Current Cost: $0
Consecutive Guides: 13
Price Change: N/A
Both of our recommended motherboards include Gigabit LAN, and other than users looking at additional ports or security features, there is no reason to spend the money on a dedicated PCI/PCIe card. The onboard 1000Mbps networking will provide more than enough bandwidth for any home gaming system, but for those with more extravagant requirements, we do have an optional piece of equipment.
The Intel PRO/1000 PT Server Adapter is available in single, dual, and quad port designs, with the single-port model using a PCI Express x1 format, while the multiport cards use a higher-bandwidth PCI Express x4 slot. The newer PCI Express standard allows these cards to support bi-directional Gigabit transfers, and overall faster speeds.
Although a conventional 56k modem has gone the way of the dinosaur for the majority of users, anyone requiring one should forgo an internal real estate war and snag an external USB model like the US Robotics USR5633 Faxmodem.
Current Cost: $170
Consecutive Guides: 2
Price Change: -$10
We finally shuffled off the old Windows XP coil in our previous guide, and not only jumped right into Vista, but also went right up to the top of the scale with the Ultimate Edition. Once again, we're recommending the OEM version, which requires the purchase of qualifying hardware, so be sure to buy your copy from one your hardware venders.
The 32-bit version of Windows Vista Ultimate is the safest bet, although with a full 4GB of DDR2, you're welcome to try the 64-bit version. Game compatibility may take a slight hit, but at least you'll get the benefit of the whole 4GB. Under a 32-bit Vista environment, you'll really only see about 3GB due to the way the OS handles addressing, but having 4GB of system memory is still better than 2GB.
Current Cost: $155
Consecutive Guides: New
Price Change: N/A
When plunking down $4,000 on a new computer, adding a UPS can be very cheap insurance against power surges (spikes) or brownouts (droops), and can even give you a bit lead-time during a power failure. Given the price of our two system configurations, and the serious hardware these contain, a UPS is not optional, but a required piece of equipment.
The OPTI-UPS Enhanced Series ES1000C is rated at 1000VA and sports an excellent 700W load capacity, but gets us dangerously close to the full load of our dual-Radeon HD 4870 X2 system. So although the ES1000C should suffice, we're upgrading to its ES1500C big brother. This bad boy features eight outlets and is rated at 1400VA with a whopping 980W load capacity, which is more than enough juice to handle even our fully-loaded systems.