In each month's edition of our High End Gaming PC Buyer's Guide, we are given $2500 cash to spend, going to the limit in search of the ultimate high-end gaming machine. However, we do not spend this money frivolously, and our tech savvy and eye for a bargain play a large role in the choices we make. All of the picks we make in this guide are after carefully weighing the price to performance ratio of each component, then seeing if they meet our budget limit of $2500. This guide is your median between our Value Buyer's Guide with only a $1000 limit, and our Extreme Buyer's Guide with a massive $4000 budget.
The purpose behind this guide is to give you a general idea of what kind of gaming PC is possible with a budget of $2500. While the individual components we choose are excellent, we take a look at the larger picture, and decide which components meld together the best to form the best performing, feature-rich gaming PC possible. We recommend configurations for both the Intel and AMD sides of the spectrum, and are not here to promote one platform over the other.
This past month has been fairly quiet, save for the release of the Pentium4 3.2 GHz. As both the Prescott and Athlon 64 release dates approach, we are reaching the end of the line for both the current iterations of the Pentium 4 and Athlon XP CPUs. The Athlon 64 is slated for release in late September, with the Prescott following probably a week or two before. ATI is prepping for the release of their next video chip, codenamed R360, which should make its debut in the next month or two. We'll be keeping an eye on their upcoming products, but for now, let's see how the latest High-End Gaming System stacks up.
Current Cost: $207
Months on list: 7
Price Change: -$3
Choosing the right case is one of the most important decisions to make in building a computer. The case will outlast nearly all the components housed inside, and it's important to make sure you choose a case that you can live with for a very long time. Make sure you pay careful attention to size, weight and aesthetics before making your purchase.
Our favorite case manufactures are Lian Li, Cooler Master, and Antec. From this crop, we continue to recommend the Lian Li PC-65 aluminum case, not only for its good looks and light weight but because it is also a joy to work with. The PC-65 case is currently priced at approximately $124 and the PSU for $83.
Since most high-end cases do not ship with a viable power supply, it's essential that you pick a high quality one, and reject the bargain units with outrageous output claims. Our favorites remain Antec and Enermax, as both companies represent the cream of the crop as far as power supplies go. This month we went with the Antec 430X TruePower just as last month, but you can't go wrong with a 400W or higher model from either manufacturer.