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Sharky Extreme : Monthly Extreme Gaming PC Buyer's Guide October 7, 2008





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    July Extreme Gaming PC Buyer's Guide
    By Thomas Soderstrom :  July 31, 2007

    Hard Drives: Four Seagate Barracuda 7200.10 320GB SATA 3.0Gb/s

    Current Cost: $300 ($75 each)
    Consecutive Guides: 3
    Price Change: -$15 each

    Seagate's 320GB drives were chosen as a balance between performance and capacity. Gaming doesn't require a huge amount of storage, but the scant 150GB available in Western Digital's Raptors still doesn't seem like much, so we'd probably need two in a RAID controller's JBOD or Level 0 mode, just to get an adequate 300GB. For around the same price, four Seagate Barracudas in Level 0 will provide over four times the capacity at nearly twice the peak transfer rate. The tradeoff is slightly longer response times, but using four Raptors would have eaten too deeply into the budget.

    The use of four drives also opens up the possibility of RAID 0+1 for anyone who wants both performance and redundancy, again at a slight performance penalty but still faster than a single drive. Seagate's Barracuda 7200.10 series includes features such as a 3.0Gb/s Serial ATA interface, Native Command Queuing, 16MB cache, and a 9-millisecond advertised average seek time. Since we are buying OEM, Seagate also includes its exceptional 5-year warranty.

    For those who prefer a dual-drive system, the Seagate Barracuda 7200.10 ST3500630AS 500GB drive can be found for approximately $115-$120 a piece, which translates into 1GB of storage (unformatted) or 500GB mirrored, for under $240.

    Optical Drive: Lite-On 20x DVD+RW/-RW LH-20A1S SATA

    Current Cost: $30
    Consecutive Guides: 2
    Price Change: -$15

    HD-DVD and BRD drives are still too expensive for a $4,000 gaming budget, and as games are not even using the newer media formats, there are far more effective ways to spend the extra money. Even though games do not require DVD burning capability, most burners are priced low enough to not affect other component choices.

    Additional functionality and minimal budget impact are two reasons we chose Lite-On's LH-20A1S writer in our March guide. The 20X write speeds for both DVD–R and DVD+R media, along with 8X +RW and 6X –RW speeds, are certainly nothing to sneeze at. Recent price drops have kept it on our list, as 20X speeds are almost universal on competing models.

    Users of older and newer media formats will be pleased with CD-R and –RW speeds of 48X and 32X, and DVD-RAM users will find it also supports the classic media at 12X speeds.

    Floppy Disk Drive: Major Brand Black 1.44MB 3.5" floppy disk drive

    Current Cost: $7
    Consecutive Guides: 2
    Price Change: $0

    Nobody likes floppy drives, but loading Windows XP RAID drivers at the F6 prompt still requires these. Most builders would rather use an old drive just to meet "F6" driver prompt demands and remove it immediately once Windows is installed, but those few users who don't already have one can find these in black for $7. Major brand labels include Mitsumi, Panasonic, Samsung, Sony, and Teac.


    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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