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Monthly Extreme Gaming PC Buyer's Guide

May Extreme Gaming PC Buyer's Guide

By Bao Ly May 1, 2003

Introduction

Another month has come and gone, and it's time for a new edition of our Extreme Gaming PC Buyer's Guide. As usual, we've been entrusted with $4000 in cold hard cash to piece together a gaming machine with quality, speed, and features that should satisfy the most demanding gamer. Last month's guide was a slight departure from the usual "speed first" mode, to a style-oriented stance, but we're back this month with performance-minded attitude. This month's guide will be sure satisfy readers than some of the last few Extreme Guides, since a few new product releases have been included into the system recommendations, for a new level of performance and capability.

While $4000 is a significant amount of money to spend on a performance gaming system, there are still real-world limitations inherent with the $4000 boundary. As much as we'd love to include an extravagant display such as the 24 Inch, widescreen Samsung 240T TFT, the heavy premium on one of those displays would hurt the balance of high-end components in the computer. However, we're confident that this guide will include many, if not all, of the top components that would make the most discerning gamer proud.

With the introduction pretty much complete, let's get underway with the April 2003 edition of Sharky Extreme's Extreme Gaming Guide. For starter's let's head on over to the computer housing and power supply selections.

Extreme PC Budget: $4000

AMD and Intel Case: Coolermaster ATC-201B-SX2 Silver Case w/ 430W Antec "True Power" Supply

Current Cost of Case: $174
Current Cost of PSU: $82
Months on List: New
Price change: N/A

Finding a good looking case, that still satisfies the requirements of the Extreme Guide, is sometimes quite daunting. But when we do find a product that's worthy of placement in the guide, we tend to stick with it for a while until we can find a better one. The Cooler Master ATC-201B-SX2 case fits the bill and satisfies our Extreme requirements of good looks, ease of use (expandability, convenience), cooling, and overall build quality. This is essentially the same product as last month's SXT model, except that this case is all silver-colored, rather than black-silver.

The Cooler Master ATC-201B-SX2 goes beyond its good looks, although the sleek silver-colored aluminum case (including a large side window) is surely worth a second look, by even the most casual of PC users. However, the case is not just a pretty show piece; it is also a superbly constructed system enclosure that allows for easy access through a tool-less design, and features a drawer style/slide-out motherboard tray. The case itself is made entirely of light weight aluminum, which makes it easier to bring to LAN parties and show off to your friends.

The Cooler Master ATC-201B-SX2 provides the end user with a ton of expansion options. There are four externally accessible 5.25" drive bays, two externally accessible 3.5" drive bays, and four internal 3.5" drive bays as well. On the front panel, Cooler Master includes two USB ports, for easy access for peripherals such as game pads or digital cameras.

The case ships with four standard 80mm fans to help keep the system cool. There are two blowing air in from the front of the case, one at the rear for exhaust, and one at the top to remove ambient heat that travels to the upper regions of the case. Despite all of the praise that we've given the Cooler Master ATC 201B-SX2, it does have one potential fault, it's shipped without a power supply (which is fairly common with high end computer cases).

Since the case lacks a PSU, we've decided to include the Antec 430 Watt TruePower ATX power supply. It definitely provides enough power for our Extreme Gaming machine, and is equipped with two fans to help with system cooling.


  • Page 1 May Extreme Gaming PC Buyer's Guide
    Page 2 Processors and Cooling
    Page 3 Motherboards and Memory
    Page 4 Hard Drives and CD/DVD-ROM
    Page 5 Video Card, Monitor and Sound
    Page 6 Mouse, Keyboard & Controller
    Page 7 Communications, Operating System, etc.
    Page 8 Price Roundup and Conclusion

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