199 Posts

I've already answered the "why" of this, so if you want to know, check out the comment section of my post here: https://cheerfulghost.com/GregoPeck/posts/4095/alienware-aurora-r4-5-years-later#comment19696

For the first time in over 5 years, maybe even a decade, I'm building myself a new PC. Probably for the first time ever, I'm building an Intel CPU based PC (I used to build AMD ones). I bought my last PC, which was definitely an expensive beast, but I had the money for it. At the time, I also really wanted some top of the line hardware. That was a good Alienware computer for the last 4-5 years, but the time has come to move on.

Last month, I found a new-to-me YouTube channel, JayZTwoCents, which I strongly suggest you check out here: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCkWQ0gDrqOCarmUKmppD7GQ

Because of Jay, I learned a lot and got a little familiar with some websites and brands. For starters, he helped me find www.pcpartpicker.com. You can visit the site to see "my new build" here: https://pcpartpicker.com/user/GregoPeck/saved/RpGhgs

That site gives you the categories of parts you'll need to build a complete PC and in those categories you can search for individual parts. There are a lot of options to search with, making it easier to find exactly what you're looking for. Once you've found a part, the website will tell you where you can go to get it (NewEgg.com and Amazon.com are two of the main places you'll see, but there are others). As I did above, you can also share your builds with others. Also, the site gives you an estimated wattage of your build, so you'll know how much you'll need from a power supply. There's also a section of your own inventory where you can add parts that you already have. The site will also help you search for compatible parts and warn you if you've selected some things with compatibility issues.

This build costs under $700 according to the website. Part of why it's not extremely expensive (other than the budget I gave myself) is because I have parts I plan on reusing, like the CPU cooler I bought last month. I also have a great keyboard and mouse to use along with storage devices (one new SSD and one old HDD). I also bought a GTX 1660 Ti last month. I could probably have saved some money by reusing the Alienware's PSU, but I figured I'd go ahead and get a new one. I could have also chosen to leave out the monitor, but the one I've chosen is a surprisingly excellent value for new-to-me monitor/panel technology. I found this build to be cheaper on Amazon than NewEgg, so that's where I've ordered all of my parts. However, the full ATX motherboard wasn't available soon enough for me, so I've chose the microATX version.

The main search criteria I used was for parts with 5 star/highest ratings. I also searched for the particulars that I was looking for, and then I sorted by price. I kind of had my own idea of what limits I had for the budget. I really didn't feel like spending more than $300 for any part, particularly the CPU and monitor.

I've decided to go with a non-overclocking set up, because I'm not interested in overclocking. I realize overclocking has come a long way over the years, but there are a few things about it I don't like. One has to play the "silicon lottery" and hope that they get a chip they can OC well. OC'd chips draw more power and run at hotter temps and I'm just not sure that it's really worth it. I have an i7-4820k in the Alienware and feel like I couldn't settle for less than another i7. So, I've chosen the i7-8700. I'm not sure if I would notice a change in going from a 4th gen i7 to an 8th or 9th gen i5 or comparable AMD CPU. I'm not even sure if I'll notice a change in going from the 4820k to the 8700. As such, I've also picked out a compatible motherboard. I would really like to get a 9th gen i7 or even an i9, but I'm working with a limited budget. Those parts are a bit more expensive and probably excessive for my use-case.

I've been running with 16GB of RAM for the last 5 years or so and I don't see a need to change it. I'm not sure if I'd notice more or less RAM and I'm not sure if I'll notice the faster DDR4 (as opposed to the DDR3 in the Alienware) RAM I'm getting for this build. Since the Alienware has spoiled me in this area, I don't want less than 16GB of RAM.

JayZTwoCents made me aware of the Fractal Design brand and I have chosen one of their blue cases. I like what I see (pictures and descriptions). It comes with two front fans, which is definitely nice. The motherboard I've ordered has 4 headers for fans and I know my CPU cooler is going into one of them. But, it looks like I'll be able to add more fans, which I wasn't able to do with the Alienware. I'm hoping for positive airflow and max air cooling, since my GPU is air-cooled.

I've ordered an EVGA 600W 80+ Bronze ATX PSU. It might actually be over kill for my system, but I'm sure it will be ok. I am familiar with EVGA and like their products. I was looking at other PSUs, particularly from Corsair, which is another brand I use and enjoy, but I just picked one and went with it. The reviews for all PSUs I looked at on Amazon had plenty of negativity, so it was difficult to choose.

Again, I learned about some new-to-me monitor/panel technology from JayZTwoCents. Apparently, I will notice the difference with the monitor I've ordered for this build. It has 144hz refresh rate, it has FreeSync, but is apparently G-Sync compatible (I'll have to test that), and it has a 1ms response time. It's only 1080p, but I'm ok with that. I'm definitely not interested in the more expensive and hardware taxing of 4K (and we're soon moving onto 8K supposedly).

I'm glad I still have the Artic MX-4 thermal paste I bought last month, because I'm going to need it for this new build. The CPU cooler came with thermal paste already applied, but I'm sure I'm going to need to reapply thermal paste for use on the new CPU.

I might update this post with an edit or something in the comments section as the parts arrive and I get it built and running. Feel free to share your builds or PC building experience or PC specs in the comments below.

If you haven't heard of Honest Game Trailers before, you're in for a treat! I found this online recently and watched most of them. They seriously made me LOL! So, they are funny, but in a way they also kind of make our favorite games look dumb, kind of like how Pokemon games repeat the same formula, but we keep buying them. Still, these are pretty funny, so I thought I'd share them with you. I'm including a playlist link, but you'll find Honest Trailers for many of the games we love like Minecraft, Final Fantasy VII, Final Fantasy X, Animal Crossing, Mega Man, Star Fox, Metroid, Castlevania, Pokemon, and many more! Check out the playlist and prepare to laugh: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLHkNwtRZFo2g74tWgElcOO2T3WWbN7Aga

GregoPeck gives this a solid "Rad" on the Ghost Scale
This is fun, with very few issues, and is well worth your time.
GregoPeck gives this a "Rad" on the Ghost Scale
This is fun, with very few issues, and is well worth your time.
This winter, I played Conan Exiles. However, I neglected to write a post about it, so here it is (assuming I can remember it well enough).

I first noticed Conan Exiles on YouTube. There were a few channels that I follow that had game play of it. I began to watch the first video in a series, but didn’t finish the video. Something about it just didn’t look appealing. It was pretty much the UI. So initially, the game didn’t look like something I’d be interested in, so I ignored it for a while.

I did notice some of my friends on Steam were playing it. I eventually decided to watch the series posted by Sl1pg8r that I had started. I ended up watching the whole series and yet I still was unsure about whether or not I really wanted to get the game. I think part of that (or maybe most of that) was because I didn’t feel like paying full price ($60) for a game. So, I put it on my wish lists and waited. Eventually, I found it for about half price (on Humble Bundle, I think), so I decided to get it. I don’t regret doing that and am glad I saved some money.

Just from the sound of it, Conan Exiles actually sounds like a game I would be into. It contains crafting, building (a base), fighting, survival, boss fights, tiered gear (weapons, armor, and tools) taming (or slavery in this game), and boss fights. It sounds similar to the Minecraft, Terraria, and Ark: Survival Evolved formula that I’ve come to love and desperately want more of. In hindsight, I think it actually fits well alongside those games.

The game can be played in single player mode or online with friends on a server. I played single player mode, as is my norm. The single player game is a little more difficult, but not impossible. There are levels of difficulty you can choose. If you select the easiest one, you will not drop all items when you die. However, if you select a more difficult one you will, although you can actually edit a config file and toggle the drop all items upon death penalty.

There are a few different races you can pick. There are also a variety of religions, I think they each have their own bonuses or characteristics. You’ll spawn in the desert at the beginning, naked (if you selected that option) or mostly naked with nothing. Conan comes to take you off the cross/stake you’re hanging on and then leaves. From here you want to gather some resources like stones, sticks of wood, and twine (or fiber). You will use these to craft your first equipment (outfit/armor, weapons, and especially tools). You’ll find your way out of the desert easily enough and reach an area that some players call “Sanctuary.” There’s a river here, but there are also monsters, people, and animals (like crocodiles).

From there, you’ll want to find a good spot to call home. You’ll want to craft your first straw bed (or mattress) to set a (temporary, I think) respawn point, otherwise you’ll respawn in the desert where you started. Then, you’ll want to use the tools you’ve made to mine and harvest more materials so that you can get started on your first base. Once that’s done, you’ll have shelter and be safe during sand storms.

As I mentioned there are some “monsters” around. There are some that look kind of like humans or zombies, they’re not incredibly dangerous, but if one spots you, it will attack you. You may also run into some people, but these people are not your friend. There are a variety of people all over the map that, again, are not friendly. This, however, is where the taming (slavery) aspect comes in to play. You can actually knock them out and drag them to a Wheel of Pain, which will break their will and bend them towards yours. Once they’re “tamed” (enslaved) they become thralls and each has a specialty. For instance, some are Armorers, which can be added into a slot in your armor workstation and boost production or quality of armor. There are others and they come in different levels. Level 4 thralls are the highest and they are named. These are the ones you really want, but they are the most difficult to get and find.

Depending on some game options, or level of difficulty, you’ll eventually have to fend off hordes of thralls or creatures attacking your base. I played on the easiest level of difficulty and had this feature turned off, so I can’t speak much of it from personal experience. This event is apparently one of the most common ways to find those named level 4 thralls. You can also spawn them in if you use the command console.

Your armor, weapons, tools, and workstations can be upgraded over time. Well, “upgraded” is the wrong term to use, more like “replaced with something made of better material.” It’s kind of like in Minecraft, Terraria, and Ark where you start out with wood and make your way to iron (although that’s not specifically what happens in Conan Exiles, it’s just a game play example). As you progress, you’ll find different materials and be able to use them to craft better things.

There is also experience and levels. You also have traits you can unlock (similar to Ark’s engram system). However, you won’t have enough points to unlock everything, so it’s helpful to have others around who’ve learned different abilities. However, you can make a potion to reset these attributes.

There are a variety of points on the map you can discover. There is an achievement for discovering all of these, which I have completed, although this task is kind of difficult even with a map because there are (or were at the time) some bugs. However, there is at least one mod that remedies this and a command you can use to teleport to any of these areas. You can find different materials in different areas along with different creatures. Some places you may revisit, while others you may never visit or go back to. You’ll discover many of these just within your regular game play. There are a few different zones that are basically different biomes, such as the jungle, frozen area, volcano, and deep desert. These also contain different things like resources and creatures.

Since I mentioned a bug, it’s a good time to bring that topic into this discussion. There are (or were when I played) some bugs in the game (and I don’t mean the large ones that you can kill lol). There are, however, some ways around these bugs. Development of the game seems to be on-going (at least the last time I checked) and you can report bugs or find them via Google, usually on the forums. As I said, there’s also at least one mod that remedies a bug, but you might run into more and you can of course report them. I had an achievement I was trying to get where it says to “cripple an enemy.” I read that one way of giving this debuff was by shooting them in the legs, so I did and the enemies I shot were crippled. However, this is not the way the game wants you to accomplish this. It requires you use a power attack (instead of regular attack) with a certain weapon (sword, I think). Power attacks use more stamina, but they can add debuffs to your enemies.

As I mentioned development, there are actually two versions of the game that you can (or do) get. One of them is called a “testlive client” in which the developers will add features or fix bugs and those that wish to test that fresh build of the game can do so. Otherwise, you’d have to wait until something is done with their testing phase for it to make it into the base game. This might be something some people are interested in as new features (and possibly bugs) come as soon as the developers have created something. They can report on bugs or give feedback to the developers, who will eventually publish these new things to the base game. Different games have something similar to this, but usually you have to subscribe to the beta.

A quick note, I did like the music in the game. Now, there are bosses and they can be difficult to tackle alone, but they’re not impossible. They can give you new things. One boss grants you the ability to learn how to craft the armor it was wearing, for example. There are also kind of mini bosses in the world that are more difficult than their regular counterparts. There’s a white tiger, an elephant, a rhino, a giant spider, a giant snake and more. If you defeat these, they will drop a key. You then use this key to open up certain treasure chests in the world, which will give you a random Legendary level weapon (I’m not sure if they give tools an armor, I don’t think so). If you want to collect them all, you can wait for the creature to respawn, defeat it again, get another key, and open the chest again (after it kind of respawns). It is slightly annoying that what you get is random. I liked using one-handed swords, so I was looking for the Legendary one. I think I eventually got it (and the shield), but before that I got duplicates of everything else. This is a challenge to complete, but it’s quite satisfying when you figure out the right strategy to defeat the mini boss. One actually spawned in with a duplicate of itself (a bug). However, I was able to beat them both by circling around the area and attacking them while they were slightly above me. For the white tiger, I learned (other than having good armor and a good weapon) to block, attack, block, attack, and repeat that until it was dead. That thing is quick!

There are resources spread out all over the map, so it is wise to have multiple bases. Maybe you want to collect some yellow flowers for a potion, you’ll want a base closer to them. Or maybe you’ll looking for a level 3 or 4 thrall, you’ll want to make a base closer to them and wipe them out until you find what you’re looking for or wait for them to respawn if you don’t (they respawn rather quickly). There are some dungeons, not too huge, which contain different enemies (like skeletons) and bosses.

I think that pretty much covers it (from my memory). I think it’s a good game and I enjoyed playing it even though I stumbled upon a few bugs. If you don’t want to pay full price for it, then put it on a wishlist and wait for it to go on sale, so you can get a better deal. Is it worth full price? Yeah, I guess so. I don’t think I would have regretted paying full price and I easily could have, I just didn’t feel like it.

Oh, I’d also like to mention that there are some tricky areas, like the frozen area and volcano. I’s really hot in the volcano, so you have to make sure you’re wearing the right kind of armor to keep from overheating. There’s a set you can also wear to reduce the amount of stamina you use while climbing (yes, this is similar to Breath of the Wild). There’s also an area where it’s freezing and, again, you’ll want to wear appropriate armor. There are a few areas of water you can get into. One of which is a great place for finding gold.

Also, I’d like to mention some of the higher tier resources. One of them is very difficult to get, because you have to wait for meteors to fall in the frozen biome. You then have to use explosives (or lots of fire) to break open the shell to reveal the material you need to mine. There are also a couple of forges in the frozen and volcano biomes you’ll need to visit if you want to craft certain pieces of gear. Obviously, again, you’ll want to go prepared to survive the temperature and creatures within.

Oh! There’s a new game called Conan Unconquered. I don’t know much about it, but it seems to be a strategy game that’s kind of (like or basically) a tower defense game where you have to defend your base from hordes of creatures. I’m not sure if it’s something I’ll get into, but if I do, perhaps I’ll let you know eventually.

Anyway, if you have any questions or comments, please feel free to ask or share them in the comments section below.

It is time to give a status update on the Alienware Aurora R4 that I got a little over 5 years ago. The reason for this is because of it's current condition and some things I think fellow Alienware Aurora R4 owners may need to know. Although if you own an Alienware/Dell or heck any PC, some of this may be relevant to you.

I remember how learning about PC technology was a big thing in my teens. I grew up as a kid with a Commodore 128d, but we got our first Acer PC in 1995. Wow, what a change! I had gotten a little advanced with the Commodore. I knew how to program it, basically (pun not intended....BASICally), and I began to learn about it's hardware (300 baud modem yay!). The PC was a step up and jump into a new world. I continued to visit my favorite BBSes, while at the same time learning more about Windows and PCs in general. As I got older, I learned more, bought more computers, and was actually able to upgrade them. I seem to recall a time when I had 12MB (yes MB!) of RAM. Wow, those were the days! Haha. Eventually, I was building my own. However, at the time, I was pretty much "an AMD guy." I even wrote a paper in college about AMD Vs. Intel (and why I believed AMD was superior). It seemed to me that AMD was using newer, better technology (RISC), and they're CPUs were cheaper. It wasn't until about 5 years ago that all changed.

In early 2014, I posted here on Cheerful Ghost that I was thinking about a PC upgrade, a new build or a new buy (you can see that post here: https://cheerfulghost.com/GregoPeck/posts/1888/thinking-about-a-pc-upgrade). I did a little research and came up with what I wanted for hardware (Intel i7, GTX 690). I realized that the hardware I wanted was expensive, but I had some money to spend, so I wasn't too worried about it. However, I decided that it would probably be cheaper to actually just buy a PC. This was in part, because of the cost of Windows. So, I decided to "save some money" and buy an Alienware Aurora R4. However, I paid a lot for it, more than I've ever paid for a PC, so it seems my "save some money" logic kind of failed. In part it was because I really wanted an i7 and a GTX 690. I also decided on 16GB of RAM. And thus my life with my most favorite PC of all time began.

It wasn't too long before I realized that maybe I had selected the wrong GPU for this new PC of mine. Ark: Survival Evolved had just come out in Early Access and I loved it. Unfortunately the GPU wasn't up to the task. This is because the 690 is a two-in-one 4GB GPU, which means it was two 2GB GPUs working together as one (technically in SLI mode). Unfortunately, some games (particularly Ark) couldn't fully optimize the GPU. The game was only able to use half of it, sadly enough. I had to tone down the settings drastically (I think in DX10 or DX9 mode). The game really didn't look great, but I was able to play it.I had started playing on an official server and I really loved the game, but I had a strong feeling that I wanted to play the game and see it as it was meant to be played and seen. So, I decided it was time to retire the 690 and get an upgrade. My fellow players seemed to agree that a 980Ti was their best recommendation and that is what I decided to get. (You can read more about it here: https://cheerfulghost.com/GregoPeck/posts/4094/evga-geforce-gtx-980ti-6gb-classified-gaming-acx-2-0-post-mortem).

I got an EVGA GeForce GTX 980Ti 6GB "Classified Gaming" with ACX 2.0+ (thermal technology).I seem to recall that one of the first games I played was Subnautica, but I didn't really get into it until about 3 years later. I really just cared that it could run Ark and it did! I was greatly impressed and loving how beautiful the game looked and that I actually had a PC that could run it. Granted, I couldn't really run it on the highest "Epic" settings, but that was for a Titan or better GPU. I really loved this GPU much more than the more expensive 690. My memory tells me I paid $400-$600 for it, but Amazon says it's still for sale at about $700! Wow! How is this 3 year old GPU still worth that much? Is it really that good? Well, actually yeah, I think so.

I believe the GPU was overclocked out-of-the-box. I never did try to overclock it myself as I am not experienced with overclocking. I'm still used to the old days when doing so could be very dangerous, you could actually destroy a CPU or GPU trying to overclock it. So, I never messed with it, never tried to do it. Even though I got an overclocked GPU, I decided to let software take care of it for me. I used EVGA Precision X16, although I really only used it to control the GPU fan, which I set to 100% while gaming. At the same time I used the Alienware Command Center to set my HDD and PCIE fans to 100% while gaming as well. I didn't mind the noise.

Unfortunately, I began to pay attention to how hot the GPU was running. I eventually noticed that my GPU was running at 91c (celcius) while playing Ark and this seemed normal. I never experienced any issues that seemed as though the GPU wasn't working because it was too hot. I ran into some confirmation bias while researching the issue when I saw a post that said these GPUs run hot and it's max temp was 91-92c and if it got too hot it would throttle itself. I never applied thermal paste to a CPU or GPU before, but that was one recommendation I saw on the Internet and from a local friend. I finally bought some Arctic MX-4 from NewEgg as it's the most popular thermal paste on there and at Amazon (although it was cheaper on NewEgg and would arrive sooner). Before this, my PC actually shut itself off a few times. I did some more research about cleaning a PC (especially w/out compressed air) and used a hard plastic straw to blow some dust away and clear some fans. Later, I bought a can of compressed air at Wal-Mart and used it. However, I was watching my GPU thermals while playing Civ6 and getting nervous as it found it's way to the upper 80's (Celsius). Then, it dawned on me that I should check the CPU temperature, which I never worried about, because I had liquid cooling for it.

And there's where things ended recently. I used CPUID/HW Monitor and found out that my PC was running too hot (90c+)! I did some more research and found multiple people reporting issues with their CPU liquid cooling system. Some people had replaced their cooling system with a Corsair system. So, I ordered one, but then later decided I wanted a newer (and still compatible) model. Some people posted pictures of cooling systems that were clogged with green "goo." Luckily, they told you that you could clean them with isopropyl alcohol. I decided to take mine apart, but I didn't see any "goo." I put it back together and things seemed better, but the good "repaired" feel didn't last. I remember seeing "artifacts" on my screen (green lines, abnormalities) and the PC shut off. Finally, I was trying to get my PC on, but it would only beep at me continuously 6 times and then repeat. After more research, I found out that (at least for the Alienware Aurora R4) this meant a GPU failure. So, I took the 980Ti out and put in the 690. It came on the but 690 displayed different "artifacts" (white lines). I took the GPU out, tried to turn on the PC and again it beeped at me the same (it does this if you have a bad GPU or if there is no GPU).

I did notice the bottom of the two GPUs (the point of contact to the PCIE slot) was wet. I didn't see why or how. I even took the 980 apart, but didn't seem to find the source. However, I did later see the liquid cooler drop some water onto the PC while the GPU was out. So, I think this is how the PCIE slot got wet. I finally got it dried and tried the GPUs again, but it would only beep 6 times again with the 980 and the 690 still had white lines. So, I tried the 8800 I had in an old computer and it worked. So, it seems I have one definitely dead GPU and another damaged one. The 8800 seems fine, but it only has less than a gig of VRAM, crazy! So, I thought I need a new GPU and liquid cooler for the CPU.

I seriously started to think about getting a new computer, but I really didn't want to. This Alienware has spoiled me. I really love it and don't want to be without it. I went to Wal-Mart to look at their PCs, but I knew I wouldn't find anything, because I had looked at them weeks or months ago and scoffed at them. I'd look at the system specs and say aloud "are you kidding me?!" The "gaming" HP PC had an Intel i3 or i5! It also had maybe a 3GB VRAM GPU. It was only about $600, but there's no way it could come anywhere close to my Alienware w/ it's i7! Looking online was disappointing. Even though this computer isn't exactly worth what it was 5 years ago, it's still expensive (or rather over $1,000)! I couldn't get an affordable one with the specs I wanted (i7, 16GB RAM, 6GB GPU, etc.). It blew my mind that even though I spent a lot of money on this PC 5 years ago and then again 3 years ago (GPU upgrade), it was still a beast! I wouldn't mind having an i9 even though I don't know about them, but even an i7 means an expensive PC and there's no way I could possibly settle for an i5. So, basically I decided that my PC was just fine (specs wise) and I would be very happy if I could just get it running again even with most of the same hardware/components. I didn't need a new computer nor did I need an upgrade. However, I needed to replace some parts, which should save me some money. Although at this point, I've ordred almost everything except for a CPU and PSU (power supply unit).

I did run into a problem when it would not POST nor beep. I did some research, tried some things to no avail. I figured the motherboard must have fried with the wet GPU socket, so I ordered one on Amazon, but it was about $200. I really don't want to have to replace the motherboard, although it doesn't look as complicated (in the manual) as it seems. I may do it just because I know I have one or two USB ports on the back that no longer work (I have two on the front that have issues to due to water damage last year). During this whole time I did not test all the components and that was my mistake. I assumed too much. I reseated the CMOS battery multiple times and made sure that the PSU was good (it is, there's a way to test it for these computers). I thought everything else was fine, it had to be the CPU or motherboard, right? Well my mistake lied in my assumption. I actually watched a video on YouTube called "How to Repair a Dead Computer" (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Zz9pMKy9Mbs&t=1824s). I was actually surprised that even though I am an experienced IT tech support guy, I learned something from this video. I had already taken out all of my RAM when the PC was not beeping nor POSTing and it beeped twice, which meant that RAM was missing. I put the RAM back in and it went back to no beeps no POST. But, after I watched this video (spoilers!), I thought "hm, that's one thing I didn't try" and it actually worked!! By removing and replacing individual RAM sticks, I found out that one of them was causing my problem. Here I assumed my RAM was all good, but apparently something happened to it. I figured one stick would be cheap, but I couldn't find (on Amazon or NewEgg) a stick of RAM that was exactly the same (same brand, same specs., etc.). I did a little research and concluded that it's probably either not good nor optimal to mix brands of RAM. I'd rather have all of them exactly the same and working together. So, I ordered a 16GB kit on Amazon.

So, here I sit borrowing a laptop that has a hard drive that's completely full and doesn't have space even for Windows Updates. (Wow!) I'm actually writing this post in Notepad! I can't wait to get my PC back up and running again. It really is hard to believe that a 5 year old computer could still be decent. Although, after reading my post history here, I found out that I had said the previous PC I built was 7 years old. I feel like I'm more used to the days where every few years a new computer was kind of necessary. I think at that time technology just progressed so steadily. It reminds me of Moore's Law (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Moore%27s_law). I wonder if technology has slowed down at all or if it's still going at the same pace. Maybe as I grow older time gets taken into different perspectives. 5 years as a kid is a long time, but it passes so quickly when you're reaching 40.

Would I recommend an Alienware PC? Yeah, pretty much. If you have the money and don't want to build one yourself, sure. You can actually buy a refurbished version of my PC (with a different GPU) on NewEgg for under $1000. I didn't see it when I was looking for a new computer, otherwise I might have just bought it. Right now, I don't know that I'm ready to mark up how much this repair is costing me. I can just be glad that I can do it and that I have pretty much solved the puzzle of "what's wrong with my PC?" Here's to hoping the CPU is still undamaged. Well, even if I have to replace every part of my PC, I think it's worth it.

While there are arguments for building your own PC and not buying from a manufacturer like Dell or HP, there are some advantages such as warranty and tech support. My PC is now out of warranty (and so is the 980Ti), so I cannot freely rely on tech support. Although I did email EVGA requesting instructions on how to reapply thermal past to my out of warranty GPU. I got a reply saying there is no such "guide" or instructions, but I could find something on YouTube. He even sent me a link to a YouTube video I had already watched (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qDLQ7FjPMf8). He could have just said "you're out of warranty, I can't help you", but apparently EVGA has good customer service. I can also attest to Amazon's excellent customer service. One more advantage to buying from a manufacturer, even if it's an older or refurbished PC, you can easily find resources online to help you figure out what's wrong. In my experience there are plenty of people out there who have the same PC as I do and have had similar problems with similar solutions. Luckily, parts also still exist for it on Amazon and NewEgg, making this rebuild possible. I can't wait to breathe new life into my PC.

Want to share your PC specs? How often do you buy or build a new PC? Do you buy or build? Who do you buy (PCs or parts) from? Feel free to share your experiences in the comments!

I'm replacing so many parts! I wanted to include links for you, so check them out below. I found a pretty cool YouTube channel (https://www.youtube.com/user/Jayztwocents/). While I am an experienced IT guy and quite knowledgeable when it comes to computers (most people know me for that and often ask me some kind of computer question or for tech support), I'm actually learning! The more I learn, the more I want to do with my rebuild. So, although my HDD seems fine, I've decided to make the jump to SSD. These (along with other technologies) are apparently cheaper now and definitely worth getting. With this I won't have to sit around waiting for Windows or my games to load. Luckily, too, it seems easy to install Windows 10 on a new SSD, if you already have it installed on a HDD, because you have a digital activation that is stored on Microsoft servers. So, it seems, there's no need to buy a new copy of Windows or purchase a new key if you've already activated one. (Good job Microsoft!)

I'm running out of money, but I'm also very tempted to upgrade my monitor and get into high refresh gaming. I haven't experienced it yet, which is why my basic 60hz/60fps gaming is fine w/ me, I may decide to make that jump, too, although I may wait on it a bit.

I may come back and update this post as I install my new (or new-ish) parts, or if I find that I want or need another part.

I forgot to share with you the other parts I've ordered for this PC rebuild. Here they are:

The same motherboard that's in my PC (which I may actually send back as mine seems to be working):

EVGA GeForce GTX 1660 Ti XC Gaming, 6GB GDDR6, HDB Fan Graphics Card
Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07NBHXKK6/ref=twister_B07PQNCT3B?_encoding=UTF8&psc=1
EVGA Product Page: https://www.evga.com/products/product.aspx?pn=06G-P4-1263-KR

Corsair Hydro 80i v2 Liquid CPU Cooler

A-Tech 16GB RAM kit (a replacement, not an upgrade)

ICY DOCK 2.5" to 3.5" SATA 6Gb SSD & Hard Drive Converter / Adapter / Bracket -Black
(Model: MB882SP-1S-1B)

WD Blue 3D NAND 1TB PC SSD - SATA III 6 Gb/s, 2.5"/7mm - WDS100T2B0A

Today it grieves me dearly that I must report that my newest, most favorite GPU, has died. I am now realizing I've only had it for about 3 years, but it feels like I've had it much longer. Before I get into things about it, I'd like to get back to a bit of an introduction to my beastly Alienware Aurora R4.

When I was inexperienced (and pretty much in my teens), I bought computers. I grew more experienced and I remember occasionally finding more RAM that I could fit into my PC, I think I remember a time when I had 12mb (yes mb!). Some time after that, I began to build my own. I pretty much went with AMD CPUs as they were cheaper and seemingly superior. In fact, I wrote a paper in college on AMD Vs. Intel and why I thought AMD was superior. However, things changed. About 5 years ago I was looking into buying or building a new PC. I ended up deciding that the parts I wanted were too expensive and that it might be cheaper to buy a PC. I bought an Alienware Aurora R4 for a lot of money, which kind of seems to negate the logic I came to. Haha. However, this post is not about the PC itself (I plan to write one up for it soon), this is about the GPU.

Before I got the Aurora, I was running a PC I built myself with an AMD CPU and a GeForce 8800 (which has less than a gig of RAM). I'm pretty sure I thought I had a good computer back then, but looking back I think it's pretty terrible! The Aurora completely spoiled me, but again I'm kind of saving that for later. So, back to the GPU. I wasn't all too familiar w/ GPUs and I wasn't really doing any heavy gaming, just Minecraft, Terraria, and Starcraft 2, pretty much. I probably didn't need a super PC or GPU, but one (of each) really caught my attention.

For some reason the beastly GTX 690 became what I wanted. Yeah it was a $1,000 GPU, but I had some extra money. Maybe it's that price tag that gave much so much confidence in it. So, when I ordered the Aurora, I selected the 690 as my GPU. When I got the PC, I felt pretty great. However, it didn't take too long before I realized the downside of the 690. Looking back, I now feel foolish for selecting that GPU, but hind sight is always 20/20, isn't it? What I didn't fully realize is that while the GPU has 4GB (I scoff at that now) of VRAM, it's really two 2GB GPUs built into one. When it came time to play Ark: Survival Evolved in Early Access, I quickly learned that my newly beloved beast of a GPU couldn't do what I wanted it to do, so I had to run it in lower settings (DX10 or DX9 mode I think). This made the game much less attractive, but I was able to play. Having 2 GPUs in one sounds good, at least until you realize that not all games can actually utilize such a configuration. Ark was one of those games, which could only access half of my video card. I was disappointed. So, I decided it was time for an upgrade.

I was playing Ark on an official server, wishing I could play it the way it was meant to be played, and how it was supposed to look. So, I asked my fellow players what kind of GPU they would recommend. They all pretty much agreed that a GTX 980Ti would be what I want and after just a little bit of research, I agreed with them. Luckily, I had some extra money so the near $600 price tag didn't bother me too much. My memory tells me I paid $400-$600, but if you look (at the link provided above) on Amazon, it's still selling for almost $700!

It's interesting to me that a card I bought 3 years ago is still selling for the same price! Perhaps a used one could be found for cheaper, but I have a strong preference for new products (they come w/ warranty, you know what you're getting, no real surprises, they're easily exchangeable, etc.). Wow, what a beast though! If this GPU is still worth that much after all these few years, it has to be good, right? Well, yeah pretty much actually!

Before I bought the 980Ti, I really wanted a Titan, but I didn't have that $1,000 to spend on a new GPU, so I had to go for something cheaper. I seem to recall seeing that it is comparable to a Titan and can preform very well. I can actually now attest to its performance, although keep in mind I don't do 4K high-rest gaming. My simple Dell monitor is locked at 59-60hz, so I pretty much don't expect more than 60fps, but I do expect 60fps. It did that beautifully, actually. I don't recall a game that gave me any problems with this GPU.

I remember when I got it. One of the first games I played w/ it was Subnautica. I didn't really get too into the game at the time, though I did about 3 years later. My main concern was how would this GPU handle Ark and it really impressed me. I don't think I was able to run it at the highest "EPIC" settings, but those settings were designed for a Titan (or better). Still, Ark performed and looked beautiful to me now finally, I was definitely impressed and satisfied. One thing to note is that I ordered a special edition of the GPU from EVGA (hence all the stuff within the full name).

I believe it was overclocked out of the box and came with additional thermal protection (ACX 2.0+). Maybe I'm weird, but I think I do like overclocked stuff, I'm just not confident in my own ability to overclock something. I'm used to the earlier days when it seemed like a dangerous thing to do. Now it seems as though it's quite easy and actually safe to do. I pretty much left it up to software to decide how fast it actually ran. I remember it reaching about 1200mhz, but it usually ran at about 1190mhz. This didn't really mean that much to me. It performed very well, it did pretty much what I wanted to, so I wasn't really concerned with how fast it was. It also came with 6Gb VRAM, which was an improvement over the 690.

Now is where the problem comes in, pretty much thermals. I don't know exactly when I started to pay attention to how hot it was. I was using EVGA's Precision X16 to run the fans at 100%. I was also using the Alienware Command Center to run the HDD and PCIE fans at 100%, whenever I was gaming. But, the point is that I started paying attention. Earlier this year or late last year I realized that it was reaching 91c while running Ark. I did some reading and confirmation bias hit me. I found a post that said that this GPU runs hotter and can run fine at 91c and that (or 92c) was it's threshold. I read that it would throttle itself if it reached that point, so it wouldn't work too hard. So, I stopped worrying about it so much, until things happened again. My PC shut off on its own and I believed that my GPU was overheating, which was kind of correct. I never re-applied thermal paste to a CPU or GPU and had to do a bit of research on that. I finally ordered some Arctic MX-4, because it was very popular on Amazon and NewEgg. Unfortunately, something else seems to have happened and my GPU is now dead.

How do I know the 980Ti is dead? At the same time of paying attention to my GPU thermals, I realized that my CPU was overheating, too. The CPU was using a liquid cooling system, so I never really worried about it (even though it's the first of it's kind I've used or seen). At one point, I had taken the liquid cooling system apart and got it to work again. Things seemed find and to be working better, but then suddenly my PC crashed again (shut itself down). I tried to get it back on, but noticed "artifacts" on the screen, which were pretty much green lines and such oddities. After that, my PC would beep 6 times and not POST. After much researching, I learned that those 6 beeps meant that there was something wrong with the GPU. So, I brought the old 690 out and tried it. Unfortunately, it ran into some of the same trouble (artifacts). It didn't take me a while until I realized that GPUs were actually wet on their contacts with the PCIE slot and that the socket was wet or oily. I took the 980Ti apart to see what was wrong and it didn't look like it was coming fron the GPU, honestly I couldn't really tell where it came from. However, I did later notice at least one drop of water from the CPU liquid cooler, which I now think could have actually leaked onto the 980. The socket got wet, so the 690 had trouble, too. I did end up managing to dry the socket and trying again. The 980Ti was dead and the 690 was still displaying artifacts (white lines). I pull the 8880 out of an old PC and put it in and everything on the screen was fine. I also accidentally broke a fan blade on the 690.

So here I am without a working "decent" gaming GPU. However, I luckily have some extra money. While I cannot right now afford a new Alienware or beastly PC, I can actually afford to replace some parts, like the GPU. I did some research and I finally decided to buy a GTX 1660 Ti (etc. see links below). While this has the same amount of VRAM as the 980Ti, it's faster. This GPU also costs about 50% less, but is definitely newer and seemingly superior. It also seems to have much better thermal technology. It doesn't include the new RTX (ray tracing) technology, but does include the new Turing core technology. At first glance, this model does look strange. It takes up more slots than the other GPUs, but I believe I have room for it. If not, it seems pretty easy to return/refund/RMA something with Amazon and EVGA.

I'm really looking forward to the new GPU, while watching multiple videos about it. It definitely seems like a good gaming card and especially a valuable one. Perhaps in the future I will update this post or create another giving an intro to the new GPU. But for now, I have to wait for it to arrive from Amazon. I originally ordered the non-Ti edition, which arrived today, but yesterday I realized my mistake so I have a return/refund going on for it while I ordered the Ti edition.

I feel like I've learned quite a bit about GPUs lately. Learning is good. I don't fully understand all the technology involved and can't talk about it like some of the pros I see on YouTube, but I have some good basic understanding. Right now I just want my PC back to life, even if it means getting the same or relatively equal parts for the ones I have to replace.

What GPU do you have? How often do you upgrade? Do you have your eye on a certain GPU? How much are you willing to spend on a new GPU? Let me know in the comments section and we can talk about it!

Want to see what I'm talking about? Check these links:

EVGA GeForce GTX 980 Ti 6GB CLASSIFIED GAMING ACX 2.0+, Whisper Silent Cooling w/ Free Installed Backplate Graphics Card 06G-P4-4998-KR
Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B010GK3YYC/ref=ppx_yo_dt_b_asin_title_o06_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1
EVGA Product Page: https://www.evga.com/articles/00934/EVGA-GeForce-GTX-980-Ti/

EVGA GeForce GTX 1660 Ti XC Gaming, 6GB GDDR6, HDB Fan Graphics Card
Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07NBHXKK6/ref=twister_B07PQNCT3B?_encoding=UTF8&psc=1
EVGA Product Page: https://www.evga.com/products/product.aspx?pn=06G-P4-1263-KR

GregoPeck gives this an astounding "Must Play" on the Ghost Scale
This achieves something special, and it would be a shame to miss it.
GregoPeck gives this a "Must Play" on the Ghost Scale
This achieves something special, and it would be a shame to miss it.

  • Recommended +1

  • New mechanics like power and climate change

  • New victory

  • New civs and leaders
Civ 6 is such an amazing game and a new expansion, Gathering Storm, was released a while ago. I’ve been too busy playing it, which is why I am now just getting to write about it. Civ 6 was the cure I needed, but didn’t think I wanted. I had gotten bored of video games and wasn’t sure what to do. I was hesitating to buy GS, because I didn’t really feel like playing a strategy game like Civ 6 and I was intimidated by the game. However, I am absolutely glad that I bought GS. Since then, I can’t stop playing Civ 6.

The theme of GS is climate change and global warming. Cities can now be powered by coal, oil, and uranium, each having it’s own impact on the environment. You can make power plants in industrial zones, which you will need eventually as some district improvements need power to operate fully such as the stock exchange. Unfortunately, like in the real world, these power plants add CO2 into the atmosphere and cause irreparable damage. Some tiles are below sea level and will flood once CO2 levels reach a certain point. There is a new icon or place in the game where you can check to see how the environment is doing. There are also rivers that flood and volcanoes that are quite destructive.

Luckily there are ways to combat climate change (again just like in real life). You can build dams to stop the rivers from flooding (but you can do nothing to stop the volcanoes). You can build hydroelectric dams, solar farms, wind farms, and offshore wind farms. Also each energy source has it’s own level of impact on the environment. Coal has a heavy impact, oil is moderate, and uranium is mild. However, uranium power plants have a chance to melt down. Because of this, I’ve never built one. You can also use the Carbon Recapture project later in the game that can actually negate all of the CO2 in the atmosphere that everyone puts in.

GS also adds the World Congress in which civs get to vote on different things. For instance, which luxury resources will be doubled, receiving more points for a certain great person, and quite a few more choices. Civs can vote for or against different things. They can spend diplomatic favor in order to sway the vote. These can be obtained in a variety of ways. There is also a new victory condition, Diplomatic Victory. Players vote for or against which civ receives 2 diplomatic points. When a civ reaches a certain amount of points, they win a Diplomatic Victory. There are numerous ways to gain diplomatic favor and diplomatic points. One way to get 2 diplomatic points is to build the Statue of Liberty.

Another addition to the game are new civs such as the Maori, Sweden, Canada and more. The Maori are quite unique, because they start the game in the ocean and able to traverse deep ocean tiles. Their music is also quite unique. Canada is unique, too, as they can get bonus production in tundra tiles. Also, you cannot declare a surprise war on Canada and they can’t declare a surprise war on other civs.

I’ve only kind of briefly covered this expansion. I strongly suggest checking it out if you’re interested. Civ 6 is (in my opinion) one of the best games in recent years and this expansion adds more to it, making it more playable. Previously, I had looked at some of the achievements and I got some of them, but others looked too difficult to get or bother with. However, I found a great guide online that offers strategy tips for obtaining each achievement. It also made me realize that you can actually play the game in multiplayer by yourself. There is a “hot seat” mode where players can play on the same computer and just take turns using the same keyboard and mouse. It’s really cool, still fun (to play by myself), and makes some of those achievements much easier to get. For instance, one requires that you capture a settler with a Viking Longship. Instead of waiting for the AI to have a settler at a coast, you can (as one player) send a settler to the coast and (as another player) capture it. This made a lot of achievements possible for me. I also learned how to use the command console. You need to edit a config file to enable it, but then you can hit a key to activate it. One of the commands you can use is “reveal all” which will show you everything on the map. This is incredibly handy, especially in cases where you’re trying to make sure a certain natural wonder or city-state is on the map. This can be done only in single player, but you can save your game, open it in multiplayer and copy some of the game configurations to recreate it. If you want to know more about this, just do some Googling. :)

Edit: If you're interested in the achievement guide I found it's here: https://steamcommunity.com/sharedfiles/filedetails/?id=914286854

That guide will also kind of explain how to play multiplayer "hot seat" games by yourself, so that you don't have to wait for the AI to do something you want it to. However, from what I've read on the web it seems this mode is not available in the Switch version (PC Master Race!!!!!).

For those achievements that require certain natural wonders or city-states on the map check out this link for how to access the command console and use the "reveal all" command, extremely helpful! https://steamcommunity.com/sharedfiles/filedetails/?id=804400692

Bonus: Here's a couple of good YouTube channels that have some great Civ videos. The first one has a playlist for a beginner's tutorial for the game (very helpful).
See Quill18: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCbx1TZgxfIauUZyPuBzEwZg
See Drew Durnil: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCPcABVoFfCK5gDfX0PY1KGg

I just wanted to give you a quick heads up about this great site I found recently, IsThereAnyDeal.com. It can import your wish lists from Steam, GOG, and Humble Bundle and alert you when games go on sale. There are a lot of sites that sell games, but it's difficult to know what's legit and what's not. There are sites out there that sell stolen keys, which places like Steam may find and deactivate. So, it's important to know where you're getting your game keys from. All the sites connected to IsThereAnyDeal are totally legit. I did some researching after finding a few different sites. There's a reddit group for games that explains all of this and which sites are legit. You can check out deals at https://www.reddit.com/r/GameDeals. You can use Google to find out if something's legit, just say (for example) "Is IsThereAnyDeal" legit and you'll find out it is.

I bought Monster Hunter World for about $20 off when I got from one of these sites. I'm still waiting on the Divinity series to go on sale.

*Note* My account was not hacked. I did write this bit because I wanted to share my discovery with my favorite gaming community. :) I'm sorry if it sounds too much like an ad.


  • The pirate life MMO with RPG elements along with taming, crafting, and surviving similar to Ark: Survival Evolved and Minecraft

  • Horrible delayed start, “mostly negative” reviews on Steam

  • Huge map spanning server clusters
Atlas is an interesting Early Access MMO pirate game made by some of the devs who created Ark: Survival Evolved. This is readily apparent, you can tell just by playing it how similar to two are.

Atlas has “mostly negative” reviews already and the game hasn’t been out for a week. Part of that, perhaps most of that, is because of the rough start it got. In the beginning it was extremely difficult to play, due to lag and serious rubber banding. Rubber banding, in case you don’t know, is when you walk in a direction and you get pulled back to where you started. This is an issue seen in online games that people play on a server. This also seems to be relative to the server’s ping. Higher pings mean you’re going to see more lag or rubber banding. Atlas servers usually have a high ping, especially in the starter zones. Luckily, the game got patched and it’s not as bad as it started out to be.

Many players were already disappointed, because the game release was delayed. This happened more than once, I think. This is nothing new to those of us who are used to Ark updates, hence one of the similarities between Studio Wild Card (the Ark devs) and Graphshot Games (the Atlas devs). Players could not pre-order the game, we had to wait until the devs released it on Steam. Once that finally happened Atlas arrived. It was extremely difficult to purchase. Apparently so many people were trying to buy it that Steam got overwhelmed. I’m pretty sure the holiday sale had something to do with that, too.

An interesting thing about the game is that it uses server clusters. The map is so huge that it covers more than a few servers. When starting out, players can choose one of the four main server sections (NA PVE & PVP or EU PVE & PVP). Once that’s selected, you’ll be shown the map and the many servers in which you can start in (these are called free ports). The servers will show you the server’s ping and how many people are playing on that server at the time. In the beginning, I found the ping to be inaccurate, because I’d get on one with a lower ping (not usually lower than 100) and end up playing with 255 (max ping). Once you make your way out of the starting area, you’ll find the number of players on each server drops as does the ping, which means a more stable game.

One of the issues with these starting areas is that players who were logged out still showed in the world, except they were sleeping. There were tons of sleeping bodies lying around. The devs quickly realized this was a problem and corrected it. Another interesting thing about the game is that it boasts the ability to handle 40,000+ players.

Once spawned in to the world players will need to gather wood, thatch, and stone to make their first tool, a pickaxe. Like Ark and Minecraft, wood can be harvested from trees by punching them. However, like Ark and unlike Minecraft, punching trees hurts, you can definitely kill yourself by punching a tree too many times. Unfortunately punching trees mostly yields thatch and it takes a bit too long for it to yield wood. Once you get a pick axe, you’ll be able to more easily gather thatch, wood, and then you’ll need to gather flint, which you can harvest from stones. Without any tools, you can gather stone by punching stones, similar to how you obtain your first wood and thatch. This also hurts, but once you get your first tool, it’s no longer necessary to punch anything for resources.

The point to getting your tools is so that you can get other materials more easily. The axe (or hatchet) will yield more wood and stone. Once you have enough of these materials (including flint), you can start by making spears. This is how you’re going to kill animals, which you’ll need to do for meat and pelt. Pelt and fiber are used to make all of your clothes, except the hat, which only requires fiber. Gathering fiber may also yield berries, which are a starting source of food. However, in Atlas, one cannot survive on meat and berries alone. You have to keep an eye on your vitamin levels. There are four of them one for meat, berries, veggies, and fish. Before you set out off of the beginning island, you’ll want to make sure you have plenty of these and water skins full of fresh water. You cannot drink salt water. Luckily, there’s a fresh water area in town and you can also get water in the wild by going prone and searching lush areas.

You can go fishing, but if you want to do it in the nice, relaxing way, you’re going to have to craft a chair and gather bait, which is sap from trees. This can be a difficult resource to get, so this may not be the ideal way of fishing. Probably the most efficient way of fishing is to swim in the water, look for a fish, and hit it with a spear a couple of times. Once it’s dead, you’ll automatically start dragging it, which you’ll want to walk to shore so that you can harvest it with your pick axe (best used for getting meat).

Before setting off, you’ll want to gather more materials, especially for a camp fire, which is used to cook meat, and a bed, which is used to respawn. You’ll also need to gather enough materials in order to craft a raft, which can be done via an NPC on the dock. Once you’re prepared, it’s time to set sail and explore the large world of Atlas. Of course, you’ll run into more players on the starting island, but once you get off of it, you’ll find there are few around. However, you’ll notice as you’re exploring that it’s difficult to claim land as most land (outside of free port and lawless areas) is already claimed. You could sail for hours and still not find any land that isn’t already claimed. You can, however, contest a claim, but this takes time.

You’ll want to start out small in the beginning by building a small dock. This will allow you to start building your first “ships,” the raft and dinghy. I tried building one of these, but I didn’t have enough weight to carry all the required resources, so I’m not sure how people have already built them. After that you’ll want to build a ship yard. You can build bigger ships, but this will take many hours. Once you have a bigger ship you can buy AI crew members and set sail. You’ll be able to fight other ships (assuming you built cannons on your ship) including ghost ships, which can be seen patrolling the sea every now and then. Such tasks probably also pretty much require joining a company, which is a group of people. Many things in this game are very friendly for the solo player.

As of now, the game finally runs pretty decent. I’m so glad that most rubber banding is gone and I can now get more than 10 frames per second. I am currently sailing the seas with my 5th raft after my 4th (which I named “May the 4th Be W/ U”) suffered a devastating destruction by trying to get turned around and getting too close to shore. I haven’t talked to very many players. One guy said “ahoy” to me as we crossed paths on rafts out in the sea. He was obviously using a microphone as I am. I ran into a woman who asked me to leave the island she was trying to claim land on. I said, “sure,” but she got a bit nasty that I messed up her claiming process. This encounter left me feeling sour.

I don’t know what the future holds for this game, hopefully more servers so that more people can enjoy it and pings won’t be as bad. There’s also hope for more servers to provide more land to claim as I mentioned the difficulty in finding land to claim. But, right now the game is cool, interesting, beautiful, and running quite well on my PC. It is currently about $30. After they take it out of Early Access the price will raise again (I think they said to $60) as was the way with Ark. If you like pirates, sailing, and MMOs, I give this game a recommendation. It’s not as bad as it started out to be. The devs have been very good at resolving issues and updating the game frequently.

*Update 6/4/19*
My thoughts on this game have kind of changed and I think it's important to update this post. I really did enjoy playing Atlas when it came out. I enjoyed the beginning, which was quite similar to the beginning of Ark where you have to punch trees and gather resources to make tools and clothes. After that, you start to work on building your first raft and making sure you have enough supplies for a trip to sea. Once you're ready, it's time to set sail and hit the open seas, and there's a lot of sea to explore, assuming you're playing on a server (like an official one) with multiple servers in a cluster. Next is pretty much where my enjoyment of the game ends. I played on an official server and searched for unclaimed land to claim as my own and make my home. Unfortunately, there was little to no land to claim, in fact I ended up landing ashore at one point to get cussed out by a female pirate, because I interrupted her claim on some territory and was abruptly asked to leave. I never did find any land to claim. I also quickly learned at this point that this game is most definitely focused on multiplayer. In the beginning it's quite forgiving and welcoming for the single player, but once you set sail on your first raft, the single player parts of the game fail to become relevant or anywhere near easy. It takes a company (the game's name for groups of players) to build boats, and it takes a lot of resources to do, hence the need for multiple players constantly gathering resources for ship production. Once a company has a ship (because a single person could definitely not easily or any where near quickly build one), it's time to set sail once again. However, there are undead pirate ships out there to battle along with big monsters on various islands to fight (in a group). You can also go treasure hunting, but that also requires a group effort as it triggers the spawning of undead pirates, too many to deal with alone. You can also find a variety of animals to tame. You can find AI pirates to hire to help with ship operations, but to get these, you have to defeat undead pirate ships and rescue them. While I was originally interested in the game and enjoyed the very beginning, it quickly dawned on me that this was not a game for me. I'm used to solo, single player gaming. So sadly, my enthusiasm for this game has died. However, if you're interested in a multiplayer pirate, ship building/crafting, exploring kind of game, this might be the one for you.

*Update 8/7/19*
There's a new single player mode, which has got me playing again. It's interesting and, I think, in ways better than the multiplayer mode. There's also a free DLC.

*Update 1/29/20*
Yet again, I’m feeling disappointed with the game. Even though there is a single player mode now, much of it is still too difficult to do alone. The best way I found to build, especially ships, quickly and efficiently is to use a mod that modifies the weights and stack sizes of resources. I find such a mod essential to the single player game. Even with such a mod, much of the game is still very difficult to do alone. Out in the open season, undead ships spawn in groups and you’re the only one available to defeat them. You can hire an NPC crew, but you also have to manage them, keep them paid and fed or they’ll mutiny. Areas where there are much stronger creatures are pretty much impossible for the single player.

The other major issue I had when I last played in October was dealing with the game crashing. At the time, it wasn’t completely stable. Even though this is still an Early Access game, game crashes are a major disappointment, especially after getting used to games (like Monster Hunter: World) that never crash.

I’m still keeping my eye on the game’s development and I really hope much of my own complaints get resolved. I’ve clocked 171 hours again, so paying nearly $30 wasn’t really a big waste of money. I don’t think this is a bad game. It has ambition, but still has room to improve.

Extinction DLC:

  • Last DLC in Ark Season Pass

  • Includes new Tek creatures, explorer notes, titans, orbital supply drops, corrupted creatures, cryopods, taxidermy, deadly meteor showers, and more

  • Variety of biomes
Ark’s third DLC, Extinction, is finally here! It was announced a few months ago, during the summer, for November 6th. Studio Wildcard kept to that date, however it was supposed to be released in the morning and got delayed until late evening/early night time. It feels really good that the wait is finally over. Now I only wonder what’s next for Studio Wildcard. Does Ark have a future after Extinction? Who knows, but this is supposed to be the last DLC for the game included in the season pass. What a long journey it has been since Ark was released in Early Access. I’ve been there since near the beginning and I’ve been able to watch and experience the game grow so much! It has become my favorite game, which I’ve clocked over 2800 hours!

Before release, Studio Wildcard gave us some teasers including creature reveals and a trailer. They also created Tek versions of some creatures already in the game. These rare Tek versions are now a permanent part of the game. They also gave us some more explorer notes to find. One of the most significant pieces of the first trailer showed a huge creature known as a titan. There are apparently multiple of them in this DLC. They can be tamed or defeated, but after being tamed, they will despawn after some time. This mechanic is similar to the titanosaur, which is now dwarfed by titans.

More information was revealed during this year’s Extra Life charity stream in which Wildcard raised about $70,000 to benefit the Children’s Miracle Network. They revealed more about the ice titan we saw in the trailer. They also showed off new orbital supply drops, which land on the map and start a process of waves of corrupted creatures coming to destroy it. There are a few difficulties for these with the harder ones giving better loot. Once all the waves are defeated, a player can open it up and receive lots of goodies.

Another interesting mechanic is something like a Pokeball in which you can store your creatures. This helps servers deal with a limited number of creatures, which is set to improve server stability. You can put a creature in a cryopod and release it by throwing it. You can store these cryopods in a refrigerator, especially one created just for this purpose.

Taxidermy has been introduced. You can kill a creature and use a special tool on it to collect it’s dermis. Then you can stick that on a taxidermy display table. There are a few sizes of these tables and creatures are scaled to fit on them. You can select one of many poses that the creature has. It’s an interesting concept.

Along with the Tek creatures released for the game, including a Tek raptor, stegosaurus, parasaur, and quetzal, two new Tek creatures are in the game. One is called an enforcer and can teleport. The other is pretty much an observer. You can acquire blueprints to build these two by killing them and then crafting them in a particular crafting station.

The DLC is also full of a variety of biomes, but the entire map is of Earth. This DLC is the “beginning and end” of the whole Ark story. There is an abandoned city on the map, which is the recommended spawn area for players. Other biomes can be found including an icy one encircled within a dome. This is what is called a proto-Ark.

It’s all very interesting and I’m excited to dive into Ark once again! Who knows what the future holds for the game and Studio Wildcard, but the game has been released for current gen consoles, the Xbox One and PS4. It has also been announced for the Switch. Console Ark players are going to have to wait for the release of Extinction while Studio Wildcard works on that version some more to get it better suited to console gaming.

*Update 6/4/19*
My thoughts and feelings on Extinction have been fully realized by now and I feel that it is time to update this post. At the beginning, I was very eagerly excited for Extinction. I played a lot of Ark and enjoyed the other DLC, so I was definitely looking forward to more. However, Extinction kind of just fell flat with me. It didn't capture my interest the same way that the base game and Scorched Earth did. I think I liked Aberration better, but even then I was beginning to lose interest in the game as a whole. I really enjoyed Ark and following along with its development over the years. I regularly participated in the official forums, played on an official server, and played much of it on my own in single player mode. I also found some really great YouTube channels to watch and follow. Oh and I also found my favorite mods to use. But, unfortunately, I began to feel that Extinction just wasn't for me. In a way it's kind of difficult to say why I'm not really into this DLC. It is kind of scary outside of Sanctuary (one of the main biomes), because of meteor showers which could wreck your base or kill you. Plus, there's the corrupted creatures which are extremely aggressive and dangerous. There are a few different interesting biomes like the forest, desert, and snowy areas. The desert was much like having a mini version of Scorched Earth, however it was inhabited by some new creatures and technologies. Since different creatures inhabited different biomes (which I think were larger than any biome in the base game), it was kind of difficult to transport creatures you've tamed. However, there were various stations around where you could upload your creature in one area and download them in another.

The main reason for my dislike of this DLC is much more easy to explain and understand. It's the required multiplayer aspect. In the base game some things were some what unforgiving to the single player, but you could easily enough change some settings to make things easier for example make taming go by more quickly). There were also some really good and helpful mods that made things even more fun, easy, and enjoyable. However, Extinction added some things that pretty much require a group effort and may even be extremely difficult for a group to do. One of these is the orbital supply drops. A cache would drop on the ground from outer space. Players can find one and activate it while in the area. A shield will encapsulate the cache and the beginning of waves of corrupted creatures would begin to attack the cache and any players nearby. Eventually, with enjoy damage taken, the shield will go down and be ineffective. Waves of corrupted creatures will continue to come until all waves are defeated, or a player dies. I think if you try this on your own it will be over if you die, but if you try it out in a group, it may still be active even if one player dies. If successful, the OSD will spew out all kinds of goodies, like a Tech Replicator. However, this is very difficult to achieve. I never tried it myself. I watched Sl1pg8r try it alone and fail. At one point I did join a friend's local server, but I was much too afraid to leave the Sanctuary area.

Boss fights aren't new to Ark. In the base game, some of them were doable for a single person. I believe I successfully defeated the spider queen alone and with a group of creatures, but these bosses got more difficult. Once the end-game was released I quickly realized that one could not really win the end boss battle alone, even with other tamed creatures. I only succeeded this by cheating. Extinction adds titans which are pretty much mini-bosses. They are giants you can actually tame temporarily if you successfully beat them. However, I've watched a few different groups tackle these titans with very little success (and a whole lot of death and respawning).

So, sadly, I realized again the huge aspects of a game that pretty much required multiple online players and not being very fun for the single solo gamer, which is what I am used to. If you love Ark and love playing in multiplayer, maybe this DLC is for you. But, if you like how easy it was to do things on your own in the base game (even with mods) and you like playing solo (like me), then this DLC may not be for you.

The new update for No Man's Sky has a launch trailer. The Abyss adds many underwater things including better visuals, more creatures, sunken treasure, the ability to build underwater, and the ability to use your jetpack underwater. I'm mostly glad that they made it so we can use our jetpack underwater. I've always felt that swimming in NMS wasn't so great. So, this update seems pretty cool, check out the embedded trailer for many more details.

Recent Activity...

The Witcher Netflix Season 1 Review (No Major Spoilers)

Awesome! Man, I love that song, I think I'll go...

The Witcher Netflix Season 1 Review (No Major Spoilers)

Promoting this to main.

The Witcher Netflix Season 1 Review (No Major Spoilers)

The Witcher is a new series on Netflix. So far, it...

The Batman - Camera Test

I'm always down for a batman movie.