Wow moments in your PC experiences

Hardware or software or…
Thinking back to all the different PCs I've owned over the years, there are two "Wow!" moments (as Todd Howard likes to say) that stand out to me from making upgrades. Installing my first ever graphics card, one of the early Voodoo cards and playing the original Tomb Raider, the graphical detail and smoothness of gameplay was just amazing. Going from an HDD to an SSD (SATA) gave me a dramatic decrease in load times, for everything, but really noticeable in games.

First color Monitor, 2nd Monitor

After b/w monitors at work in 80s, I treated myself with my first home PC in '90. Not much to say—night v day, dog food v steak, Colif pos… you get the idea. Color isn't just pretty, it's essential for making a lot of quick choices.

They may take my wife, but they'll never take my 2nd monitor!
Ok, she just said to keep her and she'll always make sure I have 2 monitors—crisis averted and priorities maintained. Such a major advance in work productivity—sadly there are far too few games which support 2 monitors :(

Floppy to CD

I have unfond memories of 13 floppies to install Windows—probably 3.11—which of course needed more than one fresh install in its lifetime. Compared to Win95 on CD… ah, bliss :)


The switch to SSD for system disk is definitely up there too—even tho I knew what to expect from reading, it was still great to actually see it happen. I had ~5 second boot time at fastest, using some Win tech I can't recall now, which basically copied your last 'state' to disk and then just loaded that without all the usual booting checks. ~15 seconds normal boot before loading up all my software—but even today it's only somewhere around 30 seconds. That compared to 1-2 minutes from 7200 HDD.


If I recall correctly, it was Win95 which also introduced decent multitasking. This was a big productivity booster for me, as my PC has always been first a work machine and second a game device. These days I can Alt-Tab in and out of games without issue—unless the game itself has some problem with it, which is rare.

Game evolution

A few of these which were 'wow' for me:
♣ Prince of Persia—first humanlike form and movement I saw
♦ Wolfenstein 3D—first 3D game I played
♥ Command and Conquer—you can do that on a PC? Game which finally hooked me on PC gaming
♠ Half Life 2—just spectacular
♣ Far Cry—my intro to the breathtaking experience of Open Worlds
♦ Civ4—OMG procedurally generated maps for a different game every session, and almost limitless game setup options

What made you go "WOW!"?
Historically I have upgraded so often that most leaps came in small portions but there are a few things that I remember as wow. First is VooDoo, I probably even said WOW first time i fired upp a Voodoo 1 game, that leap was huge for me. Second time is possibly going from Adlib to SB16, the improvement in sound realism (yeah i know) was huge to me at the time and made old games allmsot new again!

As for games. I have had allot of WOW moments but some of the WOWiest (not a word i know) was Diablo 1, watching the Demo intro from the wc2 disc over and over i was so hyped and when the game released i played it over and over (something that went on with Diablo 2aswell).
Ultima online. Wow! The freedom! The Scale! The being "PKed while mining as a noob the first time you went outside of a town". That game has given me so many wow moments it is impossible to count them all. But first time i got my own hose and opened a little shop, first time playing the game obviosly, finding out about the RP community and more.

I will stop here or my list will go on and on :D
My biggest two are probably the same as Mainer. My first Voodoo card was definitely a wow. And that's even after already having an S3 Virge 3D addon card before that. Second biggest was probably HDD to SSD.

But a couple more huge highlights that rival those moments.

Going from a Commodore 64 with 16 colors, 64KB of RAM and a 1.023 MHz CPU to my first Windows-based PC. It was a Packard Bell with a 75MHz Pentium, 8MB of RAM, a 540MB HDD, and SVGA graphics that could do 65,000 colors. It was an unbelievable upgrade, and I was so stoked.

I have another big wow moment. I had always been a PC gamer, but with the kids, we ended up going to gaming on a Wii, then a 360, then a Wii U, and I got away from it for a while. So for a while, my only platform for gaming was the Wii U, which was barely getting any games. One year, I think it might have gotten one game I was interested in for the entire year. It was miserable as a gamer. So then I saved up my money and built a gaming PC. It was back when the Geforce 900 series came out, and I was able to build with an i5-4690k and a GTX 970. After suffering through the Wii U's underwhelming hardware and game droughts, it truly was a wow moment.
You already know my first 2 WOW moments as far as PC upgrades go, but a distant third would be going from a CRT monitor to a flat panel monitor. My last CRT was a 21" diagonal beast that weighed almost 50 lbs (which is roughly 1/3 of my body weight). I replaced it with a Dell 27" flat panel that weighed less than 20 lbs. I don't remember the resolutions of the monitors or the year I made the switch, but I think it was around the early 2000s, or maybe a bit earlier. But I found it a huge difference in gaming experience. Plus it was less strain on my eyes, and less strain on my back when I needed to move that old CRT.

Gaming-wise, there were a lot of games that amazed me, at least on the first time through, but there are 3 games that always come to mind when I think of that WOW moment.

- Ultima Underworld 1 (I'd played a lot of the Might & Magic and Wizardry games, which were 1st person, but with that "step by step" movement. UW1 was my first experience with free movement (you could even look up & down), it was an awe-inspiring experience at the time.)

-Baldur's Gate 1 (It became the high water mark for CRPGs to me, and influenced so many that came after it.)

-Skyrim (The early fire-breathing dragon attack, walking out into the wilderness for the first time and seeing the wind in the trees, the level of detail, NPCs having conversations between themselves and having their own personal schedules. It was a ground breaking experience for me, and remains (at this point) the best RPG Bethesda has produced).
I talked about going from a C64 to my first Windows-based PC. But I can't forget getting the Commodore 64. That was back when home computers were a fairly rare thing, and I couldn't believe we got one. I think I was in 10th grade, and we had a couple of Apple II computers scattered around the school. Before I got my C64, I was watching a guy in my class making a simple BASIC program, and I thought I could do that pretty easily. The first day we got our C64, I went to programming a simple text-based adventure game, and started binge learning how to program in BASIC and Assembly Language from the giant programmer's guide that came with it. Plus the games we could get on it were much more advanced than the Intellivision we had at the time.

So my first step into the computer world in a time when they were still rare was probably one of my biggest wow moments.
So my first step into the computer world in a time when they were still rare was probably one of my biggest wow moments
How true, I should've started with that. Copied from old post:

I got a dirt cheap Spectravideo to play around with this new programming thing, and of course what better program to play around with than a game? The machine was like a fat keyboard, plugged into the TV for output and input came from tapes in a cassette player.

Only source of software I knew of was programs printed in magazines. Imagine the joy of typing them into the machine. Imagine checking line by lie when the danged thing refused to run. Imagine then waiting a month for the errata in the next edition!

That lit enough of a fire to make me switch jobs to a hardware—and some software—manufacturer, where I learned a lot about the whole computer industry.

Might've been this guy, don't remember the detail:

Only source of software I knew of was programs printed in magazines. Imagine the joy of typing them into the machine. Imagine checking line by lie when the danged thing refused to run. Imagine then waiting a month for the errata in the next edition!
I spent many hours typing in those magazine programs. The frustrating thing about it was that they always used hexadecimal machine code, so you couldn't decipher what was going on. You just had to mindlessly enter a ton of numbers and letters.
What, you didn't speak hex? Hah, n00b!

Mine were in various forms of BASIC, and I still couldn't figure out some of it :D
Lol. If it would have been Assembly Language instead of Machine Language, I might have been able to figure it out. And I definitely could have gone a long way toward figuring things out with BASIC. The crazy thing about my magazines was that they actually did use BASIC, but they used it to create machine language programs. They just read a bunch of hex numbers from a ton of DATA lines and POKE'd them into memory locations and saved it to a file to create an executable machine language program. So I could understand how the BASIC program was creating the file, but no way I could tell what the file was going to do. I always thought about trying to run it through an Assembly Language decompiler to try to see what was going on, but I never did.

Good times.
The Good:
  • Getting an Atari 520ST in the '80s. The red joystick that followed with it was amazing to use. Still miss that big thing, not to mention the games.
  • Floopy sounds were the best!
  • First time using Serial/Coax cable and being able to set up a local LAN with my friends. A lot of good memories of playing Duke Nukem, Blood, Doom and even GTA 2.
  • Open GL in Quake with the Voodoo card. It looked amazing!
  • My first Quake tournament. I did not win.
  • Playing Indiana Jones and the Fate of Atlantis. Hands down the best point&click ever made.
  • Astroids on an old IBM PC. A lot of memorable clickity-clack sounds.
  • Encarta 95 and watching small videos and sounds from around the world.
  • First time using FastTracker and playing the Beverly Hills Cop theme song.
  • Getting the Logitech Z-550 surround system. That thing is still a beast.
  • Playing Colin McRae Rally 2.0 and Return to Castle Wolfenstein with my father.
  • A moment I will write about in a future thread: I got my mother to play Blade Runner as her first PC game ever last Christmas.

The Bad
  • Some of the games on floppy just took forever to run. I remember playing Bloodnet on Amiga 1200 and that game had 12 DISCS!! The swapping was so irritating I threw the bloody game away!
  • Tried to order a game bundle from Text-TV back in the late 80s and got scammed. That was hard-earned money from mowing lawns!
  • I convinced my friend his Amiga 500 could run Duke Nukem 3D only to have it completely crash. He had to reinstall the Amiga and oooooooh boy, he was not happy about that.
  • My Atari Strip Poker floppy disc suddenly stopped working.
  • Thinking it would be a good idea to put a vase with water on top of the PC tower. I tried to lift it with one hand, but it broke and water was everywhere. Tried to start the PC again some hours later and it started burning. Not my smartest moment in life and probably not my last either.
Jan 10, 2023
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My biggest one would be the most recent one. Going from a 7200 HDD to an M.2 NVME the boot speeds are amazing, I will definitely never go back. If I need to get a drive for bulk storage I will populate the 2nd M.2 drive on my board.
Watching my friend (the same one who found the magazines) play Wizardry was awe inspiring and led to about 20 years worth of CRPG's.

Booting up Windows for the first time.

Attaching a Thrustmaster steering wheel and pedals and launching Nascar 2003 for the first time.

My first HD monitor.

Discovering Steam and buying my first digital game. That also officially started my Steam backlog because I still haven't played it to this day.
Doom in 1993-1994 or thereabouts round a friends house before I had my own PC. Scared the hell out of me but couldnt stop playing it, something that fast in 3d was completely new at the time to me.

The first Command and Conquer was a big one for me. I'd never played anything close to that type of game before in 1995. I know others were similar before it, but it was my first experience in a game of RTS, FMV cutscenes, and Soundblaster 16 (compatible) music. The future was truly here on quad speed CD drives :p

Doom 3 and Far Cry in 2004 because I just bought my first PC with a proper GPU, and those games looked on another level from anything else I'd seen to that point.

Since about then, graphically everything has been incremental. Full HD wasn't a huge step up from the 21inch 1600x1200 CRT I used until my PC blew up in 2009ish. And while graphical effects have improved immensely, its felt like a slow drip year on year, rather than the huge leaps you got from going 8 to 16 bit, or 2d to full 3D.
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I loved the first few C&C and Red Alert games, up to Tiberian Sun, lost interest after that for a while. Bought C&C 3 on release and wasnt impressed so I never went back and tried the Generals games.

The first games I bought when I built my first fully custom PC in 2012 were Metro 2033, and Far Cry 3. Far Cry 3 was a great game, much different from both 1 and 2. You can imagine my disappointment when they released 4 and it was the same game with a new skin + elephants thrown in there ;)
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Once you change, you can't go back... or don't want to. The difference can be timed here. In the time it takes my mums PC with a hdd to boot, my PC with an nvme has turned the screen off as no one logged on fast enough. I wonder if there is a way to change that time time out period.

SSD to NVME was noticeable on this PC too but then its a new PC, so everything was new. I know better than to try to run Windows on an nvme on a Z97 board, even if it does have the slot. SSD used to take about 30 seconds to boot, nvme is already asleep by then - PCIe nvme can turn off when not being used.

I posted in the other thread. Not going to repeat it again.
I don't even use the Performance power plan so no point running ultimate. I don't see the point in running CPU at 100% speed if you not actually doing anything on PC, it just creates added heat and stress.

I know people expect their 4.5ghz CPU to run at 4.5ghz all the time, but that isn't how it works anymore on multi core PC. Mine can run at that speed but often its way slower. I can't tell though.
  • Encarta 95 and watching small videos and sounds from around the world.
Encarta 95 was so awesome. Coming from a Commodore 64 to that was an unbelievable experience. I couldn't believe I had an entire encyclopedia with pictures and videos all on one disc. And I loved the Mindmaze game that came with it. I wish there was a Mindmaze-style game for Wikipedia.
Jan 4, 2023
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The switch to SSD for system disk is definitely up there too—even tho I knew what to expect from reading, it was still great to actually see it happen.

I am in the same boat as you on this one. When I switched from HDDs to SSDs, my opinion of what computers were/are capable of transformed in a moment. I went from thirty second load times, to less than ten. That was a big moment in my PC journey too.


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