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Holiday Buyers' Guide 2006, Part 2: Components

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November 16, 2006 10:17:42 AM

The second part of our buyers' guide deals with cases, power supplies, and storage and consumer devices.

More about : holiday buyers guide 2006 part components

November 16, 2006 11:26:31 AM

good stuff! it's always good to come here for recomendations.

I'd comment on Sarah, but i'm afraid someone might have some nasties up their sleeve again... so i'll just give a thumbs up... (Gives thumbs up)

edit: i'm a stranger? what? like...stranger danger?
November 16, 2006 11:46:38 AM

Sarah? Who is Sarah and why would anyone have some "nasties" up their sleeve about it?
Maybe you are referencing the model?
She does a great job looking enthusiastic about geek stuff ;-)
Some cool stuff in the list!

:arrow: apparently we are all strangers :lol: 
Related resources
November 16, 2006 11:56:34 AM

With all the controversy surrounding modular power supplies i am a little surprised to see Tom's recommending them...
November 16, 2006 12:23:34 PM

Yeah... the last thread turned out into an uncontrollable snowball straight on the road to hell... anyways...

Imma read the article, and then get back on thoughts and opinions. The first one I agreed with most was sorta lacking, but then again, there's a lot of info to cover. I'll offer some of my own opinions in a sec.

Quick Edit: Looked at the first picture of her holding that heavy PSU by the cords and I feel my heart clenching up... hopefully those things are soldered on very very securely, otherwise if something comes loose and they plug it in...

Final Edit: Alright, went through it, liked most of it, although detail was lacking somewhat. Good article, but I would like to raise a couple points of contention.... the 1kW PSU, I can trust Enermax, but I believe PC P&C are going the right way with their huge 60A 12V rail... Seperate rails has it's place for isolation of individual components, but there are still chances one rail might be overloaded past it's 18A limit, which would pose problems. Having a single 60A rail will ensure that problem won't happen.

The Zalman PSU, haven't heard much about it, but it's probably stable, I would however, recommend the Corsair 620W PSU over it since it repeatedly had great reviews.

Nice choice on cases, the Silverstone is damn huge, never really noticed how bit it is until Sarah (I think thats her name) stood next to it...

Nothing much to comment on mouses, but then we hit storage, and I have my own thoughts on that. For the flash drive:

http://www.sandisk.com/Products/Catalog(1065)-SanDisk_Cruzer_Titanium_USB_Flash_Drive.aspx

I like it a lot, and a lot of other people really find it useful. It's sleek, has decent read/write, good software, but above all, can stand being run over by a car, dropped, or even peed on...

Also, for external drives, it's usually always cheaper to buy the drive itself and then buy an external kit. You then have greater selection of what connection you want (USB, Firewire, or eSATA). For the 3.5" drive, I highly recommend a fan, I have 6 external HDD's running, 4 of them fanless, and I notice the fanless ones are quite a bit hotter than the fanned ones, even if the fan's don't exhaust that much air.

Damn... that was one long post.
November 16, 2006 12:33:35 PM

very nice. I love the new antec case, great design for a medium price, think i may have to upgrade mine!

I don't get why logitech's new "top of the line" mouse now charges only on a cradle? the G7 trumps it coming with two removable lithium batteries, which are very quick to swap and so you never have to worry about running out of power.

my fav pic is of the crucial USB key, very cute pic. :)  Very nice job again Sarah, and article writers. I love having multiple articles this year, good idea!
November 16, 2006 2:18:13 PM

There is a little controversy in that modular PSUs may not provide quite as much peak juice as non-modular PSUs. Ooookay, so if you figure you need a 300W standard PSU, get a 350W modular one and then you're golden. The ability to have fewer cables cluttering up a case is a HUGE advantage in my book. I've worked with both regular and modular PSUs and I'd go for modular over standard any day for that reason. The fact that I have a modular PSU (Antec SmartPower 2.0 500W) sitting in my box is testament to that.

I am disappointed at almost all external drive solutions as even in RAID 0 with fast drives on a fast interface like eSATA-150 they can't top 50 MB/sec or so. I could do at least twice that when they're inside the computer. Ditto that if I had a computer with two drives in it sitting on gigabit Ethernet attached as a NAS. I am betting that the hardware inside these boxes splits up the bandwidth of the interface between drives and the little IOPs aren't stout enough to transfer 120 MB/sec. My suggestion to the NAS box makers would be to put something more near a real CPU in power inside one of them to handle all of the I/O and overhead. I'd suggest to the little external drive makers to just use eSATA an an extension cord of sorts- the signal goes straight from motherboard to cable to drive. If you have 2 drives in a box, then have 2 eSATA connectors. Slow external hard drives suck and the only reason to deal with them is if you have a laptop and absolutely no other options.

One thing that I'd change with case/motherboard layouts today is to have all of the power/SATA/IDE/header cables connect on the back side of the board and have the board standoffs be about 1-1.5" long. That way, the cables are all out of the way of working with the board but still accessible by removing the right side panel. You get the advantage of all of your cards and such having no cables in the way and get better airflow. Oh, and it would look much better to those who have windowed cases.
November 16, 2006 2:30:32 PM

he states right at the start of the article that there will be follow-up articles, one of which will be for those on a budget.

as for psu controversy, THG tested that modular hard drive (I think) in their labs, and after reading their requirements and testing methods, the results are good enough for me! If there is controversy elsewhere that is unfortunate, but their PSU test was so complete I would never hesitate to buy based on it.
November 16, 2006 3:22:33 PM

It's nice to see Sarah is back presenting cool stuff for us geeks . As someone said it's pretty expensive stuff being presented but hey at least it's free to look :)  ( and that goes for the elf too :lol:  ) .
By the way in case you're still here with us Sarah , out of all these things you presented what would you take home. Something like the elf recommends , a product that's not only for the geeks .
November 16, 2006 3:43:15 PM

Tech products that are not just for the geeks would probably be:

1. A laptop
2. Portable music player
3. DVDs and CDs
4. USB memory sticks
5. A good desk and chair (don't underestimate this!!)
6. Cell phone/Blackberry/PDA
7. Flat-panel TV
8. Digital cameras and accessories

Those are the types of things that non-geeks tend to like to get. For example, I'd never consider buying my girlfriend (who's not a geek) something like a RAM upgrade as a present, although I'd gladly take 2 more sticks of 1GB DDR 400. But she did like the printer/scanner combo that I got her as she was tired of having to go somewhere to have things printed off for her. You more have to think of the person that you're shopping for. In general, women tend to like jewelry and clothes quite a bit and guys tend to have extremely varied likes.

EDIT: Dependent on the person, a nice bottle of a potent potable might also go over very well. I know a couple of people that a 30-year-old bottle of Scotch or a particularly nice bottle of wine would make their day.
November 16, 2006 4:33:36 PM

Quote:
5. A good desk and chair (don't underestimate this!!)


Haha. Both are on my Christmas list this year. No other hardware as I just upgraded and will wait for my birthday.

Haven't read the article yet. I'll be back...
November 16, 2006 4:45:07 PM

Uh.. blackberry/PDA would be pretty complicated for non-geeky people, buisness majors and road-warriors might like them, but not for most people. A nice pretty cellphone however, is a nice one.

Don't forget music player accessories, webcam's (even better if you have a girlfriend :wink: ) larger LCD monitors, and The SIMS!
November 16, 2006 4:49:44 PM

I'm still around! Now, this is a fun question to answer. I think of all the products showcased (for this installment of the Buyers' Guide, anyway) the one I would take home would be the Seagate 6GB Pocket Hard Drive. Although I work for Tom's Hardware, and for the most part understand what all this stuff is, I'm no enthusiast like you all (although I can respect it, of course). Plus, I only use notebooks, so many of these things would be useless to me. The accessories I use most are my little USB thumb drive (2GB) and my card reader (reads 9 different kinds of cards). I like taking pictures & often need to take them with me, so this comes in handy. But having 6GB would give me extra space, so not only could it hold photos, but music, important documents, etc. So at the same time providing a backup solution. I do have a 500GB External Hard Drive for backing up, but it's so big and bulky and quite honestly I don't have that much data!
November 16, 2006 4:51:33 PM

I like Logitech's new mouse along with nearly any other mouse they've released for the last year or so but I'm really getting irritated that there is still no left-handed mouse. No pun intended at for those right-handed. At the time of release for the MX1000 I liked it so much that I forced my left hand to adjust to the contour of the mouse. There is no reason why they can't have a left-handed contoured mouse. There has to be millions of left-handed enthusiasts out there. The only way to push for such a product is through media channels like THG and other hardware related sites. It would be nice if THG would do a poll and find out how many left-handers there are within its audience of readers and how many would favor/purchase a left-handed contoured mouse for the enthusiasts.

Sorry for the rant but this is getting old and downright rediculous especially now that there is definitely a market out there. Am I speaking for anyone else? I know there has to be someone who works for THG that is left-handed...speak out! THG has the power to kill a product, you therefore have the power to bring one to life.
November 16, 2006 4:51:56 PM

Quote:
Tech products that are not just for the geeks would probably be:

1. A laptop
2. Portable music player
3. DVDs and CDs
4. USB memory sticks
5. A good desk and chair (don't underestimate this!!)
6. Cell phone/Blackberry/PDA
7. Flat-panel TV
8. Digital cameras and accessories

Those are the types of things that non-geeks tend to like to get. For example, I'd never consider buying my girlfriend (who's not a geek) something like a RAM upgrade as a present, although I'd gladly take 2 more sticks of 1GB DDR 400. But she did like the printer/scanner combo that I got her as she was tired of having to go somewhere to have things printed off for her. You more have to think of the person that you're shopping for. In general, women tend to like jewelry and clothes quite a bit and guys tend to have extremely varied likes.

EDIT: Dependent on the person, a nice bottle of a potent potable might also go over very well. I know a couple of people that a 30-year-old bottle of Scotch or a particularly nice bottle of wine would make their day.


Some of these less-geeky products are going to be showcased in another installment(which will actually be on DenGuru), as well as the MobilityGuru Holiday Buyers' Guide. I'm sure your girlfriend appreciates your consideration. :) 
November 16, 2006 5:09:16 PM

Yeah, I agree that we need to see more budget parts. After blowing all the $$ on the CPU, memory, motherboard and graphics I find myself unable to buy an expensive LCD or even mouse or cool accessories.

BTW nice to see the elf is back and hot as ever.
November 16, 2006 5:15:44 PM

Quote:
Uh.. blackberry/PDA would be pretty complicated for non-geeky people, buisness majors and road-warriors might like them, but not for most people. A nice pretty cellphone however, is a nice one.

Don't forget music player accessories, webcam's (even better if you have a girlfriend :wink: ) larger LCD monitors, and The SIMS!


Well, everyone in my family of seven had a PDA or two at one point. Five of us use them now, and only two of us are really tech savvy. The rest can't figure out our home theatre and come to me for computer problems. PDAs aren't that complex. Besides, cell phones are becoming hybrid PDA devices anyways.

I do agree with you on the rest, epecially the Sims!
November 16, 2006 5:29:40 PM

Hmmmm... we're not weird enough to scare away the normal people... looks like I have to try harder here...

The 6gb pocket Seagate drive seems like a very nice gizmo, but I have my trusty 8gb mp3 player that can also double as a storage device which works just fine... another thing I would recommend (It was a Creative Zen MicroPhoto, but it's prolly replaced by now... tear) So not only can you listen to music, but you can also store whatever files you want, and change the size of file storage how you want. If your in the market for an mp3 player, than its food for thought.

I got 6 external 3.5"" hdd's... Sarah, you can't complain about your single one =P

And for the left handed guy here, Logitech doesn't market towards ya'll because ya'll usually die in a scissor mishap every so often :D 
I keed I keed... nah, I've never used a pure left or right hand mouse. I have a Razer Diamonback and it's ambidextrous, and I thoroughly enjoy it. But if you really need the VX revolutions scroll... shrug, sucks for you.

It's alright, I bring the best gifts to people... the gift of HAPPINESS (through my sig of course =P)
November 16, 2006 5:38:41 PM

Shhhhh... delete the thread before anyone realize's their mistake. That thought actually went through my head when I first started posting, but I was too lazy to call it out...

I didn't find the 2nd one too helpful though, basically we're all waiting for true N to be ratified by IEEE and then implemented.
November 16, 2006 5:42:17 PM

Don't worry, we are aware. This was originally "Part 2" but the Networking became "Part 2" - it is fixed now!
November 16, 2006 5:43:49 PM

lol, I planned on deleting my post once they fixed it. I didn't like the second one either, but I think if they call this one part 2, it should at least be "Sarah Part 2!"

Guess I'll delete this post too. :D 
November 16, 2006 5:52:39 PM

Thats right, I just realized I looked at the networking part and didn't see Sarah... that might be why I didn't like it... (That and the fact I applied for a job at Cisco and they bitch-slapped me... screw networking, making beer is so much more fulfilling)
November 16, 2006 6:04:06 PM

Horay, it's fixed! Thank you Sarah. :) 

Still haven't read the article. Great pics though. The USB key's my favorite, followed by the WD MyBook. You look like a loving mother...or a co-ed w/ a thick text book. :p  BTW, which USB keys are best to take on long hiking trips for use in trail mix?
November 16, 2006 6:51:51 PM

Oh, she certainly does, but my wallet doesn't :oops: 
November 16, 2006 6:52:19 PM

Quote:
There is a little controversy in that modular PSUs may not provide quite as much peak juice as non-modular PSUs.

The controversy surrounds the FACT that modular PSU's have a notable voltage drop at the point where the cables connect to the PSU.
Quote:
Ooookay, so if you figure you need a 300W standard PSU, get a 350W modular one and then you're golden.

Ooookay, now i have to spend more money on a bigger PSU to make up for the voltage drop.
Quote:
The ability to have fewer cables cluttering up a case is a HUGE advantage in my book.

No argument there, that's why i tuck the extra cables behind the back-panel.
Quote:
I've worked with both regular and modular PSUs and I'd go for modular over standard any day for that reason.

Me too, and i switched back to a non-modular unit.
Quote:
The fact that I have a modular PSU (Antec SmartPower 2.0 500W) sitting in my box is testament to that.

I guess as long as your system draws no more than 450W your in good shape.
Peace out 8)
November 16, 2006 7:29:49 PM

I'm still kinda confused why you want a USB stick in trail mix... unless you eat electronics when your hungry...

Stay away from comp!!!

*Set's up the sentry guns and brings out the rail gun*
November 16, 2006 7:39:37 PM

Quote:
I'm still kinda confused why you want a USB stick in trail mix... unless you eat electronics when your hungry...


Nope, just chips. :D  But on a trail, when I'm very hungy, I'm much more likely to eat anything, except peed on electronics. Besides, Sarah started it:



Who's Comp?
November 16, 2006 9:26:42 PM

Okay finally read the article, and all the rants in the thread, and I have to say I was impressed with the MS mouse. I've been to a lot of presentations where this kind of device would have been handy. Come to think of it, most of those were put on by Microsoft! Maybe that's where the idea was spawned.

I've got no problems at all with your recommendations of modular PSUs, except that I don't have one yet. I find the rant about paying more for watts you can't use rather silly and pointless. We already know they're less efficient. Big deal. You get what you pay for, and in this case you're paying for modularity. If you don't like it...blah, blah, blah.

I liked the 6GB Seagate pocket drive too. Though I'm still not too keen on external hard drives enclosures. Maybe when they're more standardized in their interfaces (when all of them support USB, Firewire, and eSATA!) then it'll be worth a look.

I didn't like the video card recommendation, but at least you linked to the best comparison guide on the site!

Lastly, I'm sticking to my CRT until I get a 2407WFP in January. And then I'm using both! :)  I can't see any reason to own a 19" display with a max res of 1280x1024 when my 19" CRT goes up to 2048x1536 just fine! I use it at 1600x1200 for everything. I'm a programmer. We like to see our code without scrolling sideways!

Thanks for the article guys and gals.

Edit: <-- Now I'm a journeyman!
November 16, 2006 9:49:03 PM

I have to disagree with this guide abt the graphics card reccomendation.

The 7950 GT is a great card, but while it costs 300$, the 7900 GTO performs much higher and only costs 250$. The 7950 GT is like a half way point beetween the 7900 GT and the 7900 GTX. The 7900 GTO is the exact same as the 7900 GTX.
Therfore, u should not buy the 7950 GT, same as u should not buy the X1900GT.

Oh, and a picture of Sarah and a graphics card is too sexy! :wink:
November 16, 2006 10:26:22 PM

Quote:
Oh, and a picture of Sarah and a graphics card is too sexy! :wink:


You think that's bad, you should see Sarah with a motherboard!

I can't decide which of those four is my favorite. You wait and see: Sarah will be nVidia's tech demo model for DX11 parts. :wink:

All kidding aside, thanks for doing the pics Sarah. They lend personality to the articles, not to mention a frame of reference to get the size of some of these parts! I'm glad THG used a member of the family and not some nameless model. And thanks for posting, too!
November 16, 2006 11:10:03 PM

Track wrote:
Quote:
The 7900 GTO is the exact same as the 7900 GTX.

I think you bumped your head...
November 17, 2006 2:34:21 AM

Welcome back Sarah! Or at least, welcome back to the holiday shopping guide. The modular PSUs look interesting. I've tried out that Logitech mouse in the stores and I'm not entirely sold on the design. Too many sharp angles. I like the MX510 design better. I'm not sure why Logitech went with the sharper edges.

Great pictures and nice round-up of various components. I'll have to keep all of this in mind when I decide to build another computer, even if that isn't until AFTER Christmas.

Mike
November 17, 2006 4:39:51 AM

I wonder what Sarah was peronally thinking of being around so much techo-geek gadgets made for socially deprived men. ?
I think THG can't recommend the 8800GTX until there is at least SOME DX10 software.

Stuff:
what mouse can last for months without needing a recharge? I had one at work, but it's a Microsoft Mouse. There must be a better one someplace.

For monitors, I already have a LCD 1600x1200, but since I read these posts almost every day and I am professional software engineer, I should get a 30" at 2500x1600
November 17, 2006 10:57:55 AM

as always another great article from THG!

and hurrah for the returning of our friendly neighbourhood elf! :D 
November 17, 2006 11:47:10 AM

Quote:
I liked the 6GB Seagate pocket drive too. Though I'm still not too keen on external hard drives enclosures. Maybe when they're more standardized in their interfaces (when all of them support USB, Firewire, and eSATA!) then it'll be worth a look.


Meh, probably never going to happen. They have different outputs in order to keep cost down, USB is by far the cheapest enclosure. Firewire... dunno if we should just kill it or keep it, but either way, it's still not as widely adopted. eSATA shows promise, but it's only for external HDD's...

Still not certain why we need so many different input and output ports... If we can all just use one port for everything things would be much easier. Shrug

Black Friday deals this year don't look very good... still waiting on Fry's and CompUSA... but already Best buy, Circuit City, and most other electronic stores have nothing.

If anyone sees a good widescreen monitor deal, PM me plz... in the market for one. Also, HDD's are always nice also.
November 17, 2006 12:24:37 PM

I wanna for xmas that upgrade wich is in all pics :twisted: 8O

nice, Micron removable memory that's verry nice, but it can be much nicer if it is in black household with white logo :wink:

respect!
November 17, 2006 1:45:40 PM

What? No comments about taking Sarah home? :-)

I'm surprised there's no mention of 2GB fingerprint USB drives like the Kangaru...
Thanks for the Zalman PSU pointer. I didn't know it had 84% efficiency...
November 17, 2006 5:28:53 PM

It's rather amazing to see what a pretty face can do for electronics. Clever marketing (I work for a radio station in SF) What would normally be a BORING article is brought to life by a really cute elf. Well I guess the Silicon/Silicon correlation works 8O j/k!

Anyhow, now I want to buy lots of stuff thanks to Sarah. DOH! :p 
November 17, 2006 5:44:52 PM

Quote:
is brought to life by a really cute elf. Well I guess the Silicon/Silicon correlation works 8O j/k!


LMAO!!!!!

Nice to see you back Sarah.
November 17, 2006 5:59:29 PM

I lived in LA/OC for a long time. :wink:
November 17, 2006 6:22:18 PM

Quote:
I wonder what Sarah was peronally thinking of being around so much techo-geek gadgets made for socially deprived men. ?
I think THG can't recommend the 8800GTX until there is at least SOME DX10 software.

Stuff:
what mouse can last for months without needing a recharge? I had one at work, but it's a Microsoft Mouse. There must be a better one someplace.

For monitors, I already have a LCD 1600x1200, but since I read these posts almost every day and I am professional software engineer, I should get a 30" at 2500x1600


Well, I think I'm used to it! I'm a geek, inside too, but not a hardware geek. :) 
November 17, 2006 6:24:22 PM

Thanks for all the nice comments everyone!! I'm so glad you're enjoying the pics & hopefully the article as well. :) 
November 17, 2006 10:26:11 PM

Your in L.A. Think there will be PS3 riots like the Rodney King riots? Stranger things have happend.
November 17, 2006 10:47:03 PM

Hmmm.... Speaking of RIOTS I heard someone was shot in Conn. not CA.... Ah the Irony. :D 
a b B Homebuilt system
a c 86 ) Power supply
November 17, 2006 11:08:12 PM

If she's gonna hold the psu by the cable like that.....i think they should send it to me.....i will take good care of it :) 
November 18, 2006 10:15:19 AM

Quote:
Oh, and a picture of Sarah and a graphics card is too sexy! :wink:


You think that's bad, you should see Sarah with a motherboard!

I can't decide which of those four is my favorite. You wait and see: Sarah will be nVidia's tech demo model for DX11 parts. :wink:

All kidding aside, thanks for doing the pics Sarah. They lend personality to the articles, not to mention a frame of reference to get the size of some of these parts! I'm glad THG used a member of the family and not some nameless model. And thanks for posting, too!

Now these comments I can applaud. It's fine to be attracted to women, but in the original posts certain people weren't treating her with much respect. Now we're all aware that pretty much all of us are horny dingos...
But the comments in this post are SO much more tasteful...I think I'm gonna cry...

My attacks on Sarah were warranted in that they got you guys to actually think about the way you were talking about her. I mean, this is a lady! She was doing us all a favor by being cute and being a frame of reference. I especially found this (3rd) part of the review spanktacular...err, I mean...helpful! :-D Looks like I got you the respect you deserve Sarah. YW! Meanwhile, Sarah handled it like a champ...she let a GUY talk back to me. It's always good to see co-workers coming together (except when you find them in the supply closet). I'm glad that people stuck up for her. I always did love playing the D.A.
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