Right before the holidays I was contacted by a representative of Zareason (a seller of pre-installed Linux systems) to review playing World of Warcraft on the Everex gPC. The Everex gPC made a splash upon its release and sale on the Walmart website as a low end, consumer web enabled system. The gPC is designed for the average user to browse the web, send email and create word processing documents. While it includes OpenOffice, the main focus surrounds the suite of Google apps – Google Docs, Google Spreadsheet, Google Maps, etc. The gPC runs a version of Ubuntu with a customized version of Enlightenment 17 as the desktop environment.
The audience is definitely the casual web surfer but I was intrigued to see whether this “low end” system could actually run WoW and run it well. In addition to that I wanted to see what else the system could do.
Let me get something out of the way up front. Zareason did not ship me the default Everex gPC configuration. They added an extra 512mb or ram bringing it to an even 1gb and threw in an Nivida GForce 6200 card with 256mb RAM. The base price for the Everex gPC is $199.00 on the Zareason site. Adding the extra RAM and video card increases the price to $347.00.
I will detail the setup and impressions of the gPC and gOS in later posts.
Out of the box Zareason set up the Burning Crusade under Wine. Now I have heard of late there have been issues running the latest patch set of WoW under Cedega, Crossover Office or just plan Wine. I myself have experienced patching problems since late Spring of last year running under Crossover and Wine. Patches would fail to download making the WoW loader impossible to use. I had to manually download the patches and run them through WoW. A bit of a hack, but I was able to install them successfully that way. But still, the WoW loader was unusable and I had to run the WoW executable directly. I noticed that WoW was a bit choppy on my main system, a System76 Dual Core system; but still playable.
I experienced none of these problems on the Everex gPC. WoW ran flawlessly. I played at least 10 hours leveling a new Dwarven Hunter. There were no crashes and no dropouts. The graphics were smooth and the audio crisp. Now mind you this was at the default settings. So I bumped it up from 800×600 to 1024×768 at the highest graphic setting. I increased the level of textures and the environmental details range and the system still played admirably.
I was excited to see the first patching. Too bad it ran flawlessly! I had nothing to tweak or frustrate over.
There were a few minor snags but it was not the execution of WoW at fault. Ubuntu has a system update notification icon that appears as an orange sun in the panel. gOS, being a derivative of Ubuntu, retains this icon which will appear in the lower, right-hand corner and remain on top of everything; even the WoW screen. Thus, I had to make sure to update the system before playing or suffer the eyesore over top the bottom corner of the game screen.
The gOS got in my way another time when, after messing around with the shelf configurations (shelves are like panel in KDE or Gnome; or the task bar in Windows) I accidentally set the shelf to remain atop all windows. Needless to say, when I ran WoW the next time the main gOS shelf interfered wit the game window again. The fix was simple and the cause my fault.
I was amazed at how well the Everex system ran World of Warcraft. My next step will be to remove the extra memory and the video card and see if WoW continues to run acceptably. So keep paying attention to this blog for more to come!
I was mistaken in a few things regarding my initial impressions of running WoW. First, the video settings for WoW were not at their defaults when I received the system. In fact, they were set below the defaults and many of the enhancements turned off. Overall this did not impact the playability of the game, but it did reduce the “eye candy” aspect. While I did not notice much of a difference bumping up some of the video settings; when I checked the frame rates there was s significant difference.
At their original level, the frame rates were not very impressive. They hovered around 27-30 fps. That’s not a lot compared to most modern systems, in fact that is more than half of what typical “gamer” rigs will display. Increasing the video settings halved the frame rate to about 15-17 fps. That is pretty low. I must give WoW credit though; I did not notice much of a problem playing WoW at 25 fps with the reduced video settings. The game played and I had fun. Is this enough for a typical gamer though? I am not sure. Those I speak with would scoff at these results. In the end, though, we must leave it up to the individual. I had a blast playing WoW on the Everex PC.