It's time for another edition of our Extreme Gaming PC Buyer's Guide, and thanks to our hefty $4,000 budget, and some new hardware releases, we were able to make a number of sizeable upgrades again this month. These include a shift towards dual core processors, faster system memory, a new soundcard, and various other aesthetic and performance-oriented upgrades. While this will not be a complete overhaul of our previous AMD and Intel configurations, there are enough improvements in this October guide to represent a new high in terms of features, performance and future proofing.
Even with a $4000 budget, there are still some very real limitations that we need to keep in mind. You won't find any ridiculously expensive plasma or LCD TV/monitors, nor will we be able to include an extravagant home theater-level sound system. Rather, the computer hardware is balanced effectively, 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; each component is put to the litmus test, as $4000 is simply too much cash to slap down without working through the overall configuration with a fine-toothed comb.
Current Cost of Case and PSU: $349
Months on List: New
Price Change: N/A
The case and power supply components aren't as vulnerable to technological change as some of the other performance-oriented hardware, and from month to month, these selections usually remain very consistent. One reason is that we spare no expense when it comes to choosing a high end case and power supply, and we prefer to select one that is not only aesthetically pleasing, but also has a feature rich construction with a spacious interior. While many case manufacturers vie for the top spot, there are a few that stay on our A-list. Currently, our favorites consist of models from Cooler Master, Lian Li, and Antec, just to name a few vendors that should be on your short list when it comes to a new enthusiast-level system enclosure.
The Cooler Master TAC-T01-E1C has been our favorite case for the past few months, and there is no reason for us to change now. This case is quite simply one of the best models we have ever used. With a brushed aluminum alloy housing, removable motherboard tray, spacious interior, and ultra convenient front ports, you'd be hard pressed to find a better enthusiast case for the money. It has 4 x 5.25", 1 x 3.5" (External), and 4 x 3.5" (Internal) expansion slots, room for a whopping 7 expansion slots making this one of the most spacious mid-tower cases we have ever worked with. The WaveMaster can be found for about $129, which makes it a great value at this range.
This month we are moving to a bigger and beefier power supply, the PC Power & Cooling Turbo-Cool 510 SLI. The Turbo-Cool 510 SLI produces 510W of continuous power with 650W peak capacity, and has full compliance for the ATX 2.2 spec. With 3A of +5VSB this power supply is entirely ready for SLI systems and their massive power requirements. PC Power & Cooling is known for using only the best components in all of their power supplies, which means the Turbo-Cool 510 SLI produces nothing but the cleanest power output, with +VDC ripple at 0.5%. The Turbo-Cool is one of the best power supplies currently available, especially for power hungry dual-core systems.
Even considering the amount of juice our Extreme Gaming Systems requires, a name brand 510W PSU has more than enough to drive everything, with power to spare. At $220, the PC Power & Cooling Turbo-Cool 510 SLI is the most expensive PSU we have ever used, but when it comes to high-end power supplies, you certainly get what you pay for.
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, PC Power & Cooling etc.) and avoid any bargain bin units with lofty output claims.