Spring 2009 Buyer's Guide
Spring is the time when a young man's fancy turns to thoughts of new processors and video cards. But with ever-changing product lines, how are you supposed to know what to get? Well, that's where our buyers guide comes in. In this article, we are going to take a look at configurations at 3 different price points, $500, $1,000, and $1,500, as well as our dream machine. We'll help you pick the parts you need to get the most performance out of your PC. It's important to understand that there is always room for customization and we are simply going for the configurations that offer the most bang for the buck. First, let's go over what our criteria is and how we came to decisions we did.
What to get, Why to get it, and Where to get it
Before you even begin to think about Intel or AMD or even NVIDIA or ATI, you need to find a good starting point. The best way to determine where to start looking is usually with how much money you are willing to spend. Knowing your budget can give you the proper frame of reference to help you decide the platform and accessories you can look at. It's also important to determine whether going outside your allotted budget is really worth it or not. While we'd all love to be rich enough to get the dream machine, more often than not our budgets just don't allow it. So it's important to note why one product is a better choice than another.
Once you've determined a budget for your build, you need to start thinking about the applications you will be running. Are you going to mainly playing games on this rig? Or are you a movie buff who wants to make an HTPC? How about a little bit of each? While the PC's discussed today are obviously going to be focused primarily on gaming, there is always room for adaptation to your particular interests. It's also of importance to understand why we went with X CPU and Y Video card. It isn't just about having the fastest components, but rather how fast a component works with the rest of the system. For instance, if you blow all your money on a GeForce 295 GTX, but only get an Athlon 4600+, you are going to end up creating a bottleneck between the two devices. The CPU just cannot process data as fast the GPU and this will prevent you from getting the full benefit of the graphics card, essentially wasting the money you spent on it.
All of our prices are taken from Newegg, one of the best sites for purchasing computer hardware. We have experience with other sites as well, like Tiger Direct and ZipZoomFly, but Newegg is usually the first site many enthusiasts think of when it comes time to upgrade. Obviously, any site you do choose to purchase from will most likely give you good results, but we do recommend www.resellerratings.com to check on any website you are unfamiliar with.
Now on with the show!