Holiday Buyer's Guide 2006, Part 1: PC Components

Part 1: Processors, Coolers, Motherboards, Memory

This year has been dominated by fresh innovation and increased value for the end user. Intel released its powerful and efficient Core 2 processor family, AMD introduced the Socket AM2 platform and even purchased graphics specialist ATI, who has been fighting fierce battles for 3D supremacy with arch rival Nvidia. Power supplies exceeded the 1,000 W milestone, hard drives hit 750 GB, USB memory sticks and iPOD Nanos became available at up to 8 GB, and large-format widescreen TFT displays finally became affordable.

But these advances came at a price, as the number of similar products on the shelves has multiplied. If you don't follow the hardware market closely on a regular basis, you can easily get lost in the product jungle. Which processor model is the right one? Does it make sense to buy the highest-performance components for your computer? What is the difference between all the external storage products? Will purchasing high-end components ensure a future-proof system?

We will not be able to answer all of these questions right away, but the Holiday Buyer's Guide will give you an overview of the products that we generally recommend - as gifts for friends, family and others you value, or even just for yourself. Let's get started!

Resident elf, and editorial production coordinator, Sarah, dug through Santa's sack this year, continuing the long tradition of seasonal exploitation that has come to symbolize THG's Holiday Buyer's Guide.

Join our discussion on this topic