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.