Hot Hardware for the Holidays: A Buyers Guide
Budget System (Continued)
For less than a hundred dollars, seeing a gorgeous case with a 450W power supply from a quality brand like Antec is enough to put a smile on anyone's face. Dual 12V outputs, effective cooling, noise-dampening features, and a beautiful glossy finish make this a no-brainer for a combination case and power supply. The power supply in question will be more than capable of handling our hefty GPU with ample power left to ensure solid stability and even some headroom for overclocking.
The Venice-cored Athlon 64 3500+ is the processor of choice for the $200 range. Although it is a single-cored CPU, the 90u part runs at an effective 2.2GHz which should be more than fast enough to prevent the CPU from being a performance bottleneck anytime soon. In addition, the Venice core adds slight performance enhancements over previous cores including some memory controller tweaks and lower overall power consumption. Perhaps most importantly, this CPU is a current favorite amongst overclockers and has been seen to have an enormous amount of headroom. Although your mileage with overclocking might vary, getting even more performance for free out of this potent $200 processor is enough to make anyone smile.
For the price, the $43 Logitech x530 speakers are an absolute steal. With 70W of power and a full 5.1 assortment of speakers, the Logitechs will be able to satisfy nearly any gaming or musical need for speakers. Granted, you won't be mistaking these for a high end setup like the Logitech Z5500's we used for the flagship system. However, for a budget sound system you'd be hard pressed to find a better set of speakers than the Logitech x530's.
The Logitech Media Elite keyboard doesn't come with any significant enhancements beyond the standard or traditional keyboard. However, for the money the keyboard is exceptional with solid construction, an excellent layout, and dependable performance. Obviously, this is one personalized piece of hardware whose ideal product will vary from person to person. In practice, we've used this keyboard with great success and found it to be a great bargain for those looking for a cheap price and not a cheap piece of hardware.
One look at Logitech's new G5 laser mouse and it is easy to see why we've chosen it for this system. This unbelievable new mouse has a user selectable tracking resolution ranging from 2000/800/400 dpi, three sensitivity levels ranging from 400/1200/and 2000dpi, and an adjustable weight cartridge that lets the user select how much of a provided 38g of weight the user wants to customize the weight and feel of the mouse. Overall, there is no substitute for a mouse of this caliber.
Easily the best bang for the buck, the use of Arctic Silver 5 will have a profound effect on overall cooling performance. When applied correctly, the use of Arctic Silver 5 can drop CPU temperatures by several degrees and can be the difference between an unstable system or a successful overclock.