Graphics: XFX 8800GS
Based on the same NVidia G92 graphics processor as the popular 8800GT and 8800GTS, the 384MB 8800GS easily takes on the 512MB Radeon HD3850, while costing less. In fact, our chosen 8800GS model’s $130 base price is currently accompanied by a $30 mail-in rebate, for a final cost of $100.
Justifying the lower price of the 8800GS is its reduced 192-bit memory pathway and 92 shader units, compared to 256-bits and 112 shaders for the 8800GT. Compared to later GeForce graphics cards, it falls only slightly behind the more expensive 9600GT in performance.
Because we couldn’t wait around for mail-in-rebates, we didn’t even consider the $30 rebate in our price list. On the other hand, that rebate makes this 8800GS a far superior value compared to the closest-priced Radeon HD3850.
Hard Drive: Seagate Baracuda 7200.10 250 GB
After doing some price comparisons, we found 250 GB to be the “sweet spot” for capacity among “low-cost” drives. The Barracuda 7200.10 250 GB provides good performance at a minimal $8 increase over 120 GB versions.
While 250 GB seems small to most of us, some builders would claim that even this much capacity isn’t needed for a “pure gaming” PC. We feel that a “gaming” PC should at least be able to handle a user’s other basic needs, which justifies the extra few dollars spent for added capacity.