Friday, February 8, 2008

Building the Ultimate Gaming Computer

Building the Ultimate Gaming Computer

To every gamer, owning the ultimate gaming computer is just like a dream come true. Not only can you play all type of games, you can also enjoy the realism of the graphics and sound.

So what does it take to build the ultimate gaming computer? First, you must have enough cash to spare. Next, you have to know which parts to choose, which will be covered in the next section.

The first thing to consider is definitely the CPU. The latest addition and the best of Intel CPU is the Intel Core 2 Extreme processor. According to Intel, the latest processor has a 4 MB of shared L2 cache (usually only 512K or 2MB) and up to 1066MHz FSB, a notch higher than its previous version. It also has better power efficiency and cache management system, optimized for multi-thread functions. The warning by Intel:

Warning: Graphics may appear to be too real.
The new Intel Core 2 Extreme processor is frighteningly vivid, and perfect for your new high-definition (HD) universe. Get inside amazingly complex HD games and applications with the incredible performance from Intel’s most advanced gaming desktop processor ever.

If you are a hard core AMD fan, do not panic, AMD has always been a strong competitor to Intel. Its Athlon 64 FX-62 CPU is the first Windows-compatible 64-bit PC processor and has the capacity to handle the most demanding application with outstanding performance. With over 100 industry accolades under its belt, what else do I have to say?

The CPU and the memory must always be hand in hand. You can’t expect a great performance from the CPU without the support of the memory RAM. Being the stabilizer of the whole system, the bigger the memory size, the better, faster and more stable computer you can get.

Though the fastest RAM speed is DDR2 1066MHz, there are not many motherboards that can support this. The recommended speed to go for is DDR2 800MHz dual channel 2GB. Most motherboards come with 4 DIMM slots; therefore you can install two sets of the dual channel RAM to bring the total memory to 4GB. Few applications can fully utilized the 4GB memory size yet, but it never hurt to have more memory space. It also means that you can save your memory upgrade cost for the next few years.

Graphics Card
Graphics technology has gone a long way since the monochrome era. The current technology is the SLI (Scalable Link Interface) or CrossFire technology, developed by nVidia and ATI respectively. Both technologies utilize dual graphics cards and the fast PCI-Express 16x slot to deliver faster and better images. For more information on graphics card, go to how to select the best gaming graphics card. To build a ultimate gaming computer, the graphics card should at least be a PCI-Express 512MB GDDR3 SLI/CrossFire ready graphics card.

Hard Drive
When building the ultimate gaming computer, it is not the size of the hard drive that counts, but its performance that really make the difference. A 200GB hard drive is usually more than enough for the storage of your games and applications. The main differences lie in the buffer and the drive interface. The buffer determines how much data can be stored for pre-fetch while the drive interface determines how fast the data can be transferred. The most suitable choice for an ultimate gaming computer is the SATA-2 16MB buffer 200GB hard drive.

Is there a need to say about this? The obvious choice is at least a 21′ LCD monitor with 2ms response time and DVI video input. The rest is extra.

Sound Card
Yes, you really need a sound card, even though that motherboard of yours boosts a 7.1 Ch onboard sound card. If you are going after the best sound possible, there are no alternatives other than the Creative Labs Sound Blaster X-Fi Platinum PCI Sound Card. It is currently one of the best sound cards that can create 3D sound in a two-speaker or headphone setup. This is definitely the one to go for.

How can you have a great soundcard without a great speaker? In order to match the performance of the great sound card you bought, a 5.1-channel speaker system or higher is necessary. A 5.1 channel means the right and left front satellites, right and left surround satellites, a center speaker and a subwoofer. A 6.1-channel adds a rear speaker while a 7.1-channel adds left and right rear speaker. In addition, a hardware decoding system for Dolby Digital and DTS is also essential to produce the best sound effect. A good recommendation is Logitech Z-5500 6.1 channel speaker system

The keyboard and mouse are the only devices that you use to input command to the system. For best gaming effect, a programmable hotkey keyboard and a sensitive, accurate mouse are required. The best in the market now is the Logitech G15 gaming keyboard that allows you to program up to 18 hotkeys and Logitech G7 laser gaming mouse that allows the user to adjust the resolution to 2000dpi.

Power Supply (PSU)
An ultimate gaming computer can easily consume 400W of power. You will need a high rating power supply to support it. PCI-Express SLI graphics card requires a different power connector. This has to be taken in account as well. Recommended: 600W SLI ready PSU with 120mm fan.

I have list most of the parts, what about the motherboard? It is easy, once you have gathered all the parts above, the motherboard that can supports all of these parts will be the one you go for. To summarize, your motherboard need to

  •     Be a socket 775 board for Intel processor or socket 939 / AM2 board for AMD processor
  •     Has at least 4 slots of DIMM for memory RAM. DDR2 800MHz for Intel chip and DDR 400MHz for AMD
  •     Support SLI or CrossFire, has at least two PCI Express 16x slot
  •     SATA 2 interface for hard drive

I have more or less covered the requirement to build an ultimate gaming computer. A piece of advice is that building the ultimate gaming computer can easily cost you several thousand dollars. Within a few months, all of those top of the line components will be replaced with a new range of products with even greater performance. If you are restricted by budget, do not attempt to build the ultimate gaming computer. Invest in only a few products such as the RAM and graphics card will be sufficient for you to enjoy your game. Who says gaming has to be an expensive hobby?

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