This past weekend when I was loading some new interface mods, I added PerformanceFu, which monitors your frame rate, latency, and some other stats on how well the game is running. At first, having the frame rate immediately available was nice, because when I'd see the frames per second drop, I'd just calmly say, Ok, I'm lagging. I'd wait for the number to increase again, and then start moving. Whenever I saw oddities, like the fps shoot way high and then drop way low (usually while in the elevator in the Undercity), I'd calmly say, Ok, I guess I'll be disconnected in a second. Somehow, just seeing that fps number and knowing what the next few moments were going to be like made it a little less frustrating. At first.
Now, those regular dips in frame rate are just making me spend a lot of time at Dell.com, shopping for a new computer. My computer is about five years old, and although I haven't looked at the minimum specs for running WoW since I first installed the ten day free trial all those months ago, I'm pretty sure it's below what they have listed as required. (It's certainly far below what is recommended.)
When I first decided to play WoW, I did shop for video cards a bit, thinking that just upgrading that would be good enough. At the time that I got this computer, I was playing some games, but nothing so graphics intensive that I noticed a slowdown. The first game I noticed it choke on was Civ 4, so I usually played that on our laptop instead, which was newer and slightly beefier than my desktop. I couldn't imagine playing WoW on the laptop though. Civ 4 made the laptop run pretty hot, so I think WoW would probably cause a total meltdown. Anyway, WoW seemed to run well enough on my desktop, so I abandoned the idea of an upgrade pretty quickly.
I'm not sure what's happened since then. My lag problems seemed to get worse just after the last patch. I don't know if it's all the fancy effects they've added with the sunlight or what. I've changed some settings to reduce the video quality a bit, turned off the music, moved a bunch of extraneous non-WoW files to an external hard drive (because it was getting pretty full), and defragged the heck out of it. According to the PerformanceFu thing, my mods aren't adding that much of a strain, so I don't think that's it. With every patch, I guess the game gets a little bigger and more complicated, and it's just more than my little computer can take.
I found a mid range video card that I thought might be a good, sturdy upgrade, but then I noticed how cheap PCs are getting. For just twice the cost of the video card, I could get a whole new system. (I do have a nice monitor, so not replacing that already makes the whole venture cheaper.) But you know how things go. If you're going to spend $800, then what difference would a few more hundred bucks make? And then a few more, and ... well, this is a major source of entertainment for me, the last computer did last five years, so if I just beef it up a little more, this could last me another five, and ... yeah. I want a whole new computer, and not just a moderate upgrade. I want it to kick ass. I don't ever want to see Azeroth at 5 fps again.
So, I'm shopping seriously now. (And getting no work done.)
Edit: The new computer has been ordered! Est. shipping date is the 19th. Now, the agonizing wait...