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Sharky Extreme : Monthly Extreme Gaming PC Buyer's Guide September 20, 2008

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    March Extreme Gaming PC Buyer's Guide
    By Thomas Soderstrom :  March 20, 2007


    The four months since our previous Extreme Gaming PC Buyer's guide have brought several expected hardware developments as well as a few disappointments. Quad-Core processors have retained high prices with little in the way of software development to make use of the extra power. NVIDIA's nForce 680i SLI chipset turned out to be great on features, if a bit shy on overclocking ability, but its 8800 series graphics processors exceeded many expectations. ATI's RD600 chipset was released with reduced features, and its R600-powered graphics card line has been delayed yet again. On the software side, Microsoft's highly-anticipated Vista operating system still looks like a late beta product.

    The great news for our $4,000 budget is that even though Intel's high-end processors have retained similar prices over several months, many other parts have received moderate to large price drops. The most prominent are the Athlon 64 X2 and FX processors, which not only fell in price, but the latest models have been introduced at rock bottom pricing. Savings in some areas have allowed increased spending in others, making this month's Extreme Gaming PC a considerable improvement over previous efforts.

    Extreme PC Budget: $4000

    Case: Cooler Master CM Stacker 830

    Current Cost: $240
    Consecutive Guides: 2
    Price Change: $0

    A long and hard look throughout the available models still hasn't found a superior Mid-Tower to the CM Stacker 830 previously presented in November's guide, with the possible exception of the Stacker 831 or 832, which have dubious improvements, and at a greater price.

    The Stacker 830 design boasts an impressive nine 5.25 inch external bays and support for nine 120mm cooling fans - the added cooling making it the first chassis certified by NVIDIA for an 8800GTX SLI configuration. Three of the external bays are sacrificed for a basic removable 3.5" hard drive rack, but fussy users can toss it in favor of better-featured versions.

    An all aluminum construction, including the slide out motherboard tray, is expected at this price level, but we were not ready to pay extra for the optional blackened finish.

    Power Supply: PC Power & Cooling Silencer 750 Quad

    Current Cost: $260
    Consecutive Guides: New
    Price Change: N/A

    PC Power & Cooling has earned the respect of enthusiasts with high quality power and friendly support. With 60A available to the 12V rail and none of those messy "per rail" limits, the Silencer 750 is also able to deliver 750W of continuous power and 825W peak power for starting up hungry devices.

    Power supply capabilities go down as heat goes up, so PC Power & Cooling tests its products at 40C rather than the less-demanding ambient conditions of several competing brands. Keeping with upscale market expectations, the Silencer 750 Quad is rated 83% efficient for reduced heat and noise, and includes quad PCI-Express Graphics power connectors for support of two power-hungry graphics cards.

  • 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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