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KhanhAgE Blog

The Mid-Range Battle!

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MSY has updated their catalog and now stock the new AMD Radeons HD6800 series. With the prices MSY are selling the cards for, it has really thrown a hammer into Nvidia's recent price cuts.

MSY are selling the 6850 at $219 and 6870 at $273. With these prices they seem to be targeting the Nvidia GTX460 768MB version with the AMD HD6850 and Nvidia GTX460 1GB with the AMD HD6870.

MSY doesn't sell the GTX460 768MB version, but PC Case Gear and U-Mart do. PC Case Gear has the Gainward GTX460 768MB (675MHz) for $179 and U-Mart has the ECS GTX460 768MB (assuming reference clocks) at a online price of $179. This makes the GTX460 768MB version $40 cheaper than the HD6850. But the HD6850 is generally faster. Is the HD6850 worth the extra $40 over the GTX460 768MB? Short answer, yes it is. There are some games where the GTX460 768MB can match or beat the HD6850 though. For example, if you're a fan of Civilization V the GTX460 768MB is faster than the HD6850. But if you prefer Battlefield: Bad Company 2 then the HD6850 is faster. Also a heavily overclocked HD6850 can beat a reference HD6870.

The GTX460 1GB and HD6870 battle is an interesting one. They're priced differently and that's simply because hands down I believe the HD6870 is a better card than a reference clocked GTX460 1GB (and I'm sure both Nvidia and AMD know this, especially Nvidia). But the thing is, it's so easy to get your hands on an overclocked GTX460 1GB, that why wouldn't you? U-Mart sells the ECS 460 1GB (reference clock) for $219 at online prices, making it cheaper than the HD6870 by $54. Now, I've never been a big fan of reference design boards (but, I also have nothing against them) and if you're like me then you might prefer a custom design board. U-Mart has the Gigabyte GTX460 1GB Super Overclock (810MHz) for $259 and the MSI GTX460 1GB HAWK (780MHz) for $265. Since both cards come pre-overclocked it means that they'll perform very closely to the AMD HD6870, but are cheaper ($14 and $8 respectively). And since these GTX460 1GB models are running on custom PCBs and parts, it means they can more readily hit the 900MHz mark and over when being overclocked (although that isn't a guarantee, as overclocking never is). A 900MHz clocked GTX460 1GB is faster than an AMD HD6870. Having said all this, it's also important to note that the HD6870 can also be overclocked well enough to see good performance gains. Hence, solidifying its price over the GTX460 1GB.

If the prices for the HD6870 ever fall into the $260 mark, and assuming GTX460 1GB prices stay static, then it'll become a little difficult to recommend the GTX460 1GB. But of course if you're a fan of 3D vision, PhysX and CUDA then I'm quite sure you've already decided on the Green Team. At the moment all cards are priced according to their performance. The GTX460 768MB is the cheapest of the bunch, since it's the weakest and the HD6870 is the most expensive because it's the strongest . All in all, as long as the buyer is well informed (by reading up on reviews) you really can't go wrong with either an Nvidia or AMD GPU.

With the mid-range battle as fierce as it is, I can't wait to see how hot the high-end market will become when the HD6970 and (rumored) GTX580 launch.

--- I'm from Melbourne, Victoria, so all prices listed are in Australian dollars and sourced from well known reputable retailers.

Update: I've provided review links for the Gigabyte GTX460 1GB Super Overclock and MSI GTX460 1GB HAWK. I think these are the latest reviews for each cards. Always try to avoid reading very old reviews since they can become quite irrelevant, which each new driver release. For example, because Nvidia has improved the performance of the GTX470 and GTX480 by quite a margin since the cards launch, all reviews that date back to April and May should be avoided.

Gigabyte GTX460 1GB Super Overclock - HEXUS.net 29th October 2010

MSI GTX460 1GB HAWK - Overclockersclub.com 28th October 2010

Update, update: MSY has decided to slash prices on its stock of Nvidia GTX460 1GB models to $222, making them only $3 more than the HD6850s they are selling. I know for sure (at least in Australia anyway) Gigabyte does not sell the GTX460 1GB at reference clocks. Their lowest GTX460 1GB model is clocked at 715MHz, up from the default 675MHz. At $222 the Gigabyte GTX460 1GB is a great value buy. Times sure are good if you are in the market for a new graphics card.

Beneath A Steel Sky

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For the past few days I've been playing Revolution Software's Beneath a Steel Sky and as of today, successfully completed the game. Woot! Beneath a Steel Sky (BaSS) has been one of those games I've always wanted to try and finish ever since completing Broken Sword: The Shadow of the Templars a few years back.

BaSS is a traditional point-and-click adventure game set in a dystopian future where an unknown event (I'm assuming catastrophic) has changed the face of the Earth. You're never told where the game actually takes place, but you get the feeling it might be Australia. In the introduction, with images drawn by Dave Gibbons (which is pretty cool), there is a scene depicting the protagonist hunting kangaroos in what could be described as the Australian Outback; called the Gap in the game. Also Union City's rival city is Hobart, which happens to be the state capital of Tasmania; an Australian state. That, and some of the characters speak with an Australian accent. But this could all be coincidental, so who knows (LoL). Anyway, the story is about Robert Foster, a man originally from Union City. He had been raised in the Gap (a wilderness area outside the city's boarder) since he was a young boy. He was the sole survivor of a helicopter that had crashed there. One day he is taken under custody by a special security group to Union City, who in the process vehemently destroy his home and it's inhabitants. While in the city, the chopper Foster is in malfunctions and crashes allowing him to flee his captors. Thus the story progresses with Foster trying to escape Union City, while discovering why he was taken there and who is really is.

The game starts out really strong. The tone of the story is set, as is with Foster's determination and goals. A feeling of tension is created, knowing you've become a fugitive in an unknown world for reasons, which are beyond your current lack of comprehension. There is a desire for vengeance upon the ones responsible for your abduction and the destruction of your home and it's people. As you can see I got a little excited to see how the story would play out (similar to when I first got fired up and ready to become Neverwinter's saviour, "I am so the man for the job Lord Nasher", LoL). Unfortunately, once you progress pass the top level and onto the middle and ground floors of the city, any sense of danger quickly dissipates. In fact, during the time you spend on the ground and middle floors, there is zero feeling that the authorities are even after you. The story nose dives a bit really. Foster seems to have no problem telling people he's an outsider from the Gap trying to leave the city. But then again, maybe he's fully aware that there's something totally lacking in the mental department with most of the law and security folks. Therefore negating any real sense of immediate danger he might of had with them. I dunno. Anyway, the story does pick up again and eventually gets better towards the conclusion. It does finish with a satisfactory ending. Overall it's not a bad story. Oh, even though the story falls a little flat in the middle, it doesn't necessarily mean the game suffers as a result. There were some nice comedic moments, such as the court case, and the puzzles in cyberspace were pretty good.

I wonder what I'll try and finish now as the next adventure title? Maybe Gabriel Knight: Sins of the Father? Urgh! But the game is such a pain to try and make it run on Windows XP. I tired getting The Nomad Soul to run last year, but couldn't so that's a no go. That's the problem with old games, most of them don't seem to work on current or new operating systems. I might have to build a legacy system with Windows 98, just so I can play some of my old games.

i7 920

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I've finally got a new computer system up and running. It feels so good. The old AMD Athlon Thunderbird 1.4GHz system (yes, I know it's ancient) died on me sometime towards September of last year and since then I've been using the HTPC for my computer needs. Now since Tuesday, I once again have my own personal system to use.

I'll give the spec. of my old and new system just to show the differences in hardware I had.

Old:

AMD Athlon Thunderbird 1.4GHz

Generic PC-133 SD-RAM 384MB

Epox Socket A motherboard running a VIA chipset of some sort (I can't remember)

Fujitsu 40GB HDD

Leadtek nVidia GeForce MX440

New:

Intel Core i7 920 2.67GHz $390.00AUD (~$304.19USD)

OZC Flex-EX PC3-12800 DDR3-1600 C7 6GB $173.41AUD (~$135.25USD)

Gigabyte GA-EX58-UD4P $322.00AUD (~$251.25USD)

Western Digital Caviar Green 500GB $78.00AUD (~$60.84USD)

Gigabyte GeForce 9600GT 512MB $60.00AUD (~$46.81USD)

So far the thing has been a joy to use. I don't plan on building a replacement in 3 to 5 years. So lets hope it'll last.

HORI Real Arcade Pro. 3 - SE

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If you've been in the loop with HORI.jp you'll know recenlty that they had the limited (I'm thinking very limited) HRAP3-SE up for pre-order, with the usual 1 per customer limit. So ever since AkihabaraShop.jp annouced that pre-orders were opening sometime last week, I basically had the site camped. And boy did the window for orders come and go in a flash. Luckerly I was able to snag one. Woot! But at the same time, Ouch! Since the total cost to have the stick shipped to Australia via EMS would set one back 20840 Yen! Talk about a blow to the hip pocket.

Y20,840 in Australian dollar, as of the 24th June '09, equated to $283.41 AUD! That's $219.77 USD! (Using a $0.77542 USD conversion). Man, I hate the Australian currency sometimes. Its value gets whipped so easily when ever the market hits a bump. But I wanted the stick, so I paid in the end. I should be receiving the thing sometime towards the end of next week.

http://www.akihabarashop.jp/

http://www.hori.jp/products/ps3/controller/realarc_pro3_se/

Will post pictures when I receive the stick :)

The Buy: Month of November 2008

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>World of Warcraft: Wrath of the Lich King Collector's Edition (PC) - It's pretty much a carbon-copy of The Burning Crusade's collector's edition. And it looks damn nice on my shelf with the other WoW collector's editions.

>Pokemon Pinball (GBC)

>Chibi Robo (GC)

>GameCube to GameBoy Link Cable

>Folklore (PS3)

>Warcraft III: The Frozen Throne (PC)

>Dementium: The Ward (NDS)

>Castlevania: Portrait of Ruin (NDS)

>Elite Beat Agent (NDS)

>Titan Quest: Immortal Throne (PC)

>Metal Gear Solid 4 Pre-order Artbook - This wasn't really as special as I'd hope for. All the images contained, I've seen elsewhere. But then again, this was simply a pre-order give away.

>Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles: Ring of Fates (NDS)

>Wario Land 4 (GBA), Shining Soul II (GBA), Super Ghosts 'n Ghouls (GBA), Street Fighter Alpha 3 (GBA), The Legend of Zelda: The Minish Cap (GBA), Shining Force: Resurrection of the Dark Dragon (GBA)

>Zone of the Enders: The Fist of Mars (GBA)

>The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind Collector's Edition (PC) - Oh boy! I'd wanted to own this for a awhile now and it's a pretty tough find. Especially ones that are 100% complete. So it was just my luck when I saw this on eBay for a darn good price. And it was unlucky that I had to pay quite a bit (actually a lot in my opinion) to have the thing posted to me in a sturdy box from the States, which in the end off-set the great "Buy Now" price.

>Diablo (PC)

>Pokemon Trading Card Game (GBC)

>Golden Sun (GBA), Dark Arena (GBA), Klonoa 2: Dream Champ Tournament (GBA), Sigma Star Saga (GBA)

>Guilty Gear X Advance Edition (GBA)

>Perfect Dark (GBC)

>Pokemon Channel (GC)

>S.T.A.L.K.E.R: Shadows of Chernobyl Collector's Edition (PC)

>Final Fantasy: Crystal Chronicles (GC), 2x GameCube to GameBoy Link Cable

>Septerra Core: Legacy of the Creator (PC), Freedom Force (PC)

>The Last Express (PC), Blade Runner (PC) - Ahhh! The Last Express. An adventure game that (for some unknown reason) I've always wanted. That and the U.S version of the original Broken Sword known as "Circle of Blood". I've seen copies on eBay from overseas before, but never bidded on them due to the high cost of shipping (since the game comes packaged in a large beautiful box). And as usual I was lucky enough to find a copy from Australia (I had always considered great finds as luck).

>Black and White 2 Collector's Edition (PC)

>Warhammer: Mark of Chaos Collector's Edition (PC)

>Dance Dance Revolution 3rd Mix (PS), Dance Dance Revolution 2nd Remix Append Club Version Vol. 1 (PS)

>Vampire Night (PS2)

Note:Why is this site so buggy? It never use to be like this. *sigh*

The Buy: Month of October 2008

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>Tales of Phantasia (GBA)

>Final Fantasy Tactics Advance (GBA), Sword of Mana (GBA)

>Gunstar Future: Heroes (GBA)

>Gameboy Advance Indigo Purple

>Crash Bandicoot XS (GBA), Crash Bandicoot 2: N-Trance (GBA)

>Nintendo Puzzle Collection (GC)

>Nintendo Gameboy Advance AC Adaptor

>Advance Wars 2: Black Hole Rising (GBA), Boktai: The Sun is in Your Hand (GBA)

>Pokemon Yellow: Special Pikachu Edition (GB), Mario Tennis (GBC)

>Pokemon Crystal (GBC), Pokemon LeafGreen (GBA)

>Billy Hatcher and the Giant Egg (GC)

>LotRO: Shadows of Angmar 60 Days Time Card x2, The Elder Scrolls IV: The Shivering Isles (PC), Pokemon Emerald (GBA)

>Gameboy Advance Game Link Cable

>Pokemon Mystery Dungeon: Red Rescue Team (GBA)

>PixelJunk Monsters: Encore (PSN)

>Castlevania: Dawn of Sorrow (NDS)

>Advance Wars: Dual Strike (NDS)

>Hotel Dusk: Room 215 (NDS)

>Pokemon Puzzle Challenge (GBC)

>Metroid Prime: Hunters (NDS)

>Dynasty Warrior Advance (GBA), Duel Masters: Sempai Legends (GBA), Kirby: Nightmare in Dream Land (GBA), The Legend of Zelda (GBA), Dragon Ball Z: Supersonic Warriors (GBA), Dragon Ball Z: The Legend of Goku (GBA), Mega Man Zero 4 (GBA), Kingdom Hearts: Chain of Memories (GBA), Mario and Luigi: Superstar Saga (GBA)

>Fallout 3 Collector's Edition (PC)

Note: Why is this site so buggy? It never use to be like this. *sigh*

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