Gwnewch y pethau bychain

But it was obsolete before I opened the box….

Once upon a time, [profile] bedlamhouse got a copy of a new video game called City of Heroes. It was an online multi-player RPG set in a comic-book superhero universe, and he suggested to the others in our AD&D group that if we all got copies, we could team up and play together. So I went and bought a copy. After watching me play it for a few days, [personal profile] kitanzi decided it looked like fun, so we went and got her a copy too. For the next three years, we played the game a lot, often just the two of us, often with other members of Penguin Force, our superhero group. But eventually, we did what could be done, and newer shinier games (*cough*World of Warcraft*cough) lured me away from Paragon City. When I made the jump to WoW, [personal profile] kitanzi decided to hang up the MMO habit, not wanting to get addicted to yet another time sink.

Earlier this year, though, CoH, now a venerable old warhorse in the MMO field, announced they were going free-to-play, and old subscribers could reactivate their old characters and play without paying a monthly fee. We both jumped back in, and while I couldn’t recapture my enthusiasm for the game, she had a lot of fun beating up bad guys and flying around.

Last night, [personal profile] kitanzi says to me, “Yeah, I think I’m getting bored with City of Heroes again.”

“Well,” I said, perhaps a bit too eagerly, “If you want to try Star Wars: The Old Republic”, I could get you a copy. We could play together again!” She’d been watching with interest as I’d been playing the game since shortly before its release, and she’d also enjoyed watching me play other BioWare games like Dragon Age and Mass Effect, so she didn’t require much convincing.

I decided that it was probably about time put a proper video card in her machine, though. Integrated graphics were fine for the games she was playing before (I mean, CoH came out in 2004…it’s not really going to stress out a modern system, even without a gamer-spec card in it), but TOR was likely to give it a bit more of a workout.

So, in preparation for this upgrade, I popped open the case to examine her power supply. I honestly expected to need to replace it, because gamer-spec video cards are power-hungry, and this was just a Dell Inspiron intended for general home use. But hey, I figured, check anyway, to make sure. And what I found astonished me.

I had figured I’d find a 280W or 300W power supply. If they’d been really spiffy, maybe a 350W, but I didn’t expect more than that.

It has a 160W power supply.

I checked my calendar to make sure I hadn’t accidentally opened the case of a computer I built in 1995 instead of the one I bought last year. Seriously, Dell, way to go. I’m amazed it even boots.

It’s now fitted out with a 500W PSU and an ATI 6670, which is a solid entry level card that wasn’t too expensive. Now we’re ready to conquer the galaxy!

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12 Comments

  1. Sue and I love playing RPG’s together but prefer ones that are not just fighting based and allow lots of exploring and interacting. So we are hooked on Fable 2 right now. Sue just bought a new Dell super computer designed with gaming in mind. She is now also hooked on my Xbox she bought ME for Christmas 😀

    • The other night I played the demo of Mass Effect 3, Bioware’s upcoming RPG title. (I’ll probalby talk a bit more about this tonight on Initiative Check). I was terribly amused that the difficulty settings ranged from hardest to easiest as:

      Insanity
      Hard
      Normal
      Casual
      Narrative

      The last being for people (like me, and it sounds like you) who are far more interested in the story the game is unfolding than the shooter/combat portions of the game.

      Bioware has done a pretty amazing job in Star Wars: The Old Republic of merging traditional MMORPG tropes (questing, loot, etc) with the kind of dialogue-driving roleplaying/story features which have made their single-player games so memorable.

      Glad to hear that you and Sue are gaming together! I should give Fable 2 a try. I tried out Fable: The Lost Chapters and really couldn’t get into it. But I hear that Fable 2 was a much better title.

      I’ve never gotten into console games, mostly because I just never owned the consoles, aside from the Atari 2600. Xbox and PS3 do both look interesting, though.

  2. Oh -- thank you. I just bought an ATI 6670 to try to repair my computer that stutters while decoding h264. “Solid, entry level” is more or less what I hoped it was. (And I assume that any modern, standalone card will decode h264 without a hiccup after shotgunning a beer. Er, that is, it won’t hiccup after shotgunning the beer -- it doesn’t need to beer to decode the h264. Then again, the last time my video card animated and asked for a beer, I was glad to give it one.

    • One of the things I find horribly frustrating these days is how hard it is to make a selection on video cards. There’s no good way to figure out which model within a given “family” of cards (the ATI 66xx series or the nVidia 5xx series, for instance) is better than another one.

      The 6670 isn’t a powerhouse, but it’s a solid performer, especially at its pricepoint.

      Hope it solves your h264 problems!

  3. Not at all surprised re the Dell PSU, at work we always have to hunt for video cards that don’t need the extra powerlead when upgrading Dell optiplex machines to dual monitor setups.

  4. I may or may not be playing way too much SWTOR these days.

    Which server do you play on?

    • Keller’s Void. and I ended up rolling Republic, a Jedi Knight and Consular. I also have a smuggler, sith warrior, and bounty hunter all around level 30-35.

      • Yeah, I have a serious case of altitis myself. I have a Lvl31 Jedi Consular (Sage), and then a Bounty Hunter (Powertech), Smuggler (Scoundrel), and Sith Inquisitor (Sorceror) all in the mid-teens.

        I’m on The Constant, though.

  5. Good point to keep in mind while I’m computer shopping for a new laptop some time in the near future. I’m leaning far away from a Dell again anyway but probably good to keep my eyes open on all of the specs of all of the brands. 🙂

  6. I’m not surprised at the 160W power supply. I made some comments about power supplies over at my work-related Dreamwidth journal not long ago. http://kknightcomputers.dreamwidth.org/936.html

    • Oh yeah. Thanks for sharing.

      Luckily, this *wasn’t* a slimline case, so I was able to get a standard 500W ATX PSU for about $45.

  7. I was hoping that we would have gotten better at efficiency by now. I would really rather be able to do more with less power. Do you remember the days before video cards required a fan? I hope the need for extra power and cooling stops going up and starts going down again.
    For the record, I have been loving running Windows on my 27″ iMac. It is a great-looking computer and I never hear its fan unless I do a lot of 3D graphics.

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