Serenity Now! Desktop Edition

Dennis Faas's picture

All right, I am officially "ticked" (I can think of a better word for it, but my editor has a clean mouth). ;-)

Not long ago I wrote about my experience in acquring a laptop for purchase. Sure, they're portable and that's very neat-o, but when it comes to getting the best bang for your buck, desktop systems are where it's at. So, if you don't mind, I'll now vent about my recent, frustrated experiences in finding a good desktop system.

First off: if you've read much of my material in the past, you know that I like the games. Not so much that I'd turn down an evening out with friends for a candle lit dinner with Lara Croft, Tomb Raider, but enough that I'd rather cozy up with a good real-time strategy than Grey's Anatomy. So, I'm looking for a high-end home system, which basically means a low-end gaming machine. I'm looking to spend about $1000-1200 CDN, or roughly $900-1000 USD.

My primary gaming lately has been on consoles, meaning that I've lost touch with PC specifications. All I know is that Intel's new Core 2 Duo rocks, and the AMD Athlon series pulls in a rather close second. I also know that I need a powerful graphics card to run any of today's games. It's looking like my range of interest there lies with the GeForce 6000 series or the ATI Radeon X800 XL. Or something in that neighbourhood.

Now, can anybody honestly offer everything I want, with a decent warranty, for the right price? Dell wants to unload a seemingly underpowered ATI Radeon X600 SE card on me, but an otherwise good machine including a Core 2 Duo 2.8 Ghz chip for $1300 CDN after tax. IBC wants me to pay about $900 CDN, post tax, for a slower Intel machine with a stronger graphics card (the GeForce 6600 GT). And southwestern Ontario chain has a bargain gamer deal of $599.99, before tax, on an AMD Athlon 3800 dual core machine with just half a gig of RAM, a good video card (the X800 XL) -- but no operating system. Only the Dell offers a monitor.

As you can tell, the process is difficult. Let me see if I can break things down a bit:

  • Processor: The new Core 2 Duo from Intel is routinely knocking down AMD's Athlon 64, although the latter can be had for cheaper and still puts out hefty performance. (Source:
  • Memory: Most techies recommend at least 1 GB of memory (why just half, Canadacomputers?)
  • Graphics card: Any of those mentioned above have been rated as quality components. Now if only retailers could appropriately package them. (Source:
  • Hard drive: 320GB is currently the "best bang for the buck" in terms of gigabytes per dollar.

To me, these are the most important tools for a gamer. Most games will sound fine on a decent sound card, and I'm no fuss with monitors.

But I am one frustrated desktop peruser. Tips appreciated!

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