Relentlessly upgrading computers

Our addiction to World of Warcraft has lead to the inevitable computer upgrade. Remember, gentle reader, that this game was already responsible for a video card upgrade on my own machine. But now that I’ve gotten Staci hooked on playing – she’s an elven hunter with a pet puma, we needed to upgrade the machine she plays on, it was almost four years old. Going through even moderately congested settings, villages mostly, caused her screen to really stutter.

Despite my dormant desire for a macmini, my Dad is luckily in need of a PC upgrade as his 400Mhz PC died last week. He’ll be inheritting the 1Ghz Athlon, motherboard, and mini-atx case that we replace.

I’m happily surprised by how much computer you can buy really cheap nowadays, the fact that I wasn’t gaming as much meant I’d lost track with the latest and greatest hardware and marketting spin. We bought the following parts from Newegg last Saturday and the parts arrived yesterday. We spent about two hours putting it together:

  • CPU $48, AMD Sempron 2200 (1.5GHZ) – the last intel CPU I bought was a Pentium II 233.
  • Motherboard $41, ECS 741GX – all the basics including onboard LAN, sound, USB 2.0
  • Memory $60, 512 MB PC2700 – should be way more than enough for gaming and web surfing
  • CPU Fan $15 Arctic Cool Copper Silent 2 – I’m very impressed so far by this fan, even on the highest setting its pretty quiet ( rated at 24db ). It makes my linux desktop PC sound like a small turbine engine by comparison.  The fan is a little wider than your average CPU fan but that means it doesn’t have to spin as fast to move the same amount of air.
  • Video $70, EVGA Nvidia FX5500 128MB DDR. Nowhere near the leading edge in graphics cards but I can check off all the fancy directx9 options and play with good framerates at 1024×768.  Last month, CompUSA had this card for $120 before $40 in rebates.
  • Case $26, CAT 3307 ATX case, 300W power supply. This case is a nice, sturdy mini-tower. The only knock against it is that the advertised blue is actually purple-ey, according to the owner.

Grand Total: $260. The total is also low since we didn’t have to get a CD drive, hard drive, keyboard, mouse, speakers and monitor. But it’ll more than suffice for playing some games. In contrast, I think the macmini I’d end up buying would be closer to $700, not factoring in the Apple Care extended warranty plan.