Spring has sprung, and with Doom 3 and Half-Life 2 just around the corner it's a perfect time to buy a new ultra high-end PC. 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 value, 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 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 still balanced, so that we can feature top-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 it stands now, this year is shaping up to be one of the most exciting in recent memory. We have already seen a number of high profile PC game releases, and neither Doom 3 nor Half-Life 2 is even out yet. On the hardware front we have seen the announcement of both ATI and Nvidia's next generation hardware, and while not yet available in the mass market, both have very high potential. This is a very exciting time for PC gaming and hardware, and is only going to get better as 2004 progresses.
Current Cost of Case and PSU: $206
Months on List: 3
Price Change: -$5
A computer case is likely to outlast just about any other component in your system so it's very important that you invest your money accordingly. A system case not only needs to be aesthetically pleasing, but it also must have sufficient room for your current components, and enough expansion options to accommodate any future upgrades. Through the years we have grown attached cases from a number of manufacturers including those from CoolerMaster, Lian Li, and Antec, just to name a few. These name brand cases are among the best to work with, offer high-end features and expansion options, and are bound to turn a few heads.
Cooler Master has been a recent favorite in the Extreme Guide, as their cases have been able to outclass the competition in this category. We have been recommending the TAC-T01 WaveMaster in the past few editions of this guide, and there is very little not to love about this particular case. The TAC-T01 has a brushed aluminum alloy housing, removable motherboard try, a very slick looking door, and convenient front ports. At $130 it is relatively expensive for an aluminum case, but you can sure see the extra money went to good use.
To defray costs, most high-end cases ship without a power supply. Therefore, it is extremely important that you pick up a high quality, high capacity unit. We're going to stick with our trusty Antec 480W TruePower yet again this month, but equivalent units from Enermax or ThermalTake are just as good. The components in our Extreme Gaming System take some serious juice, and while 480W of power may seem like a bit of overkill, it will be more than enough for stability at stock or overclocked speeds, and allow future upgrades. The PSU can be found at various online retailers for about $76.
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.