Consecutive Guides: 25
Price Change: N/A
Our AMD and Intel motherboards both feature onboard Gigabit LAN, so there is no reason to purchase a separate PCI LAN controller. The money we save by going the integrated route can be much better spent on other components. However, it is understandable that some may prefer to use a non-integrated card; in that case, the Intel PRO/1000MT Gigabit adaptor is a fully featured NIC from one of the best names in networking.
Although the NIC will work perfectly for those with standard DSL or cable Internet access, many gamers are still using dial-up Internet accounts. For this, we recommend the US Robotics USB 2.0 USR5633 Faxmodem, a USB 2.0 modem running at 56K v.92 speeds.
Operating System: Windows Vista Home Premium
Consecutive Guides: 5
Price Change: $0
Our initial transition to Windows Vista is now just a fond memory, and although there are some niggling issues and Windows 7 is coming up fast on the horizon, Vista is the present and future of PC gaming. We chose to go with Windows Vista Home Premium, as it offers everything that an enthusiast will need, and in some ways, is actually preferable to the more expensive Business version. The next logical step would be the Ultimate Edition, but it remains well out of our budget right now.
The only real question is whether to buy the 32-bit or 64-bit edition, as each has its own set of pros and cons. The Vista 32-bit implementation is a solid base for office and gaming purposes and has excellent hardware and software compatibility, but enacts a 4GB practical limitation on installed memory. The Vista 64-bit OS clears up the memory issue, with Home Premium upping the maximum to 16GB, but bringing with it potential snafus on the hardware and software compatibility side.
The $100 price quoted on Windows Vista Home Premium is for an OEM DVD, as opposed to the full retail version. We assume that this will be purchased this alongside hardware, thereby qualifying for the lower OEM price. As a base configuration, we recommend the 32-bit version, but the more robust 64-bit edition is priced the same and is a compelling alternative, especially since DDR2 memory is so inexpensive.
Name Brand Floppy
Current Cost: $5
We have not used floppies in years, but some people still feel a need for them. Any name brand floppy drive will do for those emergency BIOS updates and data recovery, and anything more would be just a waste of money.
Power Bar or UPS
While not part of our budget for a standard high-end gaming system, we still recommend you buy adequate surge protection for your new PC, or better yet, spend a bit extra (or wait for a sale) and nab a UPS for the added security and peace of mind.