic Con Upgrade

Posted by Rampant Coyote on August 14, 2014

I remember back in the 90s when a computer upgrade was almost a mandatory bi-annual thing… on odd years I’d replace parts to keep it kind of up-to-snuff, and then on even years I’d replace the whole machine.  Man, I don’t miss those days. PC gaming was an expensive hobby. Nowadays, PCs cost half as much (before accounting for inflation!), and a decent gaming system can last you at least three years before you have to even start thinking about an upgrade.

My system is about four and a half years old, and has had an innards upgrade with a replacement video card about 2 years ago, a second hard drive put in about three years ago, an upgrade to Windows 7 about a year ago (yes, it was originally an XP system), and replacement case fan about a year ago. Surprisingly, it isn’t really limping along… it’s been humming along decently and has been able to play games like Skyrim, Borderlands 2, and even Bioshock Infinite reasonably well. No, I don’t crank up the visuals into the stratosphere on those, but it’s not been hard to find a decent balance between visual quality and fast framerate.

But as we’re coming up on five years, with some cool games coming up that may finally tax the system, I considered options. I decided that as a motivational factor, I wouldn’t replace my machine until Frayed Knights 2 shipped. After all, who’s gonna have time to play games until then, anyway, right? And Frayed Knights 2 sure doesn’t have problems running on this old box!

Well, as a side-effect of all that surgery, my poor old machine is missing its side-panel (because the mounting rails that supposedly came with the system are too big for that extra hard drive and the limited sideways (!) space, so it pokes out to the side. Well, who cares about heating problems anyway….? 🙂

As a result — it’s pretty immobile. Not a problem, it’s a desktop. I have a laptop and a tablet for when I’m on the go.

But I just discovered that my laptop doesn’t want to interface with the big monitor I’m supposed to use for my Comic Con booth. 780p televisions, no problem… but not this 27″ monitor. Nor could it support the higher resolution, if it could interface.

So the laptop won’t work. The desktop… won’t travel. I *could* bug friends to try and find if they have a computer to spare that will run Frayed Knights 2 at high resolution until September 9.

Instead, I broke my little promise to myself. The desktop is finally getting an upgrade. Yay. Maybe I’ll finally be able to play DCS: A-10 Warthog or, when it comes out, Star Citizen. Assuming I ever have time to play games again…

Man, I hope I sell a lot of games and get a lot of exposure at Comic Con… this whole thing is getting more expensive by the week…!



Filed Under: Geek Life - Comments: 4 Comments to Read

  • Xian said,

    I remember those days. My upgrades were usually due to game X needed more umphhh. I remember having to get a new video card because Neverwinter Nights flat refused to run on the one I had, upgrading to a Core2Duo because Bioshock ran so slow on my P4, and so on.

    My current system was built in 2010, and so far I have only had to upgrade the video card, and that was just recently. I build my own, so it isn’t quite so costly to upgrade. I can generally reuse the case, power supply, DVD, mouse and kb, so really all I have to replace is motherboard, cpu, and memory, possibly the graphics card.

    My daughter is the one excited to go to Comic Con when it hits Nashville at the end of September, she was just talking about it yesterday. I wish you luck at the one you are attending.

  • Anon said,

    > But I just discovered that my laptop doesn’t want to interface with the big monitor I’m supposed to use for my Comic Con booth. 780p televisions, no problem…

    You probably either mean 720p or 1080p TVs…

    > but not this 27″ monitor. Nor could it support the higher resolution, if it could interface.

    Any details you might want to share about that?

    Also: PC upgrades were moderate in the last few years because the last console generation lasted quite long – essentially from 2006 to late 2013.
    In other words: Because of the mainstream development geared towards a certain console standard the increased PC performance hasn’t really been used (except for higher resolutions, more anti-alias options and a few more high-res textures).
    This resulted in most PC gamers getting away with buying a new graphics card but they didn’t have to replace their CPU/cooler, RAM and mainboard.

    Now that the next-gen consoles are available (with more performance and more RAM) and companies shifted their development focus on these the majority of PCs will have to get upgrades or get replaced to become comparable platforms (a lot of gamer PCs are actually already good enough to compete).

    Some hardware manufacturers like Intel have also already slowed down their development compared to earlier years. They now use a so-called “tic-toc-cycle”:
    In year 1 (“tic”) they introduce a new CPU generation with a new architecture which means more performance and/or more features.
    In year 2 (“toc”) they introduce a slightly modernized variant of this generation but manufacture it in an optimized production process which nets the customer a performance increase and/or better performance per watt ratio and/or price.

    Nvidia – who is also one of the major players responsible for PC gaming performance – adopted a slightly different strategy: They introduce a new generation with a new architecture (usually in a newer production process) in one year and have a “refresh” in the following year with only minimal changes:
    “Fermi” -> “Fermi-refresh”
    “Kepler” -> “Kepler-refresh”

    Sometimes they introduce a new generation with a high-performance chip, sometimes with a middle-class chip like the GTX 750 which uses a “Maxwell”-chip (these are all chip codenames, of course).

    Sometimes they also simply relabel older products to get a complete line-up of chips to cater to every performance segment (for their OEMs).

    Conclusion: If you want the highest performance you’ll have to buy a “tic” product – if you want a quieter PC or lower power consumption then get a “toc” or “refresh” product of the same class.

  • Rampant Coyote said,

    Sorry for the delay in responding – I forgot to note that I’ve been out of town. Yeah, I mixed 1080p and 720p in my brain as I wrote that.

    Once upon a time, I was semi-capable of keeping track of PC hardware developments. Not anymore. It was a little frustrating back in the 90s too, because the knowledge I gained putting together one machine was largely obsolete when it came time to build a new machine.

    I was peripherally aware of the cycles – I remember looking up a couple of different Nvidia cards and finding that one was literally unchanged but for its name from a previous generation.

  • ogg said,

    Cool, looks very much as described. Not teeterin top heavy with effects like what AAA is pushing, Lovely atmosphere.
    As I recall Geforce 8 and 9 series are technically Identical, I have the latter in my all-in-one.
    Keep up the excellent work and best luck with the demo.