Upgrading Part 2

A lot changed during the two years since I last upgraded my PC. I expected the chip sockets to be different, but poor AGP interfaces are no more? I was so happy to finally get an AGP 8x video card, only to see it become a dinosaur so soon? So here are some new terms I learned during my current upgrading process:

SLI This one seems like some sort of video card developers wet dream. Get this. You buy a motherboard that is capable of running two fan screaming and heat producing video cards that are supposed to be equivalent to the current best single video card. This is an all NVidia, all the time model, although ATI recently announced their own double-card solution. In fairness, the idea is that if you own a 6600 NVidia card, instead of spending $600 for a 7800 card, you purchase another 6600 at $170 (or so) and get the same performance. In theory. Im an ATI-man, so I was not interested in any SLI solution.

SATA This is a new interface for hard drives and I guess other devices that is supposed to transfer data faster than the old-fashioned EIDE interface. Oh wait a minute, no it really doesnt transfer faster right now with current technology. And there is SATA 150 and SATA II already, so make sure your drives match the motherboard youre getting.

PCI Express AGP is dead, long live the new King! There are a couple of PCI Express variants (for what devices I do NOT know), but the one that is replacing the AGP standard is PCI Express 16x. I guess this is supposed to be faster (maybe?) but with current technology there doesnt seem to be a whole lot of difference between the interfaces.

How you progress down an upgrade path will be determined by which of the above is on the new motherboard. Since I currently own a nice ATI 9800 Pro that runs everything thrown at it, it was a painful decision to keep that in the old box and buy a new ATI X800 XL video card. No sense in upgrading if you cant get the new tech, and PCI Express is where its at these days.

Hard drive choice is a bit more complicated because you can run SATA and EIDE drives on the same motherboard. But I wanted one of the new Maxtor 300 GB 16MB buffer SATA II drives, so thats what Ill get. I will probably move my old Maxtor 200GB EIDE drive over for storage and keep the even older 160 GB Western Digital Drive in the old box.

In part three I discuss my free game maximization strategy


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