Every gamer requires a high quality network interface card. There's nothing worse than having an unstable or otherwise low quality NIC go lame on you during the midst of a heavy frag fest. The Intel Pro/100S is a high performance NIC from on the most trusted names in network hardware. So not only is this a stable and efficient NIC, it also adds security features that might prove useful to some Extreme users. Both systems come with onboard LAN, but demanding gamers want a dedicated, hardware NIC, and although you can feel free to save a few bucks by going the integrated route, we're leaving this card in this month.
There are still many people with no access to broadband internet; therefore we're accommodating internet connectivity made via dial-up accounts. An external modem will save you a PCI slot as well as higher portability across multiple PCs. There are other practical uses for an external faxmodem; some people might actually need the fax capability to send/receive information. In the realm of analogue modems, US Robotics is the most universally recognized name brand, and will generally have the best driver support for your operating system. Of course if you don't need an analogue modem, feel free to leave this out of your next system purchase.
The current operating system of choice for new high-end systems is Windows XP Professional. Windows 2000 still has its adherents, but the days of Windows 98 SE as the best gaming platform are over. There are some situations where Windows 98 SE has advantages (such as with legacy games and applications), but the improvement in hardware compatibility, performance, and memory management of Windows XP Professional makes it stand out as the operating system of choice.
This is especially true of powerhouse systems with gobs of RAM, high-end video cards and RAID controllers. Add in the fact that future hardware and software releases will be optimized for Windows XP, and there is very little reason to consider any other consumer level operating system at this moment. This release includes Service Pack1, so the end user doesn't have to waste time with downloading and upgrading their Windows XP software.
There is another major reason why Windows XP Professional is the Extreme Guide OS of choice, the Intel Extreme system benefits greatly from it, as the Hyper threading feature of the Intel Pentium 4-3.06 GHz CPU and future Intel Pentium models requires Windows XP Pro/Home, or Linux to function properly.
American Power Conversion is one of the major name brands in the area of surge protectors and battery backups. Their reasonably-priced APC BackUPS Pro 650VA seems like a logical purchase to help protect your newly acquired Extreme Gaming Machine. It shields the connected devices from power surges, and supplies battery back-up power to critical components. This device replaces our previous 500VA Extreme Gaming Machine favorite, as it supports quite a bit more power, 410W power output to be exact, and has a longer battery back up time, which is 6.2 minutes at full load (410W), and 19.7 minutes at half load (205W). This back up device is a bit pricey, but our Ferrari of a computer deserves that extra level of security.