Category Archives: Games

The price of “performance”

So today, on a whim, I decided to see what a “reasonable” gaming PC will cost if I had to chuck out most of my PC, and buy all new parts.  I have a harddrive and a video card, so wouldn’t need to buy those.  I also wanted to keep in mind that I may want to try my hand at creating a Hackintosh at the same time, so decided to check out some Hackintosh hardware guides, as I figured the Hackintosh hardware guides, plus my video card (confirmed, supported under OSX), should be “good enough” to give me both a gaming PC and a Hackintosh-capable PC.

So off to takealot.com I went, as well as followed this guide from TonyMacX86, for a “budget” mATX Hackintosh, making sure I can fit my video card and harddrive as well.  Here’s what I came up with, a list of Hackintosh-supported hardware:

Case
I chose a reasonably cheap case, as a case for me is purely functional, and not decorative, so I chose the
Raidmax Super Atlas Black – coming in at only R441.  The case does not come with a power supply, which was my intention, as generally the PSUs that come with a case are generally not powerful enough to run several devices as well as a reasonably power-hungry graphics card.

Powersupply
As takealot did not have the suggested 500W Corsair modular PSU, I ended up choosing the
RaidMax 850W PSU V2.3 80PLUS modular PSU.  More than enough wattage to be able to add more peripherals, but a bit more expensive than I’d ever pay for a PSU before, a heavy R1149.  It is a modular design, so no extra cables hanging around causing airflow problems inside the case.

Motherboard
One of the suggested, and Hackintosh-supported motherboard, is the
Gigabyte Z87M-D3H M-ATX motherboard.  4 memory slots, supports 4th generation i5 and i7 CPUs, has USB3.0 support, supports 6GB/s SATA drives (6 SATA ports, so lots of RAID possibilities there), and has a single PCIEx16 slot.  I won’t ever run a second video card in my machine, so the single PCI-Express slot is fine for me.  Never having paid more than maybe R1000 for a motherboard before, this one’s price of R1716 was a bit of a drag, but hey, it’s chock full of goodness.

Memory
PC, and Hackintosh, memory is a dark art.  Lots of numbers and CL this and latency that, to tell the truth, I don’t know much about it.  And the bit of reading I’ve done, the differences between a lot of these numbers may mean an extra 1% or 2% extra performance.  Not enough of a performance gain to spend much time on that, so I just took the suggested memory dimms from the buyer’s guide, and went with CORSAIR VENGEANCE Low Profile 8GB – 2x 4GB DDR3-1600 CL9 from takealot, coming in at a reasonable-ish R1293 for 2x 4GB, leaving enough room in the motherboard for future expansion too.

CPU
The CPU was the shocker for me.  The most I’ve ever paid for a CPU was about R2000 for my Intel Core2Duo E8400 CPU, a fantastic CPU for its time.  The CPU I ended up looking at, based on the recommendation from TonyMacX86, was the Intel Core i5 4670K – 3.40Ghz Socket 1150 Processor.  I read up a bit, and found that the “K” in the model number indicates that the CPU is overclockable, which I’m OK with.  It’s only about R200 more expensive than the non-overclockable version, so a no-brainer.  The price of this puppy was my biggest surprise.  Coming in at a very heavy R3339.  It comes with its own CPU cooler, so no overclocking quite yet.  It will require a better cooler if any overclocking is going to happen.

Total
Doing the math now, this comes in at just under R8000, keeping in mind the above kit does not include harddrive, graphics card, mouse, keyboard or monitor, all of which I already have.  Adding the price of those could easily put the price of this Hackintosh/gaming PC at easily over R15000.  Fine, R8000 for an upgrade to a reasonably new hardware platform, and allow me to run both Windows and OSX on it is not a bad price at the end of the day.  Now if only I had the R8000 to make it happen.  Anyone want to donate me some bitcoins?  😉   (Really?  Bitcoin tipjar here: 1KDHFgVsw2Zcp3erPDNDRz8VF6vQQvmjAj )

How to get Guild Wars 2 to use files on DVD for initial installation

GW2_Logo_2cAfter a few months/weeks of indecision (and playing Star Wars: The Old Republic), I bought Guild Wars 2 today. Physical box copy. Excitedly I popped the first DVD in the drive, ran the setup, and was rather taken aback by the game installer completely ignoring the +-14GB worth of data on the DVDs, and simply starting to download the full game client. All 233000 files of it. Yuck. I tried several things but eventually managed to get the game to agree to use the files from the DVDs as at least a starting point, and then patching the +-6 months worth of patches, bringing the download count down to only about 80000 files. Here’s how:

  • Start up the DVD installer and let it download the first bit, restart itself, and allow you to choose where to install the game to.  You’ve probably gotten this far already.
  • Exit the installer.
  • Use explorer to browse to the first DVD and copy the Gw2.js0 and Gw2.js1 into a temporary folder.
  • Do the same for Gw2.js2 and Gw2.js3 on the second DVD.
  • I did the following on an Ubuntu server to combine these 4 files into a single file:
    • cat Gw2.js* > Gw2.dat
    • If you’re a Linux user, you’ll know how/what to do to get the files to your server in the first place, I won’t go into that here.
  • The equivalent steps in Windows would be:
    • Use Explorer to navigate to the folder where you copied the files to.
    • Keep the SHIFT key on your keyboard in and right-click anywhere on the white part of this window
    • On the resulting popup menu, choose “Open command window here
    • Type the following command and press ENTER.
    • copy /b Gw2.js* Gw2.dat
  • I tried the above COPY command on my Windows machine, but it took forever, hence doing it on the Ubuntu server. I cannot confirm 100% that this “cp /b” command works for this purpose, but I’m fairly sure it should.  Can anybody confirm?
  • The point is, what I’m doing above is combining the 4 DVD install files into a single Gw2.dat file, and “seeding” the installation process with those files.  Like the installer should have done in the first place.
  • Now, you need to copy the resulting Gw2.dat file into your C:\Program Files\Guild Wars 2\ folder – you can just open a second Explorer window, and drag and drop the file into the Guild Wars 2 folder.  Windows will probably complain about administrator rights, agree to let the file copy, and overwrite the silly temporary file that was there.

That’s it.  When you run Guild Wars 2 now, the game will notice that it already has a large percentage of the game files already, and only download the differences.  Which from what I can tell, at time of writing this, is about 7GB worth of data.  That’s a little better than the full 16GB of data. Please feel free to let me know if this worked for you? PS.  I suspect the game installation might “work correctly” if you’re not connected to the internet when you start the installer up, as it won’t know that there’s a newer version out there, so will just use the DVDs in the first place.  I might be wrong though, I didn’t try this.

Nerdmag.co.za launches

Sheena (aka SheBee of www.shebee.co.za), decided to start an online magazine, and via Twitter, and practically every other medium she had at her disposal, called for contributors. And so launched NerdMag. 9am this morning the site was unveiled, and if you look carefully, you might see a familiar name.

Yes, mine. I opted to reply to the call for contributors only ‘cos I find that I like writing, almost as much as I like gaming, and I’d like to write about games more than just reviews, you know? So SheBee gave the go ahead, gave me some ideas, and I started. My first article became so big that I had to abandon it, verbal diarrhoea is not the best way to start for a first article on a new online mag. So, off you go, go enjoy the new kid on the block that is NerdMag, and don’t forget to read, and comment on all the cool content there, especially my article. 😉

And to Sheena, good luck with the venture, you’re doing something lots of people dream about but never actually execute, so that makes you one step ahead of a lot of people. All the best. And thanks for the opportunity to smear my content on your project. 😉

Mirror’s Edge Xbox360 review live

mirrors_edgeMan oh man oh man. This is such a cool game.
I’ve been waiting for Mirror’s Edge since May this year when I first saw the teaser trailer for the game.
And now, finally, I managed to play it, and review it. Check my review of the game at IOLTechnology.co.za.
I really do wish at some point in time that I’ll have an HDTV to play these games on, one day. 🙂

I finished the game, and will definitely play it again on the Hard difficulty when I have some more free time and not review other games…