Freak-Out

This post has nothing to do with Guild Wars and everything to do with my own tech-related neuroses. Enjoy!

I stress about the darndest things, seriously.

I’m sure you’ve heard me whining about not having a computer of my own before. Well, today I bought the processor I’ll use in my new machine.

I’ve been agonizing over this choice for moths. MONTHS! Seriously. I’m not even kidding. Finally, today came, and I had to choose. I had split my budget into $100 increments for parts. $200 for the motherboard and pretty much $100 for everything else. Finally it came down to the two cards below

2.6 GHz Athlon II Quad-Core

or

3.2 GHz Phenom II Dual-Core

Do I want a faster dual-core or a slower quad-core? If I was just a gamer the answer would be easy, go with the faster speed because there are very few games (none of which I play) that utilize all four cores. I’m not above buying something less-awesome if it’s going to get the job done for less money.

But I’m not just a gamer. I’m also a digital artist and animator. 3D is my medium of choice and I (shamefully) haven’t touched it in two years. I fully intend to remedy this once I have built my new machine.

But I’m not overly-worried about render times either. I know how to streamline my workflow to use less computer resources (hide the high-poly model I’m animating and use a low-poly placeholder instead, turn off textures in the viewer, etc) and I’ll be doing almost all of my high-quality rendering while I’m at work or asleep. I’ve been saving for (and agonizing over) this machine for six months now, patient Tiger is kinda-patient.

What does matter to me is multi-tasking. I am a ridiculous multi-tasker, especially when I’m working on a 3D project. It’s not uncommon for me to be running two separate 3D programs, one imaging program with multiple projects, a dozen or so internet tabs (some with video), and a music player all at once.

I finally decided to go with the quad-core. The thing that really decided me were the reviews. Just about everybody who overclocked this card got it up to 3.0 GHz with no problems and the stock (air) cooling. I’m going to be buying a motherboard with built-in overclocking features so I figured, why not.

So long as I can get the speed I want, who knows, I might just come to truly appreciate faster render times.

Now comes the great “SLI or Crossfire” debate. SLI is more expensive and on paper it looks like the Crossfire architecture is more stable. I’m still up in the air over this (I’m terribly suceptible to novelty). I doubt I’ll make a decision until it comes time to actually buy the card. If you Know What You’re Talking About™ you’re welcome to comment.

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  • Comments (5)
    • Shongaqu
    • July 23rd, 2010

    The main reason I’d go with SLI over crossfire is nvidia’s physX which show up significantly in a few games like batman arkham asylum… If the extra physiX functionality isn’t a problem I’d go with ATI I love their HD X2 series of uber cards though each one sets you back about 600 bucks… Also it seems to me that top performance seems to switch between ATI and Nvidia every few months. When I build my new comp ATI was top dog but then two months later Nvidia built a faster card.

    Since I don’t do professional rendering on my computer I’m not sure who makes the better card for rendering though I believe since AMD is leading in the rending department that ATI cards would be optimized to work with an AMD mobo and proc.

      • Tigerfeet
      • July 23rd, 2010

      I’m fairly certain that rendering (within a 3D program) is controlled by the processor and the video card controls how smooth things look on the un-rendered interface.

      I’m less concerned with getting the best-of-the-best as I am with getting something affordable that will last me for a while.

      The thing that intrigued me about the ATI is that he two cards will split up the screen in a checker-board pattern while Nvidia cards will put a line down the middle of the monitor and rely on the processor to move it based on graphics load. I’ve heard that the SLI way of doing things can lead to a faint line across the screen while the ATI can produce shearing. I don’t have any personal experience with either, however.

    • Ven
    • July 23rd, 2010

    I was actually planning to buy an Alienware laptop soon as well, and I was wondering about Dual vs Quad too to keep the price from being insanely expensive. Your little tidbit about them will help me in the customizing process.

      • Tigerfeet
      • July 23rd, 2010

      I would recommend in seriously thinking about price and considering options other than Alienware. My last computer was an Alienware laptop and it lasted just until the warranty expired. You’ll be paying extra for the Alienware name. The one thing I did appreciate was the extra materials that came with it. The user’s manual is VERY good and even included directions on how to completely disassemble it. The customer service was also good while my warranty lasted, after that I didn’t get much help.

      I recommend you build the machine you want from Alienware then shop around for some other brands. I recommend checking out the laptops at newegg.com for ideas of brands and prices.

      Keep in mind as well that Alienware is now a Dell brand.

        • Ven
        • July 23rd, 2010

        Well I was lookin at http://www.ibuypower.com/ too now that you mention it, I was checking their stuff out too now, they seem pretty cool too and their price is really nice too compared to Alienware. Being a pure gaming comp I just need something that I can blast at full so I can see the game in all its sexy goodness. =3

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