It's the start of a brand new year, and we're back with an updated edition of our Extreme Gaming PC Buyer's Guide. Each month we are given $4000, and sent on a mission to assemble the best possible gaming machine to satisfy even the most discriminating enthusiast gamer. As with our other prices guides, we still keep an eye out for relative bargains, and weigh price-to-performance ratios heavily before making a decision on which components to include.
Even with a huge $4000 budget, there are still some very real limitations that we need to keep in mind. You won't find any ridiculously expensive plasma TV/monitors, nor will we be able to include an extravagant home theater-level sound system. Rather, the computer hardware is balanced, so that we can feature high-end components for virtually every category of the system. Overall, we are very confident in our choices from month-to-month, and each component is put to the litmus test, as $4000 is simply too much money to slap down, without giving the overall configuration some serious thought.
As we look forward to what lays ahead in the New Year, we have a new guide with a number of important upgrades. Both the Intel and AMD side of the CPU fence received substantial upgrades to start the new year off with a bang. The Intel Pentium 4 Extreme Edition and AMD Athlon 64 FX 51 found their way into the guide this month, along with a couple of the new 10K RPM SATA screamers from Western Digital. All-in-all this month's guide is certainly the best Extreme Gaming System yet, and it's only bound to get better as the year progresses.
Current Cost of Case: $222
Months on List: New
Price Change: N/A
The case is the backbone of any system, and will more than likely outlast any other component in your system by at least twofold. A system case not only needs to be aesthetically pleasing, but it also has to have sufficient room for your current components, and enough expansion options to accommodate any future purchases. Our favorite case manufacturers have proven to be CoolerMaster, Lian Li, and Antec, as their products have all the necessary high-end requirements and quality, look great, and never seem to disappoint.
Cooler Master is know for producing some very slick units, so it should come as no surprise that we're continuing to recommend one of their cases this month. Due to availability issues with the case we used last time out, we opted to go with the more impressive TAC-T01 WaveMaster chassis. The case uses a nice brushed aluminum alloy housing, and features a removable motherboard tray, front peripheral ports, and has a convenient "wavy" door to hide unsightly mismatched drives.
As most high-end cases ship bare, it is important to get a name brand PSU at the time of purchase. We chose to stick with the excellent Antec 480W TruePower again this month, but equivalent units from Enermax or ThermalTake should more than foot the bill. Our Extreme Gaming System needs some serious power to feed the high performance processor, video card, and other components, and 480W of Antec juice should be ample wattage for stability at basic speeds or when overclocking.
If you choose to go an alternative route when selecting the power supply, please make sure to stick with name brand units (Antec, Enermax, ThermalTake, etc.) and avoid any bargain bin units with lofty output claims.