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Posted: 05/06/2008 11:06 AM
Technology is fickle, so it’s hard to know when to buy a computer. However, when I got my brand-spanking custom-built machine at the very start of this year, I discovered otherwise. Deciding to get an Intel Core 2 Quad Q6600 2.4GHz (Kentsfield) quad-core processor was a no-brainer, along with a Gigabyte 8800GTS 512MB graphics card that renders crisp graphics at crazy frame rates like there’s no tomorrow. It’s based on a solid Gigabyte P35-DS3P SLi-ready motherboard with speedy and affordable Corsair 2GB PC6400 C4 DDR2 TwinX RAM with timings of 4-4-4-12.
Two Western Digital 320GB SATAII hard drives are configured in JBOD (Just a Bunch Of Disks) mode so that one stores the OS, programs and the other is my personal files storage drive; they provide plenty of storage space and run cool. The ASUS 2014B1T DVD-Burner with Lightsribe turned out to be a very good choice; it is quiet, fast and has a decent software bundle. A cool, quiet and sleek Coolermaster Mystique 631 Silver Aluminium case houses the hardware, along with an Antec NeoPower 650W power supply to feed the hungry beast. The case is very sturdy and has a nice blue LED 120mm fan at the front and another one at the back. The power supply is modular, which is handy for keeping the case tidy, which helps to maintain nice airflow in the case.
Along with a lot of gamers, I chose to stick to Windows XP (probably the best Microsoft OS to date) because I see no point to “upgrade” to Windows Vista. Of course, this has a downside: Vista is the only OS that supports DirectX 10. With the proliferation of widescreen LCDs, I made the strange decision to stick to a standard sized Samsung SyncMaster 940B 19” LCD screen. I have to say that I am still attached to the 4:3 ratio, but now I feel some regret for not choosing a widescreen, but not enough to make me change. It’s great for pretty much everything I do on the computer (the TV is there for the movies folks), vibrant colours and a decent 5ms response time keeps it on my desk for now.
For an audiophile like myself, I couldn’t resist the Creative X-Fi XtremeGamer Fatal1ty sound card coupled with the Logitech Z-2300 THX-certified speakers. The speakers pump out 200 watts RMS power and reproduce exceptionally crisp highs, warm mid tones and big thumping bass, which is great for immersive gaming. The corded speaker remote is handy, but I wish the cable was a bit longer. Lastly, a comfortable Microsoft Wireless Laser Desktop 6000 keyboard and mouse package rounds out the system. Key travel could be better and the mouse really annoyed me for the first week because it doesn’t make that “click” sound, but it is comfortable and accurate to use.
But as a critical reviewer I have a few bones to pick; the graphics card runs fairly hot, the mouse took a bit of getting used to, the monitor can get pretty warm and the 8” subwoofer is fairly bulky, not to mention the heat sink! What else can I say? I’m a gamer, video-editor and 3D modeller among other things and my experience shows that this machine can take anything I can throw at it without breaking a sweat; it’s a quad-core monster.
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