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LPANE Nor'Easter 2005 LAN Party
Date: Apr 22, 2005
Author: Robert Maloney
The Nor'Easter LAN Party

Last weekend, over 300 gamers descended upon the Boston suburb of Wilmington, MA with little else but 32 hours of non-stop fragging on their minds.  Well, that and possibly coming home with some new gear for their PC.  Just over a year ago LPANE, the LAN Party Association of New England, was formed with the hopes of pulling together the various smaller organizations in the area and using their combined strengths to come up with an event that everyone would remember.  The end result was Nor'Easter 2005, the largest professional LAN Party to hit the region.  Contrary to the event's name though, the event started off on a bright, sunny Saturday morning. 


A line of avid gamers soon formed with the contents of their living rooms and apparently kitchens in tow.  While some people came equipped with their PCs and assorted controllers, others, apparently more accustomed to the rigors of non-stop action, brought lounge chairs, cases of Jolt soda or Mountain Dew, and enough snacks to feed a football team. 

HotHardware.com's Booth Infused By...
Intel, Corsair, ATi, Abit, and DFI



Every event needs some sponsorship to provide a bit more drawing power.  Of course, HotHardware had no problem lending a hand by not only setting up their own booth, but representing some major companies such as ATi, Abit, Corsair, DFI, and Intel.  Each of these manufacturers supplied hardware to be used as prizes for raffles and other sponsored events, in addition to assorted swag to give away.  We're not talking about some low-end stuff here; there were top-tier items like the Abit Fatality AA8XE and ATi X800XL to be had.

Left - HotHardware.com's Grand Prize Gaming Rig
Right - Asetek Vapochill On Display

Not to be undone, HotHardware had their own prize to be awarded - a custom rig built by none other than the BigWop himself, Marco Chiappetta.  Talk about a prize, a black Silverstone case housed a DFI Lan Party 925X-T2 with an overclocked Pentium 4 (running at 3.6GHz) and 1 GB of Kingston DDR2 RAM.  As you can see in the picture above, the internal cabling was immaculately tucked away, with the kind of skill that very few can accomplish, and which Marco prides himself on.  We also had another PC for show; a Vapochilled Athlon 64 that was featured in CPU Magazine as well as our own gaming rig, a Shuttle SB95P with a 3.4GHz P4.  Even though much of our time is spent writing reviews, we still find the time now and then to get in some fragging, and we weren't about to let this chance slip by. 


Two other booths at the show were sponsored by ModdersHQ and XG.  ModdersHQ had a collection of modded computers designed/modded by Bret "SoulsEnd" Daly and Bill "MNPCTECH" Owen, some of which were definite eye-catchers, and at least a few could be purchased.  To our left, XG debuted their latest gaming case called the Dragon. They also provided many of the awards being handed out daily, including power supply units, custom fan grills, and the like.

More Pictures & Rigs From The Event

The Shriner's auditorium began to fill up quickly, as each gamer quickly staked out their own area.  The systems were plugged in and connected to the servers using switches and other gear provided by D-Link for the event.  The systems ranged from the mundane to the outlandish, and many users lugged in the CRT monitors which outnumbered LCD screens by a healthy margin.  We noticed that some gamers tried to bring some "mojo" with them from home, as they had figurines and other paraphernalia located on or around their cases and monitors.



While energy levels were high, the air in the auditorium seemed somewhat subdued, as if many of the event's attendees were not quite sure what to expect.  By mid-morning, however, gaming was in full-swing, which was not limited to typical multi-player titles such as Unreal Tournament 2004 or Battlefield 1942.  We saw at least one Red Sox fan taking a few swings in MVP Baseball 2005 and even more oddly, another guy playing old arcade titles through MAME.



When we found some spare time, we went around with a camera to get some pictures of the more interesting rigs that people brought in.  A few participants brought in some watercooled systems, including one custom job using a toolbox and green-dyed coolant.  Perhaps one of the coolest systems we encountered was housed entirely within an attache case; no easy feat there.  It's really a custom job the likes of which are usually found in the back of magazines like CPU.  There were also a few brave folks that brought Macs to the party, including one poor soul who brought in a $7000 Dual G5 system, only to have the system go kaput.  Luckily he had an extended warranty, and got the unit fixed after the event.  We hear the repair bill would have been almost $2800 has he not had the extended warranty! WOW! Macs, gotta love them, right?



Sometimes, it's not just the rig, but the environment that counts.  At least one setup we encountered had controls for just about every game imaginable.  Joystick, throttle, razor mouse, you name it, this guy had it all right at his fingertips.  There's little doubt that some of these guys (and girls, they were a minority, but some did show) were hardcore gamers who planned on staying up all night, as evidenced by the lime-green Mountain Dew based system on one table and cases of soda strewn about.  And notice that a couple of those mini-rigs share the same case.  If you'd like to see what they're all about, check out Vinster.Com - they're pretty sweet.

Alas, it seems that not everyone was up to the challenge as night drew near, for we found a few nappers in Red Bull's lounge away from the main fare.  There was also a "quiet" room for overnight refreshment, but we New Yorkers dared not venture inside. 

The Big Winners & A Bit Of Craziness

Over the course of the two days, we ran various contests to hand out all of the excellent prizes provided by our sponsors.  These contests varied from straight-out raffles to booth races, such as the first attendee to come to our booth wearing a HotHardware "t"-shirt, and we also sponsored an Unreal Tournament 2004, umm, tournament.  The action was fast and furious, and we even entered our own Robert "Stealth" Maloney into a few matches.  Even with the crazy gear he came with, Rob found he was no match for some of the Nor'Easter attendees, and bowed to their superiority.  Sometimes it's tough having a day job, and not being get in all the gaming that we'd like!  Pictured below are HotHardware's list of winners with their prize in hand:

Greg Militello
Corsair 512MB Voyager

Jared Kuipers
Corsair 512MB Voyager

Evan Goncalo
Radeon X800 Pro

Corey Davin
DFI Lanparty 875P-T

Dana Tellier
Radeon X800 Pro

Alex Goldman
Radeon X800 XL

Jeff Scudder
Corsair 1GB RAM

Mark Wyre
DFI 925X-T2 + X800 XL

Peter Cahill
Abit AA8XE + X600

Of course, we weren't the only prize-givers, as LPANE had an entire table of goodies from the sponsors as well.  On each day, the throng of players were gathered up towards one end of the auditorium to see if they had won anything.  There were a few kinks here and there with the ceremony, but eventually everything was handed out.  Some of the larger prizes, including the Abit Fatality AA8XE, were awarded to the first and second place UT2004 participants, and the rest were awarded by Brian "Shady" McQuaid to pre-paid players as part of the big send-off on Sunday.  We also hooked the LPANE folks up with an Intel i925XE board and P4 560 combo, as well as a couple of Radeon X800s and a DFI LanParty mobo (thanks Intel!  thanks ATI!  thanks DFI!) to give away to pre-registered attendees.  Todd Larise walked away with the LAN Party board, David Burns won himself a Radeon X800 Pro, and Justin Thomas scored big with the Intel kit...



Further adding to our showcase of the event, we've got a picture of the winner of our low-end video card contest.  This was the system that Dana Tellier (pictured above) actually brought up to our booth for review.  Dana's gaming on a dual P3 500 system with a Riva TNT based card was grounds enough for winning our contest.  And that's Peter Cahill on the floor following one of our booth races.  He was so eager to win this contest, that he literally slid under our front table.  Way to go, Peter!


Our final two contests were for some major bragging rights; one for a combo package consisting of a DFI LanParty 925X-T2 with an ATi Radeon X800XL, and the other for the custom rig.  As you can see, we were quite popular with the crowd, as each member checked their raffle tickets in hopes of winning the first combo.  The lucky ones were faced with a task, find us any two items that had the words "hot" and "hardware" on them.  After some initial scrambling, and one failed attempt (that's LANParty, not HOTParty, Adam), Mark Wyre had the winning combination, borrowing a bag of Chex Mix and an ATi X600 card from a friend.


Matt Hobbs (bottom left) Lucky Winner of The HotHardware.com LAN Rig!
Pentium 4 3GHz OC'ed to 3.6GHz, ATi X800 XL Graphics, DFI LANParty 925X Mobo

Finally, the coup de grace.  With Davo heading the show, attendees were probed to find which lucky (or is it unlucky?) gamer had the lowest end CPU in the room.  While most of the systems we looked over were indeed power-rigs, the kind of system that games fly on, we were intent on upgrading one lost soul who really needed it.  After waves of elimination, there was just one man left standing - Matthew Hobbs.  Matt was using a 300 MHz AMD K6-2 coupled with a Voodoo 5 video card, and if we heard him right, he was getting close to 20fps in CounterStrike.  Needless to say, we got him straightened right out and sent him gaming on the winning rig.

More Craziness At The Nor'Easter

Nor'easter 2005, like many big storms, ended up with a bang and some collateral damage.  The winners of a few of the larger prizes, including HotHardware's own custom rig, were asked (read: persuaded) to seal the deal...permanently.  These lucky souls gutted their former setups and were handed a 30-pound sledgehammer.  As the spotlights shined down, each of them took hefty swings at their former machines until all that was left were twisted strips of steel and smashed silicon.  It almost brought a tear to our eyes to see our winner's AMD K6-2 300/Voodoo 5 system turned to slag; a piece of history gone by.  Marco was especially distraught to see that Voodoo 5 get hammered.  Some loyal HH readers may remember that Marco got his start in this business working at Voodoo3.Net...




Overall, Nor'Easter 2005 was a qualified success.  The final tally came out to 340 players, and while some may have walked away without winning any prizes, it appeared that everyone had a great time making friends in, and outside, of the virtual world.

Dave, Brian, Rob & Marco

We here at HotHardware were also pleased to meet and greet some new readers as well as a few regular forum members and fans.  We're really looking forward to the next Nor'Easter event, which we hear will happen much sooner than expected.  If you're in the area and would like to participate, bookmark the LPANE home page and check it out frequently.  They'll have more information posted there.  It's a great way to spend a weekend, and if all goes to plan, we'll be there again with plenty of prizes and swag in tow.

Before we bring our LPANE Nor'Easter coverage to a close, we want to give a big "THANK YOU" to all of the folks that made this event possible, and we'd especially like to thank all of the companies that generously provided the hardware and swag that we gave away to the lucky attendees.  Intel, Corsair, Abit, DFI, and ATI - Thank You.

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