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Guest Post: Building an epic-level computer

This article has been brought to you by Seed, the Aol guest writer program that brings your words to WoW Insider. Today's post is the third of a three-part series on preparing your computer for Cataclysm. In our first post, we covered upgrading your current system; last week, we discussed how to assemble a hot gaming rig. Today, we'll look at building a high-end system that will last.

Today, I will cover building a high-end system for under $2,000 that will last you many expansions into the future. In this article, I will be listing specific parts as opposed to making general suggestions. Computer geek opinions vary drastically; this is just my two cents.

When you're considering a rig that will last you for years to come, you need to consider key components including the case, the power supply, the motherboard, a processor, heatsinks, hard drives the video card and more.

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Guest Post: How to assemble a hot gaming rig for Cataclysm

This article has been brought to you by Seed, the Aol guest writer program that brings your words to our pages. Today's post is the second of a three-part series on preparing your computer for Cataclysm. Last week, we covered upgrading your current system. Today, we'll look at building a system that will play WoW at max settings without breaking the bank.

I like my cases how I like my women -- lightweight and protective. A computer case has three purposes in life: to house all the components, to protect them and to provide good airflow to them. Owning the most epic set of plate mail ever created does you no good if you cannot move or breathe in it. However, running around in your auction house tux is also a bad idea if you're the main tank. It's important to find a happy middle ground between the two.

When it comes to computer cases, first, pick out something you like. A case should be an expression of its owner! Pick out a few different cases you like and then narrow down the search by the number of fans the case supports. Modern systems will require at least one 120mm front intake fan and one 120mm rear exhaust fan. A top exhaust fan is a nice bonus, since (as everyone knows) heat rises. You should be able to find a decent enough case for around $50 with free shipping.

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Guest Post: Is your computer ready for Cataclysm?

This article has been brought to you by Seed, the Aol guest writer program that brings your words to WoW.com.

The Lich King is dead, your GearScore is 6,000+, and you have enough alts to run your own 25-man ICC. You cannot wait for the upcoming Cataclysm expansion, but along with the new instances, gear and level cap, there are also significantly increased graphics to consider. You may be ready for Cataclysm -- but is your computer?

While we have yet to hear official system requirements from Blizzard, we do know from the Cataclysm FAQ that "there will be incremental tweaks and updates to the graphics engine in this expansion. For example, we've made improvements to the way that water is rendered. We'll announce the exact system requirements closer to the expansion's release."

This is the first part of a three-part series on getting your computer up to speed for Cataclysm. Today, we will cover how to cheaply upgrade your current system. Part 2 will look at how to build a cost-effective, brand new system that will still run WoW at full settings. Finally, part 3 will focus on building a future-proof monster computer capable of soloing the Blood Queen herself!

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Guest Post: Northrend truckers -- a tale of WoW OTR

This article has been brought to you by Seed, the Aol guest writer program that brings your words to WoW.com.

After spending three years crammed into a call center with 600 reps sitting in quarter-cubes so small I could hear the other reps on all sides of me, I decided it was time to ditch the tech support world and go see America. Four weeks and $2,200 later, I had my Class A Commercial Driver's License, thanks to a truck driving school outside Springfield, Mo.

Before venturing out, I wanted to purchase a decent laptop for gaming (we were attempting to do full clears of Zul'Aman when I decided on my career change). I ended up purchasing a HP Compaq NC8430, after catching it on special. It had the Intel Core 2 Duo T5600, ATI's Mobility Radeon X1600, and I upgraded the memory to 4GB of DDR2-667. After loading WoW and all my addons, I was happily running around Shattrath at 60 FPS! I also purchased Skyworth's 19", 12-volt LCD TV to use as a second monitor and to also watch television on in the few occasions I stopped overnight near a big city (Big Bang Theory is not available online).

I didn't want to mess with a laptop and a GPS system, so I purchased Microsoft Streets 2006. MS Streets came with a plugin USB GPS that had about a six-foot cord on it along with a suction cup. Through blind luck while surfing the web, I also found Jotto Desk, a very nice laptop for semis that mounts to the base of the passenger seat and has an arm that extends over to the driver seat for easy access. While a bit of a pain to install, the effort was well worth it. The people who invented the Jotto Desks deserve an award or a free case of Bawls or something. Having successfully installed Jotto Desk and mounted my USB GPS to the front windshield, I was almost ready to hit the open road! All I had to figure out now was a way to get internet no matter where in the United States I happened to be.

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