Tag Archives: gaming

Project Rogue: Conception and specification

Project Rogue in action in Crysis 2

Project Rogue in action in Crysis 2

Introduction

Project Rogue was conceived out of necessity in September 2012. Constituent components were researched in October 2012 and then subsequently ordered end of October 2012. A week later the project was complete in the sense that it functioned as a whole. It was alive and breathing. One month later, in December 2012, Project Rogue has now completed its extensive accessorisation phase and now I reveal it to you in all its glory.

How was Project Rogue conceived?

Early September 2012 I started working with some insanely powerful desktop workstation hardware – dual xeon 16 core 32 thread watercooled cpus, 8 water cooled gpus, 128GB ram, dual 1200W power supplies and immensely large cases. We were loading up these beasts with heavy computations that were utilising both multiple physical cpus and multiple gpus.

At that time my personal machine at home was a humble 11″ macbook air which although previously had been more than adequate for my needs it had now essentially been made suitably redundant and in a sense outdone. It was clear that I would need something a bit more ambitious to be able to do the kind of work at home that I was doing at work.

Something that would allow me to do uncompromising computations on the cpu and across multi-gpus but within the constraints of a personal budget (which I far exceeded in the end due to my own uncompromising nature). Something that within loose constraints would be uncompromising in its demands for high quality components and power and not settle for what was just good enough – something almost rogue in nature.

What is Project Rogue?

Sadly it’s nothing as grand as the preceding section makes it out to be where I got a little carried away but to me, actually, it is grand for reasons I’ll get into below. Project Rogue is a home computation and gaming rig with modern high quality components within the constraints of a home budget (sadly a characteristically generous one).

There are two things that make Project Rogue highly significant to me which is why it is being made into a series of posts on this blog. Firstly, it is a real world machine born out of a real world need created from scratch in the modern day and I’m sure that there are many that would benefit from an account of the entire process of creating such a rig. I certainly wish there was such a guide for me when I started.

Secondly, and more importantly, this was my first pc build ever which I admit without reservation and given that fact and the calibre of this machine I feel a sense of achievement and would like to catalogue this milestone of mine. I also think that the latter point makes, this account to come, even more valuable for those out there who haven’t done this before in making it that much more accessible and approachable to them.

I have to say, that whilst my assumption was (as always) that I was the only one who hadn’t done anything like this before, that could not have been further from the truth. I was really very surprised to learn that most ex-colleagues and some current colleagues over the years had either had no exposure to hardware to date or had simply become totally disconnected from it in mainstream commodity development.

I’ve been there and I know what it’s like. You’re developing on a virtual machine. You don’t need to know where it runs and you don’t need to care. The illusion of abstraction and portability reassures you that as long as you write your code to be fast it will automatically run faster when put on better hardware but in reality that is not necessarily true. Hardware is never proactively part of the development process and developers are generally unaware of what hardware they are running on in production.

Home computation and gaming rig component list

Here follows the component and accessory list for a home computation and gaming rig. Each component was picked with a particular motivation in mind and I’ll write about those motivations in a separate post. But generally I tried to go for the best, not unreasonably expensive, quality components that were released most recently.

For the experts out there if you are expecting a workstation or server specification build or a high end consumer build such as a multi cpu, xeon or sandybridge build you’ll be disappointed. This is, sadly, a bit simpler and a bit cheaper but at least up to date with ivybridge and the latest 7970 cards. It is a consumer grade build built with two gpu computations and gaming in mind. It is uncompromising in the gpus chosen however. If you’re expecting a full build watercooled solution you’ll also be sorely disappointed. I needed to start with air-cooling but no doubt next up is water.

In terms of cost – the total cost of the following component list comes to £4385 but a few parts having been bought have been replaced and the sales of the older parts are still pending and once they go through the total cost will reduce to £3533 which sounds a little less mindless.

# Component Price Model Vendor Notes
1 Case £143 Corsair Obsidian 650D Amazon, OC Windowed and matte black
2 Motherboard £231 Asus Maximus V Formula/ThunderFX Amazon, OC Multi-gpu PCI-E, dual band wifi
3 PSU £205 Corsair AX1200 Amazon, OC Fully modular and future proof
4 CPU £240 Intel IvyBridge i7-3770K Amazon, OC 4 cores, 8 threads
5 CPU Cooler £80 Corsair H100 Amazon, OC Sealed liquid cooler
6 Memory £200 Corsair 16GB Dominator Platinum Amazon, OC Pure aesthetic beauty
7 GPU 1 £395 Asus Matrix HD7970 Platinum Amazon, OC Top end triple slot AMD radeon card
8 GPU 2 £395 Asus Matrix HD7970 Platinum Amazon, OC Top end triple slot AMD radeon card
9 GPU 3 £380 MSI R7970 Lightning Boost Edition Amazon, OC Top end dual slot AMD radeon card
10 GPU 4 £380 MSI R7970 Lightning Boost Edition Amazon, OC Top end dual slot AMD radeon card
11 Monitor £489 Asus PB278Q Amazon, OC 27″ LED, fully adjustable
12 SSD 1 £171 Corsair Force GS 240GB Amazon, OC 90K IOPS, bright red
13 SSD 2 £171 Corsair Force GS 240GB Amazon, OC 90K IOPS, bright red
14 HDD 1 £66 WD Scorpio Blue 1TB (Spec) (PDF) Amazon, OC Fast 2.5″ 1TB HD
15 HDD 2 £66 WD Scorpio Blue 1TB (Spec) (PDF) Amazon, OC Fast 2.5″ 1TB HD
16 Bluray writer £80 Asus BW-12B1ST Amazon, OC Multi-purpose drive
17 4x SSD Rack £58 Icy Dock 4×2.5″ SSD/HD Rack Amazon, OC 4x drive hot swap rack
18 Fan controller £47 Lamptron FC5V2 Amazon, OC Multi-colour multi-output
19 120mm fans £18 Corsair SP120 Quiet Edition Amazon, OC Radiator fans with red fan rims!
20 120mm fans £10 Corsair AF120 Quiet Edition Amazon, OC Airflow fans with red rims!
21 200mm fan £15 Bitfenix Spectre Pro Amazon, OC Quiet black 200mm fan
22 Speakers £183 Corsair SP2500 Amazon, OC Top end 2.1 speakers
23 Keyboard 1 £11 MS Keyboard 600 Amazon, OC Cheap and nasty
24 Keyboard 2 £70 Logitech G510 Amazon, OC Soft touch with macros
25 Mouse 1 £45 Logitech Performance MX Amazon, OC Cordless
26 Mouse 2 £35 Logitech G500 Amazon, OC Corded
27 USB3 Stick £50 Corsair Survivor Stealth 64GB Amazon, OC Stunning and fast
28 USB3 adapter cable £7 Akasa USB3 adapter cable Amazon, OC Converts usb3 to mb header
29 Thermal paste £10 Artic Silver 5 Amazon, OC Thermal paste and cleaner
30 Cable ties 1 £3 Large velcro cable ties Amazon, OC Multi-coloured and chunky
31 Cable ties 2 £4 Large velcro cable ties Amazon, OC Black and chunky
32 Cable ties 3 £12 Small velcro cable ties Amazon, OC Thin ties bulk pack
33 Power meter £19 Efergy Socket 2.0 Amazon, OC Shows real time watts used
34 Sata cables 1 £5 Akasa 50cm sata3 Amazon, OC Fat sata cable
35 Sata cables 2 £17 4x Akasa super-slim 50cm sata3 Amazon, OC Super slim form factor
36 DVD-R £7 25x Verbatim DVD-R Amazon, OC System restore discs
37 CD/DVD pens £5 Fellowes CD/DVD Pens Amazon, OC No comment
38 External HDD £62 Samsung M3 1TB Amazon, OC Out of case backup

A sneak peek at Project Rogue

Sadly there was only room for two but the sight of four was nice while it lasted!

What’s next in the series?

Project Rogue will become a series starting with a step by step account of its own build in the form of a photo journal and then continuing to document its evolution in real time. I will also focus on important aspects of a computer build that would be relevant to anyone attempting any build. Post Project Rogue there will be another good few builds coming each offering a progression of some kind of previous builds and if I haven’t run out of cash by then and had to shut the site down I’ll document those too! Stay tuned!

Capcom release Street Fighter IV Volt for iPhone

Capcom have released a new game for iPhone called, Street Fighter IV Volt,, to follow in the footsteps of Street Fighter IV – the most recent instalment in my favourite game series of all time. I haven’t tried it yet but I can’t wait to.

All games in the Street Fighter series hold nostalgic value for me because as a wonder-eyed kid (which I still am) in Wolverhampton, after school, I used to sneak down to the local arcade to try and better my skills at these games and to watch the best of the best complete these games in one sitting. Of course this would usually get me into a lot of trouble with my Dad as I’d arrive home late and he’d be worried sick.

Now London Trocadero offers the equivalent and got Street Fighter IV in when it was released (albeit one machine only) though I no longer frequent such places. Maybe I’m too old now as are all my friends. But I still keep Capcom close to me on my iPhone wherever I go. Keep up the good work Capcom. Your veteran fans appreciate it.

Oh yes. If you have any interest in purchasing Street Fighter IV Volt on the iPhone do so today because it’s at the lowest special offer price which goes up every day until 6th July when it gets fixed. See here for details.

Crysis Warhead complete

I purchased Crysis Warhead from Steam (after cod5) and recently completed that too. It was absolutely awesome. Here’s a snapshot.
Crysis Warhead Screenshot
Crysis Warhead Screenshot
Crysis Warhead Screenshot
Crysis Warhead Screenshot
Crysis Warhead Screenshot
Crysis Warhead Screenshot
Crysis Warhead Screenshot
Crysis Warhead Screenshot
Crysis Warhead Screenshot
Crysis Warhead Screenshot

What next? Perhaps Far Cry 2 or GTA4? Deadspace and Fallout3 are also waiting but somehow I’m not as drawn to them. I also want to purchase the Nvidia GTX 285 as I fear I’ll be needing it for GTA4 and also for other games in general.

Long awaited PC game releases imminent

Many of the games my friends and I have been awaiting for some time have either just been released or will be released in the coming two months.

  • Spore – released 05/09/2008
  • Stalker Clear Sky – released 05/09/2008
  • Crysis Warhead – released 19/09/2008
  • FarCry 2 – due 24/10/2008
  • DeadSpace – due 24/10/2008
  • FallOut 3 – due 31/10/2008
  • Call of Duty: World At War – due 14/11/2008
  • Grand Theft Auto IV – due 21/11/2008

This is an exciting time for PC gaming but where is the time to actually play these games?  Something has to be sacrificed in the modern day schedule and I fear it will be the games. (Release dates from Amazon)

EA releases Crysis Warhead with DRM

When I first came across it Crysis became one of my favourite games of all time – atmospheric, immersive and striking realism and beauty; the CryEngine was formidable. Once I completed Crysis I began to miss it greatly but soon after I was overjoyed to hear that Crytek were working on yet another game based on the original called Crysis Warhead. About two weeks ago this was released in stores and also on Steam.

Today I was comparing the prices on Steam and Amazon when I came across something I found to be rather shocking. On Amazon I was expecting a rating close to 5 stars; instead it had 1.5 stars across 58 reviews. I couldn’t believe it. As I read on it turned out that the message was consistent across all 58 reviews: “great game but bad drm”. It turns out that EA have limited this game to five installations and this has annoyed everyone a great deal. Even on Steam this appears to be the case along with the usual Steam based DRM. Doesn’t this defeat one of the main objectives of Steam – that one can (re-)install games that are stored server side from scratch at the click of a button?

I’m on the side of the gamers. If they have paid for a game they should be able to install it as many times as they wish and with Windows it’s inevitable that you’ll have to reinstall periodically anyway. So in essence what this restriction is saying is that you have to extract your user experience from the game by the time that you have reinstalled it five times. What if you want to take your time and preserve your saved games across reinstalls? Isn’t the whole point of gaming to take a break, entertain oneself and to drop into a world that is inviting and gives you full autonomy?

Of course there is the converse view that although DRM is bad it gives you adequate opportunity to play the game if you are the buyer and that it is not bad enough to put you off buying and playing the game. There are certainly many reviews of this view too. In my case this is one game that will prove impossible to resist – DRM or not. However that doesn’t mean I’m happy with the restrictions.

The direction in which we’re heading with DRM is rather worrying but perhaps the motivation behind it is justified by the widespread piracy. Note that I said the motivation is justified and not the actual measures that we are seeing. Operating systems like Vista need reactivation on hardware changes and when reinstalling and this is now becoming the case with games. It has not achieved the desired effect anyway – the peer to peer networks have already been circulating a cracked version for some time now. EA’s choice is resulting in a rebellion from the game’s loyal fan base and it needs to think harder on how to achieve what it wants.