This month we overhauled quite a bit of the guide, and were finally able to make a few of the upgrades we have been looking at over the past few months. Going dual core on both the Intel and AMD sides this month was done after much debate. The slight tradeoff in single-threaded performance will be missed, but we are confident future games will begin to take advantage of dual core processors, especially considering the Xbox 360 and PS3 are both multi-core machines. Even so, with a GeForce 7800 GTX, and the ability to add SLI later, both systems can really push the framerates. The dual core advantages also transcend the pure gaming arena, and multi-threaded performance is incredible, while the ability to seamlessly multi-task is something everyone needs to experience.
On the system memory front, we finally moved to 2GB of DDR and DDR2 this month, which should help appease all the memory hungry games and applications that have been appearing lately. We also made the move to Creative's new X-Fi Fatal1ty FPS soundcard, which offers much better gaming support and performance than any card we have used before. Overall, this was one of our most productive months ever, and we can only hope that Intel and AMD release higher clocked version of their dual core chips to help alleviate the performance gap in single threaded applications.
With the recent release of the ATI Radeon X1800, NVIDIA finally seems to have some real competition for their GeForce 7800 GTX. While we did not include the Radeon X1800 in the guide this month, the increased competition can help drive the prices of video cards down from their record highs. CrossFire-enabled motherboards are still few and far between, but hopefully we'll see more from this new dual-PCI Express technology, as it looks to really give NVIDIA's nForce4 SLI a run for its money. As the holiday season approaches, we will keep our eye out for only the best and newest hardware for our next Extreme Gaming PC Buyer's Guide.
* Please note that the prices in our guide do not include shipping costs or taxes. The final system price also reflects a "best case" scenario of finding an online vendor that stocks the majority of internal components, or having access to a number of local computer retailers for system quotes and comparison shopping.