This entry will serve mainly as a reminder to self of the current and evolving state of hardware, particularly as it pertains to gaming on Windows Vista. For any other purpose, what I have now (AMD 3700+, 2GB RAM, 7800GT) is plenty horsepower.
Eye Candy, really. DX10 is exclusive to Vista. But that means new graphics card, and Alan Wake means new processor to support dual-core, which means new motherboard and RAM due to price-performance considerations. Upgrading my existing rig to an Opteron 170 just does not make sense.
Crysis DirectX 10 trailer
Alan Wake, a DX10 and thus Vista exclusive.
Dual-core CPU to be able to run the game and the physics of the game. Alan Wake will pretty much require dual-core. Quad-core is an option, but not needed.
DX10 capable graphics card.
Sound card that will still let my older games sound full and rich (3D / EAX), not reduce them to tinny two-bit stereo sound. That means mapping DirectSound3D, which no longer enjoys HAL support courtesy of MicroSoft, to something like OpenAL. Creative can do this using ALchemy. No other vendor has shown an interest in providing this kind of mapping service, yet.
2GB of RAM. More would be nice, but with 32-bit Vista in particular, no more than 3.12GB will be recognized. This has to do with memory mapping for the graphics card, mostly. I’ll see how Vista performs with 2GB in 64-bit mode. If it never hits that limit, I’m good – if it does, I’ll see by how much I’m “over”, and make decisions (3GB? 4GB and a board that can do memory remapping?) based on that.
Currently, Intel’s Core 2 Duo is the only game in town, price-performance wise.
However, AMD is about (November timeframe) to release its own K10 / Barcelona architecture, and Intel is expected to counter first with Penryn and then with Nehalem. While Crysis has a September release date, it may well be worth it to hold off and play it in DX9 mode, to see what these two bring to the table. Hardware always evolves, that is for sure – but right now we seem to be at a point where it’ll evolve a little more rapidly over the coming year in the CPU arena, and if nothing else, that will do good things for price-performance ratios.
Currently, Nvidia’s 8800GTS 640MB (non-SLI) would be the one to get. DAAMIT didn’t get their R600 launch right, and Nvidia has the lead with regards to experience and stability, simply because they’ve been on the market longer.
However, getting 1st gen DX10 may not be such a smart idea. A few factors will play into this:
- Performance results once the first DX10 games are actually out. First results suggest that high resolutions with 4xAA – my wide-screen TFT, in other words – are only playable on the really expensive gear, 8800GTX and up.
- Will MS release DX10.1 with Vista SP1? If so, it may be prudent to take that minor version step – which means new hardware – when upgrading anyway
NVidia will release high-end new gear (G92? G100, even?) by December, and mid-range by March/April 2008. Waiting for DX10.1 – or good DX10 performance at a more sensible price – would thus push things out beyond Yuletide.
Easy. Creative X-Fi (true X-Fi – X-Fi Audio is actually not an X-Fi card) if you want good sound in Vista now, or wait until ALchemy supports the Audigy 2 ZS I have, and buy the ALchemy upgrade.