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Sharky Extreme : Monthly Value Gaming System Buyer's Guide February 18, 2012
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Monthly Value Gaming System Buyer's Guide

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November Value Gaming PC Buyer's Guide

By Vince Freeman :  November 14, 2008

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 & Intel: 2GB (2x1GB) OCZ Platinum PC2-8500

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

As DDR2 prices continue to drop, there are some wild deals out there right now. One of them is the OCZ Platinum PC2-8500 2x1GB matched pair kit, which can be found for $35, and is naturally a perfect fit for our budget. Both of our AMD and Intel platforms fully support the DDR2-1066 speed, and at standard 5-5-5-18 timings @ 1066 MHz, this is as good as you get, even at much higher prices. Add in an OCZ lifetime warranty and you're looking at a killer DDR2 value.

* EDIT: There have been some reports of these OCZ modules having difficulty posting at 1066 MHz on our Intel P45 platform, especially in 4x1GB configurations, so for those users we recommend going with a safer Corsair DDR2-800 C5 selection.

Hard Drive:

Western Digital Caviar SE16 500GB (WD5000AAKS) 3.0 Gb/s

Current Cost: $65
Consecutive Guides: New
Price Change: N/A

One of the more difficult areas to upgrade significantly is the hard drive. Our budget doesn't afford luxuries such as 1.5TB drives, and we need to stretch the money as far as possible for as many GB as we can get. We've slowly inched up from 200GB to 250GB and then to the 320GB WD model we featured in the previous guide, but price levels have finally allowed a much greater move. At only $65, the Western Digital Caviar SE16 500GB offers a very nice combination of speed and price, and finally gets us to a full half-terabyte of disk space.

Not only do we upgrade the stated capacity by a full 180GB, but the Western Digital SE16 brand is the company's mainstream performance option. The Caviar SE16 500GB drive has a full 16MB of data cache and a 7200-RPM rotational speed, while supporting SATA 3.0 Gb/s and perpendicular recording technology. Western Digital offers a 3-year warranty on their OEM drives, which is a bit less than the 5 years Seagate provides, but still within the industry norm. Both of our motherboards can make use of the faster SATA 3.0 Gb/s interface, which will result in enhanced burst mode transfer rates.

CD/DVD-ROM:

DVD-/+RW: Samsung SH-S223F 22X SATA DVD Writer

Cost: $25
Consecutive Guides: New
Price Change: N/A

The current wave of Blu-ray format drives continues to make an impact, but prices are still well out of our range. On the other hand, retail prices on DVD+/-R/RW units are at historical lows, and due to this, we've upgraded from the Samsung SH-S203B 20X to the newer Samsung SH-S223F 22X DVD-/+RW. Since this is a SATA-based drive, it simplifies the installation and ensures that future platform support will not be an issue. And at only $25, the Samsung SH-S223F is still one of the lowest-cost models available.

While this is a low-cost DVD writer, it still combines the Samsung brand name with ultra-high write speeds for CD and DVD media. The Samsung SH-S223F offers write speeds of 22X DVD+/-R, 16X DVD+R & 12X DVD-R Dual-Layer, 8X DVD+RW, 6X DVD-RW, 48X CD-R, and 32X CD-RW. The Samsung drive also has support for DVD-RAM technology, and can read and write it at 12X speeds.


Page 1

Introduction and Case

Page 2

Processors and Cooling

Page 3

Motherboards

  • 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