Ars Technica System Guide: September 2008 Edition

Price, performance, or both

Welcome to the most recent installment of the fabled Ars System Guide, a carefully crafted resource for PC system builders across the 'Net. The goal, as always, is to provide three solid setups for do-it-yourself computing enthusiasts. HangZhou Night Net

Some lucky bastards have unlimited funds, while others have to pinch every penny, but it's possible to put together a potent PC for just about any budget; the key is targeting different price/performance points.To that end, our system guides offer three configurations. For each component, we'll explain why we think it's the best fit for the system, always keeping in mind that "the best component" depends on the goals you're trying to achieve (and the budget you're trying to achieve it with). If you disagree, let us know why; argue well enough, and you just might see your favored component makethe nextsystem guide.

Budget Box (September 2008)

If you're trying to build an inexpensive system, we've got your answer: the Budget Box. This puppy is dedicated to finding the least expensive options possible while still giving you full functionality. The Budget Box may sound cheap, but it's not. It's thrifty power, priced at under $800, andit canhandle everything that Vistathrows at it.

Hot Rod (September 2008)

Our nextstep up the price/quality ladder isthe Hot Rod. This is a system built for power, but with limited (read: realistic) funds; we're looking for the best "bang for the buck" on this one. The Hot Rod is also asystem that almost anyone can build. Rather than cook up some mineral oil-soaked, refrigerator-powered machine, this box will fulfill your power-user requirements without requiring anything "Xtreme!" We aim to keepthe Hot Rodbeneath $1,600, butperformance is sometimes worth a few bucks extra.

God Box (September 2008)

Finally, there's the God Box, so called because your friends may well bow down before its splendor. Cost is no object; if a part performs, we're going to use it. Sadly, you probably can't afford itunless you've won the lottery or your company is paying the tab (are those different things?). Still, we're not throwing in diamond-encrusted heatsinks here; even in the God Box,there's no point inwasting money.

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