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Sharky Extreme : Monthly Value Gaming System Buyer's Guide March 9, 2008

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    September Value Gaming PC Buyer's Guide
    By Vince Freeman :  September 21, 2005

    Mouse: Logitech MX310

    Current Cost: $17
    Months on list: New
    Price Change: N/A

    Microsoft and Logitech both offer a wide range of higher-end optical and wireless mouse controllers, and while these may be standard fare for a more expensive system, this is still a bit out of our budget. Optical is definite the way to go, as an optical eye will also outlast any mechanical roller mechanism and doesn't require cleaning, which can come in handy while gaming online, where pausing for even a second can spell defeat. We've gone with the Microsoft Intellimouse Optical for a few years now, but due to price decreases, the Logitech MX310 stands out as the best deal right now. The MX310 is a corded model with both USB and PS/2 support, and uses the famed Logitech MX Optical Engine.

    The Logitech MX310 was once the flagship of the Logitech gaming mouse line, and still stacks up quite well at this price range. It features a nice silver-black design, and utilizes the standard 3-button + scroll wheel design, along with extra Back/Forward buttons on either side of the mouse. This model also features an application switch button on the top of the mouse, which emulates the Alt-Tab function. This translates into six programmable buttons, all in a format that is perfect for either right or left-handed gamers. The specifications are also nice, with image processing of 4.7 megapixels/sec. and a scanning resolution of 800 dpi, which is almost on par with a Logitech MX510 mouse.

    * The type of mousing surface is the only real point to keep in mind, as some surfaces (such as clear glass) may cause the mouse's optical eye to "jump" if moved quickly.

    Microsoft Multimedia Keyboard

    Current Cost: $15
    Months on list: New
    Price Change: $0

    A keyboard is a very personal item, especially for gaming, and we can only offer a very basic recommendation to get you started. It is best to try and test a few out at the local retail store, and then decide which model is the right fit for you. Our basic selection has not changed, but Microsoft has performed a few aesthetic, feature and color updates to their Microsoft Multimedia Keyboard, so we're starting over with this upgraded model. It is still a superb value, and continues to be one of the more impressive entry-level keyboards we've used. This model includes a full complement of multimedia buttons in a quality unit, and for the price, you really can't go wrong. Microsoft keyboards function perfectly in Windows XP and the nifty extra multimedia keys can even be customized to your own requirements.

    Operating system: Windows XP Home SP1

    Current Cost: $73
    Months on list: 24
    Price Change: -$2

    Microsoft Windows XP Pro is still a bit pricey for our $1K budget, and is tailored to a more high-end/business system configuration anyway, so we're sticking with the Home version for our two value systems. Windows XP Home offers a comparative gaming environment to XP Pro, and even supports many high-end features such as Intel Hyper-Threading and dual core multi-threading. For current games, Windows XP is the only way to go, and virtually all new PC hardware and software runs at its best on Microsoft's newest operating system. New games use XP as the default operation system and driver support usually centers on either Windows 2000 or XP. We also recommend picking up the Windows XP Home SP2 CD, as these updates have created a more stable and secure gaming environment.

    The approximate $73 street price represents the cost of a licensed OEM Windows XP Home CD, and not the boxed retail version. This means that in order to get the lower-priced OEM deal, you'll have to buy the Windows XP CD with your new system or bundled together with one of the individual hardware purchases. If you forget, remember that the retail version of Windows XP Home will cost significantly more, so don't blame us when you have to pay your local Best Buy quite a bit more than the OEM CD price.

    Name Brand Floppy

    Current Cost: $0

    We've taken our reader's advice and scrapped the floppy from our main guide. This not only embraces the future of PC design, but also saves us a few bucks into the bargain.

    Of course, this is a guideline only, and for those who will feel more comfortable with a floppy drive, just slap down $8 and buy a basic name brand (Panasonic, Sony, TEAC, etc.) and be done with it.

    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 and Monitor
    Page 6 Soundcard, Speakers and LAN
  • Page 7 Input Devices and Operating System
    Page 8 Price Roundup and Closing Remarks

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