The I-7 Quad Core Beast - ASUS P8Z68 Deluxe - W1AEX

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I love to play online multiplayer games like the Call of Duty series along with things like Quake 4 and Unreal Tournament. I noticed last summer that my 4 year old Dual Core 3.0 GHz machine which had been running overclocked at 3.6 GHz was really struggling with Call of Duty Black Ops. It was taking 30 seconds or longer to load each map so that by the time I entered the kill zones everyone else had already scored a few kills! This was simply intolerable! So... it became evident that it was time to build something new. Each time I build a new computer, I'm always amazed at how much the hardware changes. As expected, the processors now run faster and at lower voltages and the RAM screams along at much higher FSB speeds. What really surprised me though was the amazing performance available from the new solid state hard drives. It was immediately obvious that the slow map loading I was experiencing with my old machine would be a thing of the past with a new upgrade. After doing a lot of homework and reading hundreds of user reviews at Newegg I settled on the following component list:


Reading the user reviews at Newegg helped me make my component selections fairly easily. I only buy what others have marked as reliable and capable of high performance. As a result of reading the reviews carefully I was also able to avert a critical mistake with my choice for a processor. Initially, I had inadvertently settled on an I-7 processor that did not have the multiplier unlocked. That would have made things a lot less fun because overclocking would have been limited to only making adjustments to the FSB, which severely limits the ability of the system to run at much higher clock speeds. Fortunately, I read a user review that mentioned this and avoided selecting the locked processor, which was about 15 bucks cheaper than the unlocked version. At any rate, I placed my order online at Newegg on a Sunday evening, and on Wednesday, the UPS truck rolled up to my door and dropped off the pile you see in the picture below.

Boxes
The order was processed correctly and was shipped very quickly.

A quick check of everything on the order list confirmed that the people from Newegg got everything right. To be honest, that didn't surprise me since I have used them for the past ten years and have had no issues at all with anything purchased through them. I even bought my flat screen HDTV from them!

At any rate, the pictures below show the new machine being assembled from scratch. It really is a simple matter of plug and play with these things now.

Lian-Li
Lian-Li case with the Intel 160GB SSD and Western Digital 1.5TB drive installed.


Processor
The 3.4 GHz I-7 processor is installed, safely locked down, and ready for some Arctic Silver.


Zalman
The Zalman heat pipe cooler is securely bolted over the processor and through the motherboard.


RAM
The two sticks of Corsair Vengeance RAM clicked into the slots without any trouble.


Video
                card
With the motherboard in the case the last step is to install the PS and then the Nvidia GTX560Ti video card.


First
                boot
At first power up I arrived in the bios and found everything running cool and at the correct voltages.

Once the system was powered up and running stable at the rated processor and RAM speeds, I downloaded the newest bios for the motherboard and used the built-in flash utility to update the bios from a USB flash drive. It's very slick and even has a recovery feature should things go badly with the flash. With the new bios core installed and various onboard peripherals enabled or disabled, the last step was to install the operating system, which in this case was Windows 7 Premium - 64 bit. The OS install took about 20 minutes and then about another 10 minutes to install the motherboard chipset and onboard device drivers. With the proper drivers installed, everything was detected correctly by Windows 7 and functioned perfectly. Amazingly, with the operating system residing on the new Intel SSD it takes less than 30 seconds to get to the desktop from a cold start. The data throughput rate is simply amazing. So, the system was running cool and stable at it's stock settings, which of course means that a little overclocking was in order. To my amazement, the system easily went through the 4.0 GHz barrier without any changes to the processor voltage. That's a very good indication that the components are cruising comfortably at stock speeds. The system is plenty fast at its stock speed, so after doing a few benchmarks and stability tests I was not inclined in the least to run it beyond its stock settings on a continuous basis. 

With everything running fine it was time to install some important un-productivity software like Call of Duty MW2 and Call of Duty Black Ops, which of course was the whole point of the project! After installing the games I found that on nearly every map that I played I was the first one to enter the level. The tables were now turned as I was able to get into levels faster than most of the other online players. That let me draw first blood and rack up a few kills before others were up and running. How sweet is that?

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Manning a fixed point machine gun during a COD MW2 team death match.

Take a run with me playing as the "62 Year Old Man" in Call of Duty Modern Warfare 3 during a Team Death Match in the video below. My team is in the Village mission and we are the African Milita. The team I played with easily won this match because we held supporting areas that gave us superior postitons near the natural kill zones. I almost got taken out by a predator drone after crossing the bridge, but managed to get in under cover safely. From that position, I was able to score two quick kills before moving on to the next objective. If you select 720p HD (use the control that looks like a little gear in the lower right of the embedded player) and then watch the video in full screen HD (click on the little box all the way to the right along the bottom of the embedded player) it's much easier to see the action! Note that the players on my team are labeled with blue name tags and the bad guys are labeled with red name tags.


 

Here's a short video of a game winning kill shot by the 62 Year Old Man. To save his life, I had to push past my inattentive team mate who was about to get blown away. As it turned out, that ended up being the game winning kill shot. As Clint Eastwood said, "A man's gotta do what a man's gotta do."




The computer easily handles the demanding graphics of this game without any pauses or choppiness. The action is smooth and realistic with the quad core processor running at 3.4 GHz and the RAM set for 1600 MHz. The NVidia GTX-560-Ti video card is a monster that moves pixels like nothing I've ever seen. Gotta go run some more missions now, bye!



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