Warcraft III, Elite Force II, Freelancer, and of course, DOOM III have tempted me back. Now more than ever it is time for me to return to the realm of PC gaming, a foray I recently have departed from because upgrades were becoming very costly. But as I look back at the PC I own (or should I say, owned after the power supply was fried), I realized that two years is long enough to wait before making a significant upgrade.
For a while, having an AMD Athlon 700 PC powered by a Voodoo 3 board and 128 MB of RAM would have been more than enough to handle any game. But upon gazing on some of the requirements that most games use today (Morrowind alone requires a 500 MHz processor with 256 MB RAM (on Windows XP) for crying out loud), I realized that upgrading is a must.
However, there is one thing that makes my plans to upgrade a slight challenge, and that is my disgust towards Intel, and their obsession with overpriced, yet underpowered Pentium 2/3/4 processors. I especially had a strong disdain for the Pentium 3, and its rumored PSN code which reportedly caused anyone to read the contents of my computer.
It was because of this that I defected towards AMD processors. My first AMD was a K6-2 300, and I fell in love with its speed (very comparable to a Pentium 2), and later upgraded to a K6-2 450 and eventually an Athlon 700. The combination of speed and cheap prices are more than enough for me to add AMD processors to my system.
Now, if only the major PC developers would follow the same story.
Take Compaq, for instance. How many times have you heard their commercials saying "We make a PC exactly the way you want it?" But have you ever heard their hidden message of "Oh by the way, we are FORCING you to buy an Intel Pentium 4 processor, thereby increasing the price without giving you an option of an Athlon processor." Doesn't this contradict the fact that they are allowing me to get a computer to fit ALL my personal specifications? Hypocrites!
Gateway for a while even offered AMD based systems on their ads, but apparently that has been made a moot point. Now every ad they make forces the Pentium 4 down your throat.
And then of course, there are the evil-doers at Dell. Michael Dell frowns deeply at us AMD users, and evidently refers to us as "fringe lunatics." He will not offer any PC powered with an Athlon processor, and makes daily sacrifices to the blue-headed, radiation-suit-wearing, alien demigods at Intel. However, it is funny that recently Dell's stock has taken a critical downfall.
It is because of these hypocrites, backstabbers, and liars that I resort to building my own PC from barebones kits. The easiest way to do this is to go to a site such as www.pricewatch.com. Such websites allow you to decide on a barebones system (which consists of a CPU, motherboard, cooling fan, power supply, and case) and build on whatever components you wish, even the processor. I had good experiences with some companies listed, namely Infinity Systems Plus. It will be from them where I will be buying my brand new upgrade"a blazing fast AMD Athlon XP 2000 with 256 MB of DDR memory. All I need to do is transfer my existing hardware: Sound Blaster Live, VisionTek GeForce4 MX420, my 2 hard drives, and my DVD drive and I will be all set and ready to go, but at a much faster pace.
The only catch, however is that you must have some previous computer hardware experience to get everything up and running, or know someone who has the expertise. But if you need to buy a store brand, and you can seriously afford it, I would recommend boycotting Compaq, Dell, and Gateway and go for companies like Alienware and Falcon Northwest: two developers who express strongly their love for AMD's processors right on their websites and print ads.
But getting back to AMD, when I spoke with them at E3, I was informed of their new Hammer technology, and the new x86-64 processor. Though it will be a few years before I can purchase one, I will definitely keep an interest since it will be able to provide true 64-bit processor technology while still offering full 32-bit compatibility.
In fact, the interest is so strong that the previously mentioned hypocrite companies, yes that includes Dell, are rumored to now be interested in offering PCs powered by the Hammer technology. However, I see otherwise, in fact, if I was the president of AMD, and the evil Mr. Dell offered to make a deal with me, I would walk up to him, look him in the eye, and give him the finger. And as I walk past him, I would look back at him, have a dark look on my face, and say"
"That's for all the fringe lunatics you have spurned. May your company fall as fast as your Intel stock."