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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

Sound Card: Integrated 8-Channel

Current Cost: $0
Consecutive Guides: 26
Price Change: N/A

There are a few concessions with having a mainstream, or even high-end, CPU, video card, and motherboard in an entry-level system configuration, and one of them is to make use of the motherboard's integrated audio. Our AMD and Intel motherboards both feature very capable 8-channel audio solutions, and although there is a bit of CPU overhead, current dual/quad core processors make this a non-issue. Soundcards are also one of the most easily upgradeable system components, so by going the onboard route, you can then save up for a higher-end Audigy or SoundBlaster X-Fi soundcard and upgrade later.

We also haven't allocated any of our system budget on a low-cost, dedicated soundcard that may need to be tossed afterwards. For our value systems, sticking with on-board sound not only makes sense now, but it is an economical strategy for future upgrades.

Speakers: Logitech X-240 Speaker System

Current Cost: $40
Consecutive Guides: New
Price Change: N/A

Buying a set of entry-level gaming speakers should never be an afterthought, and though we're not going to be purchasing a set of high-end Klipsch Promedia speakers, you can still get amazing game audio without breaking the bank. The optimum method of determining your choice of speakers is to actually listen to a few sets, using CD and game music to make the final determination.

Unfortunately, this is the one area that we needed to make some concessions on, as the venerable Logitech X-530 5.1 speakers have simply become impossible to find. Their successors, the Logitech X-540 5.1 set, are still priced a bit high for our budget, so we were forced to move down the Logitech line to the X-240 2.1 speakers. These are certainly commendable speakers, but we do lose the 5.1 surround sound, as well as some RMS power. But this is only a recommendation, and we'd like to be able to spend a bit more for a 5.1 system like the Logitech X-540.

Communications Device

For our Value Gaming PC, we've taken the advice of our readers and toned down the communications options, in order to make better use of our budget and squeeze out as much performance as possible.

NIC: Integrated

Current Cost: $0
Consecutive Guides: 27
Price Change: N/A

Our AMD and Intel motherboards not only include onboard audio, but also feature integrated Gigabit LAN hardware as well. Making use of the free onboard LAN option gives us a bit more budget leeway, and allows cash to be allocated towards higher-performance components. This is just smart business when it comes to a value gaming PC, and there is no real difference between a basic NIC and the integrated Gigabit LAN found on these motherboards. Both are fully supported under Windows XP and will more than foot the bill for Internet use or LAN gaming.

We are no longer including a modem in our system configurations, since readers have rightfully pointed out that the majority of gamers already own some of the basic external devices like a modem, printer or scanner, or use DSL or cable Internet access (requiring only a LAN connection), and that the money could be put to better use elsewhere. If you do require a modem, the Creative Labs Modem Blaster 56K is still a great bet.


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