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Security Software Recommendations for Windows 10?


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#1 DirtyHarry50

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Posted 10 August 2016 - 06:52 AM

I am evaluating solutions presently myself via free trial installations but wanted to ask what those of you running Windows prefer to use. Does anyone feel Microsoft's own Defender and firewall are adequate on their own?

I practice sensible habits in using the internet but of course that alone cannot make me immune. It certainly helps to avoid a lot of issues but even a well known site can be hacked or have its advertising hacked with drive by stuff or whatever. I do not install Flash which is thankfully on its way out but too many places, even well known ones still use it. Fortunately, Chrome sandboxes it so where i use Chrome now wherever I am for web browsing that problem is solved I hope. Once in a while I encounter something wanting Java, such as Nvidia's automated driver page so while I am not keen on having that I probably worry too much. As far as firewall goes, I am behind a router anyway although I'm inclined to think there is some value in controlling the flow of traffic in both directions so nothing phones home without my being aware of it.

Anyway, so far I tried Bitdefender Total Security first. In every case I've gone with packages that provide both Windows and macOS support. I realize the need for security software on a home Mac is highly debatable but for short money if you are getting it for Windows anyway I figure it is probably worthwhile as one more layer of protection where no system is entirely immune for everything. Of course, that means nothing is with this software either but it can and does at times help, much more often with Windows admittedly given the huge installed base of targets more than anything else.

Bitdefender despite earning a recent PC Magazine Editor's Choice (which used to mean something) failed me right away in a big way. It has a known unresolved issue severely impacting internet access speeds on at least some systems and mine was certainly one of them. I observed this behavior right away in Windows 10, hit Google for info and learned that I needed to remove Bitdefender. I don't have time for major problems in software I am paying for and I am not interested in trying various workarounds, etc.

There are four products I considered initially and all of them are very importantly light on system resource use in both operating systems and have minimal impact on operations such as file copying, access, etc. Bitdefender was very good performance-wise other than the show stopping issue with internet access.

Next up, I tried Norton Norton Internet Security Deluxe. Symantec has come a long way with this product in many regards. I found it to be much smarter than the other products I tested so far in the way it automatically manages most things for the user with very limited interruptions and good performance with limited system resource usage. Their online tech which does mean you need to be connected for it to help you (I am constantly anyway) utilizes large databases of known apps, files, etc. and so the firewall for example does not need to pester you to make smart decisions about what traffic to allow in various directions while also being smart enough to detect something not right. It has a very nice and simple UI with key stuff at the top layer and more complex options accessible as you drill down when desired, not that it is very complex to work with period. I see that as a plus. I am not a sysadmin. I am just a home user. I want smart software to do the work for me and I believe that ought to be possible in a home user environment at least. Scans are relatively fast and the quick scan option is very fast. You can pretty much install it, review the main options briefly and forget about it. It includes their disk optimization software from Norton Utilities I imagine and that is smart about not recommending you waste time doing stuff you don't need to until there is enough fragmentation to warrant it in Windows. It is quick to check the disk and figure that out too. I did run it once in a previous Windows install (long story for elsewhere) and it was relatively fast but had the most minimal UI for this I've ever seen. You know what the Windows trash emptying looked like in Win7? It is reminiscent of that but I don't recall it even giving me a clue about progress so when it might be done, who knew? I think that needs a little love but not a big deal really. They also include a very half baked cleanup module which deletes browser cache and temp files I think in Windows. If you are you going to bother to clean up in Windows, their own Disk Cleanup utility is the way to go anyway so that's just fluff. They make a deal about iOS support which is also ridiculous fluff. iOS support includes backing up your contacts and one other completely useless feature i forget now it was so useless which is saying a lot when I remember the contacts backup which is also redundant and useless in iOS. Somebody in marketing must have insisted they needed something for iOS I guess. Somebody in engineering must have figured marketing would be too stupid to realize how stupid their simple answer to that was. Meantime, users complain bitterly on the App Store about this. I am not sure what they expected or thought they needed for iOS from Norton Security. Again, not a biggie just silly. Oh, I remember now. It includes a feature to  find your iPhone if the app to find it is running! How cool is that? I can see a thief now firing it up. "Hey, I wonder what this does? I better leave it on."

Lastly for Norton they include a Password Manager but they do it in the most terrible, intrusive and uncool way by requiring a browser toolbar for it to function along with another addon to support their Identity Safe in this toolbar. What is more, while this works in leading browsers in Windows and it works in iOS supposedly, they dropped Mac support for it. There is something kind of sad about Symantec of all companies doing that in my opinion. Anyway, that feature is useless as far as I am concerned given that limitation and its implementation sucks so badly, even including a "Share on Facebook" button that you cannot remove, that it might as well not exist for me. I called them about that too and asked, "Are you kidding me? A paid security product has built in advertising basically for Facebook with no way to opt out? Seriously?" I'm sure that feedback went nowhere. Oh, well.

All that said, warts and all I give Norton Internet Security excellent marks for its primary function. You just need to ignore and disable the junk that management and marketing must have insisted upon. I do not believe for a second that software engineers felt anything but irritation and maybe even shame putting this stuff into a product they otherwise have reason to be proud of.

Moving on, the Norton experience left just enough of a sour taste initially to cause me to press on and try the other two highly rated options which were ESET Internet Security and Kaspersky. I began with ESET. This works well and is very light on system resources. It is relatively fast but it ships dumb as a rock in terms of configuration in my opinion. The defaults are probably alright for a lot of people but basically this one is old school in the amount of tinkering you need to do with its many options to make it behave the way you want it to and do what you want it to. On a bright note though, the other side of that sword is you can do this with complete control. Once done, you can probably forget about it too so there is that but the initial setup is somewhat daunting and time consuming if you are not pleased with the defaults which I was not. There are no utility bells and whistles here and that is fine because at this point in the game, the operating systems already include the basics and for special cases you are so much better off getting a product that lives and dies by doing one thing well in particular, such as say backup software or something. The built in web protection I tested is very good and invisible to the user in their browser which is sweet without compromising speed. I consider ESET to be an excellent product if you don't mind setting it up initially and perhaps occasionally fiddling with if it blocks something you are okay with on the web as one example.

Since I was kind of lukewarm about ESET but did consider it and still do, a strong contender, I moved on to Kaspersky last. This suite is expensive but highly regarded with good performance, low impact and a fair number of added utility features but as I just mentioned there is little real need for these in a security suite overall as they tend to either be redundant or half-baked rendering them useless ultimately. Kaspersky was no exception here and therefore the premium price tag is in no way warranted in my opinion. The worst offender was the included password manager which they make a deal about in marketing the suite but which is actually their limited free version that anyone can download (but shouldn't bother with) and use without cost. Hardly what I call a value add there. I didn't even bother testing it because it would be yet another twenty bucks to add that in a world where LastPass can be had on all your devices for twelve bucks and its feature set is much better. Frankly, I was so disgusted with the cash grab marketing and the bloated suite with a lot of useless stuff that I removed it the same day I installed it.

In the end, I went back to Norton Security which at its core is good at what it does and is also one of the most reasonably priced options besides. If you ignore the fluff and disable it, the software you wanted in the first place works well. All of these products do a decent job of fending off a lot of malware while none are perfect of course and these four with the exception of Bitdefender do so with limited impact on your system which is quite important for gamers in particular.

So that's my take on evaluating these thus far although I am on the fence a little about Norton vs ESET. The latter is pretty slick product that sticks to what it does well. The top level UI is nice and it is simple with the complexity revealed in a largely intuitive way. The documentation and support is good also. Basically, it's a little more work but the payoff may be worth it. The big appeal with Norton is how automatic everything is with smart defaults and choices made for you with the help of databases they have built up over a very long time.

Microsoft's Defender which I believe uses the same signatures as their enterprise Forefront product I think it is called certainly is light weight and requires next to no interaction at all. Given my safe surfing habits I do wonder if it would be enough although surprisingly its detection rates of various stuff were nothing to write home about compared to the four products reviewed above. That concerns me although for a long time before i had this iMac I was content with their Security Essentials freebie and never had any problems. In fact the only infection which really wasn't one that I have ever had goes all the way back to my BBS days when some programmer thought it would be humorous to pop a screen that displayed a scary image of a monster on my monochrome display (with Hercules card!) and announce through the PC Speaker, "I am Chroma! I have destroyed your computer!" or something similar to that. I have to confess, the bugger got me with his benign joke code in some little utility or game shareware thing and scared the hell out of me. I contacted the BBS operator to report the file which he'd already heard about plenty and taken down. It turned out it was a friend of his that coded up that bit of fun. I'll never forget that. I was so new and that was damned scary to me then. That is the only thing I've ever been "infected" with ever that I can recall. Actually, I have had few instances of something taking control of the browser with no way to kill it but shutting off the machine and disconnecting from the internet resolved that little problem.

The thing is, I know there is plenty out there from the many times I have needed to fix my family's computers over the years. Thankfully, I got them all on Macs or iPads now so my support days are largely behind me. I do give Apple a great deal of credit for that because my folks excel at getting into trouble with computers and Apple does a good job of meeting the challenge the likes of them present on a daily basis.

I hope you guys like goofing off at work and reading my lengthy rambling stuff or ignore it. That works too as long as nobody hates me for it.

So what do you guys use with Windows in particular? Do you bother with anything on the Mac? I asked about the Mac quite a while ago and forget now who did what aside of macdude22 pointing out that there was little need for it in the Mac world.
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#2 macdude22

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Posted 10 August 2016 - 07:12 AM

I would not feel compelled to use any "security software" for macOS. If you do, the only two that seem to consistently avoid fraking up your machine are products from intego or Sophos. My personal opinion is most of these products INCREASE your surface risk by forcing their dirty fingers into area's of the OS best left without additional holes poked in thur. Between X-protect, code signing, and general safe browsing there is very little risk. There are essentially no known virus/trojans/worms currently in the wild for macOS.

That said there are plenty of popsnizzle ware malware type things that will slip stuff in ~/Library. The very excellent Thomas Reed of The Safe Mac recently went to work for Malwarebytes and is now the primary developer on the Malwarebytes products for macOS. If you feel the need for extra protection, just run their tools every once and a while. It will clean out any garbage that may have gotten dumped somewhere in the user space.

Personally I think Ad-Block tools do more to protect Mac/Windows platforms than any "security" products do these days.
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#3 Frigidman™

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Posted 10 August 2016 - 08:04 AM

Intego likes to muck around with things it shouldn't be at its higher levels of 'protection'... and its why we have specialized code in the MGS App that goes "stop using intego, its mucking things up".

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#4 macdude22

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Posted 10 August 2016 - 08:17 AM

It's very hand holdy. But it also doesn't KP your machine *cough SEP* Symantec on expected Sierra support: whattiera?

I personally wouldn't run anything but the occasional pass from Malwarebytes.
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#5 Sneaky Snake

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Posted 10 August 2016 - 08:27 AM

I just use MS Defender on all of my Windows machines (Gaming PC, work laptop, work desktop) and have never had any issues. We use a corporate Kaspersky license where I work, but I uninstall it on my machine (perks of being an admin). I have literally never contracted a virus in OS X or Windows over the years. I've always found that built in security settings + safe browsing habits provide better security that any anti-malware software. If I am going to download something really shady that I'm not sure about I will open up a little virtual machine which I can nuke whenever I feel like to test out the shady software. I only do that maybe once or twice a year.

These days I'm too lazy to pirate stuff (Steam, Netflix, iTunes Store, makes it convenient to buy/rent/watch stuff) and I found 99% of the computers that I find with malware on them are the result of trying to pirate something and/or watch movies/tv's online.
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#6 Matt Diamond

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Posted 10 August 2016 - 08:31 AM

Thanks for the exhaustive rundown. Couple comments:

My daughter's Windows laptop is running BitDefender, and its been fine. I honestly forget whether she's on Win 8 or 10 though. She's not a heavy user, though I expect that will change in high school.

On Mac I agree you really don't need anything if you are at all cautious about what you download and what links you click.

I recommend using OpenDNS though (just requires a simple change to your router settings.) It blocks some vectors for malware, e.g. will keep you from opening known phishing addresses. It can also filter access to dangerous or obscene websites if you have kids. It's free, and may even be faster than your internet provider's DNS server.
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#7 macdude22

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Posted 10 August 2016 - 09:16 AM

View PostSneaky Snake, on 10 August 2016 - 08:27 AM, said:

We use a corporate Kaspersky license where I work, but I uninstall it on my machine (perks of being an admin).

Man, even I eat the dog füd and keep McAfee EPM on my workstation. I figure if we make everyone else do it, I will suffer along with them. Plus it gives me incentive to fine tune the exceptions and shank our rep every other week about performance issues. I run my workstation with the standard management classification, so I am somewhat less receptive to complaints about our "draconian security" which is totally not draconian. If I can operate within this framework anyone can. Yes it is a few more steps in most workflows. I am happy to put in a few extra steps when necessary if it helps keep my organization's name off the front of the Wall Street Journal for leaking PHI.

View PostSneaky Snake, on 10 August 2016 - 08:27 AM, said:

These days I'm too lazy to pirate stuff (Steam, Netflix, iTunes Store, makes it convenient to buy/rent/watch stuff) and I found 99% of the computers that I find with malware on them are the result of trying to pirate something and/or watch movies/tv's online.

I am positive Genieo comes exclusively in fake codec .pkgs from sketchy sports streaming sites.
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#8 DirtyHarry50

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Posted 10 August 2016 - 10:04 AM

Well, I never pirate anything. So I am good there. The closest I might get to a questionable download I guess would be various game mods or fixes but even there I don't do a lot of that and when I do it tends to be big name, well known ones and direct from the site of those that make them. I don't even have a torrent app installed although there are occasional legit uses for one to download something. There's always the http option as well in those cases and I just go with that. I can't even recall the last time that came up so it is rare. All things video I either stream from Netflix or HBO or I purchase them on iTunes or own them on physical media.

That was a good point above about the value of ad blocking to prevent drive by stuff, etc. I hadn't thought about that even though I use it to cut down on all the ads all over the place.

In consideration of everyone's comments and considering my own history and habits I think I will just take the defaults and save myself some money and hassle then. If and when the day comes that something changes or something unexpectedly burns me I'll revisit the idea of whether or not a 3rd party product is worthwhile then.

macdude22, would you say the free version of Malwarebytes is sufficient to scan user stuff in macOS? I think they still have that but also have a paid version now. I haven't even gone to look yet but I figured I'd ask you first. Maybe I will periodically run that and see if I am ever picking up any minor junk surfing or whatnot. I have a feeling I probably am not but if it doesn't cost me anything I might as well check once in a while.

In other utility related news I tried out SuperDuper to clone my macOS partition to a bootable external USB 3.0 drive and that works like a charm. I also got Winclone to take care of my Windows bootcamp partition which I am presently having a little issue with but I think I'll figure that one out soon enough or get help from Twocanoes to do so.

I kept screwing up my system with my recent fooling around triple booting and decided it was well past time I invested in apps to image the partitions. When I get my Windows system later on, I'm going with Acronis on that I think after testing it out but I'll revisit that when the time comes. For now the above two are really nice and simple to use solutions to save me from myself.
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#9 macdude22

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Posted 10 August 2016 - 10:05 AM

I don't think they have a paid version of Anti-Malware for Mac (they do for windows). They are only charging enterprise customers right now. But I wouldn't hesitate to buy a premium version should they release one. I'm happy to keep Thomas Reed in cheddar.
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#10 DirtyHarry50

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Posted 10 August 2016 - 10:11 AM

Okay, that sounds good. Thanks. I'll go pay them a visit today.
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#11 mattw

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Posted 10 August 2016 - 01:12 PM

I'm also of the opinion that most of these products do more harm than good.

Just keeping an eye on some of the more technical news sites to understand how any new malware attempts actual work is best, along with regular backups keeping software up to date and being mindful before installing new third party software.
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#12 DirtyHarry50

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Posted 10 August 2016 - 10:45 PM

Yeah, it's all removed now. I did install the Mac version of Malwarebytes and it found nothing so that's good if not surprising. The Windows version I noticed with a very cursory glance at the site seems to be like yet another security suite kind of thing which I've lost all interest in now after discussing it with you guys.

Thank you all for the feedback by the way. I do value your opinions very much. I also appreciate it when you save me money.
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#13 the Battle Cat

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Posted 11 August 2016 - 08:36 AM

View PostDirtyHarry50, on 10 August 2016 - 10:45 PM, said:

I also appreciate it when you save me money.

::Walks in with the bill::  Ah crap.  ::Walks out with the bill::
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#14 DirtyHarry50

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Posted 11 August 2016 - 10:05 AM

View Postthe Battle Cat, on 11 August 2016 - 08:36 AM, said:

::Walks in with the bill::  Ah crap.  ::Walks out with the bill::

Sorry man. I am still in my free trial period. :)
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#15 the Battle Cat

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Posted 11 August 2016 - 02:28 PM

View PostDirtyHarry50, on 11 August 2016 - 10:05 AM, said:

Sorry man. I am still in my free trial period. :)

I guess I'll just have to do it the old fashioned way: steal it then run like hell.
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#16 bobbob

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Posted 11 August 2016 - 08:48 PM

I'd recommend Windows Defender. If nothing else, every other one will nag you to either upgrade to the next free version manually or nag you to pay for the next full version, or both, which is bad enough to switch.

#17 Frost

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Posted 12 August 2016 - 12:46 AM

View PostSneaky Snake, on 10 August 2016 - 08:27 AM, said:

I just use MS Defender on all of my Windows machines (Gaming PC, work laptop, work desktop) and have never had any issues. We use a corporate Kaspersky license where I work, but I uninstall it on my machine (perks of being an admin). I have literally never contracted a virus in OS X or Windows over the years. I've always found that built in security settings + safe browsing habits provide better security that any anti-malware software. If I am going to download something really shady that I'm not sure about I will open up a little virtual machine which I can nuke whenever I feel like to test out the shady software. I only do that maybe once or twice a year.

These days I'm too lazy to pirate stuff (Steam, Netflix, iTunes Store, makes it convenient to buy/rent/watch stuff) and I found 99% of the computers that I find with malware on them are the result of trying to pirate something and/or watch movies/tv's online.

+1

I've used nothing but Microsoft's built-in security that they introduced with Windows 8 ever since I got my Tiki in 2013, together with Firefox as my browser and the Ghostery plug-in. Never had one virus or piece of malware on the machine and I'll have had it for three years next month.

If you don't do dumb/illegal popsnizzle, the built-in security is actually plenty good enough.

Disclaimer: If there's a really sketchy download link for something like the third party site hosting the map pack for Rainbow Six: Vegas when I went searching for that recently, I use Mac OS and then send the relevant files over the network.
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#18 DirtyHarry50

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Posted 12 August 2016 - 08:43 PM

View PostFrost, on 12 August 2016 - 12:46 AM, said:

+1

I've used nothing but Microsoft's built-in security that they introduced with Windows 8 ever since I got my Tiki in 2013, together with Firefox as my browser and the Ghostery plug-in. Never had one virus or piece of malware on the machine and I'll have had it for three years next month.

If you don't do dumb/illegal popsnizzle, the built-in security is actually plenty good enough.

Disclaimer: If there's a really sketchy download link for something like the third party site hosting the map pack for Rainbow Six: Vegas when I went searching for that recently, I use Mac OS and then send the relevant files over the network.

Yeah, my plan for such rare occurrences is to utilize linux running in a Virtual Box VM in Windows 10 which provides me a safe sandbox and does not need to be very large. It's also quick to start so convenient to use when desired.

I think I'd mentioned earlier that for a very long time I've also run just MS Security Essentials in XP and then in Windows 7. I skipped 8/8.1 entirely and now with Windows 10 I'm going to go with Windows Defender too after considering everyone's advice along with my own past experience and my safe surfing habits anyway. As for the Mac, when the resident Mac sysadmin tells me it's fine that's good enough for me so I'll stick to that as is also.

I think all the recent press about various issues and ransomware had me concerned but I'm really not someone that would likely ever be in a position to fall prey to any of that anyway and I am well protected with redundant backups even if I was. I can be back up in a day easily even after a complete disaster.
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#19 Frost

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  • Steam ID:CaptFrost
  • Location:Republic of Texas
  • Pro Member:Yes

Posted 13 August 2016 - 04:23 PM

Honestly, computing these days for the general public is GENERALLY safe enough that most malware relies on the user's willingness to do dumb things, whether through ignorance or carelessness. The worst security issue I've had in recent years is the Chinese discovering I have a Synology DiskStation online, at which point they were attempting to hack it (unsuccessfully) every few hours incessantly. And that was when I had no hardware firewall like I do now. After a couple days I just frakking banned Asia, and poof, no more hack attempts.
Cypher (PowerMac G5 Quad) – 2x2.5 GHz PPC 970MP / 16GB ECC RAM / 1TB WDC Velociraptor, 2TB STX Constellation ES.2 / QuadroFX 4500 512MB
Kestrel (Falcon NW Tiki) – 4.0 GHz i7 4790K / 16GB RAM / 512GB Samsung 950 Pro M.2, 2x480GB Intel 730 (RAID0), 10TB STX BarraCuda Pro / GeForce GTX TITAN X 12GB
Iridium (MacBook Pro Mid-2012) – 2.7 GHz i7 3820QM / 16GB RAM / 2TB Samsung 850 Pro / GeForce GT 650M 1GB
Antimony (PowerBook G4 Titanium) – 1.0 GHz PPC 7455 / 1GB RAM / 512GB Crucial M550 / Radeon 9000 64MB

Eric5h5:
When there's a multiplayer version, I'm going to be on Frost's team. Well, except he doesn't seem to actually need a team...I mean, what's the point? "Hey look, it's Frost and His Merry Gang of Useless Hangers-On!" Or something.