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Sharky Extreme : Monthly Value Gaming System Buyer's Guide April 24, 2011
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Monthly Value Gaming System Buyer's Guide


August Value Gaming PC Buyer's Guide

By Vince Freeman :  August 31, 2007

System Memory

When it comes to choosing the memory for our AMD and Intel systems, we still look at these as distinct configurations, rather than using a "one size fits all" memory recommendation. Instead, the two configurations are evaluated separately, and our budget is allocated in the most logical way. Each platform may have its own set of requirements, and we can use this to achieve the best overall memory value. We believe that maximizing the $1K budget is what real-world buyers would do, which is even more important with fluctuating memory prices.

AMD: 2GB (2x1GB) Corsair TWIN2X PC2-5400 (DDR2-667)

Current Cost: $78
Consecutive Guides: 2
Price Change: +$11

Intel 2GB (2x1GB) Kingston ValueRAM PC2-5400 (DDR2-667)

Current Cost: $67
Consecutive Guides: New
Price Change: N/A

Due to the slight increase in DDR2 prices, and the higher overall Intel CPU price, we had to separate the memory selections this month. It's not a big change, but while the AMD budget more than accommodated our pick from the last guide, the Intel DDR2 option needed to be toned down a bit. Our AMD system gets a repeat injection of 2x1GB of Corsair TWIN2X PC2-5400, which is simply amazing for an entry-level gaming system. 2GB might seem like a bit of overkill, but with prices so low, it's the smart move to make. We would have liked to upgrade to DDR2-800, but the added cost was not worth the limited performance gain, especially if we needed to make concessions on other areas like the graphics card or processor.

Our Intel system simply does not have the budget for the same type of DDR2, but we still managed to maintain the 2x1GB capacity and the DDR2-667 speed. We achieved this by selecting Kingston ValueRAM, possibly the lowest cost, name brand DDR2 on the market. We get all the benefits of the Corsair DDR2, but forego the nifty heatsinks in favor of a more old school approach. At the end of the day, we're still looking at 2GB of DDR2-667 in a dual channel configuration, and we don't have to scrimp on the video card or processor. Let's not even talk about DDR2-800, as we're already slightly over budget as it is.

Hard Drive:

Western Digital Caviar SE 200GB (WD2000JS) 3.0 Gb/s

Current Cost: $54
Consecutive Guides: 2
Price Change: -$2

In the last guide, we finally upgraded from our 120GB hard drive, and moved onto a more spacious 200GB model. We hoped top hit 250GB, but there just wasn't enough budget leeway, and settled on the Western Digital Caviar SE 200GB. We are sticking with this selection again this month, as the budget was extremely tight, and adding in another HD later on is one of the easiest system upgrades.

The WD drive offers support for SATA 3.0 Gb/s, as well as 8MB of cache, an 8.9 ms access time, and a 7200-RPM rotational speed. Western Digital offers a 3-year warranty with the Western Digital Caviar SE line, and these have proven to be very compatible in our testing. Both of our motherboards can make use of the faster SATA 3.0 Gb/s interface, and will receive enhanced burst mode transfers thanks to the updated interface and hard drive.



Current Cost: $29
Consecutive Guides: New
Price Change: N/A

Even an entry-level gaming system should have at least CDR/RW and DVD read functionality, and while we finally made the move to DVD writing in 2006, this month we transition to SATA. We've started using these in some new system configurations and found the SATA DVD drives make setup a lot easier and allow for fewer/thinner cables and better airflow. We chose the LG GSA-H62NK 18X SATA DVD Writer this month, and it really combines speed, functionality and value.

LG is another well-known name in optical storage, and the GSA-H62NK DVD writer gives us all we need in a primary optical drive. The LG GSA-H62NK offers writing speeds of 18X DVD+/-R, 10X DVD+/-R Dual-Layer media, 8X DVD+RW, 6X DVD-RW, 48X CD-R, and 32X CD-RW. The LG drive also includes support for DVD-RAM technology, and can read and write it at 12X speeds. Other specifications include a SATA interface, 2MB data cache, and 145ms DVD and 125ms CD access times. At only $29, this LG drive is a very inexpensive way to add DVD writing functionality to our value systems, while moving to a SATA-only interface for both optical storage and hard drives.

Page 1

Introduction and Case

Page 2

Processors and Cooling

Page 3


  • Page 4

    Memory, Hard Drive and DVD Writer

    Page 5

    Video Card and LCD Display

    Page 6

    Soundcard, Speakers and LAN

    Page 7

    Input Devices and Operating System

    Page 8

    Price Roundup and Closing Remarks

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