Gaming Systems February 2003

Author
smartass083
Posted
February 13, 2003
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24234
This month I'll be coming up with my reccomendations for a budget, middle, and high-end gaming system.
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Page 1
<b>Introduction</b>
For something a little new to ASE Labs we have monthly system setups. I'll be covering the gaming systems for this month. I have three setups: your budget system that costs 800 or less, a middle level system that costs around 1200, and the Top of the Line system for $2000.Let's get into the budget system.

<b>Budget System</b>
<b>Case</b>
We'll start with the case and work our way towards the heart of the system. Since this is a budget system, I picked a cheap Antec Mid tower case. The case even has 2 front usb ports that will be good to plug your gaming controllers into. The case w/ power supply included is only $48, not bad.

<b>Accesories</b>
I'm gonna group the accesories into one paragraph because there really not that vital to our system. The keyboard and mouse I picked was a Microsoft 114 key Internet Keyboard, and a Microsoft Intelli-Mouse Optical Mouse. For speakers I chose Altec Lansing 4.1 Gaming Speaker System. They only cost $33, and give out really good sound for their price. The money we save here can be spent on a better processor and video card later on.

<b>Motherboard</b>
Now we come to the motherboard, while your system's stability depends on a lot of things, the motherboard is one of the biggies. I picked the MSI KT4VL motherboard. It includes onboard audio, and onboard lan, which are perfect for a budget system. IT comes with support for up to 3GB of PC3200 DDR Memory if you wish to upgrade later. I personally have this motherboard in my budget system I built, and it has run perfect for me.
Price: $76.00 Source:Newegg.com

<b>CPU</b>
Even though this is a budget system, that doesn't mean that you have to skimp on everything. Today's games are using not only the video card, but some are also using more CPU power then older games did. I picked the Athlon XP 2100 to match up with our Socket A Motherboard. This should provide more then enough power for your budget system.
Price: $102 Source: Newegg.com

<b>Memory</b>
For memory I got one stick of Crucial's 256MB PC2700 DDR memory. Nothing special really, Crucial makes good products, and 256MB should be enough for your games.
Price:53.99 Source:Newegg.com

<b>Storage</b>
While I really would have loved to slap in a 80, 120, or even 200 gig system for all your gaming needs, the price restriction of this budget system just wouldn't let me.DOH! Luckily, while looking through the Office Max circular, they have a Western Digital 40GB Harddrive for only 59.99 after a $30 mail in rebate. 40GB should be plenty to get you started, until you upgrade to more space.
Price:$89.99-$30 MIR=$59.99 Source:Office Max

When looking through the Office Max circular, I also came across another deal that I couldn't turn down for this budget system. For the CD drive in the budget system I chose the CenDyne 48x12x48x CDRW.It's a fast cd burner, and theres nothing much else I can say about it.
Price:$79.99-$30 Instant Rebate- $30MIR = $19.99 Source: Office Max

<b>Monitor</b>
For the monitor of the system I found a LOGISYS 17" CRT from Office Max as well. While it might not be the best monitor, it'll do for this system.
Price:$169.99-$40 Instant Rebate-$40MIR= $89.99

<b>Video Card</b>
Now what you've been waiting for, the all important videocard for the system. My pick for this one is the 128 MB version of MSI's Geforce 4 TI 4200. The 128MB of memory is better than its 64MB companion to start because as games use more textures, the video card itself will be able to store more, saving your regular RAM for other tasks. This card comes with DVI, Tv out, and a pretty nice software bundle. You can't beat this card for the performance/price ratio.
Price: $145 Source:Newegg.com

<b>Summary</b>
So let's see, here's a look at my Budget Gaming System for February.
Athlon XP 2100+
MSI KT4VL
Crucial 256MB PC2700 DDR Memory
MSI 128MB Geforce 4 TI4200
Microsoft 114 Key keyboard
Microsoft Optical Mouse
Altec Lansing 4.1 Speakers
Western Digital 40GB Harddrive
48x Cendyne CDRW
17" Logisys Monitor
*Grand Total:$824.00

*Yes, I know 824 dollars is more then the stated 800 dollar limit, however for everything that is in this system, that price is pretty good.So, if your 24 dollars short, go open up a lemonade stand on the corner and maybe in a couple days you'll make that money :oP
Page 2
<b>Middle System</b>
<b>Case</b>
Since we have some more money to spend on this one, I chose a Antec workstationcase. This case has front usb and firewire ports, and looks much better then the case in the budget system. Antec makes great quality products, and with the included power supply you can't go wrong.
Price: $79.99 Source:Newegg.com

<b>Keyboard & Mouse</b>
For the keyboard and mouse for this computer I chose Logitech's Cordless Elite Duo. While I've read that the mouse included in this bundle isn't great for gaming, when trying it I didn't notice any delay or slowdown that would hinder anyone's gameplay. Since both of these are wireless and are said to work 6ft, allowing you to kick back and enjoy hours and hours of games without the restriction of those 'old fashioned' cords.
Price: $77.00 Source:Newegg.com

<b>Motherboard</b>
The motherboard for the middle system is another MSI board. I picked the MSI KT4 Ultra, . It includes onboard audio,usb 2.0,AGP 8x, and has received great reviews.
Price: $92.00 Source:Newegg.com

<b>CPU</b>
Again I'm going with an AMD processor for this machine basically because I like AMD a little more. I chose the Athlon XP 2400, it'll offer a little more power then our budget system had. 2Ghz should be plenty of power for any game your running now, and I can't really see investing in a P4 3.06Ghz chip unless you have money to burn.
Price: $160 Source: Newegg.com

<b>Memory</b>
For memory I got two stick of Crucial's 256MB PC2700 DDR memory. This is 2x as much RAM as the budget system, and will help when your running games and have other applications running in the background.
Price:$107.98 Source:Newegg.com

<b>Storage</b>
Now the harddrive, in this case bigger is better so I'm picking the Western Digital 80 Gig hard drive w/ 8mb Cache. Most harddrives have 2MB cache and the 8MB cache makes a big difference in terms of how fast the data can transfer from the hard drive to memory. This harddrive has been rated highly in reviews, and from personal experience this is a great drive.
Price:$107 Source:Newegg.com

The CDRW I chose for this system is the CenDyne 48x CDRW again. The Reason? You can't beat the price, at 19.99 you won't find another 48x burner close to that. Go get one, even if your not building a whole system its a great deal.
Price:$79.99-$30 Instant Rebate- $30MIR = $19.99 Source: Office Max

<b>NIC,Speakers, OS</b>
Three other things you'll need, a network card since it wasn't included on this motherboard, along with a set of speakers. For the network card I picked the Netgear FA311, just your good ol' NIC for $17, and for the speakers I chose the same Altec Lansing 4.1 Speakers. The final thing you'll need for this to run is a OS, again Microsoft Windows XP Home supports all your games and is pretty stable.
Price:$143 Source:Newegg.com

<b>Monitor</b>
For the monitor of the system I picked a Samsung 19" monitor off of newegg. The bigger screen real estate will let you fit more on the screen, and I think most people would prefer a bigger monitor in any case.
Price:$180 Source:Newegg.com

<b>Video Card</b>
I'm saving the best for last again, the video card. The gaming system revolves a lot of things but primarily around the video card because it's gonna help make a big difference in your 3-d and 2-d gaming. I chose the 128MB ATI Radeon 9500 Pro for this system. This is a great new card, that has a lower pricetag then its 9700 companion, but offers great performance. It's perfect for a middle system.
Price: $197 Source:Newegg.com

<b>Summary</b>
So let's see, here's a look at my Budget Gaming System for February.
Athlon XP 2400+
MSI KT4V Ultra
Crucial 512MB PC2700 DDR Memory
128MB ATI Radeon 9500 Pro
Logitech Cordless Elite Duo
Altec Lansing 4.1 Speakers
Western Digital 80GB Harddrive w/ 8MB Cache
48x Cendyne CDRW
19" Samsung Monitor
*Grand Total:$1250


*Yea, Yea over the limit again, that can partly be attributed to the shipping of the 50 lb monitor across the country but oh well. Sell yourself on <a href="http://www.ebay.com">ebay</a> i'm sure someone will buy you. But to get back to the computer, I made a few upgrades to the harddrive, more memory, faster processor, better video card all leading to an overall better system.

Page 3
<b>The High End System</b>
Ah yes, the one you've been waiting for. The high-end gaming system, now if you have 2000 dollars to spend on a computer I strongly suggest sending donations to me, but if you really would prefer to build a awesome gaming machine here ya go.

<b>Case</b>
Since we have some more money to spend on this one, I chose a Antec workstationcase. This case has front usb and firewire ports, and looks much better then the case in the budget system. Antec makes great quality products, and with the included power supply you can't go wrong.
Price: $79.99 Source:Newegg.com

<b>Keyboard & Mouse</b>
For the keyboard I chose Logitech's Elite Keyboard, it's the same keyboard as above except its corded. I wish I could have found this without the cord but I could only find the combo moues and keyboard wireless. I chose the Logitech MX700 Cordless Optical Mouse because it is an awesome mouse for gaming and has a rechargable base so you can keep playing your games and not have to worry about buying new batteries every few months.
Price: $99.00 Source:Newegg.com

<b>Motherboard</b>
I decided to change it up and go for a P4 system for the high end gaming system. I chose the Asus P4G8X because it has a ton of great features. Let's see Serial ATA, Gigabit Ethernet, onboard audio, 6 USB 2.0 ports, 2 Firewire ports, the granite bay chipset that supports dual-ddr,awesome high end stuff on motherboard=great gaming system.
Price: $299.00 Source:Newegg.com

<b>CPU</b>
For the processor I chose the 2.8Ghz P4 from Intel. As much as it would be great to boast that you have broken the 3Ghz barrier, I just can't see justifying the close to $650 pricetag until games or any application absolutely require it.This processor will be sure to kick some serious ass.
Price: $381 Source: Newegg.com

<b>Memory</b>
For memory I got two stick of Crucial's 256MB PC2100 DDR memory. Now you might wonder why not spend more money and get PC2700, or even better PC3200 memory? We'll this motherboard only supports PC2100, but it'll make up for it because its got the granite bay chipset which uses Dual DDR technology.
Price:$86 Source:Newegg.com

<b>Storage</b>
Following the trend in increasing harddrive space from system to system, were increasing the space to a nice 120GB. I picked a Western Digital 120GB Harddrive w/ 8MB cache. This thing will provide a huge amount of storage for games, music, movies, and anything else you can think of.
Price:$144 Source:Newegg.com

The CDRW I chose for this system is the CenDyne 48x CDRW again. It's not worth spending more money for a 52x drive really in my opinion.
Price:$79.99-$30 Instant Rebate- $30MIR = $19.99 Source: Office Max

<b>NIC, Speakers & OS</b>
Now some extras, we need another network card, I chose a Netgear Gigabit Card. While your current network might not be Gigabit compliant, eventually down the road when networks transfer over, the gigabit card will be good. For speakers I chose the Klipsch 5.1 Speakers. These things get rated the best time and time again, and for the best system, you deserve the best sound. For the operating system I chose Windows XP Home again, its the leading operating system and will be compatible with most of your games.
Price:$498 Source:Newegg.com

<b>Monitor</b>
For the monitor of the system I picked a Sony 19" Trinitron monitor off of newegg. Sony makes quality products, and even though they are overpriced slightly compared to other products, you'll be happy with the quality you get.
Price:$310 Source:Newegg.com

<b>Video Card</b>
And last but certainly not least, we have the video card. Now about a month ago I would have been anticipating Nvidia's Gforce FX, however after lookin at reviews, it performed only sightly higher then the radeon 9700 in a few tests, and not to mention it sounds like LaGuardia Airport with the massive fan on it. So because of this, I chose the ATI Radeon 9700 Pro. This card is the best card available right now as far as gaming cards go, with 8x AGP, 128MB of RAM, and support for TV and DVI out, this will definitely give you the best performance.
Price: $348 Source:Newegg.com

<b>Summary</b>
So let's see, here's a look at my High Level Gaming System for February.
Intel Pentium 4 2.8Ghz
Asus P4G8X
Crucial 512MB PC2100 DDR Memory
128MB ATI Radeon 9700 Pro
Logitech Elite Keyboard
Logitech MX700 Optical Wireless Mouse
Klipsch 5.1 Speakers
Western Digital 120GB Harddrive w/ 8MB Cache
48x Cendyne CDRW
19" Sony Trinitron
Windows XP Home
*Grand Total:$2300

We'll that just about sums it up for the three systems. No matter what price range you fall into, you should be able to build a system that will be able to handle most games. One way you can cut costs when building a computer of any level, is to look out for deals both online and in your local stores. If you look around enough your almost guaranteed to find a better price.
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