Tuesday, August 30, 2011


How fast is your computer? Having now received my new computer, I find that this question is very hard to answer. There is no universal measure for speed of computers, you can only measure the time it takes the computer to do a specific task. So I've been running benchmark programs like 3DMark and find that my new computer has a score of just under 24,000, compared to 14,500 for the old one. I can also measure the frames per second of games, for example World of Tanks at highest graphics settings going up from 60 fps to 100 fps. But practically these measures of speed don't mean much. If World of Tanks didn't have a small display for frames per second, you wouldn't even be able to notice the difference between 60 and 100.

So what I am left with is a computer which FEELS a lot faster. This is mainly due to the solid state hard drive on which the operating system and the programs are stored. That results in much less time passing between me clicking on an icon and the computer doing what I asked him to. There is less wait for the computer to boot up and shut down, for starting programs, and for loading screens in games. That makes the new computer much nicer to work with, but it would be hard to put a number on this gain in speed and comfort.

A similar issue exists when measuring internet speed. Ask somebody how fast his internet is, and he'll probably give you a number expresses in MBit per second. I have a 20 MBit/s VDSL internet connection. 20 MBit/s ends up being up to 2 Mbyte per second of download speed, so this speed measure is relevant the day I want for example to download my digital copy of Star Wars: The Old Republic, which will presumably be several gigabyte large. If the EA servers are able to send out data at that speed, being able to download 7 gigabyte per hour will be a big help. But for actually *playing* SWTOR the 20 MBit/s speed is irrelevant. For online games it is far more important how fast your "ping" is in milliseconds, because that determines how long you have to wait between you clicking and something appropriate happening. If you play on a server on a different continent, you might end up with half a second of ping, making your character react much slower than everybody else. It is hard to not stand in the fire if your ping is that high. Fortunately a lot of European servers for different games are situated in the area between Paris and the Netherlands, and I have 30 ms ping in many online games.

So, I have a really fast computer and a fast internet connection. Now I just need to decide what to use them for. I haven't even installed World of Warcraft on the new computer, only World of Tanks and Steam. And I don't really have any plans for MMORPGs before SWTOR. I just hope I can get into the beta soon. Apparently I'm not alone here, I see a lot of discussion of SWTOR, Guild Wars 2, and Diablo 3 in the blogosphere, and very little discussion of games that you can actually already play. Well, I have a large collection of games I bought in various Steam sales and haven't tried yet, maybe this is the opportunity to play them.

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