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Retrospective: Byakko – Gaming PC

Last night, my roommate Nick came by my room to tell me “I spent a little over a grand, but dude, I am happy with the machine! Does everything I want/need and I love it!” So it got me thinking… How much have I put into Byakko?

I would like to reflect and see how much I have put into my build with the 1 year birthday of Byakko coming soon (4/25/2009). I do want to make mention that my girlfriend has helped build Byakko in her own way as well. So essence, even she has helped build the beast as well.

Let’s rebuild the part list… The prices listed are the original MSRP (aka, what the manufacturer wants you to buy it for) from Amazon. This list does not account for some of the sale prices I nabbed (i.e. – $90 for my 1.5TB Seagate Barracuda) or from components gifted from my loving girlfriend Ebongrey.

$60 – Biostar MCP6P M2+ microATX Mainboard (nVidia nForce 430)
$65 – Student Edition of Windows 7 Professional
$100 – AMD x64 Phenom 9500+ Quad-Core 2.2Ghz processor
$30 – Ultra 450w power source (out of production)
$60 – OCZ ReaperX HPC 4GB DDR2 1066 RAM kit (2x 2GB sticks, discontinued)
$200 – 1.5TB Seagate Barracuda 5,900 RPM SATA 3.0 Hard Drive
$48 – Lite-On DVD+/-RW 24x burner drive
$142 – XFX GeForce GTS 250 512mb GDDR3
$70 – Netgear WG311T Super-G (108 Mbits/sec) Atheros 802.11b/g wireless LAN card
$40 – Thermaltake Wings RS 100 Piano Black case
$200 – Logitech G19 gaming keyboard
$70 – Logitech G500 Laser gaming mouse
$80 – Logitech G13 Advance Gameboard
$65 – Microsoft xbox 360 Wireless Controller + Receiver
$40 – Razer eXactMat Xspeed + eXactRest
$162 – Samsung SyncMaster 2033SW 20″ Wide LCD 16:9 aspect ratio monitor
$60 – Logitech Notebook Premium Headset
$0 – Altec Lansing “Soundworks 4.1” series speakers (discontinued circa 1999)
Grand Total: $1,492 (Actual paid prices and estimated price of parts gifted to me totals roughly $1,200, $292 in savings)

For a slightly better, yet closely similar configuration from HP right now…
System: HP HPE-180t
Windows 7 Professional
Intel Core i7-920 (2.66GHz quad-core)
1.5TB 7200 rpm SATA 3Gb/s hard drive
1GB ATI Radeon HD 4650
LightScribe 16X max. DVD+/-R/RW SuperMulti drive
Wireless-N LAN card
HP 2159m 21.5-inch 16:9 Full HD Widescreen Monitor
Grand Total: $1,424.98

Take note… that with the HP, some of the parts… you don’t know who manufactured them. For all you know, it could be from the reject parts bin from no-name manufacturer. Also… the HP monitor has a 3,000:1 contrast ratio versus my Samsung producing a dynamic 15,000:1 ratio for crisper colors in games, which for a gamer who loves pretty colors or art/production media folks, that’s pretty damn important. Sure, it does have a leg up on some things, but what happens when you want/need to upgrade? Remember the $292 I saved from my build? I now have that to put towards upgrades down the line. What can $292 get me? Let’s observe my options:

Budget: $292 (prices based off of Newegg)
Full refresh build
AMD Phenom II X4 965 Black Edition (3.4 GHz quad-core), ASUS M4A78T-E (790GX board), Corsair 750TX (750 watt power supply), Radeon HD 5870, Corsair 4GB (2x 2GB) DDR3 1333 RAM – $770
Completely new build reusing most of my parts, absolute extreme

Processor, budget graphic and power supply upgrade
AMD Phenom II X4 945 Deneb 3.0GHz quad-core, Radeon HD 5770, and a Corsair 750TX – $456
$164 additional needed to budget

Mainboard, power supply, processor upgrade
AMD Phenom II X4 965 Black Edition (3.4 GHz quad-core), ASUS M4A78T-E (790GX board), Corsair 750TX (750 watt power supply) – $440
$148 additional needed to budget

Power supply, Nvidia-loyal graphic card upgrade
BFG Tech GeForce GTX 260 OCX MAXCORE 55 896MB GDDR3 (graphics), Corsair 750TX (power supply) – $340
$48 additional needed to budget

Alternate graphic card and power supply upgrade
Radeon HD 5770 + Corsair 750TX – $290
$2 ahead of budget

Processor and power supply upgrade
AMD Phenom II X4 945 Deneb 3.0GHz quad-core and a Corsair 750TX – $286
$6 ahead of budget

As you can see… I can still come very ahead of the HP for value. Should I want to upgrade, I can! I don’t have to worry about things like voiding warranties just because I’d like to bump up performance… Another thing I can do without that fear is replacing the cooling fan for the processor. If the processor fan (in unfortunate circumstances) die and your machine is under warranty… I would assume you’re at the mercy of the manufacturer to mail in your machine, then hope to get it back quickly. For us DIY-builders, we can click off the old fan and bolt up a new one then get right back into things.

For those fearful of putting together a machine, don’t be afraid to! When you can learn how all the parts come together as well as how much you will save and potentially be able to use in upgrades… You’ll be thanking yourself when your machine lasts a little longer with parts you know and trust than the mystery bin parts. It’s almost like being able to make lasagna at home with good cuts of ground beef from the butcher or getting mystery meat from the frozen box version. Just something for you all to think on.

Black Dragoon in the Battlefield

I have been in many wars and seen much destruction in my days… Not like these past few months. To go from zealous warrior to a dragoon cast out from his unit for the battalion commander using questionable logic in a battle… It’s taken a toll and made me a jaded soldier on the academic war front. The fight no longer is about meaningless mortal concepts like “family honor”, “respect”, and “face”; it becomes a fight on the matter of personal dignity. The warmness of the soul dies… A casualty of war from fools who heedlessly had no perception of how morale can either produce quality units or make them useless. Break a soldier and he will mutiny the battalion or kill himself, even more if you keep trying to say the unit is only going to repeat his failures of the past. Encourage a unit and let them do battle and you may see the unit grow even stronger. Sadly my “commanding officers” don’t see it this way and only know “motivation” by breaking a person to a mindless slave that is useless when the master leaves or dies.

Sadly I have seen the “quality” unit churned out by the school of de-motivation and slavery. They have no sense of real world logic, rosy-sunglasses syndrome. On top of that they can’t handle the “devastation” of failure and own up to their mistakes! They HAVE to blame others who they feel are intellectually inferior to themselves! When a soldier cannot own up to accidentally killing a comrade, leading the enemy back to the command center, or ruining their own supply pack… They have to learn to go “I messed up but I can put myself to resolve things” instead of being a yellow bellied coward! This logic is essential to learning and evolving past old glories that have given false security to us slacking off. It is much like the mantra of war: “Evolve or DIE“. If you refuse to evolve, take chances, and get hurt… You will ultimately be killing yourself. If you fail, you can just pick up from the ramparts and retry again. If you succeed, you evolve! From failure and success, evolution is still possible.

I guess you could say that I am sadly exhausted of being the mindless slave unit. I am the drone who tasted freedom. To be told that the only way to become “superior” is to put a yoke on my mind and make it lazy, I desire not to have it. I’d rather fight under a banner of heroes who’ve decided to question logic than blindly obey.

The Best 13 Day Holiday Sale Comes to a Close

As some of you dear friends know… This year, my holiday gift giving theme was “The Gift of Game” because of how important games are in my life as a tool to destress out from my life. The games, of course, would be delivered from the digital Santa Claus of the computer gaming scene: Valve Software’s Steam Store. Some of you got deeply serious games like Borderlands, while some of you a silly game of Zombie Bowl-o-Rama. Though… The thing I wasn’t expecting: to be gifted back. It was really a fun thing as my measly collection of The Half-Life Holiday 2005 box, The Orange Box, Left 4 Dead, and a few random games here and there totaling around 30 games… Some how exploded to a grand total (as of this afternoon) to 85 games. Of course, I also facilitated some of the growth by seeing some of the games being on sale for a wild $1 to cheap ones for $15.

Of all my gaming years, I was a “console gamer” as I never could build out a computer gaming rig that could even take the power of games. For that, I paid the price in console games. With console games, it’s rare to find fire sales where a game could be reduced down to almost 90% off. Which in turn meant my money as a student/working-man never went far for my purchases. A couple games for the tune of $80 may only last me barely a month total… When Steam came back in full force with my life back in late May of 2009, it made me proud that Valve took their online product key storage model and added a very worthy and easy to use gaming store. That was about the time I had bought up The Orange Box for PC to get Portal and Team Fortress 2 for the price of $30 (about $6 a game for the package deal). After buying my first ONLINE purchase via Steam, it was just amazing to see that since the inception in 2003 has grown so well polished. It was like the Apple iTunes model but for gaming and with TONS less restrictions. I know some naysayers will bemoan “God, Steam is a TERRIBLE platform!” but at the same time I am also willing to say I have tried some of the other digital store models and they are sub-par and worse with how much the games are locked up. The big advantage with Steam I had noticed once I became more active with buying on Steam was occasionally, they do hold “Mid-Week” and/or “Weekend” deals where games are just blitzed priced to move fast! Probably one of the best moves are the “Free Play” weekends where Steam will pick a game and just declare “Play this all weekend from Friday 11am – Sunday 1pm” (times are in CST) as well as discount the game should you like the free full-version trial.

Then came my first holiday sale on Steam… They started the day before Thanksgiving (US) with a sale that lasted until 11am Black Friday. Then had a sale Black Friday, Saturday, and ended Sunday. During that 5 day sales blitz, some of the games had insane pricing… I managed to snag a few games for an early Christmas delivery for friends of mine, but I lamented that I missed out… Little did I know what Valve was going to drop on us around December 22th. Around 5pm that day (12/22/09), Valve did something I didn’t think was possible, they announced the Steam Holiday sale that would be going on until January 3rd. Thirteen days worth of 24 hour sales and with some standing offers that were good until the end of the sale. Publishers like 2K games, Square-Enix Europe/Former Eidos Interactive, Atari, EA Games, Valve themselves were major players. To also level out the market, indie games (independently made/published games) also got some time to shine from their wonderful values. Sure there were some days I missed out, but… The final round yesterday was great. It was the “encore” sale, 7 of the best 24-hour sales deals would return for one last purchase. However, it makes me sad just knowing I won’t see another big PC gaming sale for a good while.

Thanks Valve for making this a great holiday season for me and my friends. We may have had bleak Christmas holidays, bickered with family, or were just trying to escape for a pleasurable New Years Eve celebration… but your sales for the last 13 days gave some of us something to look forward to when we woke up or got off of work.

(Factoid: As of this moment, per the Steam Calculator with Robin Walker of Valve Software who buys every game on Steam… there are 808 games in the catalog.)

Happy 2010 Dear Readers!

I’d personally like to wish you all a Happy New Year’s Day and pray you all spend it with the one’s you love. I know I had quite the bit of fun at a New Year’s Eve LAN party, especially when my host decided they wanted a new monitor but they were a bit drunk to even consider driving. I linked up my machine with my host’s TV at a fun 1360×768 resolution while they were ecstatic over a huge upgrade from a 1028×768 CRT monitor to a 1600×900 20″ flat screen LCD.

The highlight of my night would have to be the fact that I had almost the entire team of my “gaming guild” (The Creed of the Deadly Artichoke) as well as the founder of Clan Avalanche chatting together in Steam as we were waiting for the New Year to come by. The socializing and interaction of everyone just either gaming, drinking and clinking ethereal beer bottles/champagne glasses together, and plain having fun.

I welcome 2010 with open arms and have faith it will bring good things to me, my friends, and the world.

I plan to have more guest editors and staff editors pushing quality work and hopefully… a new era of this blog.


Christmas from Zero

I wish my readers a happy holiday with my girlfriend Ebongrey and I hope you all have a great holiday! Enjoy this holiday safely and with much joy for this world.

“Born naked to this world and naked to this world I shall exit. The Lord giveth, the Lord taketh away. Blessed be the name of the Lord.” – Job 1:21

Apologies for Slacking Off…

So I have been inundated by both studying for school in addition to also giving myself sanity diagnostic checks in the form of computer games… It’s been a bit harrowing as I have some personal matters I am dealing with to boot. However, there has been one obsession that I have been diving into: Borderlands

Need proof? How about this?


The game has over 17,750,000 guns over 12 in-game brands… The unique art style and sarcastic humor is grand. I have loved playing the game with my girlfriend and to top it off… My best female friend passed me my early Christmas present of the DLC “The Zombie Island of Dr. Ned” to boot. I have completed my first play-through for both the main game and “The Zombie Island of Dr. Ned” content with Roland at L42 and clocking almost close to 44 hours so far. I know in time that I do plan to get through the second game. Also I can’t wait to help my friends beat their games by helping them out.

C0nc3pt is polishing the Droid review which should be online soon. So those who are savoring it, please be patient as C0nc3pt has been busy with work and other fail problems he deals with at his day gig. I would like to thank him personally for guest writing the review for the blog! As for me… I am gonna continue relaxing and studying away.

Gyromancer – A Puzzle Game Remix

By the grace of Jamie, I was presented with Gyromancer a few weeks ago. To her, I thank her for it, because without her… I’d probably still have a bit of a hard time getting the game. =D

Gyromancer as many blogs like Kotaku and Joystiq have posted that the idea of the game started off basically as a joke, but somehow got taken seriously. The polish of the game is something very unique… The combination of both Square-Enix and Pop Cap Games is quite a fusion. The game has simple Pop Cap game mechanics of Bejeweled Twist but the story line of a strong Japanese fantasy RPG as you’d expect from Square-Enix. It’s truly a game that is easy to start, but hard to master.

The basic game play mechanic is to rotate sets of 4 gems clockwise and when you match 3 or more gems vertically or horizontally, you generate power for your monster to cast spells. Once your monsters fill a spell bar with energy, then the monster is able to cast its spells. The caveat is that to empower your beast’s spells, you have to match the gems that are aligned with your beast. If you match gems of the enemy monster, you risk empowering them much more.  In addition to this, there are also different monsters you can collect, but if you want to switch monsters… Your old one is considered “erased” in favor of the new monster. Thankfully,  monster levels are based off of your character levels. Early in the game, they do not penalize you for “Idle Rotations” where you don’t break gems… However, later on, it becomes much harder as an one poorly thought move can completely botch your game. You do have items that can help turn the tides of war to your favor, but these come by so few and far between.

I’ll spare the details and cut to the chase… If you like puzzle games, Gyromancer may be for you as long as you’re fully aware that there is a challenge element to it. Knowing that the challenge element could enrage you, know you may have to take breather breaks from knowing parts of the game are all purely based on luck. If you’re fine with that, then by all means do get this game! However, if you’re expecting a deep RPG just because you saw the hallowed Square-Enix logo, this is not what you’re looking for…

Gyromancer is currently available on Steam and Microsoft’s XBOX Live Arcade for $14.99 and 1200 Microsoft Points respectively. However… For the 360 version, the challenge maps are an extra 240 Microsoft Points (about $3 – $5) and healing items in-game are purchased for 20 Microsoft Points (about $0.50). I would recommend the PC to avoid being nickle-and-dimed as the challenge maps are included.

New Editors and Back to School!

Zero View

On driving back to my dorm… This was my view of most of my trip. I have been glad to have friends through this holiday as they have kept me sane…

I want to say that I have been working in a few editors and grooming them into my process of making sure they write under the style I hope them to. So once they make their debut, then hopefully I will be able to welcome them properly and warmly to the site!

For now… I will be watching the time pass while studying again… Woe is as me!

Thanksgiving, Post Delays, Recruiting Additional Staff

So it begins… The day of feasting for a year’s harvests is upon us as well as the other things it brings us. Such as football games, reunions of family, and just good food. To my readers, fans, friends… I wish you all a Happy Thanksgiving if you live in the US, I raise my glass to you. Stay safe, don’t get too crazy, and do have fun.

I know my posts have been delayed, but all in all, they are being worked on. I spent quite a bit of time working on my Gyromancer review. I will say that don’t let the price fool you, as the game has finally cranked a notch and is actually hard finally. I will explain more once I have the review online.

I have been considering expansion as a few editors on hand would be good to keep the site’s content fresh. So hopefully, once I have my crew together… I’ll be able to keep this site relevant with the times.

Hit ‘n Run Site Update

Just a quick update before I hit off to class…

I will be having a guest editor making an appearance here. It’s my buddy C0nc3pt from JarretRedding.com and he will be reviewing the Motorola Droid from Verizon. That post should be up soon for those curious on Android phone coverage here. I will leave him to give an introduction if he so wishes, but I will say he’s by far one of my great friends who is also technology minded while embracing my philosophies. I am very glad that he took up my invitation to provide a guest article and it is an honor to have him as my guest here. I hope that my readers will give him a very warm welcome when he posts up on ZeroXR 13mg!

I will be making a review for Square-Enix + Pop Cap Game’s fusion puzzle game Gyromancer later today soon. It won’t be too long, but the version in question will be the PC/Steam one as I don’t have an Xbox 360. I have my girlfriend Jamie to thank for Gyromancer. =D Other than that… Next week you may see me blogging more often as I have a 2 day school week and then it’s Thanksgiving holiday for me. For those of you who do game with me… You won’t see me in game this coming Sunday – Tuesday morning as I will be leaving Byakko (my gaming PC) at my office at my parent’s home. For those of you who do want to keep in touch while I am unavailable to game, do feel free to add me to any IM clients as I will be on my Linux laptop =) I will say that I will miss you all for that short time in games of Team Fortress 2, Left 4 Dead, Left 4 Dead 2, and Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare.

Keep watching the site today soon for Gyromancer! Those curious of the demonically addictive puzzle game… Please see the following links:

Steam Powered Store Page: Link
Official Square-Enix Page: Link