A few rants, as you'd probably expect.
I got a new computer yesterday, a nice spiffy Shuttle XPC for an Athlon64. I also acquired Windows XP x64 to try it out. Now, the applications that I use on my PC are pretty limited (World of Warcraft, Mozilla Firefox, Halflife 2, etc) and all 32-bit for now, but hey, I want this PC to not suck for awhile, so I bought some nice stuff. I got 2 GB of RAM, and I had 2 10K RPM Raptor Seral ATA (SATA) drives. I've had the drives in my old machine for a bit, and was using RAID 1 for speed, but wasn't using them to boot.
Here was the problem. I enabled RAID on the new machine and couldn't get XP x64 to install. It would reboot back to the CD, like it wasn't making the hard drive bootable. A small amount of research showed that I had to use drivers and press F6 while booting Windows Setup. No problem. Then it asked for a floppy to be inserted.
OK, what year is this? 2005? I haven't used a floppy in 3 years. It took me a half hour of going through my junk box to find a floppy drive and a cable. Then I had to find a floppy that worked (formatted about 3 that I had in a desk drawer before I found one that would format clean). By the way, if you haven't used a floppy disk in a while, let me remind you of something: They are VERY VERY VERY SLOW. Like "I could enter all the driver files in MORSE CODE faster than this" slow. With a straight key! It took 30 seconds to save a file. A file written with Notepad that weighed in at a hefty 8 KB.
So, find a floppy, plugging it in, getting the drivers installed....oh wait, the drivers won't install. Seems that despite being marked as 64 bit drivers, these aren't CERTIFIED 64 bit drivers, so they can't be used during installation. Grrrrrrrrrr. I was cursing so loud my dog was hiding from me.
So, clear all the RAID, I'll just reinstall the box later when nVidia finally gets the rest of the drivers together. Of course, I'll probably have to find another floppy drive by then, but hey. Oh, and a question for the commentors: Will the Windows Setup program be able to recognize a USB floppy drive? Or do I have to crack the case and cobble something together?
So I get XP x64 installed and it works fine. I install the driver suite from nVidia (the motherboard is an nForce 3 chipset) and it works great. I install the new and improved drivers for my video card (ATI Radeon 9800 Pro) and they work famously. So, no issues so far. I install the drivers for my Belkin Nostromo Gamepad...
Oh, a quick word about that. If you play video games on a PC, specifically first person shooters or MMORPG's, and you don't have a gamepad, then stop reading now, go to your local dealer and BUY ONE. Except for the issue I'm about to describe, this is the best thing to happen to PC Video games since hardware 3D acceleration. This product
is awesome. It's a 15-button keypad, directional pad, jump button and "red button" all in one fully programmable unit. You get nifty programming software that easily lets you bind any key on the gamepad to any keyboard key. So your keyboard still works as you'd expect, but you've got an extra keyboard that's very comfy to use and gets you quick access to lots of buttons.
Finally, I installed the drivers for the Nostromo and no dice. The OS needs 64-bit drivers from Belkin before it's gonna work. So, that sucks. I really can't game without the pad anymore, believe me, I tried playing WoW without it and just found new and insteresting ways to frustrate myself with not having access to everything I need. So I'm installing Windows XP, boring edition on my PC right now. Bah.
Hopefully belkin will fix their stuff soon too. So if you're using a gamepad and rely on it like I do, stay away from XP x64. If you're using XP x64, don't buy a Belkin. If you work for Belkin and you're reading this, drop me a comment or an email and let's talk about beta testing your driver.
Anyway, other than that, the box is great. I was playing last night and it was very very very fast loading, zoning, and so on.