(late) Happy holidays, new year, lunar year and valentine’s day. And congrats to all ladies today. No, I’m not dead.

It’s a new year, and we’re still looking at some interesting news on the tech world. We had the MWC 2012 in Barcelona, with the new smartphones, new mobile technologies and more questions from Google about Ice Cream Sandwich. CES 2012 during January, showing the upcoming gadgets, fancy slim LED TVs and HUGE TVs.

In the computer world, we saw AMD launching the next generation of Radeon GPU cards, the 7000 family, Intel releasing the replacement for the X58 platform, the X79 chipset and socket LGA2011, featuring the newest 2nd generation Core i7 CPUs, Quad-channel memory slots, and ridiculous prices. NVIDIA releasing more “teasers” of their new Kepler chipset (supposed to be a 22nm die) running (in my honest opinion) one of the best tech demos ever: Samaritan, with a single card. Do note that the Samaritan tech demo is not a new thing, since it was “teased” during last year running on not one, but THREE GeForce GTX 580 in 3-Way SLI. Even though it’s a tech demo based on the Unreal Engine 3, it looks like that could be the next Unreal Engine.

Back to Intel, they have released more information about the 3rd generation of Core i processors, Ivy Bridge, from CPU names to frequecies and new technologies (yes, technology is a key word on this post).

One thing that comes to my mind is the fact that both Sandy Bridge and Ivy Bridge will be on the market at the same time, which could lead to confusion when it’s about choosing a new system. People could make a mistake getting a SB motherboard with an Ivy Bridge CPU.

At least for me, there has been some confusion between both chipsets. True, both of them use the same LGA1155 socket, but are they backward compatible?

Yes and we still don’t know.

Ivy Bridge motherboards are actually backward compatible with Sandy Bridge processors, so if you want to upgrade your “cheap” H61 or H67 motherboard with the new Z77 ones, you’re good to go. The opposite is still a “mistery”.

As far as I’m concerned, there are some “G3” motherboards out there that are, according to their manufacturer, Ivy Bridge compatible, which means those motherboards will get a special BIOS update to support the new CPUs.

I’m kinda specific with the “G3 stepping”, since those have the new PCI-Express 3.0 ports, supporting up to TWICE the bandwith from the previous generation. What about the regular boards? There are no news about them getting a BIOS update.

What about you? Planning to buy a new Intel system? Upgrading from a previous generation chipset? Moving from AMD? Or changing your old Sandy Bridge rig for a new Ivy Bridge rig?

As I noticed, most of the traffic on my blog is somewhat related to MapleStory (in fact, Spadow was the one that “inspired” me to create a blog… Though not just MS but a lot of stuff), especially the patch notes and the detailed mechanics, taking aside “geeky” PC stuff.
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If you’ve been checking my blog, you probably had a look to the Falcon Northwest Mach V NVIDIA special edition PC, aka the $10k rig, featured in the GeForce LAN Party 6 in San Francisco.

Well, there are more news from Falcon Northwest. With the upcoming release of the new Intel chipset, the X79, and the new socket, LGA2011 (which is, in fact, the succesor of the old X58/LGA1366 platform), they’ll be adding more “mod” options to the Mach V.
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This image was more than enough to drive me crazy today.

Yes. I got selected to participate in the Tribes: Ascend Early Testing Program.

This is like a closed beta / open beta test.

Closed beta? You need an invitation (read as: a serial key) in order to participate. Open beta? All progress (character level, unlocks and purchases) will remain. There’ll be NO WIPE AT ALL.

As a plus, Hi-Rez will be offering a very limited offer on VIP status, just buying Tribes Gold and/or Boosters (no matter how much they cost, one purchase equals automatic VIP status).

Since there’s no NDA, be sure to check up later during the week (prolly during weekend) for some screenshots and overview about the beta!

Seriously. This year has been critical for most of Pay2Play games out there, since they’re adapting to the F2P systems, like the eastern MMO market.

We’ve seen games like Champions Online, DCUO, LOTRO, D&D, Age of Conan and City of Heroes, to name a few, that moved from the monthly subscription model to the Free to Play + Freemium one.

Sure, they have different models, like D&D, where you need to buy “dungeon packs” if you’re not a subscriber user, and like LOTRO, where you purchase region packs to unlock all the quests inside those maps.

Now, we have to add Lineage 2 to the Free2Play list. One of the oldest NCSoft games, next to Guild Wars (since the original Lineage servers were closed last june), will jump the subscription wall and enjoy freedom in the near future.
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When we talk about custom PCs, we’re talking about what we want, not what those companies “forces” you to buy (yes, I’m looking at you DeLL/Alienware…). Sure, certain websites allows you to “customize” your branded PC by adding, removing or changing certain parts (RAM models. video cards, CPUs, CPU coolers, just to name a few).

Of course, changing parts may increase or decrease the total value of a PC (most of times, it goes up. Funny, isn’t it?), but you know you’re paying for “quality over brands” (Yeah, not quantity, but quality parts).

These brands, like CyberPower and MAINGEAR (heck, even NCIX and Alienware), allows you to build your own PC from scratch, or following a template of their “branded” PCs. What happens when you go nuts choosing the best of the very best? Some crazy stuff like $5k builds may roam around (I laughed when I saw the total price on a crazy quad 480 system I checked).

Others may offer special edition builds, featuring either “best bang for the buck” pieces, or the cutting edge technology, and even customization (paint color, LEDs, full watercooling systems, etc.).

During NVIDIA’s GeForce LAN Party 6 in San Francisco, alongside with Falcon Northwest (one of the best custom PC stores in the states), they decided to raffle the most expensive DESKTOP PC on the planet: The Mach V NVIDIA edition. There were around 50 raffle tickets on game: Single tickets at $200 per, 2 free tickets for the tournament’s grand champions, and a lucky draw.

Yes, just by saying NVIDIA edition, something pops immediately on our head: Green paint. Yes, true that. But apart from that, the inside of that monster is what makes it expensive as heck.

To name a few pieces:

  • Intel Core i7 990x Extreme Processor at stock speeds.
  • ASUS Republic of Gamers Rampage III Extreme motherboard.
  • 48 GB of DDR3 RAM (yes. FOURTY EIGHT Gigs of RAM. That’s 6 times 8GB).
  • Water cooling system for the CPU (Falcon NW branded).
  • Case Falcon NW ICON2. Only sold with Mach V systems. It makes use of “cooling zones”, optimizing the airflow and leaving all the case heat on the top of the case, at the GPU exhaust vents. No side window.
  • 2 Crucial M4 256GB SSDs in RAID0 config.
  • 2TB HDD for storage.
  • LG Blu-Ray burner.
  • Not just the case, but the keyboard and mouse as well are painted in NVIDIA green, with the ICON2 details (eagle logos, white stripes, etc).
  • What about the video cards? Yeah. If they used a $1k CPU in there, you may already know what’s on the video department: The ASUS MARS II.

    And not just one. TWO cards. In SLI mode, featuring a QUAD SLI system. Which PSU they used? No idea, but the MARS II box says you need at least a 1kW PSU to run that card.

    According to Elric from motherboards.org (who organized an interview with the lucky winner of the raffle), this PC, out of the box, is inside the Top 20 PCs in the world, that means, no OC at all. I wonder what would happen if you push it a lil bit further (both the CPU and the GPUs can be clocked waaaaaay higher than their “mid tier” counterparts)… Maybe Top 5? Top 3 perhaps? Could it be the fastest PC on earth?

    Here’s the interview:

    Congratulations to the lucky winner, and there you go my friends: A custom ~$10k desktop PC that will last for a looong time… Or until something inside explodes because of the awesome factor haha!

    And I know. I keep saying DESKTOP, because it is a desktop PC. Sure, they could have popped an EVGA SR-2 and change the CPU for 2 high end Xeon processors, but in my honest opinion, that’s a server, not a gaming rig (though people do use Xeon chips for gaming rigs…). To each, their own.

    Just noticed today on my news feed from SOE that DC Universe Online (DCUO) will be going Free2Play on October.

    That was fast. Just 8 months of Pay2Play system. Now they’re rolling to F2P. Just… Wow.
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