Thursday, February 4, 2016

This Wire Goes Where?

It is with heavy heart that I retire the last internal component of my original gaming computer, first built some 5 years ago now.

It is with fond memory that I recall making the decision to first build it. When playing Assassin's Creed: Revelation, I was put off by the framerate dipping into the low twenties, rendering the game virtually a slideshow and thus unplayable. I began putting together an order for parts with money set back each month, and made the order late 2011: an Nvidia GTX 560 graphics card, Intel i5-2500 processor, and 16 GB of DDR3 RAM. When finally completed, it was capable of an average of 37 frames per second on the maxed-out benchmark of Batman: Arkham City, and blazed through the aforementioned Revelation with all the settings topped out.

In the intervening years, a new video card, the XLR8 Nvidia GTX 770, was acquired, along with a new power supply as the old one physically didn't have the capability to run it. Not that it wasn't powerful enough, but that it simply didn't have the required plugs. Some additional RAM was added, but my poor system was finally reaching a moderate level of obsolescence. New games couldn't be maxed out anymore, and like history repeating itself, Assassin's Creed: Unity and Syndicate were barely playable. I was lowering the resolution from the standard 1080p (still far higher than the average gaming console can achieve) and turning settings down to low, and still getting mixed results. Well optimized games - Mad Max, Witcher 3, Shadow of Mordor, were running fine, but Arkham Knight and the aforementioned Assassin games, which were already a mess, were a nightmarish mess of stuttering and blurred textures.

Come Christmas Bonus, I put in an order. The new Skylake generation i5-6600, DDR4 RAM, and a motherboard named after an explosive, the B150M Mortar.

Upgrade day is always stressful to me. It's a damn good thing I never went into medicine, as nothing works the first time I close up the case and start it up. In this case, it was quite literal, as the whole thing failed to power on. After cracking the case back open I noticed I'd neglected to attach the mains power to the motherboard... and the front LEDs... and the power switch. I'd forgotten to plug the power switch into the motherboard.

This rectified, I set about reinstalling Windows 10, which went successfully until, at the insistence of an otherwise brilliant techie friend, I manually reinstalled the drivers for the motherboard. The activity on my solid state hard drive went to, and stayed at, 100% until the computer crashed.

After a fresh reinstallation, and trusting Windows to handle the drivers, I'm back on my feet and happy to report that I'm now getting the same performance at 1080p on Ultra settings for games that were previously at 720p and Low settings.

All that said, it's set back the review I was going to write for X-Files, which is probably a good thing. That first episode was... well, someone linked me to the gif I'll provide here, which promises that the subsequent episodes have a little more to provide than the frenetically-paced mess that was the first episode.

And remember, it's never a successful rebuild unless you have screws left over!

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