Games-to-get List for 2009 taking Shape

After I recieved the latest GameInformer with the God of War 3 cover. I read a couple of interesting articles in there and some of theri previews of games got me adding things to my Wanted Games for 09'. One in particular was Prototype and what has happened since the merging of Activision Blizzard. Overall, it looks like a hot game. I was also exited when I heard the news about Battlefield: Bad Company 2 since I never got to playing the first one because it was only on consoles and their concept of destructable enviroments atracted me... and also since this time around they claim to be developing for the PC. Far Cry 2 claimed it had destructable enviroments but anyone that has played it knows that is nearly not the case.


Along to those two I add Modern Warfare 2, which since it was anounce by the insider at Infinity War it had me grabbed and this is one of the "its definitely worth $50, getting it on launch day" game. To that criteria was added Mass Effect 2 with Bioware's release of their Tease Trailer for it got the questions going like a good teaser. Also, not really sure until I saw Giantbomb's 2009 release, undoubtively, Bioshock 2 will be a game I skip class for and wait in line in. With shuch a compeling story, a game too good to miss.

After these games come the "games I should of gotten last year but had no money to get" games. These would be AAA title like, now that Mass Effect gave me the RPG Experience I wanted, I want to feed my RPG craves with Fallout 3, and get the begives scared out of me with a good shooter like Dead Space

Also looking forward on the Mods side, Black Mesa for the HL2 engine. Claims to give an overhaul to the Source engine and a prequel to HL2, which is good for me since I couldn't play HL1 since the graphics would make me cry. Props to them for giing the Source Engine some majorly needed upgrades and hopefully Valve picks up on it. Come on, if they picked up on two college kids with the concept of Portal then they can see these guys.

So here is the list from most propietary to least (in sections)

Have-to-have's:
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My luck sucks: GPU Update 3

This would be step 3 of my GPU overhaul plan that has gone completely horrid after a failed attempt at Crossfire Technology. My impressions overall are that I can't really rule out my motherboard now even though it says Crossfire Enabled on it... and I'll tell you why:


So Now I have sold both my ASUS and my Powercolor HD4850's on eBay and I got $100 for both. This piled up with some money I had saved up got me just enough for my next attempt to finally get Crossfire to function; If two separate 4850's won't do the job, then my other option is the 4850X2. Having read a couple of reviews of the card and Tom's Hardware is claiming this was even better than a GTX 280, I couldn't back out. So I order the card on the Egg and waited patiently.

This has been epic... really epic, I got my card and I was really exited when I saw the box in front of my door. grabbed it and pulled it inside and couldn't get a knife fast enough to open the thing. I made sure I got my Packaging slip and paper work out first to file, and then came the beast (or so i believed), the humongus box of the 4850X2 by Sapphire. I set the 4850X2 box on the dinning room table and opened it to reveal the monster itself. First impression was wow... what a humongous card. No matter how many online pictures of the card you have seen online could of preped you for the sheer volume this card took up. However, this sheer volume lead to issues. 

I opened the side of my case and take out the temporary 8600GT I had in there and made a little comparison.


8600GT VS. 4850X2




























After the short comparison, I attempted to put the new card into my NZXT Nemesis case and I ran into the first problem. The card did not fit in my case. What pissed me of was not really the fact that it didn't fit but the fact that it didn't fit by like 1/8 of an inch. So now im stuck with a $250 card that doesn't fit in my case, what do I do? Well, my obvious choise is to cut part of the hard drive bay in order for th card to fit. When my dad comes home I inqure him so, he laughts and the agrees to help. Before he began though, I took the intestines of my best out of its skeleton and laid them on my floor. The card fit now in its new air case and now at least I was able to install drivers and benchmark. 


My PC...Skinned





























Unexpectedly, My real prblems began here. I was paticularly happy because around this date was when the Catalyst 9.1 Drivers released from ATI and they were pretty much added support for the 4850X2 since it wasn't a refference card. So tinking this was all going to fit together like a puzzle was a nice dream. The Drivers did install and all and Catalyst did come up. I was finally able to see both GPU's and Enable CrossfireX! Yay!!! Near twice the performance here I come! 

This wansn't the case however, it completely baffled me when I ran the Valve Stress test and I got 112fps. Yes, this is a fairly high number but I am shocked because with my Powercolor single 4850 I got 210fps. Realizing this I go back to Catalyst and disable Crossfire, I got back to the Stress test and yep. 211fps. To twist the knife even more, I did a 3Dmark06 test, and just to put it in comparison, my OC'ed system with a single 4850 got a 14142. this system with Crossfire enabled got 11218. Vastly less performance... how could this be? How is it that I get better performance when I disable Crossfire? I though I was suppose to be ther other way around, at it is but I guess there is something else, Something else I don't really care right now to find.

So all in all I RMA the card back to Newegg. It is on its way there right now and Im waiting for my refund. So im still attempting to finalize Mass Effect with my 8600GT, which by the way is not doing a bad job at all. 

So what exactly is going on here? well like i said in the bigining, its really hard for me not to rule out my Motherboard now...because it is highly unlikely that 2 cards have not worked consecutively in Crossfire. I have looked up and down my BIOS for any options to add PCIe lanes or enable Crossfire but I fail to find any, I have also scouted the internet for my issue and nothing.  Even if my motherboard is bad I can't really afford to replace it right now because of one thing that really doesn't impeed it from functioning, so I kind of have to make do with what i have.

So what is the next step to my dilema you ask? well 1/2 of that step is to sit down and ralize that Multi-GPU technology is not as solid as it is portrayed to be and it is in some cases (like mine) is hit or miss. The other 1/2 of this step is to find the best single GPU solution out there for the same price as the 4850X2, and I have. I have done countless hours of research and looked at at least 20 websites and reviews and have come to the conclusion that the best graphics card for my price range right now is the XFX GTX 260 Black Edtion. Overclocked at 666Mhz, a 15.6% overclock is in most test able to put it even above a GTX280!

Right now I am waiting for my refund and as soon as I get it I will order it from Newegg. 
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Update on Crossfire: Getting New Card

S I tried and Tried and kept tryingto get the Crossfire working on the 4850's I had. I even went back to some boards to look for more help but the answers were getting repetitive. I tried a few more things like the recently released Catalyst 9.1 Drivers and I hoped that would fix things since that was the general consent in the AMD boards but that was not the case. 

Ultimately I just have been so frustrated and have uterly had it with these cards, I just gave up. This is weird for me since i am not one to give up on things and I usually get things working if they have problems. Though I do take this as a learning experience like everything and now I know that if I want to do a multi-GPU solution then I want to make sure I purchase the exact same cards at nearly the same time with the exact same BIOS revisions. Although this, in theory shouldn't be the case.

Now I am shooting for the next best thing, I am currently selling my 4850's on eBay and am shooting to get me the next bestthing besides a 4850 Crossfire... a 4850X2. to wreck all of the benefits of Crossfire without all of the hassels of it all in one card. I considered a 4870 but the performance of a 4870 is inferior to a CF 4850 setup and a 4870X2 is too expensive. 

So yes, now i would be cardless and would not be able to finish Mass Effect if it wasn't for keeping my old Dell system that I kept a Geforece 8600 GT in. I am currently using that on my Gaming system. Unfortuantely to play Mass Effect I have to turn all features to the lowest settings except for the resolution. Sure all of the game's textures look like crap but at least I get the storyline. 

I'm expecting to get around $100 for each card, which is reasonable, and with the $60 I have saved up it would be enough for a 4850X2 1GB GDDR3 card. The Powercolor card sold fairly quickly, right now I am waiting for the ASUS card to sell and if it sells and the guy pays then I can order my card and realistically get it by sometime next week. 

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Not for me but good for others

The game thats been hitting me this whole month was Kilzone 2 and I say the topic because im not a PS3 owner so it doesn't really pertrain to me but I think its good that Sony is getting some good shooters out on the field. Im not the kind that likes to see industries fall under so anything Sony does to save their ass is ok.

I would say SFIV But i am not into fighting games at all so i dont card forr it much but it will be a hell of a game for SF fans all over.
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My issue with my 4850 CrossfireX Setup

Ok so last blog post I talked about how exited I was to finally being able to get my crossfire setup going on my system. I was so intensely filled with joy to think of when the UPS lady (yes i get a lady) would come to drop off the package and I would tear it open and there would lay in the box the kay to ultimately shatering my 3Dmark score. 

Yes, that was then. it is actually quite funny how one's felling can change in afew mintutes...

So I opened the box and there was the Powercolor 4850 box with the awesome looking dude (or gal,  i cant tell) with the terrific looking blade. right below that was the ZALMAN VF1000 cooler that i was going to install on the ASUS 4850 I already had to lower some of those outrageous temperatures. So I went to my desk and cleared everything out from it so I would have a clean working area. I put both boxes on top of the table just to admire them for a second, i did. and then I sat down and took of the Powercolor 4850 box and put it on the floor. I carefully took out the ZALMAN VF1000 cooler out of its box and layed out all the parts out on the table. Then I shut off my computer to take out the ASUS 4850, took it our and put it on the table. 

After I took out the card and layed it on the table I started to perform the cardfull operation of disasembeling it by removing the stock ATi cooler, and if any of you have read my Forum post you know how much I "love" this cooler. so I took it off and layed it on the side, then I got the little blue heatsinks of the VF1000 that are suppose to be layed on top of the GDDDR3 modules. took out the portectr of the adhesive side and layed all 8 of them around the precious R770 chip. after that I asembled the actual heasink and got it ready for  installation. The mergin of the two parts was precioous as the graceful copper heatsink stood atop the ASUS 4850. Though the ASUS card gained afew grams i know she would benefit from being at 60 degrees celcious when running my game rather than almost being at 85 degrees.

I put the newly reborn ASUS card aside next to its old cooler and I picked up from the floor the life-breather of my machine, the Powercolor 4850 card. I opened the box, but being too anxious I didn't even realize I was opening it from the bottom but no big deal. I took out the smaller box inside and opened it. I will say this box didnt come with as much flash as the ASUS card but then again it didn't need it, all they need to do is put the 4 digit number on the from and everyone will know, its a 4850. Anywho, I opened the box and the first thing there was the card wrapped up in ints anti-static bag. I took it out and layed it on my table to be admired, i admired it and then moved on to the rest of the box, nothing really, just a driver CD and some instructions on how to handle the card and install it, just layed those back in the box and put the box apart. 

Nex came th part I had been waiting for, I reached up into the lost confines of my desk to reach for something I had stored for some time now and I knew I was going to use it sometime, and now was that time, I pulled out the precious ATi Crossfire bridge, I even still had it in its little plastic protector. I took it out of the protector and put it on the table. So now I looked at my open case with no graphics cards in it, so I took the ASUS card and put it in the top PCIe 2.0 slot, conneted the 6-pin and then took the second card and put it in the bottome PCIe 2.0 Slot, onnected the 6-pin power and was good to go. I hooked up the VF1000 fan and then for the momment of truth, will it boot? pressed the poser button and out of nowhere the light  show that is my rig spprung to life as all of my LED fans came up, the Hard drive spun up and both my 4850's spooled up. Visual on the screen, "I'm almost there" I though, so I do the ususal waiting for Windows to come up and it finaly does, Vista detects and installs my second 4850, Vista requested a reboot so I do. Now is where I am shot down from cloud 9...

As I boot into Vista again, everything is normal, Vista loads up. All is fine and all and When ATi Catalyst comes up and I go to it and I double click it, imagining in my head that right below the "overdrive" option at the very bottom of the other options on the left hand colum of the application. However, when the app loads up, my mouse goes down automaticaly to look for the "CrossfireX" option to come to click on nothing but white space. The CrossfireX option was not there. I was kind of shocked, I look down to my rig to make sure I am not missing or overlooking anything, power cnnectors are on the cards, I have enough power, I have th Crossfire bridge on both cards, Device Manage sees both card running perfectly, what could be wrong? A closer look at ATi Catalyst would reveal that The app was only seeing  one card on the drop down  manu, the "hardware" option under "information" revealed the one card was the "primary adapter" while the second card was the "disabled adapter" however there is no way of enableing it. 

After this mishap I do what I always do, I hoped on my GiantBomb, Gamespot, Tom's Hardware and AMD Game! PC forums. Posted my problems on there and I also called my PC LAN-ing family. The most help I got was from the AMD Game! forums in the CrossfireX section. It seems that this problem is not new, people have been having it for some time now (early November) with the 8.12 drivers. With that I did everything that anyone tried and claimed it worked for them, I reverted back to so many drivers it was now even funny and I got nothing. I thought this was a Vista 64-bit issue but i couldn't since there were others with the OS running Crossfire. 

I did however run into a post that said somethin about the BIOS of the graphics cards. I looked into it more and they posted again that ASUS had released a BIOS update for their card, and people are reporting that this fixes the problem. So I rush to the ASUS website and enter my info for the my card and in not time there it was. "BIOS update for 4850: Fixes the no crossfire option on catalyst" I don't think I could of pressed the download button fast enough. when it was done I started the Flashing app. It claimed it was flashign the BIOS, however after an hour I was skeptical, I shut down that app and went back to some forums, peopl also claimed it could of been a bad BIOS chip. All-in-all I decided to RMA my card back to ASUS. I concluded that the problem was that there was something in the BIOS of ASUS cards that were made back in july 2008 that made it not play well with CrossfireX. So I figure, If I can ship this back to ASUS and they can send me one of the new card, I should be Ok, and I think its fair because granted to my conclusion, they don't even sell my type of card with the stock ATi cooler anymore, if its on Newegg, its open box. Even, in their RMA form they ask for one to include a brief description of the problem, I  wrote them a paper about the problem (well not as extensive as this but you know) and at the end I asked them if they could send me one of the newer model cards with the new cooled and the new BIOS chip. 

I sent my card yesterday through UPS, I'm broke since I spent all of my money on the Powercolor card and on the VF1000 cooler, thankfully my dad was cool enough to get me the 2nd day shipping, so they should get it tuesday. I dont know why ASUS has to take so long, like they're just exchanging my card right? and on their paper they say its going to be about 10 business days and to exclude weekends and holdidays. All-in-all it should be here around the end of this month or very early next month. Sucks because I will not have my new card in time for the LAN parties I got to at the end of the month but oh well, there is always next month.  

I will post another Blog when I get my new card and report if it fixed my problem. 
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Really Exited!!

I'm so anxious about this I guess I'll just write about it. I odered my second HD4850 graphics card from Newegg afew hours ago, they havent shipped it yet but I should have it sometime next week, shooting for wednesday or thrusday. I got a Powercolor 512Mb one simply because I was looking for the cheapest one there and when you select the "lowest price" option the first one that comes up the Powercolor one. Im really glad it comes with a $20 rebate but Powercolor has some issues with their rebates so im kind of iffi about them and rebates but anywho...

Anyone looking at this would say it is save to assume that I got this card for better performance in games, and yes it is safe to assume that but that is not the primary reason I got the card. Now, don't get me wrong I id get it for better performance... on games to come. Right now I'm getting insane performance in the games I play most such as CoD4 and CoD:WaW, but I dont just use my rig for gaming, because I like to take my rig as far as she can go, I do some overclocking and Benchmarking with her. I've seen people with a 4850 crossfire set up and similar othe specs to mine get pretty drastic jump in their score just by adding another card. I've seen people get around 18000 with a 4850 Crossfire set up. My current highest 3DMark06 score is 14142 with one card, so my coal is to break 20000. 

So yes I got the card for boosting my bench scores but there is one more not so obvious reason why I got it. The subliminal reason I got the card is to look good. See, I'm planning to go to Quakecon this year and I want to look good (or at least half way decent) beside the guy with the $8000 computer. I saw some G4 coverage last year on Quakecon and they said thats how far the prices from the computers ranged. I'm personally looking forward to seeing some Corei7 extreme systems or some Quadfire 4870X2 setups. 

Along with the card I got an aftermarket cooler for my first 4850. I got it because I have the stock ATi cooler on the card and it does an amazing job at keeping my card at 80 degress celcious... so I kinda want to change it. I choose to get the ZALMAN VF1000 for it because its relatively cheap and by the reviews on newegg, people are reporting drastic (we're talking about 25 degress) temperature drops with that cooler and I havent seen anything better so I got it. The Cooler with the Powercolor is not the ATi cooler and people have said it yield pretty good temps, nothing like 80C or anything, they said at max under load 65. (hell that was my idle!) 

So overall I'm really looking forward to this upgrade and I hope I achieve my goal ;D and if anyone is planning to head to Quakecon 09' I hope to see ya there! Its my first time going so im also exited for that. Probably spending most of my time in th BYOC room and look for some anouncements from I.D software...
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Afew games and some hot Graphics card battles!

When I first heard about Modern Warfare 2 i was really syched for it but then Activision came and shot everyone downs saying "speculate at your own risk"  so you never know but I am really looking forward to what ever Infinity ward does. Its hard to believe that I was not into Call of Duty games at all until Modern Warfare came out, I saw the awesome reviews and decided to get it and now I'm hardcore into the series (well, except maybe WaW)

After that there really isn't anything, well, we could go into mod world and say that I'm looking forward to the Black Mesa project coming out this year. I really hope that Valve picks up on these guys like they picked up on 2 college kids with the concept of Portal. 

Now this is just to throw it out there but I was reading my latest GameInformer and- well I will first mention that they have decieved me before by having the typo over Guitar Hero: World Tour and stating that it was coming to the PC, obviously this did not happen so i was bumbed about that. So now there is another thing that im speculative about and that is that GI listed Killzone 2 as coming to the 360 and PC, yeah, thats what I said. Ok the 360 one is highly ruled out since I'm very certain that Killzone 2 is a PS3 exclusive but the PC version seemed more likely. Giantbomb still reads PS3 only like everywhere else but it is nice to dream =]

All thatts about it for games but Since I am a PC gamer I am crazy about hardware. Im really close to getting a second 4850 to get a crossfire setup going. Well thats my personal goal but I'm also looking forwar to nvidia and ATi getting it on again and seeing who is goign to be graphics king in 2009. Nvidia is getting an early lead with their unrealease but already benchmarked GTX295 dual GPU card. So seeing these two Graphics behemoths battle it out for supremasy is always fun and rewardign to technolgy as they push technolgy further.

Sort of Tieing into grahpics cards but not really I'm really pumped about the realase of Windows 7. There is so mch hype behind it that I hope it lives up to its "better that Vista" slogans. However we already have beta Torrents already out for it but I want the real thing. When you sit to think about it, computing this year is really getting revolutionized. People are going to step into another era of speed and interfaces and in late 2008 we had the realease of the Core i7 processor, all of the suddent we have 8 cores on one processor now. Along with this we have the X58 Chipset to take away the NB from Intel based Motherboards and give a link to Crossfire and SLi. With a new chipset there came new RAM, DDR3 hit speeds never heard of before as now we have ram runnig at 2000 Mhz! All this setting up for the relase of Windows 7 to make a totaly new experience into all who use it. 

What does all this new hardware and software mean? more speeds and smoother games and more importantly better looking games as with Windows 7 there is DirectX11 and Open CL. Even though DX11 is not much of a revamp to DX10, it will surelly bring a new level of realism to games and applications. OpenCL is going to ease up people's wallest as they give people the choice of using the CPU to render graphics.

I think 2009 is going to be great year to be a PC gamer =]
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Core i7's a little more expensive than I thought...

By a post on the Tom's Hardware's news feed, I expected the chepest Corei7 processor (i believe the 920) to be around $300 ($299 maybe) but in the TigerDirect catalog i get in the mail yesterday, just flipping through, oh letscheck out what they have new this mon- HOLY SHIT!!! I literaly had to blink when i saw that they had the Intel LGA1366 X58 boards there and the Core i7s, when they're not even on their site. But i was a little disapointed when i saw that the Corei7 920 was $329 and the X58 board (expecting around $150) turned out to be a $300 board. That board didn't even have 6 slots like the GIGABYTE board did so i was kind of bumbed that my next-gen rig is coing to be quite a bit more expensive than i though.

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Already planning my Core i7 Build!!

It might be a little- ok, wey to early for me to plan my nahalem build build but hey, one can dream right? wigh the economy and my circustances im expecting to build this bad boy probably in like 2 years. so far this is what i've got:

  • Antec 1200 case
  • G Skill Triple channel DRR3 1600 kit
  • ABS 1100W Power Supply
  • BLu-ray drive
  • Lite-on DVD Burner
  • Velocyraptor 10K Hard drive
Price so far: around $875
Yeah im kind of shocked too since I've yet to add a $300 processor and (I'm estimating) a $150 X58 Motherboard and im thinking by then (the time i build it) DirectX11 would be out with Windows 7 so i'll perhaps get the DX11 card and keep my Crossfire 4850 set-up in this rig. That's probably a $250 card im thinking... so it rounds off at abour $1600. a considerably expenseive build but it'll be worth it. 

As far as branding goes im going to go with a gigabyte board because of their Ultra Dureble 3 tech and their EasyTune 6 utility (EasyTune5 it really good and the 6th version looks better in-Windows OC'ing utility, although I mainly use BIOS). With Graphics, it'll stick to ATi, they won me over with their 4000 series cards unless they a) majorly screw up with their next-gen card and b) nVIDIA make the better card next generation. I picked the 74GB VelociRaptor since this will be a pruely gaming rig and i'll have a laptop to do work and web stuff on. Plus, with the electric bill this'll run me when on, it's justified to stay off most of the non-gaming time.
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