For those of you that haven't heard, windows Vista SUCKS for gaming. I hear rumor that Direct-X 9 games have issue running under Direct-X 10. I encountered playability issues while trying to play Spellforce 2 under Vista on an Athlon X2 5200+ with an ATI Radeon x1900GT; after bumping the resolution down several steps and dropping almost all of the visual effects I was still getting video stutter from most on-screen activity. Age of Empires III has similar issues. However, World of Warcraft had no problems at all!
I tried the same games on a much less powerful system (an Athlon 64 X2 3800+ with a Radeon 9600) that was running XP and they all ran smooth as glass (with some of the settings turned down a bit). The Athlon 64 X2 3800+ was now my 'gaming' PC so I upgraed the video card to an eVGA 7960GT KO - but I also wanted a smaller case, so yesterday I went to Fry's to see what they had...
It was Friday and it was their one-day 'anniversary' sale- I ended up getting a new motherboard/CPU combo for $150 (Athlon 64 X2 5600+ CPU with an ECS GeForce6100SM-M motherboard). I also got the Silverstone SG01-Evolution case and an Antec SmartPower 2.0 350 power supply ($40 with a $40 MIR- I couldn't resist!).
I built it out last night and I was very unhappy with the noise level generated by the fans. The case is very tight on space, so the power supply is literally 3/4" above the stock CPU fan; placing my hand in-between the two reduced the airflow even further and the CPU fan would rev up to 4000+ rpm (and increase the noise db by a bit!). The stock VGA cooler on my eVGA 7950GT KO was also very notable (I have been meaning to change this since I bought it).
Today I went to the 'other' Fry's and bought a Zalman CNPS8000 (for the CPU), a Thermaltake ND1 (for the VGA) and some Arctic Silver 5 thermal paste; the now system generates much less noise (VGA is still a little noticeable, but it is a direct molex connection; I need to figure out a fan speed reducer) and the CPU is several degrees cooler.
I also picked up a Sony DRU-120C DVD burner (on sale for $40- a far cry from the $500 I paid in 2003 for my DRU-510A!) and a Seagate Barracuda 7200.10 SATA II 750GB hard drive to round out the system (the only thing I am re-using from my prior system is he memory!)
Finally to complete the system, I moved my Matrix Orbital MX6 display over to the new system; it looks sharp and runs great! (I will be spending most of tomorrow configuring the SpeedFan/FRAPS/Custom messages under LCDC)
The only problem I had during the build was it would freeze on post after detecting the CPU. I fiddled with the RAM and IDE/SATA connections and nothing seemed to help. It turned out my KVM swich (which acts as a USB 2.0 hub and presents my USB mouse/keyboard) was freezing the system. A BIOS update gave a partial fix for the issue (the system would boot, but mouse response was erratic) so I ended up adding in a PCI USB card- the KVM switch now works great!
I am weird- this is the kind of stuff that I WANT to do over the weekend!