Taking SLI and X850 XT PE to BloodlineAttending Intel's recent CPL qualifier on behalf of HEXUS was a unique experience. If you've been following Nick and Steve's excellent coverage of Bloodline in the run up to its beginning, you'll know that it was held at a large film studio just outside of London's inner central sanctums.
The venue's size made it the ideal place to house a few hundred gamers as and when they wanted to sleep, a hundred or so computer systems from those that brought their own, a large peripheral area for the other venue attendees like HEXUS, and a capacious main area that held a large stage and lighting rig. That main area had two side sections crammed full of DellXPS gaming systems for the competitions to take place on, along with the sound rigs left and right.
I was there in a technical capacity, to both baby sit the systems we had on display, and to explain anything about them to the gamers present at the event if they had any questions about the technologies, the parts used or just how expensive the paint job was on the Xeon system.
We were partnered by Real Machines on our stand, who brought down their Prescott-based demonstrator with its gorgeous TVR-inspired paint job, VapoChill-ed processor at 4GHz and water-cooled X800 XT Platinum Edition that was clocked even faster than the X850 XT PE that we brought along on the second day.
Complementing that, we brought along one of the Scan SLI systems I used for my SLI coverage recently, based on Tumwater and dual Xeon. It's the system I did a lot of my early SLI examination and pre-testing on, to get a feel for the technology before the nForce4 SLI version became available.
That system was maybe the star of the show for us, the assembled gamers lusting over dual processors, dual graphics cards, dual Raptors, and the chassis it was assembled in. I've got a separate article just about ready to go on the SLI systems I used for my coverage which will show you just why the gamers got their dribble on when they came to see it.
The X850 XT PE system, a world first demonstration of ATI's new star accelerator, also showed off Intel's latest Extreme Edition processor, their 925XE core logic, a 74GB Raptor, and a couple of GB of Corsair's finest DDR-II complete with memory activity LEDs, all inside the fabulous Akasa Eclipse-62 chassis I recently reviewed.
Both running with 19 inch AG Neovo LCD monitors that are absolutely gorgeous, they weren't just for show, gamers able to play a few games on them too, to see what all that computing power buys you in terms of framerates, which is the main thing they care about.
With our systems and Dell bringing along dozens of 3.46GHz Extreme Edition-based XPS rigs, the gamers got to play their games in the way the developer intended. Doom 3 with 4X anti-aliasing enabled at 1280x1024, at fluid interactive framerate, or Half-Life 2 on our X850 XT PE machine and Real Machine's demonstrator, along with Jo showing off Linux gaming with Far Cry, Half-Life 2 and Doom 3 all running on his Debian installation without any problems.
And letting gamers play on the systems as well as me talking about them, was just why the event was a unique experience for me. The average gamer at Bloodline used a system far less powerful, and being able to explain how each part of the system contributes to the speed and visual appearance of their games was an eye opener for both them and me.
Gamers are inquisitive folk you see, and educating them on how performance is obtained in modern computer systems had them asking questions about the hardware that I'd never have imagined, which lets me tailor some future articles to the way they're thinking about their hardware. Most gamers at the Bloodline event weren't hardware enthusiasts in a traditional sense.
They knew that the latest graphics would buy them more frames per second, but that's about as far as it went for most of them. Off the shelf systems from large OEMs are the order of the day for them, so pulling them into the world of component upgrades that we write about at HEXUS will hopefully leave them with a fresh view on things, and of course HEXUS with a few more hits from the attendees that promised to give us a click.
Overall, taking HEXUS to events like Bloodline opens new avenues for all interested parties. We get new readers; they get a new understanding about the hardware they're using to shoot each other with in Counter Strike. It was a success and I'm glad I made the trip.