Hardware Woes

Lobilya and I are having a hard time getting EQ2 to run smoothly. Well, being the scholar of the family, mostly I’ve been responsible for getting this to work. So we bought new motherboards with Athlon 2800+ processors. Then we got 2 Nvidia GeForce 6800 GT cards. I brought the home and installed them, and stuff didn’t work very well. I ended up having to reinstall Windows.

Then I tried to install Everquest. I hadn’t noticed that we had bought the DVD ediiton of EQ2! So back to the store to get a nice DVD Rom drive. Once EQ2 is installed, the first thing it does is scan all the installed files and look for updates.

So it begins the process of downloading updates. Sadly, I have a very hard time keeping the machine up for this process, which turns out to be very frustrating. Sometimes the client crashes, and sometimes my system spontaneously reboots. Persistence pays off on my machine and we get a working copy, although very unstable. Lobi’s machine is much worse, we can’t seem to get through the scan/download phase.

It turns out that her hard drive has many bad sectors on its disk complicating things. I managed to get her a working install by using our home LAN to push all the files to her from my system. But both systems are somewhat shaky. I noticed that just before the EQ2 client crashes or hangs, I could hear my poor hard drive going crazy, so I went out and bought a new one, duplicated the old one to it, and that seemed to improve things. I got a Hitachi drive (7200rpm, I didn’t pop for the 10K rpm drive, I ain’t THAT rich) because they seem to have a slightly faster seek time. It helped.

But once last night I still got a random reboot. And several client crashes. Most of the client crashes were in South Qeynos zone, so I suspect that there is some load associated with this zone or with the number of players in the zone that causes problems for the client.

I speculate that there is a fairly large amount of data associated with a character that must be published to all other clients in the same zone. All that detail about size, face, coloring, etc. doesn’t come for free. When this traffic gets too high, you see problems on the client, because it can’t keep up with the datastream, messages from the server get dropped on the floor and chaos ensues.

Just a wild-eyed guess from this pointy-ears.

One last word. The motherboards I got use the VIA chipset to run the AGP and PCI bus. I think this was a mistake, and I should have paid the extra money for the nVidia chipset instead. I just wasn’t thinking.

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