One life to live #42: From min to max

DiabloWikiHardcore is a game of limitations. One life, zero mistakes. However I’ve been making one huge mistake for a long time. For the past few years due to moving, finishing Grad school, and starting a family; I’ve gotten by playing games solely on a laptop. It isn’t perfect but ignorance is bliss… that is until I had a chance to see what I’ve been missing.

The guys at Ironside computers were gracious enough to let me borrow this beast:

The table cover however is mine

So in one day I went from a 2008 Macbook Pro to a top of the line gaming PC. For those of you hungry for the specs:

Case – NZXT Phantom 410 Gun Metal
Intel Processor – Intel Core i5-3570K 3.4GHz
CPU Cooling – Level 1 Cold Steel Liquid Cooling
Liquid Cooling Tubing Color: UV Red
Motherboard – ASUS P8Z77-V LX
Memory – Corsair Vengeance 8GB (2x4GB) DDR3 1600MHz
Primary Hard Drive – 500GB 7200RPM
1st Optical Drive – DVD Writer
Graphics Card – Nvidia Geforce GTX 560 Ti 1.2GB
Power Supply – Corsair Enthusiast Series TX650 650 Watt 80 Plus Bronze
Operating System – Windows 7 Home Premium 64 Bit
Networking – Standard Onboard Ethernet

With my Macbook Pro I’ve been doing fine. Still killing monsters, still downing bosses and most importantly staying alive. However, I had been doing all that at Diablo 2 levels of resolution without anything aside from low fx checked. As a result I felt like I was missing something in the game, and each time my Fps dropped to 15 I worried that my settings and computer would be the death of me and not my characters actions.

With my new Rig set up and ready to go I decided first to enable everything on high. After weeks of staring at a grainy resolution I was floored to see what the game actually was meant to look like. I found myself just swapping through characters to see what they looked like.  Once the shock of the character selection screen wore off I decided to see the gameplay. I immediately threw myself at the Dahlgur Oasis, that area had been plaguing me with 15-10 fps on average and almost ending the life of my young Witch Doctor. As I entered in to the zone I paid careful attention to the fps reading in my corner as well as my character’s health. Just like I prefer my health to be at a hundred so was my FPS. It never faltered and even under the biggest strain I could hurl at it it I was still kicking butt at a hundred frames per second. A hundred Frames per Second! More than twice what I had been experiencing and almost ten times what I had in troublesome areas. The game also felt better, not to say I wasn’t having fun before but I felt unhindered, and it truly felt like a new game.

So what are the advantages of a computer upgrade for Hardcore? In all comes down to survivability. At no point running on Max with a 100 Fps did I feel like I was going to be in trouble. Monsters came in to view from a distance and not striking me by surprise. Large groups didn’t slow me down, just gave me a thrill seeing them die by my hand. The computer also gave me the confidence to wade into public games. Not having to fear other players animations weighing me down I felt like I was able to contribute and not simple stand back and slowly wittle away on things.

Another large reason is our time with our character is limited, they eventually will die. With 50+ hours into each character I want to enjoy them at their fullest, and not limit myself to the areas I know I can handle. Hardcore is already a game of limitations why add another?

As a result I felt safer in Hardcore. Each missed frame on my Mac was causing me to not be able to accurately assess each situation. Every time my computer slowed down to handle an onslaught I was gambling with dying and losing my time. However, with this new computer I didn’t feel like I was gambling anymore. Each time I logged in I knew my computer wasn’t going to be my undoing and if anything was going to enhance my experience.

I had to depart with the computer a few days after it arrived. I turned on My macbook pro and logged in to D3. It was a rough transition. Going from minimum to the heights of maximum and falling back down to the lowest of the low. It made me think back to my old days of D2 playing on a 56k modem in a middle of a rainstorm, It was the only option I had then but I knew it wasn’t best. I know what I’m missing now, and what a great PC can do. Now I just have to convince my wife to let me get one!

What’s your gaming rig? Does you computer help you or hurt you in hardcore?

One Life to Live covers the Hardcore play and life style in the Diablo community. It is written by Xanth and published weekly. Post your comments below, Follow me on Twitter @HCXanth or contact the author directly. For all the archived news about Diablo 3 hardcore check our Archives!

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33 thoughts on “One life to live #42: From min to max

  1. 1066×1440 – never heard about this kind of screen resolution.
    And my PC is
    Core i3 540 @3.07GHz
    Gigabyte GTX460 1GB
    4GB Ram @1333Mhz
    screen resolution – 1280×1024.
    Most of the time I have 80+ FPS. It drops down only when there are like 50+ mobs in one place and they start exploding. So yeah, good PC is kinda required for hardcore. Unless you don’t care if you died because you fried your GPU when more things been going on screen.

  2. Duh, I can imagine! I never liked laptop gaming, but I bought one 2 years ago anyway. I gave it to my sister after a half year, then went back to my good ol’ PC. I purchased a new computer just after christmas, just because I really wanted to play BF3, and I knew D3 won’t do well since SC2 couldn’t really run THAT smooth. I’m glad about the purchase, the game runs smooth enough.
    However in certain dungeons (sewers, caverns of aranae, especially caverns of aranae) I always get a huge fps drop. I don’t know if it’s only just me, but it’s really annoying. Does anyone else experiencing this?

    Anyway, here’s my gaming computer:
    – Intel i5-2300
    – AMD 6850 1gb
    – 8GB Kingston HyperX
    – BenQ 21,5″ monitor @ 1080p
    My fps never really goes above 60, because I turned on v-sync (it just feels sluggish without it, at least it felt in the beta)

  3. I still play with my MBP. 15 fps on the 1300ish resolution. The biggest advantage of Blizzard having games for a mac seem to turn down.

  4. Main Gaming Rig:
    Alienware M17x R3 Notebook
    Intel Core i7-2670QM
    NVIDIA GeForce GTX 580M  2 GB GDDR5
    8GB Dual-Channel DDR3 SDRAM 1.333 MHz
    17 Zoll HD LED Display
    750GB HDD
    Windows 7 Home Premium
    I use also a MacBook Pro Late 2011:
    I7 2,4 GhZ
    AMD Radeon HD 6770M 1 GB RAM
    8GB Dual-Channel DDR3 SDRAM 1.333 MHz
    15 Zoll HD LED Display
    on both Rigs everything checked on 1600×900 (sometimes playing on 49 inch full HD TV but no hardcore then)

    • I have a Alienware M17xR2:
      i7 840
      128 GB SSD
      8 GB G-Skill Ripjaw
      5870×2 CrossFire
      Samsung 23″ LED Syncmaster

      I play in:
      1920×1080 Widescreen
      Everything on High EXCEPT Shadows which is on Medium (I have tried it on High yet but maybe I should.)
      AA is on

      I have just a tad slowdown when the action REALLY gets going, but it is almost un-noticeable.

      I am extremely impressed with my system.

  5. I use a macbook pro 2007, will be nice to upgrade to the next in a few days when it’s released… Rumours talking about retina display 😮

  6. MB: ASUS Sabertooth 990FX
    CPU: AMD Athlon II X2 3Ghz (Waiting on Piledriver to upgrade)
    GFX: MSI Radeon 6950 Twin Frozr III
    RAM: 16GB GSkill 1866MHz
    SDD: Crucial M4 128GB (Win 7) + Crucial M4 64GB (Linux)
    HDD: WD 1TB Data Drive (Shared Windows/Linux)
    DISP: 2x ASUS 24″ LCD
    Playing Diablo 3 at max everything without issues (when I can play, too much work in the yard + new pool + deck right now, but vacation starting tonight!!!)

  7. Mhh, you dont think about a SDD?? Bought my for D3 and its very nice, i will dont miss it, for normal computer use too.

  8. MB: ASUS P8Z68-V PRO
    CPU: Intel Core i7 2600K @ 3.4GHz
    GFX: Gainward GTX570 GS
    RAM: 8GB Corsair Vengeance @ 1600 MHz
    SDD: Corsair Force GT 128GB
    HDD: Seagate Barracuda 7200.14 2TB
    DISP: EIZO FlexScan 24″ @ 1920×1200

    D3 runs as smooth as a warmed up c**t with everything on max. In my CM HAF-X full tower (with lots of large fans), the rig barely makes a sound when playing as well. Happy about it; it was bought specifically for playing this game ^^

    • If you bought a pc just for playing games you should have gotten a 2500k instead of 2600k. Hindsight now ofcourse but for other people its a good tip.

      • Idd, hyperthreading is pretty much pointless when gaming. But the price difference was next to nothing (bought in on sale), so i got the i7 just because its an i7 🙂

  9. As a hardcoreplayer I would never play on a desktop, in my village in Thailand every week we have a few power shutdowns and with my notebook I’m able to go on instead of die ^^

    • You need to buy the biggest battery backup you can afford. I bought one for a little over $100 and I no longer fear every time it rains. Yesterday, my power flickered three times and I felt no fear keeping on playing, knowing I had enough juice to go playing for 30 more minutes before I had to be forced to power off my pc. And my pc is no slouch in power drawing, thing has a 27″ monitor and other sources of electricity chugging.
      You can always keep your laptop for those times your power outages happen for longer than 30 minutes at a time. Then again, without electricity it could be hard to get internet without a battery backing up your modem/router.
      So, all things said and done, buy a backup battery. Best investment I ever made and I game like crazy in my powerful PC.

    • you are really funny…your notebook will continue to run but your d3 won’t my dear…wanna know why?! well, maybe cuz the power outage will turn OFF your ROUTER so you won’t have INTERNET CONNECTION, so you will STILL DIE xD

  10. I think this is some kind of silly post. I also play Diablo 3 on a Macbook Pro from the same year (2008) and run it in the highest resolution (1440*800) with everything on high quality without a problem! I sometimes change over to playing on bootcamp (also with everything maxed) because it can look a bit more crispy. Don’t know why your computer fails and don’t know why a post like this is necessary writing (sorry..). perhaps you should buy 8gb RAM for 40 pounds on amazon and install it in 5min like I did?

    • Completely agreed. This is really some useless news item. Since I started reading the HC posts of Xanth, I more then once felt his written pieces are sub-par, with this one being the worst since it has nothing to do with the game directly.

      • Try writing a column every week plus and see if your every word is riveting. I clicked and read because I’m playing on a laptop and am interested in the differences. If you weren’t interested in the front-page lead-in, you didn’t have to click through, and certainly didn’t need to comment.

        • I would take on that challenge if I had a platform like this to ”spew” my thoughts and experiences on and Im pretty sure that I would do a better job @ it. Apart from the fact that my progress in game (which the collums are about) is better, Im also convinced that I can write better then he does.

          Also, for your information, I clicked the hot link on top of the page where this piece is titled ”From min to max to min again” or something along these lines. In nowhere does the title tell me that this piece is about his shitty laptop about which I just dont give 2 cents.

          On top of that, it just seems that his pieces dont even get treated with the same respect as those of other writers on this page. Where his news post linking to a piece from his hand get about 4 lines @ best, pieces for example by Flux get a whole page full, with another ‘read after the click’ on top of that.

          • I believe they’re looking for new contributors. You could apply. Of course, insulting one of the current contributors might not be the quickest way to ingratiate yourself, but hey, if you think you can do it, give it a shot. We can’t have enough good writers.

          • If my opinion about a piece or pieces he wrote offends him, he took the wrong job. This is the internet after all, people will disagree on anything you wrote. Ill consider applying though. Maybe I come over a bit arrogant by stating that I think I can write better, but I wrote a lot of pieces myself (all in Dutch though) so I know my skills and talents on that field.

            And I think Xanth would be the first to agree that his laptop is indeed shitty 🙂

            Plus, I didnt really insult him to be honest. I even took his side when I said his pieces dont get treated with the same respect by the site. This could be by choice, but it really caught my eye quite quickly.

  11. Thou shall not play on a laptop.

    Thou shall not game wirelessly.

    C’mon fellas, know the code. 

      • Really? Because i can’t tell you how many games I play where I get lag and pings from game peers that sky rocket to 3000 and then back down and back and forth.  And I will ask what/where they are playing and with some 80-90% consistency they are on a laptop wirelessly in some coffee shop or library.  Casual is the new hardcore.  PS, although I wish people would play on a nice, wired rig, I realize wireless is not going anywhere.  The post was kind of a joke.  Half joke, half wish.   😆

        • playing on a desktop with wireless internet , the router is a floor beneath me , never even had 1 lag spike , i think it just depends on gear 😉

  12. Seeing as my ipad had completely replaced lugging my 18′ laptop around, I bought my first new desktop computer specifically for D3.

    Xanth didn’t mention his monitor, but my 27′ Viewsonic is gorgeous, and hey, my lap doesn’t get all hot anymore! 

  13. Hi,
    The biggest upgrade you made is the jump from OS X to Windows.

    It is well known that the OS X version of Diablo 3 suffers from very bad frame rates. I have a year old MBP and in some areas, I was getting 15~20 fps before the latest patch updated it a bit.

    But with the same exact MBP, someone else ran Diablo 3 in Windows 7 installed via boot camp and played through the areas which were toughest on FPS, only to find out the FPS never dropped below 60. (Capped to 60 FPS)

    The OS X version has become more stable since the latest patch and I’ve noticed exactly what you’ve noticed. More frames per second -> less heart attacks. 

    Now I’m off to fight the Lag Monster.

  14. Fun fact – when you play on min settings, shields on Shielding minions is not shown so you don’t know when you can hit them and when not.

  15. I had to give a shout out, when I saw the Ironside computer!!!! I bought my rig from Ironside computers about 3 1/2 years ago. They hooked me up solid. I have been playing Diablo III and Battlefield 3 on max settings without any problems!

  16. My specs:
    I7 2600k @4Ghz (Corsair H100 Liquid cooling)
    Corsair Dominator 32 Gb ram (8Gbx4)
    Gainward GeForce GTX 680 4 Gb ‘Phantom’
    Corsair Force Series 3 90 Gb SSD, just for boot
    OCZ SSD Agility 4 Series 2.5″ 512GB SSD, Games
    Corsair TX 850w psu
    Cm 690 II advanced (black)
    MSI P67A-GD65 B3
    2 Tb and 1 TB HDD for recording
    2 x 22″ BenQ

    Corsair fan xD

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