If you're wondering why I haven't posted anything new lately, it's because my computers at home were all down until only a few days ago. Went through a couple of hardware upgrades which, unfortunately, didn't really go as smooth as I was expecting them to turn out.
The first upgrade involved the video card of the PC my son uses to play games with (Athlon XP 2400+, 1.5 GB RAM, 256 MB Radeon 9550). He started complaining over the slow frame rates he was getting with some newer games, particularly the resource-hungry RTS World in Conflict. The game is actually playable when using low graphics settings, but there's nothing quite as pathetic as playing a computer game with all the settings turned down to low.
After some research, I figured the GPU with the best bang-for-the-buck was the NVIDIA GeForce 7600 GS, with its 12 pixel pipelines, 5 vertex shaders, and a core running at 400 MHz. All I need now is to find one, particularly one which runs on an AGP bus.
I soon realized that AGP video cards are bit on the scarce side nowadays, with most computer stores stocking up on PCI-Express video cards instead. Even if a shop carried AGP video cards, more often than not their available stock was limited to low-end models, with chipsets such as the GeForce FX 5500 or the Radeon 9550. After going through quite a number of shops at Virra Mall in Greenhills, I finally managed to snag an AGP Inno3D GeForce 7600GS with 256 MB of GDDR2.
Unfortunately, after installing it, I realized the particular unit that was sold to me had a factory defect, as the images being displayed by the card were corrupted and essentially gibberish. The shop promptly replaced it the following day with a fully functional unit, but the aggravation from a failed upgrade and the effort to return the video card was already had.
The second upgrade was with my main PC (Athlon 64 3000+, 1 GB RAM, 256 MB GeForce 6800 LE). Apparently 1 GB of RAM doesn't seem to be enough for my purposes, as I almost always end up using the paging file (and with it the resultant loss in speed), especially for some newer games.
I bought a pair of Elixir (a somewhat generic brand) 1 GB DDR400 DIMMS. I figured generic was okay, since I don't really overclock to the max and the modules were dirt cheap (actually they were the cheapest that I could find). As it turned out, either both of the modules I got were defective, or they really weren't that compatible with my MSI motherboard, as I got nothing but intermittent hangs while installing Windows XP or running Memtest86+. Again, the defective or incompatible modules were promptly replaced by the shop the following day, though I opted to pay extra for Apacer branded modules instead. The new ones worked perfectly.
Moral of the story? If you plan on upgrading your computer, make sure you plan for all contingencies, particularly a botched upgrade. And also make sure you don't have anything pending in the pipeline. There's nothing quite as annoying as having an important file stuck on your PC's hard drive, and being unable to access it because of an upgrade which went sour.
No regrets though. I have two faster PCs. It's almost worth the aggravation. Emphasis on almost.
Inno3D GeForce 7600GS AGP Review