Hardware Junkies’ Corner: Ultimate Power Rig

We’re heading on a quick visit to the magical land in which money is beside the point and the cool factor is more important than bang for the buck. Yes, you’re right — the high-end system, the drool-inducing group of the latest hardware and the effortless benchmark-destroying that comes with.

Drool if you wish, but before we get to the meat and potatoes of this page, I want to mention….
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If we were smart, we’d procrastinate just a month or two longer, since the main companies certainly will have a certain amount of serious offerings up their sleeves for the all-important holiday season. But then again, if we were smart we’d be offering you one more “perfect Pc build for $1000” (or $1500, or $750, or any range we’ve chose is the agenda this edition).

All that we are going for here is the ultimate in performance, cost be damned. So of course we will be starting off with ATi’s ridiculously-mighty 5970 — but make that a double. How about doubling the onboard RAM: the 4GB XFX Black edition, with multiple GPUs onboard. And while we’re at it, how about getting Crossfire crazy and tossing A SECOND 5970 card alongside it, for a four-GPU ultimate video card arrangement?

Sure, we could do nVidia’s top-end product, the 480 GTX with 1536MB. This adds 3-Way SLI and PhysX into the mix, the preferred answer of a great number of gamers and could very well give you less driver troubles as compared with the Radeon. Three of the nVidia cards will set you back approximately $400 – $700 less than two of the Radeons (though cost, like we’ve explained, is not a difficulty here) while providing you with a marginal boost (at best) to a few games. But if you’re satisfied with limited increases (and you’re not troubled by higher heat and power concerns), then feel free to go that route.

In a multi-GPU setup, we’d be nuts if we didn’t go for Intel’s 1366 architecture, and not just since it is bleeding-edge and therefore more expensive. For futureproofing (or at least not-too-distant-futureproofing), there are a variety of 1366 motherboards on the market with USB 3.0 and (even more importantly) SATA III, so our ridiculously-expensive machine should be competitive for another several months, and then at least productive for one or two years afterward.

The most overpriced mobo which we’ve spotted for these needs is the GA-X58A-UD9 by Gigabyte, and it almost appears to be worth it. Especially when the other choices are the ASUS “Supercomputer” and EVGA “Classified”, neither of which provide SATA III support or USB 3.0…of course, you can plug in those features if you have to, but why would you occupy critical slot space? Conversely, the Rampage III Extreme ROG Extreme from ASUS and EVGA’s 141-GT-E770-A1 are both rather feature-packed, and match all of our other conditions, but at about $350 they are starting to become a comparatively cost-effective solution…breaking the rules of our build.

Keep reading for part two of our challenge, in which we shall take a look at RAM options as well as storage (i.e., spinning disc drives as opposed to SSD. Hint: not exactly a contest). If you’re trying to keep count, we’re already upwards of a grand total of about three large…and that’s not even counting the CPU, DVD drives, case, power supply, input devices, and monitor(s)…

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