It's that time of year yet again. The last time i upgraded, was back in March. That was a big one, too - new CPU, new Motherboard, 2gb DDR2, new Graphics Card and another Hard Disk (i use them up in hours...).
Why have i waited this long? Well, prior to this month, theres been no real reason - the computer has performed flawlessly and run everything i've thrown at it. That is, until the BioShock, The Orange Box and Crysis came out. Well, the Crysis demo is out, and if thats any indication, i'm in serious trouble.
While i can play all three games at the native resolution of my widescreen (1440x900), both need to be tweaked to run adequately. In Half Life 2: Episode 2 / Team Fortress 2 / Portal, it's not as bad as i thought - sure the framerates drop to about 34/35fps in places, but the problem comes when you're in a firefight and the graphics card (currently an ATI Radeon x1950 Pro) cant handle everything. At that point, its like a slideshow. Bearing in mind thats with all the shiny stuff turned up to full, it's actually not that bad i guess.
BioShock also runs 'okay' at native res with most of the details turned on, but there are a lot of places where it lags badly and framerates start to plummet (mainly area's with heavy water effects).
Crysis is another story. It's pretty. VERY pretty. So much 'oooooh!' factor in it, from the water effects, volumetric lighting and day/night cycle through to the physics engine and the fact that you can destroy EVERYTHING! That has trouble even running on Medium with post-processing turned down to Low.
"Why not turn down the details?" you might ask. Well, if i did that, it wouldnt be as much fun as the previous games i've played. And it wouldnt. AA/AF make a load of difference, as does high quality textures. I bought this stuff for *wow factor* and now finally, theres a piece of software that makes my machine BEG for forgiveness. So it's time to do away with the weak, and replace it with the new.
What are my options then? Well, i need a new graphics card for starters. It just so happens that on the 29th, the GeForce 8800GT was released. Perfectly priced, brilliant performance (beats the GTS by shitloads) and i can have one for just $269.99!
With the money i've saved up so far, that gives me a little more money for other stuff as well. Unfortunately, it's not quite enough for a Quad-Core, or even a better Dual-Core (E6600 would be nice...), so i'm investing it in another 2gb memory kit. Takes me to 4gb memory - all perfectly matched sets of 1gb OCZ Gold GX DDR2 DIMM's. 4-4-4-12 timings at 2.0v. Mmmm. Yummy.
Now that still wont allow me to play Crysis at high detail - but it should make it a lot smoother and less of a slideshow at Medium/High settings.
I'm going to get both items from the US though - as i live in rip-off Britain. I'm going to get them through Chelsea, ie - give her the money, she buys them for me and then brings them over with her in her suitcase when she comes to visit me in London. Saves on delivery costs i suppose ;)