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Sharky Extreme : Monthly High-end Gaming System Buyer's Guide March 11, 2008

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    July High-end Gaming PC Buyer's Guide
    By Ryan "Speedy" Wissman :  July 15, 2005


    In each edition of our monthly High-end Gaming PC Buyer's Guide, we get $2500 in spending money, and then go to the limit in search of the ultimate high-end gaming machines. These systems certainly pump out the gaming framerates, but we do not spend this money frivolously, and our tech savvy and eye for a deal play a large role in the choices we make. All of the hardware picks in this guide are done after carefully weighing the price to performance ratio of each component, then seeing how they fit into our $2500 budget. This guide also represents the median between our Value Buyer's Guide with only a $1000 limit, and our Extreme Buyer's Guide with its massive $4000 budget.

    The basic purpose behind this guide is to give you a general idea of what kind of high-end gaming PC is possible with a budget of $2500. While the individual components are top notch, we take a look at the larger picture, and decide which pieces meld together the best to form the highest performing, feature-rich gaming PC possible. We recommend system configurations for both the Intel and AMD sides of the spectrum, and are not here to promote one platform over the other.

    As the drive for a multi-threaded world continues, both Intel and AMD have released their respective dual core Pentium D and Athlon 64 processors over these past few months. NVIDIA has been very busy as of late with the introduction of an SLI capable nForce4 chipset for Intel processors, as well as their new GeForce 7800 GTX graphics card. However, even our high-end budget means that we had to remain relatively low key, with a few noted upgrades and smaller tweaks here and there.

    Case: Cooler Master WaveMaster TAC-T01-E1C w/Antec 480W NeoPower Power Supply

    Current Cost: $229
    Months on list: 4
    Price Change: -$2

    The cornerstone of any first-class gaming system is a high quality power supply and case. In each of our three guides we generally cover our case and power supply choices first, due to the relative importance of both items and the fact that these provide the foundation for the other components. We feel that it is vital to choose a case that is not only pleasing to the eye, but also one that enjoys a spacious interior and has superior craftsmanship. After all, your system case is probably going to stick around long after you have upgraded virtually every component of your system.

    As always, we have shortened our case options down to a few quality case manufactures who continually make our short list month after month. Cooler Master, Antec, and Lian Li are just a few of the high-end case manufacturers that produce eye-catching, cutting-edge, high-end enclosures. For the past few months, we have been very impressed by the Cooler Master WaveMaster TAC-T01-E1C, and nothing has caught our attention enough to move away from that choice again this month.

    The WaveMaster TAC-T01-E1C is without a doubt one of the best cases we have ever used, and being able to stick around the past four editions of this guide is a testament to its quality. This case features a removable motherboard tray, spacious interior, convenient front ports, a solid drive door, and sleek, brushed aluminum housing. The WaveMaster TAC-T01-E1C also has 4 x 5.25", 1 x 3.5" (External), and 4 x 3.5" (Internal) expansion slots, front mounted USB ports, and room for 7 expansion slots. This system chassis also comes in a variety of colors, including Silver, Black, Blue and Yellow. Priced at about $130, this model does not come cheap, but as the old saying goes, "you get what you pay for."

    As most high-end cases do not ship with a power supply, so we would be remiss not making a PSU recommendation in this guide. High-end computers, such as the one in this guide, have significant power and signal requirements so leaving the power supply choice to the customer is in everyone's best interest. With dual core processors, faster clock speeds and new ATX formats emerging with regularity, this type of flexibility is very important. Currently, our favorite 480W power supply is the Antec 480W NeoPower, which also makes an appearance in our Extreme Edition of this guide.

    The NeoPower offers 480W of reliable power in addition to modular power cables, native support for PCI Express, Serial ATA, and both 20 and 24-pin motherboard power connectors. The PSU is available online for about $99, making it a bit pricier than other 480W models, but the peace of mind and high-end features that this power supply provides is worth the additional cost.

  • Page 1 Introduction and Case
    Page 2 Processors and Cooling
    Page 3 Motherboards
    Page 4 Memory, Hard Drive and CDRW/DVD-ROM
    Page 5 Video Card, Monitor and Audio
    Page 6 Mouse and Keyboard
    Page 7 Communications, Operating System, etc.
    Page 8 Price Roundup and Closing Remarks

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