2011/01/23

Even harder to run when your PC is FUBAR!

Back in late September of 2010, I was forced to stop running sims with Orbiter...(quoting from Conrad's Heart of Darkness, and not from that cheesy Apocalypse Now movie), "the horror!, the horror!"  What happened was the cooling fan on my video card stopped working, and shortly thereafter, the GPU did too.  At best, my 8 year old hardware got 85 FPS and at worst 5 FPS on Orbiter 2010.  Most of the time, I'd average 20-30 FPS with Orbiter 2006, which was adequate, except when grabbing video with FRAPS (see here: http://www.fraps.com) - and FPS would drop to a noticeable 8-12 FPS.

It was rather pointless to do anything with Orbiter after that, since the performance on the integrated video is even worse and not worth mentioning.

Even more depressing was the realization that since the h/w was so OLD, I'd have to replace EVERYTHING ELSE attached to the mobo - including the mobo.  Many $$$$$ flashed in front of my eyes - which is why I desperately tried a new cooling fan for the video card's GPU (cost $30).  Which didn't work - the GPU got too hot too long and now is destined for the scrapheap of history.

For reference, specs on the old PC:
ASUS A7N266-VM motherboard AGP4X 266 MHz bus
2400+ AMD Athlon XP Processor
64MB GeForce4 Titanium-4200 Video card
Windows XP Home Edition

So, the only way to get a reduced "fix" from Orbiter since then was:
1) checking in at Orbiter-Forum at least once a day
2) maintaining my Orbiter related website
3) writing on my Orbiter related blog

These were just stopgap methods - I guess there is a, "You know you're addicted to Orbiter" story in here somewhere.

Since then, while saving for the new system, I came across a PC Magazine article entitled, "Build It: A Cheap Gaming Desktop", which listed the following:

Motherboard: MSI 890GXM-G65
CPU: AMD Phenom II X6 1055T
Video card: AMD Radeon HD 6850
Memory: 4GB Crucial Ballistix RAM
Hard Drive: Western Digital Caviar Blue 1TB
Operating System: Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit

I sent the link to this article to a co-worker (and good friend, thanks Mer!), who advised that this was good bang for the buck, as well as highly upgradable for a "little" while.

Yesterday, I FINALLY ordered said parts, and now have to WAIT some more...well, at least one more week before I'm "back in business".  I feel like a little kid on Christmas morning.  In fact, I'm saving $900 in parts and s/w over what I paid Totally Awesome Computers (a once local computer retailer - now defunct) 8 years ago.

Better still, I can move on upgrading Niven (adding UCGO and UMMU support) and perhaps adding Lua scripting to all of my Apollo scenario packs.  Better yet, I can finish teaching myself C++ and add both UCGO and UMMU support to a new spacecraft add-on derived and evolved from my Space Taxi.
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