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Sharky Extreme : Monthly Extreme Gaming PC Buyer's Guide March 28, 2007

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    November Extreme Gaming PC Buyer's Guide
    By Thomas Soderstrom :  November 10, 2006

    Hard Drives: Two Seagate 7200.10 320GB SATA 3.0Gb/s

    Current Cost: $200 ($100 each)
    Consecutive Guides: New
    Price Change: N/A

    Now that perpendicular recording technology is well established in desktop drives, we can find the two-platter version of Seagate's 7200.10 offering capacities up to 320GB for around $100. That the two-platter 7200-RPM, NCQ drives also perform better than larger versions eases our decision, as does Seagate's five-year warranty. Both of our Intel and AMD platforms support SATA2 and RAID, making the choice even easier.

    Excellent read seek times and transfer rates allow the 7200.10 320GB to load programs and game maps quickly, while a 16MB buffer particularly assists repetitive seeks. Using a 10K Raptor as a boot drive has its benefits, but using two of these Seagate drives in a 640GB RAID 0 configuration further enhances transfer rates, and their economical price tags allow us to double up without second thoughts. Consumers also have the choice of other RAID modes, such as RAID 1's automatic backup of one 320GB drive to another.

    Optical Drive: LG GSA-H22N

    Current Cost: $30
    Consecutive Guides: New
    Price Change: N/A

    DVD+/-R write speeds of up to 18X are common for the newest burners, and selecting one from the long list of candidates wasn't easy. LG, NEC, and Lite-On have all built reputations on optical drive quality, and all three brands offer fine drives for $30, so we checked some customer reviews and found LG had perhaps the lowest ratio of complaints to compliments.

    Anyone interested in "obsolete" media will be glad to know that CD-R write speeds up to 48X are available, and that LG still supports the decidedly unpopular (at least in gaming circles) DVD-RAM in addition to the popular formats of its competitors.

    Floppy Disk Drive: None

    Floppy media has been out of production for a while, and we've seen "new old stock" media fail within the first few writes. A few users have clung to floppy drives for such mundane tasks as BIOS updates, but that's been possible using CD-R media for many years and is now supported using USB flash drives by all motherboard manufacturers. There's room left in our budget for a floppy drive but we won't be including it.

    Page 1 Introduction and Case
    Page 2 Processors and Cooling
    Page 3 Motherboards and Memory
  • Page 4 Hard Drives and DVD-R/RW
    Page 5 Video Card, LCD Display and Audio
    Page 6 Mouse, Keyboard & Controller
    Page 7 Communications, Operating System, etc.
    Page 8 Price Roundup and Closing Remarks

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