By Jason Cross  |  Print this article Print


Desktop-as-a-Service Designed for Any Cloud ? Nutanix Frame

Build It: Last year's $800 gaming PC was a bargain, but had significant compromises. This year's model is an $800 hot-rod gaming rig that offers impressive performance. What a difference a year makes!

When it comes to game performance, nothing beats an Athlon 64. We wanted to keep an eye on the future, so we made it a point to go with a Socket 939 CPU rather than socket 754. The latter socket format is on its way out, while Socket 939 will be around for a long time to come. We'll use the price for a boxed processor, and use the generic CPU cooler included in it.

This is by no means the top of AMD's Athlon 64 line. It runs at 1.8GHz and has 512KB of L2 cache. At under $150, it really does deliver some great bang for the buck. Down the line, you'll be able to replace it with a dual-core Athlon 64 X2 without swapping out your motherboard or RAM.

Product:Athlon 64 3000+ (Socket 939)


Price:$143 ( check prices)

Pros:Great bang for the buck; Socket 939 allows easy future expansion.

Cons:Only 512KB of L2 cache.

Summary:Great for games, but down the line you’re going to want to move to a dual-core CPU.

MSI's K8N Neo4-F isn't the best nForce 4 motherboard on the market, but it certainly is one of the least expensive. You get all the standard nForce 4 features in a pretty reliable package. Four SATA ports, gigabit Ethernet, and x16, x4, and x1 PCIe slots is pretty good for well under $100. There's no FireWire port, but you can't expect everything in a board this inexpensive.

Perhaps most importantly, this is a totally modern board with a brand-new, well-supported chipset. You won't have to worry about driver support drying up in six months, or getting a new CPU in a year that will require an entirely new motherboard. AMD will be selling Socket 939 CPUs some a long time to come, and this board is all ready for the dual-core Athlon 64 X2.

Jason Cross Jason was a certified computer geek at an early age, playing with his family's Apple II when he was still barely able to write. It didn't take long for him to start playing with the hardware, adding in 80-column cards and additional RAM as his family moved up through Apple II+, IIe, IIgs, and eventually the Macintosh. He was sucked into Intel based side of the PC world by his friend's 8088 (at the time, the height of sophisticated technology), and this kicked off a never-ending string of PC purchases and upgrades.

Through college, where he bounced among several different majors before earning a degree in Asian Studies, Jason started to pull down freelance assignments writing about his favorite hobby—,video and computer games. It was shortly after graduation that he found himself, a thin-blooded Floridian, freezing his face off at Computer Games Magazine in Vermont, where he founded the hardware and technology section and built it up over five years before joining the ranks at ExtremeTech and moving out to beautiful northern California. When not scraping up his hands on the inside of a PC case, you can invariably find Jason knee-deep in a PC game, engrossed in the latest console title, or at the movie theater.


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