The new computers are both officially up and running. Some random notes from two days of building, installing, and downloading…
– Technology does not necessarily make things get smaller. When I built our old systems in 2003, it was easy. Put the CPU in the socket, swing the lever down gently, clip the cute little heatsink and fan on top of it, slam in the memory, bolt it in the case, rock and roll tiemz. Graphics cards were small and had tiny little fans on them. Contrast that with our 2008 systems. The heatsink/fan combo I bought for these Core 2 Duo CPUs is almost the size of my closed fist–a machined hunk of aluminum and copper that’s got 4700 square inches of finned surface area and a 4″ 1800 rpm fan to blow air across the fins. The video card is 9″ long, completely covered in a plastic shroud, takes two slots (one for the card, one for the shroud) and is so big that it blocks one of the hard drive slots in the case. The internals are one hell of a lot more crowded then they used to be.
– I want to find the sadistic bastard at Intel who designed the mounting method for the socket LGA 775 heatsink that goes over the CPU, and I want to gouge his eyes out with a spork in front of his horrified family. If you’ve never seen one, I can’t do it justice with a mere physical description, but basically it’s four plastic push-clips that fit through holes in the motherboard. Mounting requires that diagonally-opposite legs be pushed through the holes, then black plastic plungers be pushed down to spread the legs apart and click them into place. It’s complicated (especially when the directions are in Engrish), and it requires a hell of a lot more force to seat the plungers than anybody is going to feel comfortable with around a $200 CPU and a $90 motherboard. I can’t even imagine doing it with the motherboard still in a case.
– Microsoft Vista thinks you’re an idiot by default. You can make it think you’re not an idiot, if you know how to Google “disable UAC”. If you don’t, Vista keeps asking you “Are you sure?” “Are you really sure?” “Are you REALLY REALLY sure?” “Are you REALLY REALLY DOUBLE EXTRA SPECIAL sure?” whenever you do horrible and controversial things like, say, create a folder anywhere else other than under “Documents.” It’s a ridiculous bloated pig of an OS, but, eh, I need Microsquish for gaming. If Windows is inevitable, lie back and make the best of it.
– 60 frames per second in World of Warcraft with all the graphic sliders maxed, on the Isle of Quel’danas, during peak hours, in widescreen 1680×1050 resolution, is sick. My raid is hitting Serpentshrine Cavern tonight, and I can’t wait to see the trash pulls along the bridges that used to bring my ex-machine to its knees at 7 frames per second. I may still suck as a tank, but at least I’ll have one less excuse.