HotHardware Holiday Gift Guide

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As the year draws to an end and the holiday shopping season begins, we here at HotHardware have a time-honored tradition of bringing our faithful readers our annual Holiday Buyer's Guide.  We hope that our Holiday Guide will help you make informed buying decisions, whether you're looking for a couple of parts to put into your own machine, or building a new machine from scratch for friend or family.

Each year our Holiday Buyer's Guide is a little different.  For example, this year we've decided to break the things down by component type.  Within each category we've broken down our suggestions into three price ranges: High-end, middle of the road, and shoe-string budget.  This will help you quickly and easily select the types of parts you want, without sifting through a bunch of components you may not be interested in.

On the other hand, if you want to buy a completely new system, we have included complete system breakdowns on the last page that are based on the components in this guide.  This should let you easily create a list of the parts to build a complete rig if you so choose.

Our High-end system isn't exactly a money-is-no-object type rig, but it does represent the best-of-breed components from each category without total disregard for price/performance ratios.  We've been good all year in an attempt to get at least one or two of these components under our Christmas tree, but we'll have to wait a few more weeks to find out if we've made the cut.

For those who want a lot of bang for the buck, you're also in luck.  We've offered up a myriad of mid-range components that, if assembled together, represent a lot of performance for a price range between $1250 and $1750.  And if you want a little more performance, you could buy a few high-end parts if you like and/or overclock the system, of course.  These components probably represent the best value for your money, especially when it comes to longevity.

For those of us who are on a more limited budget, our value-priced component recommendations would result in a sub-$750 computer that is still more than capable of running the latest software and games - just don't expect to run some recent titles at high resolution with anti-aliasing and and other image quality settings cranked up too high.

Thanks to the latest advances in processors, memory and video cards, it is possible to put together a computer that even the crabby Scrooge himself would agree is a bargain.  This system may not be as forward-looking as the middle of the road system, but if you have a few extra dollars you could upgrade some of the parts to mid-level components and breathe a bit more life into the rig.

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Der Meister 7 years ago

Nice read, i really agree with the Q6600... i wish i could switch my E for a 

^Bad_Boy^ 7 years ago
Great Guide!!

Right now the Radeon 3870 Seems like a Great deal... Even more since it's really hard to find the 8800GT's at the MSRP ...
trian 6 years ago

 Two things, the ACER 24" monitor, if you look at Newegg, every other customer review mentions at least one serious problem with this monitor, such as a No Image sign coming up in the middle of the screen and the screen blacking out every few seconds. The second, I own the stacker case mentioned and I wish I didn't. The first problem are the side panels. They are very difficult to close, in fact that's where I got the blood blister on my right hand, having to push so hard to get the side closed all the way and my palm getting in the way when it finally moved. The second big problem is that 6 months after I bought the case the power button stopped working. It doesn't make the noise like it should anymore so it's obviously a mechanical problem, not, as I was hoping, a pulled wired. If you are looking for another case in that price range, the Lian Li PC-201 or the Cosmos 1000, even though it is also made by Cooler Master, are two good alternatives.

Crisis Causer 6 years ago

Radeon 3870 is what I want... but they are impossible to find, at least close to retail price.  3850 looks okay too, but I'd like more power and RAM.

I also wish I had an AM2 board for I could get that 5000 Black Box.  But I'm stuck with my 939, and dual-core CPU's for that socket are too expensive.

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