Well as it turns out XCOM is not XP compatible. It would have been nice if someone had mentioned this to me months ago but alas... So it seems that I should finally get off my ass and upgrade to Windows 7. I can pick up an OEM disk tomorrow but I've never done this before so any advice would be great.
Here are my current PC specs:
Intel Zeon 3110 CPU (this is basically a server branded E8400 Core 2 Duo)
Asus P5k-E mobo
4 gigs of ram DDR2.
650w Antec PSU
1600X1200 20" Monitor
I have two hard drives, both are 250gb. The second one is partitioned 200/50 and it hosts games and music. The first one is partitioned 50/100/100. XP is installed on the small partition. The other two partitions are for storage and one of them is completely empty. Am I correct in thinking that I can simply do a dual boot (in case something goes wrong) by installing Windows 7 onto one of these storage drives? And if I do this how much can I move over?
For the games drive. I did some research and it looks like Blizzard games like SC2 and D3 just need to have the launcher run as this will rebuild the registry and recreate all the supporting folders. To transfer Steam over I should delete everything but steamapps and the client itself and let it re-install everything. Everything else would need to be deleted and reinstalled completely like the Planetside 2 beta.
I also looked into the driver issue. As far as I can tell I need drivers for:
The ones that came on my support disk wouldn't work with 7. It took a little digging around but I found 64-bit versions for each.
Next, I'm told its possible to transfer all of my settings/bookmarks and whatnot in Firefox by just copying a profile over to a fresh install. This is supposed to be as simple as moving one folder, but when I googled instructions most of them seem overly complicated. Like using line commands to generate profiles and stuff. Anyone done this before?
Another possible issue is the increased RAM footprint of 64-bit 7. It's supposed to require 2 gigs, and I have 4. But being 64-bit this means that the 640mb of my graphics card would no longer be mapped onto the 4gig limit correct? If so that should make enough of a difference. Currently the only program on this computer that can run out of memory is Tribes Ascend, and it just barely tips over the limit. So another 640mb of breathing room should make the difference.
Kind of rambling at this point but there is a lot to consider. I haven't upgraded my graphics card in a very long time. I would describe the (nvidia) 8800GTS 640 as "90% top of the line" back when it was new. Nowadays it's beginning to hit its limit with the high end games. I had considered getting a new card, but they don't make decent cards with less than 1 gig of ram these days, some of them go over 2 gigs. That would have made the aforementioned 32-bit limit even worse.
Back then the 8800gts was the balance between cost and performance. After a little research it seems that position now belongs to these cards:
The first one is a 550ti, the second is a 560ti. They have comparable GPU clock speeds and memory. But the second one has almost double the CUDA cores. CUDA cores ARE the GPU in nvidia cards right? I know they can also be used to perform physics calculations. Given that my monitor runs 1600x1200 natively and I drop that to 1600x900 for games that support widescreen. Do I really need that much power?