Wednesday, September 17, 2008

How to Build the Ultimate Gaming PC(gaming computers)

Gaming Computers

Sure, you paid top a few money years ago to a man with a crisp shirt from PC World, but now it seems like a glorified typewriter. You've seen great new titles whistle past your nose like Call of Duty 4 and Crysis, but you know your sorry old grey box won't handle a man jack of them, especially since little Lucy stuffed her buttered toast into the CD drawer last Christmas.

If you've got money to burn, then there are any number of companies ready to change all that with their latest branded super PCs - shiny Beasts with dazzling stats and an Alien-like appearance. Sadly though, when I say money to burn I mean around three grand. Crying yet? Well you needn't.

Essentially an online and phone component store, their talents stretch further than mere sales. They can also put together, customise and overclock your system for you, all for a surprisingly low premium.

No matter what your level of computer knowledge, these guys make things refreshingly easy to comprehend. They're the friendliest geeks you'll ever come across, and their help and advice is often invaluable.

In order to tailor your PC to you, here's a guide to help you know what you're looking for:


Heat is the enemy of any computer. The hotter it is inside, the slower some of the components will run, and the more likely you are to damage a processor. The key to a well cooled system is your case, although as we go along, you'll notice that nearly all the components are designed with cooling in mind. A well designed enclosure with a solid through-draft will drop your CPU core temperature by over half. And for this, there is no better case than the Antec Nine Hundred. With 70% of the front panel taken up by intake fans, and a 20cm behemoth on the top, it turns your machine into a surprisingly quiet wind tunnel. And it looks awesome.

Graphics Card

There are two manufacturers leading the way on graphics cards: Radeon (ATI) and Nvidia (Geforce). I've been impressed with both in the past, but for the moment I'm leaning toward Radeon, as they've pipped Nvidia to the post with their latest release: The ATI 3870 X2 card has a whopping 1024MB of onboard memory, and a super-fast graphics processor. It truly is the Ferrari of cards, but it's also a lot bigger than a lot of others. So if you opt for a different case, make sure it's going to fit in.

Power supply

In order to run a meaty machine, you'll need an equally meaty PSU (power supply unit). For high power parts, I'd opt for nothing less than an 850W, stretching to 1000W if you've got a lot of drives or and SLI/Crossfire graphics setup. In our case, we've gone for the well-trusted OCZ Game Xtreme 850.


The foundation of your PC. You'll want a trusted brand with a well-made chipset. You'll also need to make sure it's going to house your choice of processor. In this instance, we're leaning towards Intel, so the X38 chipset motherboard is perfect. It incorporates 2 PCI-express slots which will let you install dual graphics cards should you want to. Specifically, we've plumped for an Asus Formula Maximus X38 board , offering great cooling and monitoring options, which you'll definitely benefit from given the kit you're plugging into it.


Intel and AMD have been battling it out for the processing top spot for an age and a day. The bottom line at the moment though, is that Intel are way ahead on research and development. Both Dual Cores and Quad Cores can serve you well right now, and this is where you have a choice to make.

Although only 2 cores are used during 3D games currently (rendering the extra 2 in a Quad Core redundant), it will only be around 18 months before they'll be harnessed properly, thus the Quad, though more expensive will be future proof. Dual Cores are cheaper, and are easy to over-clock to the same speed. We've gone for an Intel Core 2 Quad Q9300 2.5GHz , and have over-clocked it to 3.25GHz. Over-clocking is easy to do through the motherboard, but be careful if experimenting: you don't want to blow your chip.


OCZ are a perfect choice when it comes to RAM for gaming. The Raptor range are durable, fast, and have a built-in heatsink on the top helping them keep as cool as possible. DDR3 (double data-rate) RAM has been released, but it's currently shockingly expensive. Where 4GB of DDR3 , the OCZ PC2-6400C4 800MHz Reaper memory , which is more than enough. I call that a win.

Sound Card

Environmental sound is a massive part of gaming, heightening the immersive experience and giving you a better sense of orientation. Recent first person shooters like Bioshock and Crysis use it to great effect, and to harness that we recommend nothing less than the Creative Soundblaster Fatal1ty X-Fi Platinum Champion Series . In addition to full Digital DTS and dedicated audio RAM, it has a front panel which you can use to plug in all sorts of devices, and a remote to run your movies should you tire of shooting people.


As mentioned earlier, extra cooling is imperative to keep your components running smoothly. Water cooling is extremely effective, but can cost hundreds of pounds to set up. OCZ have an alternative which you'll love - the OCZ Vendetta cooling stack. It comprises of a 130mm high set of copper heat pipes and aluminium fins which conduct heat well away from your CPU, and through the fan situated on the side.

Hard drive

Speed is the concern here. The top end hard drives usually run at around 10,000 RPM. What we're going to do is bind two of these together into one, called a RAID. We've picked out the lovely Western Digital Raptor drives to do the job for us. 36GB each, and the equivalent of 20,000RPM when working together. You'll not need more than about 70GB for a system drive and games. You can run all your media from a separate drive or even an external disk so you can port it around with you.

Optical drive

With the advent of Blu-Ray, DVD writers have plummeted in price. We've opted for a Pioneer DVR-215BK 20x , which is plenty fast, and writes dual layers. If you're interested in watching Blu-Ray too, then you might want to take a look a LG's Blu-Ray burner.

Operating System

Gamers are divided over which OS performs best for games. Windows XP seems to throw up less problems with certain machines, but Windows Vista includes support for Direct X 10. For the sake of not standing in the way of progress, we've chosen Windows Vista. Plus the added media options and desktop widgets make for an improved look and more intuitive interface.

Mouse & keyboard

Peripherals really come down to personal preference. We've got for a simple CyMotion Expert USB keyboard , and a Microsoft Sidewinder Mouse . The Sidewinder is a brilliantly customisable bit of kit, with removable weights and interchangeable Kevlar feet.


You want big, you want sharp and you want responsive. And if you also want good value, then look no further than the modestly-priced Samsung SM245B . Great contrast range and viewing angle, a response time of 5ms, and resolutions up to 1920X1200 make this an obvious choice.


To compliment your soundcard's output, a good 5.1 surround setup will be a great addition. Logitech do the X-540 surround speakers , which have a solid subwoofer and a monitor-mountable front satellite speaker.

Gaming Computers

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