HTPC – Could this be it?

December 20th, 2008 by tungsai

Well, here we have a machine which I’ve spec’ed out at around $600. That does not include the Terabyte Hard Drive that will go into it; nor the Vista Ultimate which will also be installed. The purpose of this is to serve as the “living room PC” which will hook up to the large TV, which I have not even begun to shop for yet. Our total budget for this HTPC + HDTV is $1500, so if this PC costs me $600, then that leaves me $900 to spend on a TV. I think I should be able to get a pretty decent 42-48″ TV for that.

This computer’s purpose will be to record / download shows, Stream videos, and house all of our home movies, rips of favorite DVD’s, and all of our music. I plan on using just the Windows stuff that came with my PVR-150, the TV capture card.

Interesting features of this computer, above & beyond what might be a “regular” computer, are:

  • Very large fan on the side of the case. These extremely large fans are good because they can move large amounts of air very quietly.
  • One Terabyte hard drive, with probably more to be added later
  • 8gb of RAM, all of which Vista 64 Ultimate should be able to see & take advantage of
  • After-market CPU fans & case fans, all of which were the best combination of quietness & price
  • Video card which blows away my current card, even though it costs $80 and my last video card, bought 2 years ago, cost about $200. That’s the way it goes with vid cards.

 

ENERMAX Chakra ECA3052B Black SECC ATX Mid Tower Computer Case

ENERMAX Chakra ECA3052B Black SECC ATX Mid Tower Computer Case – Retail

Model #:ECA3052B

Item #:N82E16811124114

Return Policy:Standard Return Policy

In Stock

Mail-in Rebate

$69.99

ENERMAX UC-8EB 80mm Case Fan

ENERMAX UC-8EB 80mm Case Fan – Retail

Model #:UC-8EB

Item #:N82E16811999199

Return Policy:Standard Return Policy

In Stock

$6.49
-$1.00 Save
$10.98

G.SKILL 4GB (2 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR2 SDRAM DDR2 1066 (PC2 8500) Dual Channel Kit Desktop Memory Model F2-8500CL5D-4GBPK

G.SKILL 4GB (2 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR2 SDRAM DDR2 1066 (PC2 8500) Dual Channel Kit Desktop Memory Model F2-8500CL5D-4GBPK – Retail

Model #:F2-8500CL5D-4GBPK

Item #:N82E16820231166

Return Policy:Limited Non-Refundable 30-Day Return Policy

In Stock

$64.99
-$10.00 Instant
$109.98

GIGABYTE GA-MA790GP-DS4H AM2+/AM2 AMD 790GX HDMI ATX AMD Motherboard

GIGABYTE GA-MA790GP-DS4H AM2+/AM2 AMD 790GX HDMI ATX AMD Motherboard – Retail

Model #:GA-MA790GP-DS4H

Item #:N82E16813128352

Return Policy:Limited 30-Day Return Policy

In Stock

$139.99
-$10.00 Instant
$129.99

MSI R4670-2D512 Radeon HD 4670 512MB 128-bit GDDR3 PCI Express 2.0 x16 HDCP Ready CrossFire Supported Video Card

MSI R4670-2D512 Radeon HD 4670 512MB 128-bit GDDR3 PCI Express 2.0 x16 HDCP Ready CrossFire Supported Video Card – Retail

Model #:R4670-2D512

Item #:N82E16814127383

Return Policy:Standard Return Policy

In Stock

Mail-in Rebate

$79.99

Thermaltake TR2 W0070RUC 430W ATX12V     Power Supply

Thermaltake TR2 W0070RUC 430W ATX12V Power Supply – Retail

Model #:W0070RUC

Item #:N82E16817153023

Return Policy:Limited 30-Day Return Policy

In Stock

Mail-in Rebate

$40.99
-$5.00 Instant
$35.99

AMD Phenom 9850 BLACK EDITION 2.5GHz Socket AM2+ 125W Quad-Core Processor Model HD985ZXAGHBOX

AMD Phenom 9850 BLACK EDITION 2.5GHz Socket AM2+ 125W Quad-Core Processor Model HD985ZXAGHBOX – Retail

Model #:HD985ZXAGHBOX

Item #:N82E16819103249

Return Policy:Processors (CPUs) Return Policy

In Stock

$159.99

ZALMAN CNPS 9500 AM2 2 Ball CPU Cooling Fan/Heatsink

ZALMAN CNPS 9500 AM2 2 Ball CPU Cooling Fan/Heatsink – Retail

Model #:CNPS 9500 AM2

Item #:N82E16835118004

Return Policy:Standard Return Policy

In Stock

$59.99
-$9.00 Instant
$50.99

Subtotal:

$647.90 – $65 Rebates = …Eh, around $600. (Not including the TB Hard Drive and the Vista Ultimate).

GTA IV – Attempt Three

December 16th, 2008 by tungsai

See my earlier entries.

Tried playing the game with all settings set to THE LOWEST POSSIBLE.

So I went to their tech support web site. I noticed that they announced NEW ATI and NVidia drivers just a few days ago. So, I downloaded the new drivers for my ATI card. My card is at the bare end of acceptable for their Minimum System Requirements… Jesus. Sad, because even though this card is no longer even manufactured (I would hate to be in the video card business), it still costs around $150 new on some sites. It’s only a 256 meg card, and all the new ones are 512 with faster GPU’s. So, I update the drivers, and, voila! The game hangs WORSE THAN EVER. I continue to read their main tech support page: They also have a patch for the game already. So, I download and install that one. No go. Game still pauses wantonly. I continue to read the tech support page. It says I can put a .txt file with some command in the game directory; I do this and WOW! I CAN PLAY! I played for maybe a full hour. Then my character had to walk into a clothing store, and it jammed up again. I reset the computer (CTRL+ALT+DEL Does not work in this game), and tried again. I loaded the game, just got started on driving around, and Hongmei calls me to go perform random tasks. I come back, game’s locked up. I KNEW it would be locked: Any time I walk away & don’t do anything in the game for a minute or two, bam. it’s locked up. I gave up at that point. Enough torture for me. I read through their readme file, and there was a couple other of command line options I may try, such as some -nocache option and some other. but I doubt they’ll work and I will probably need to arrange a time when the planets are in line, and I can sit in front of the computer undisturbed during the day and call their tech support.

During the hour I was able to play the game, I must say that in spite of the “Stunningly detailed, high resolution graphics”, the game play was still really damn fun and what you’d expect from a new GTA game. The cars behave in a much “Heavier” way, hard to describe; it’s way easier to whip the rear ends around. It’s also much harder to SLOW DOWN!

In the new GTA, yes, there are Girlfriends that show up as little hearts on the map. I learned that in the 3rd mission.

Attempting to play GTA IV – Day 2

December 3rd, 2008 by tungsai

1. Boot up computer. It automatically runs the “Rockstar Social Club”. I try to launch the game. It crashes. I must HARD RESET.

2. Restart computer. Log into Rockstar Social Club so that I can log OUT of Rockstar Social Club, and play game in “Offline Mode”. IT ACTUALLY LAUNCHES. I get to play the game long enough to explore an alley by the docks and find a Malatov Cocktail, and see a cop busting a guy… then the game starts hanging. Pauses for 5 seconds, every 2 seconds. But, I AM ABLE TO ACTUALLY EXIT THE GAME NORMALLY FOR THE FIRST TIME.

3. Shut down computer, remove Hauppauge PVR-350 card which was under video card and kind of hot. Blow out dust from video card. Re-insert video card. Re-start computer. Launch the game using previous methods. CONTROLS ARE ALL RESET TO DEFAULT!!! I must re-configure ALL my keys! GOD I love being Left-handed!! After doing that as quickly as possible, get to run out of apartment, buy a hot dog, before the game starts hanging again. I manage to exit it again legitimately.

Bang head against wall. Play with baby. Go watch Miami vice.

Great Video – "Proposition 8"

December 3rd, 2008 by tungsai

Of course, it’s got Jack Black in it, so it automatically rocks.

See more Jack Black videos at Funny or Die

Grand Theft Auto IV Blues

December 3rd, 2008 by tungsai

You would not believe the hell of trying to install and play Grand Theft Auto IV.

Simply horrible.

Must have Microsft .net framework + SP1 installed.
Must have Microsoft "Windows for Games" installed. The game comes with it; but it’s already out of date and must be patched immediately during game install.
The actual game install took over 30 minutes of installing / copying files;
during which it installs the Sony DRM "SecuROM" hated spyware;
Must register with Microsoft "Windows LIVE", i.e. get a hotmail account + register with microsoft live services; IN ORDER TO SAVE YOUR GAME!
Must then create a "Microsoft Gamer ID" that ties in with the Windows Live ID;
They bug you CONSTANTLY about creating a "Rockstar Social Club ID", but last night during Day 1 of release CRASHED THE GAME,
Game locked up my entire computer while attempting to re-configure the key config so I could actually PLAY the game;
Twice;
When I finally unplugged my network cable and launched the game, going to "Offline Mode", it let me actually get to the screen where it said,
"You cannot save your game unless you log into your Windows Live account" so I plugged the network cable back in and registered;
ACTUALLY GOT TO WATCH THE OPENING CUT-SCENE!!! then actually DRIVE A CAR AROUND!!!
Then, reaching the save-point in Victor’s Cousin’s apartment, tried to watch the TV;
Computer locked up again due to audio error or my vid card just crapping out / overheating or something (I have an ATI 1950- NO SLOUCH!)

Gave up & went to bed.