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Sharky Extreme : Monthly Extreme Gaming PC Buyer's Guide September 29, 2007

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

    Networking: Integrated Dual Gigabit

    Current Cost: $0
    Consecutive Guides: 11
    Price Change: N/A

    Both of our motherboard choices feature dual onboard Gigabit Ethernet network interfaces, which are equal or superior to many add-in cards. Certainly a few big spenders may consider elite products such as Bigfoot Network's Killer NIC, but the cost/benefit ratio puts the smart money on other system components.

    Modem: Zoom Telephonics 2920

    Current Cost: $75
    Consecutive Guides: New
    Price Change: N/A

    We were just about to drop the POTS modem off our list, but thought we'd at least give it a grand send off. Other than having a hardware controller that allows lower overhead, reduced ping response time, and nearly universal OS compatibility, the Zoom 2920 gives empty PCI slots a purpose.

    The onboard controller makes this a hardware modem, as opposed to a Winmodem. Yes, hardware modems can be plug and play, and BIOS can assign the IRQ for non-PNP operating systems. This radical departure from the USB external modem of our last guide makes for a cleaner looking system with easier portability, besides removing a few obstacles to fast ping response.

    Most amazing is that the price of this classic device has doubled in the past three years. None of us would actually pay the current $75 for one of these, but that's only because we have alternative sources in the form of retired systems. Infrequent modem users might choose an inexpensive soft modem to save money, but value seekers will find quality modems similar to the 2920 at their local used computer dealer.

    Operating System: Windows XP Professional SP2 OEM

    Current Cost: $90
    Consecutive Guides: 16
    Price Change: -$57

    Tried and true is the best description for Windows XP Pro. As the world readies itself for Windows Vista, XP still supports the widest array of hardware and software. XP Pro features such niceties as multiple-CPU support and enhanced network configuration, and SP2's built-in firewall will likely keep the system clean long enough to install security updates (so long as you aren't surfing the net while waiting for the updates to finish).

    Microsoft's license restrictions require the purchase of certain hardware to qualify for OEM software, but since you're building a new system this shouldn't be a problem. Owners of previous-version XP licenses are well advised to install Service Pack 2 before connecting to the internet, and "slipstreaming" SP2 into an image of the earlier CD is a viable option.

    UPS: CyberPower CP900AVR

    Current Cost: $90
    Consecutive Guides: New
    Price Change: N/A

    With so much invested into system components, it's easy to see why we've recommended a UPS in past articles. This time we chose something with a slightly higher wattage limit to supplement our increased graphics power demands.

    The CyberPower CP900AVR handles a relatively high 560W load while providing all the protection of products costing twice as much. A lower price and compact 13.50 x 3.88 x 9.75 inch size may indicate less battery capacity, but CyberPower still rates it at 35-105 minutes, plenty of time to save your game before low power initiates an automatic system shutdown.

    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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