Extreme Gaming PC Buyer's Guide: March '08: Page 4

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Hard Drives: Four Seagate Barracuda 7200.10 320GB SATA 3.0Gb/s

Current Cost: $340 ($85 each)
Consecutive Guides: 5
Price Change: +$5 each

Seagate's little 320GB drives were chosen as a balance between performance, flexibility and capacity. Gaming doesn't require a huge amount of storage, but the scant 150GB available in Western Digital's Raptors still doesn't seem like much, so we'd probably need two in a RAID controller's JBOD or Level 0 mode, just to get an adequate 300GB. For around the same price, four Seagate Barracudas in Level 0 will provide over four times the capacity at nearly twice the peak transfer rate. The tradeoff is slightly longer response times, but using four Raptors would have eaten too deeply into the budget.

The use of four drives also opens up the possibility of RAID 0+1 for anyone who wants both performance and redundancy, again at a slight performance penalty but still faster than a single drive. How valuable are your game saves? Seagate also covers its OEM drives with a lengthy 5-year warranty.

Optical Drive: Samsung 20x DVD+RW/-RW SH-203N SATA

Current Cost: $35
Consecutive Guides: 2
Price Change: 0

Continuing to establish burn-speed records with the addition of LightScribe capability, the Samsung SH-S203N is a repeat selection in our Extreme Gaming PC Builder's Guide. It's a shame the price hasn't dropped since the previous guide, but at $35 a unit, we have no room to complain. It's also a shame that BRD burners still cost hundreds of dollars, and media not far behind, and going this route would have cut deeply into our gaming hardware selection.

Write speed claims of 20x by most manufacturers are actually the peak speeds at the fastest part of the disk, so it's no surprise that actual speeds vary between models. The SH-203N has specifications of 20x for both DVD+R and DVD-R media, 16x for dual-layer +R, 12x for DVD-R dual-layer, 8x for DVD+RW, and 6x for DVD-RW.

People who still use older media formats will be pleased with CD-R and –RW speeds of 48X and 32X, respectively, while DVD-RAM users will find it also supports this classic media at 12X speeds.

Introduction and Case

Processors and Cooling

Motherboards and Memory

Hard Drives and DVD-R/RW

Video Card, LCD Display and Audio

Mouse, Keyboard & Controller

Communications, Operating Systems, and more

Prices Roundup and Final Thoughts


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Tags: Intel, gaming PC, gamer, PC buying guide, motherboard


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