I have decided to chronicle my foolish attempts to get a P4 3.4Ghz (Northwood) CPU without my wife closing in on my activities. In my previous caper, I wanted the ability to play the Ghostbusters game and was below specification in several key areas: RAM: 512MB (needed to be 2GB) Video Card: Radeon 9500 Pro (Needed SM 3.0 capability) Hard Drive 120GB (needed more space or there would be conflicts about Photos verses Games... ) So I first tried to lobby for the additional RAM as it would improve Photo editing performance. But this was always delayed. Then I was struck with the "luck" of hardware problems in the Hard Drive. I was able to convince my wife that the RAM upgrade would go great with the new Hard Drive. (Phase 1, complete) So then I begged for the Video Card as a combined Birthday/X-mas/Fathers Day gift. I was given a paltry $65 limit. I found an HD3850 AGP at Mwave for just above my allowance and ordered it. When the card arrived, I found that is was wrongly labeled and was in-fact a PCI-E card. This setback was after all kinds of harrowing arguments about how I waste too much time and money on video games (my dusty ole Gamecube begs to differ). A co-worker got wind of my predicament and offered his 7300GT for $45. After looking at reviews I found that the card was just shy of a 6600GT performance-wise and decided to jump. The new card allowed me to crank-up the IQ in HL2 and Doom 3 (and thus TDM Saint Lucia) and I was even able to play the Batman AA demo (at very low resolution). (Phase 2, complete) Now I needed the Ghostbusters game! I had to wait 'till the year rolled around again and traded my Best Buy gift cards for permission to buy the game on Steam. It ran like a dog. After tweaking and fussing for over 2 months, I found some nVidia beta drivers on nvnews that pepped it up to playable at 800x600. But I was bothered that the Stay Puft level was still so slow. (Phase 3, complete) Now I had my sights on a better video card and decided I would have to take more drastic measures. I told my wife's friend's husband about my need to complete this objective and all my secret plans. He must've relayed this to his wife because she informed me that her co-worker needed PC repair! I arranged meetings before and after work to collect and return the infected laptop. After two secret trips to the bank to convert the personal check, I had accumulated $65. . So back to square 1 sorta. (Another set-back) My wife found the money and discovered the scheme. (she took all the money). (Back to work) My father-in-law secretly gave me a gift of $100 (he must've intuited my tortured life). I took this as Karma and secretly transferred the cash to a cash-card. I ordered the HD4650 online and had it shipped to my Grandma's house. When it arrived I was able to justify my late visit to Grandma and sneak the card into the house, AND... install the card, all in the same evening. I even had enough money left on the card to order HL2 EP1 and EP2! My wife had no idea that a new video-card was screaming away in that old case! Ghostbusters was still sluggish but seemed more playable at higher resolutions. But there were unbearable intermittent lockups!!! I was afraid that I had wasted all that effort. I was using the latest Catalyst AGP Hotfix so I decided to try older drivers. I found that 9.10 was the last version with SmartGart (so I could do stuff like disabling Fast-Writes if necessary...). This driver smoothed out all the lockups and left me with only slowdowns (which was acceptable). I was able to tour the Ghostbusters' HQ at 1280x1024 very smoothly. The Stay Puft level is still slow and now I pine (a little) for a faster CPU as some forum posters claim that 3.4Ghz is enough to get over the hump on that level. (Mission Complete?) So, somehow my wife became suspicious a couple of months later. She wouldn't stop badgering me about some secret she claimed I was hiding. I finally relented (needed sleep) and revealed my caper. So I am in the dog house. (Mission Fail? ...or setup for a Sequel!) So I got back around to putting The Dark Mod back into Doom 3. This time it was MUCH slicker and there a bunch of Fan Missions to complete. I was happy again! But then the NHAT campaign arrived. I was looking forward to wandering that Forest level in the screenshots!!! After much acrimony, I found that my poor old CPU was (yet again) defeated by a modern game. So now I have decided! I must find a way to get enough dough for a Northwood 3.4ghz CPU!!!!! I hope you will laugh along as I fumble my way to better computer hardware. (or pity my worthless soul).