Hardware is to a geek as theft is to a kleptomaniac, and there is no deny it. Sure, we can take your 300 mhz K6 and your 200 mhz Pentium 2's and make something useful out of it, but a real geek wants at least one box that has it all, style, performance... basically stuff to make LAN-party buddies drool on. Everybody is dreaming about that killer 10K$ rig with dual 8800 GTX, 8 gigs of Corsair dominator, and overclocked QX6800, but let's get real, I don't know one person under 25 that can afford such a box without having a sponsorship, that or missing out on food for a couple of months in order to gather some additional cash.
Like everybody, I have done my share of magazine reading on the topic that is hardware, and I have concocted my evil plan to create my dream machine that will send my parent's electricity bill sky-rocketing. As opposed to those shopping follies where you get the best of everything that apppears on Tiger-Direct, I decided to make my rig an realistic one, one that I could afford without working 80 hours per week for 3 months. I opted for recent, but not top of the line products, and shopped intelligently, that is looking on ebay for everything that I could possibly get there, to end up with a rig that, no, won't beat the crap out of pro-gamer rigs, but will still last a few years while being able to run decent apps and games. Here is what I ended up with:
Chassis: Thermaltake Armor
The Thermaltake Armor, with time, has earn a solid reputation. I great reviews all over the internet, and all of them were great, including the short praise found in InventGeeks 0 dB cooling system mod. This full tower case has solid features, like a wall of fans on the front panel, lockable side-panel,top vent, and great airflow. This case is what every case should be: no frills performance with solid looks. The excellent airflow of this case is of course the major reason for my purchase, but the slick blue LED fans and the brushed, black casing is not something I would spit on either. It even comes with an air-cooled drive rack, which is great.Price: 220 $CAD with shipping, from ebay Subtotal: 220 $CAD
Motherboard EVGA 680i SLI ATX
For the mainboard, I knew that I wanted something with a good chipset and socket, for upgradability later on, so I chose an Intel 775 socket mainboard with a 680i, SLI compatible chipset. Being an incult in what concerns hardware brands, I originally wanted an Asus board, one of the only brands that I knew of at the time, but then I discovered other brands while shopping, and decided to fix my choice on an EVGA branded board. I had discovered EVGA just a few weeks before while reading a hardware magazine advertising one of their new 8800 series GPUs, and I decided that it maybe was worth the look. Since pretty much every comment I saw on big websites were positive about this board, I decided to make it part of my rig.
Chipset 680i is now considered to be one of the best chipsets on the market, if not THE best. Again, I'm no hardware expert, but many enthusiasts have been praising this chipset for it's advanced control over bus speeds, as well other features frequently found on other mainboards, like multi-level RAID support, dual-RJ networking, and of course the much praised SLI setup compatibility.
The Intel socket 775 is a relatively old socket, working with the P4's and D's of the previous generations, as well as the new bombshells that are the Core 2 Duo family. More about the chosen processors in the next section.
Price: 300 $CAD with tax and shipping
Subtotal: 520 $CAD
Processor Core 2 Duo E6600
This is the beast beyond this project. Reviews for the C2D are plentiful on the internet and in magazines, and I was one of those hardware hoes who picked up one of the reviews when they came out, and even since, the thought of owning one of these mofos made me salivate. Turns out that the new procs are way cheaper than the performances might indicate, and that those new beasts are actually affordable, unlike the FX series by AMD that cost close to one grand at time of release and that are now obsolete by Core 2 standards.
Its got everything, Viiv, 1 khz front bus, reknown power consumption, a whopping 4 megs of L2 cache, and a 2.4 ghz of bi-core, 64 bit number-crunching power. Everybody is awestruck with this new core, it beats everything that the competition, aka AMD, can shoot at it, even the upper FX series (FX-70, ect) that run for double the price.
It's fast, without being the fastest, but still pretty much guaranteed to stay up with the competition for a couple of years for the next couple of years. I would be buying the OEM version for added value, right from tigerdirect.Price: 320 $CAD with shipping and tax, OEM version Subtotal: 840 $CAD
Since the processor I put on this rig is just sick, I would like to have the RAM to match it. I'm not yet sure on what sticks to choose, partially because I'm waiting for technical advice on backwards compatibility and I haven't yet decided on the brand to use, but I'm pretty sure to go with either with OCZ, Crucial, or Corsair, or any other brand (I've been a Corsair dawg ever since I got a Flash Voyager). Basically, I'm looking for DDR2 PC8000, dual-channel if possible, in the 200 something dollar range.Price: 300 $CAD Subtotal: 1140 $CAD
Power Supply Ultra X-Finity 600 Watt
With the rig I want to build, a good power supply is a must, since some of the stuff in there will be draining lots of juice. I figured that with my motherboard, processor and GPU, plus all the bells and whistle like fans and whatnot, 600 watts would be enough. Again, my choice on this component is not really set, but I figured that I would pick a couple models and buy whatever is going to be cheap on ebay at that precise moment.Price: About 100 $CAD with delivery, from ebay Subtotal: 1240 $CAD
Graphics Card EVGA Geforce 8800 GTS
Another morsel of beast to further compliment this rig, the EVGA 8800 GTS is a perfect match for what I need. Although again it is not the most kick ass unit on the market, it is amongst the most powerful, and is sure to provide some serious FPS at recent games. Comes for quite cheap on ebay, if you consider the time that this card will serve without being obselete.Price: 400 $CAD on ebay with delivery Subtotal:1640 $CAD
Hard Drive Seagate 7200.10 320 gig SATA
There is no specific reason for my choice of hard drive, except for the fact that I already am a fan of Seagate products. I have already purchased a 7200.10 in IDE for an external enclosure, and I was very happy with the performance, noise and heat that the drive produced, so I decided to use the SATA version of the drive on my rig. Apart from good performance and guarantee backing, the drive also boasts incredible value, at 320 gigs for below 100 $CAD, so if the need arises, it would be very cheap to implement a RAID 0 filesystem for enhanced performance.Price: 150 $CAD Subtotal: 1790 $ CAD
I chose Thermaltake just because I thought that having a Thermaltake only branded rig would be cool, and an advantage for a sponsorship, which I can only but dream of. The two parts are pretty self-descriptive, one memory cooler, and one CPU cooler with an eight copper heatpipe design. Both of the products have been very well rated, which of course affects my decision to buy or not. Considering that the Core 2 duo produces little heat and that RAM produces even less at it's stock settings, cooling isn't very important for now, but the chassis has plenty of potential to upgrade on cooling.Price: 75 $ CAD for both Subtotal: 1865 $ CAD
Grand total: 1865 $ CAD with lots of headspace. Considering depreciation of the parts from now until I buy it and the huge headspace that I gave myself money-wise, I am pretty sure I could squeeze this build to under 1500 $CAD.
Now consider this: the PC is considerably powerful, at least enough to make some LAN party homies go mad, and will probably stay on the top of pack as a gaming PC for about 4 years or more, which brings the value per year at a very reasonable cost. Also, when it's lifetime as a gaming PC is finished, it can always be sold, or kept for use as a kickass server box.
ETA: August 2007.