Moving to Warp Speed

Hello friends! It’s been a while since I posted here and honestly, I have not had much to talk about in the IT world or the gaming world. My job has now transitioned to me being in charge of the Security Incident and Event Manager (SIEM) for our company and not any IAM stuff at all. I am still teaching my Liberty classes albeit with some dips from time to time due to class availability. However, I finally have something interesting to post about… I got a new gaming laptop!

As many of you might remember from a post way back in 2011, I purchased a brand new Alienware R13 gaming laptop and kept it as my primary laptop for many years. Then, in 2015, I added new hardware to the laptop instead of spending the $2k it would cost to buy a new laptop. This helped me get by for a few more years and I just settled for sub-par graphics and performance to still enjoy games.

Fast forward to March 2019, my laptop is now 8 years old with some minor hardware upgrades made 4 years previous. I generally keep my laptop near my living room chair so that I can easily grab it and start gaming when needed. This is usually behind a table in the living room. That is where it stayed. However, my children decided to bring popcicles into the living room. One of my kids did this and forgot their snack on the edge of the aforementioned living room table. The end result is that the frozen popsicle eventually melted and drained… right into the USB port on the side of my laptop.

For a week or so, the device kept working normally with only a few minor hiccups. However, I started noticing that none of the USB ports on the side that received the drip seemed to work properly. Even the USB receiver for my trackball was starting to randomly not work or forget that it exists. I knew that the drainage did more damage than I had initially planned. So, after much negotiating, my dear wife decided that I could officially purchase a new laptop.

I did weeks of research, asking countless friends for their suggestions. I also watched many YouTube reviews, read hardware articles, etc. Ultimately, I decided on the ASUS Republic of Gamers (ROG) Strix Scar II. I have loved Asus for years and put their motherboards in many of my home built PC’s. I even purchased their router (not the best one I admit) and their monitors (surprisingly hearty). I didn’t buy the absolute highest end device, but I got one that is pretty darn beefy.

ProcessorIntel Core i7-8750 Hexa Core CPU
GraphicsNVIDIA GeForce RTX 2060 6GB DDR6
RAM16GB DDR4 2666mhz
Display17.3″ 1920 x 1080, 144Mhz

Wow! This thing is really moving my gaming into warp speed. The performance increase in graphics is so ridiculous that I can’t even remember what it was like before this. Granted, some of my favorites such as Star Wars: The Old Republic, have not had much of a change in the graphics since 2011, but the world does look more vibrant. The change in performance on Skyrim was pretty noticeable as well, the world is 100 times more realistic and enveloping than I imagined.

The place I have probably seen some of the most improvement is in my go-to brain relaxer – The Sims 4. While it’s true that although I have some minor mods to change appearance, the Sims still do not look like true humans, they look more realistic than before. For example, one of the characters added with the “City Living” expansion is a character named Miyo Oko. She’s obviously designed to follow Yoko Ono as the basis, but then they added some very Anime-esque elements to her including hot pink hair and a silly kawaii shirt. When I was looking at her close up last night (using the cool new “First Person view”), I saw…layers in her hair… it was crazy. You can see individual layers of her hair and it doesn’t just appear on her head as a glob of pink. Plus, the “Get Famous” expansion causes certain Sims who have become stars to have a “Fame Shine” based on the level of fame they have. When one of the sims reaches “Global Superstar” they have enough stars glowing in the air around them to make the vampires from Twilight nervous. With this hardware, the shine seems to wash over the character and reflect off their bodies. I cannot explain how ridiculous that is on a video game.

I also found that the graphics on some of my other standby games has increased as well. For instance, I fired up World of Warcraft to do some mindless fighting for a bit. Blizzard made a texture enhancement about a year ago to all the base characters in the game. My old laptop was not really able to show much difference there, but the new one, it is quite pronounced. As the characters move, their clothes flow and bounce much like you would expect in real world conditions. The textures of their bodies, faces, hands, feet, etc. seem much softer and more detailed. But more than that… the world itself is 10x more immersive on this new gear. The sky, the grass, the leaves, the water, etc. it’s all so realistic that it is crazy.

I have one more big thing to try. I was offered the ability to pick a new game from a list of complimentary games as a bonus for purchasing my laptop. I ultimately decided on “Anthem” which was released only a few short months ago. I have not yet fired this game up to see what it looks like on the hardware, but I plan to do so very soon.

So far, I am very pleased with this new gear. I just wish I could remember to install the second SSD soon… running out of space very quickly.

Until next time, goodbye!

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