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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

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

    Current Cost: $320 ($80 each)
    Consecutive Guides: 4
    Price Change: +$20 (+$5 each)

    Seagate's little 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 the Western Digital Raptor drives 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 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. How valuable are your game saves? Seagate OEM hard drives also come with a lengthy 5-year warranty.

    Optical Drive: Samsung 20x DVD+RW/-RW SH-203N SATA

    Current Cost: $35
    Consecutive Guides: New
    Price Change: N/A

    A few things happened between our July Extreme Gaming PC buyer's guide and this month's edition. First, Samsung's SH-203B started setting burn speed records all over the web, and then the company introduced a new version with LightScribe capability, the SH-S203N.

    When manufacturers claim write speeds of 20x, these are usually the peak speeds at the fastest part of the disk, so it's no surprise that real-world speeds vary between models. The SH-203N claims 20x for both DVD+R and DVD-R media, 16x for dual-layer +R, 12x for DVD-R dual-layer, 8x for DVD+RW, and 6x for DVD-RW.

    People who still use older 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: 3
    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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