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Sharky Extreme : Monthly Extreme Gaming PC Buyer's Guide September 30, 2008

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    October Extreme Gaming PC Buyer's Guide
    By Thomas Soderstrom :  October 26, 2007

    Intel CPU: Core 2 Duo E6850 (3.00 GHz)

    Current Cost: $280
    Consecutive Guides: 2
    Price Change: -$20

    While Intel continues to push its latest four-core processor technologies into nearly every market sector except for "economy" systems, quad cores hold little to no advantage for today's games. What really accelerates games is more speed and processing power across two cores, and since this is an Extreme Gaming PC Buyer's Guide, Intel's fastest dual-core, the Core 2 Duo E6850, gets the nod. This 3.0GHz gem comes at a no-nonsense price of under $300, while a quad-core at this same clock speed would cost over a grand.

    Intel's latest FSB1333 provides greater bandwidth to the chipset's Northbridge and requires faster memory to achieve the 3:2 DRAM:FSB clock ratio. These also use Intel's top-overclocking G0 core revision, a performance enhancement that would also require faster RAM simply to meet its minimum-preferred 1:1 FSB:DRAM ratio, so we'll be sure to cover our bases in the memory selection.

    Gamers who multitask might still want a quad-core processor, and our alternative would be a G0-stepping Core 2 Quad Q6600. This "slow" 2.4GHz part still has awesome overclocking capabilities beyond the E6750's stock 3.0GHz, but with a lower overclock ceiling than same-revision dual-cores. In addition, Q6600 buyers must shop carefully to receive this "top overclocking" G0 core revision.

    AMD CPU: Athlon 64 X2 6400+ (3.20 GHz)

    Current Cost: $210
    Consecutive Guides: New
    Price Change: N/A

    While AMD's only real competitor has long ago moved from 90nm to 65nm and will soon release 45nm cores, the green team is still stuck at 90nm for its highest-clocked parts. That could change soon, but we have seen projected launch dates come and go for over a year.

    The Athlon 64 X2 6400+ barely competes with its high-speed Intel competition, but it is still tops in the AMD hierarchy, outperforming the 3.0GHz X2 6000+ that made it into our last few guides. Buying AM2 also maintains the hope that the same motherboard will support future AMD Phenom processors, whenever they appear.

    CPU Heat Sink: Thermalright Ultra 120 Extreme

    Current Cost: $60
    Consecutive Guides: 2
    Price Change: $0

    Based on slight improvements to the company's legendary Ultra 120, Thermalright's Ultra 120 Extreme heat sink continues to impress us, and rates a second consecutive Extreme Gaming PC Buyers Guide appearance.

    The Ultra 120 Extreme features the same size and fitment of the Ultra 120 that had graced earlier guides, but with additional heat-pipes for improved heat transfer from the sink's base to its fins. Another improvement is Thermalright's inclusion of a Socket AM2 mounting kit, in addition to the LGA775 hardware.

    Cooling Fans: Three Scythe S-Flex SFF21E

    Current Cost: $45 ($15 each)
    Consecutive Guides: 4
    Price Change: $0

    Originally chosen for its moderate 49CFM airflow at a nearly-silent 20.1 decibels, the Scythe S-Flex SFF21E 1200RPM cooling fan remains our choice for "bare" Thermalright coolers. Two additional fans are added to our list to assist graphics card cooling, to be used in the lower two side panel locations of the Cooler Master Stacker 830 chassis. The extra airflow is especially useful to overclockers, but anyone not overclocking may wish to forgo the additional $30 expense.

    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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