It's a Very Geeky Christmas
By Jason "loonyboi" Bergman
Part Two: Hardware
We don’t kid around here at loonygames when it comes to hardware. We like power, and we likes our power big time. There were two things we really looked at this year…sheer power, and price. Price is a big factor, since the plummeting prices on hardware in the last few months have made it a very competitive market. Check out our picks:
MonsterSound MX300: Expecting a SoundBlaster Live! card here? You won’t find it. While we at loonygames love the SBLive! and all its wonderful features, for the money, you just can’t beat the MX300. Why? It’s quite simple, really. To get the most out of an SBLive! you'll need a full surround sound setup using four speakers and a subwoofer. That’s not the case here with the MX300. Using your normal crappy audio speakers, you’ll get full 360 degree positional audio. It has to be heard to be believed. And since games like Unreal and Trespasser are fully supporting it…well…you’ll want to grab yourself one of these. Remember: the SBLive! is the way to go if you’re getting a new system (as long as you’ve got those extra back speakers) but for an upgrade, you’ll definitely want one of these. Especially since you can pick it up for under $100 if you look around.
Manufacturer: Diamond Multimedia
Avg. Price: $100
Geek Factor: 3
Altec Lansing PowerCube Speakers: there are plenty of different versions out there for you to choose from, so pick the best model that suits your needs. No matter what set you choose, Altec Lansing makes the best two speakers plus subwoofer set on the market. Hands down. Especially interesting this year are the USB models, so if you’re just dying to put that USB port to use you’ll want to check this out. Be sure to use these babies with an Aureal powered sound card, however…you’ll be disappointed in the sound from the SBLive! (at least when using positional audio).
Manufacturer: Altec Lansing
Avg. Price: $80 - $160
Geek Factor: 3
Canopus Spectra 2500: No matter who you ask these days, everyone’s ranting about how great this card is. And for good reason…it’s a hell of a piece of hardware. It’s relatively cheap (retails for about $200), offers fantastic 2D performance, and some of the best 3D performance around. It’s still not as widely supported as 3DFX based cards, but its blazing fast RIVA TNT chip supports every Direct3D and OpenGL game out there…and these days Glide specific games are few and far between. If you’re looking for a 2D/3D solution, stop looking now. Just get this one.
Manufacturer: Canopus Corp.
Avg. Price: $200
Geek Factor: 3
Dual Voodoo 2 Cards: There are so many different ways to add a second 3DFX card to your system these days, that this warranted its own section. Here’s the deal: for the supreme geek, you can’t get better 3D acceleration than having dual Voodoo 2 cards in your system. No question. So if you’re serious about gaming (and I mean serious about gaming) you’ll want a second one (I say a second one, since well…chances are that any hardcore geek either has a Voodoo 2 card already, or doesn’t want one at all). Needless to say, this is one thing worth looking into.
Avg. Price: less than $150 for one, about $300 for both.
Geek Factor: 5
|Credits: Illustration © 1998 Dan Zalkus. It's a Very Geeky Christmas is © 1998 Jason Bergman. All other content is © 1998 loonyboi productions. Unauthorized reproduction is strictly prohibited, dangit.|