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We’ve had a few interesting months since our October Extreme Gaming PC Buyer’s Guide, with the introduction of Intel’s “Yorkfield” Core 2 Extreme processors, the debut of AMD’s long-awaited Phenom, and new “X2” series graphics cards using ATI HD 3870 dual-GPU technology. With all of these exciting developments, how will we use our $4,000 budget? Read on to find out.

Price Change: $0

The sad fact of PC building is that nothing says more about the quality of a system’s internal components than what it looks like on the outside. Yet there isn’t much cutting-edge technology that can be applied to computer case design. Case quality is instead determined by the overall build, materials, ventilation, noise reduction, and convenience.

Once you’ve found everything you need in a case, it’s hard to change unless something significantly better comes along, especially when that model features a near-perfect design and execution. With superior quality craftsmanship, beautiful heavy-gauge aluminum panels, and the best ventilation we’ve seen, it’s no wonder the Cooler Master Stacker 830 has made it into five consecutive guides.

A clear plastic swing-away side fan cage supports up to four 120mm or 140mm fans for optimal cooling. This fan design can cool a wide variety of system components, from a second bottom-mounted graphics card to the RAM and motherboard voltage regulators at the top. A 120mm front fan cools the hard drives, while top and rear-mounted 120mm fans assist the power supply in ridding the case of all that excess heat.

Nine 5.25″ bays support a wide variety of drives thanks to Cooler Master’s inclusion of a 3x 5.25″ to 4x 3.5″ adapter cage, and lining the entire front panel with large bays allows the option of using alternative multi-drive racks.

Among other system enclosures under consideration is Cooler Master’s own high-profile Cosmos case, but while the new model features trendy looks, it doesn’t offer the superior cooling or easy cable routing of the classic Stacker 830. While we’re on the subject of alternative designs, the best reason for having the power supply at the top of a case is to use its oversized fan to pull warm air away from the CPU cooler, assisting the exhaust fans.

While a few cases have put the power supply at the bottom and an additional exhaust fan at the top, who needs the extra noise when the additional fan serves the same purpose? Cooler Master nailed its design down almost perfectly, and it’s a shame that so many competing parts now seek to differentiate themselves with designs that hamper, rather than help, total system cooling performance.

Price Change: $0

Imagine our surprise when a sister site proved that an 800W version of our previous selection, the Ultra X3 1000W, was still powerful enough to accept virtually any hardware you could fit into a PC case. While we have no regrets about our previous choice, the Ultra X3 800W allows us to put the $60 saved towards other components. Conveniences such as a modular design using flat cables for easier cable management, and a 135mm bottom-mounted intake fan that draws warm air away from the top of a motherboard, have topped our list for selecting Ultra’s highest-quality power units.

An impressive 60 amps (720W) on its single 12V rail lets the X3 divide its power across any devices without encountering those annoying per-rail limits imposed by multi rail designs, and still offers far more power than this guide’s system will actually need. But the extra available power isn’t going to cost a lot over the lifetime of the system, as Ultra rates its X3 800W at 85% peak efficiency, a number that becomes impressive considering the losses many modular power supplies take due to the slight added resistance on the extra connections.

PC Power & Cooling’s Silencer 750 Quad delivers the same performance as it did when selected for our March Extreme Gaming PC Buyer’s Guide, and its price has fallen to around $170.

Introduction and Case

Processors and Cooling

Motherboards and Memory

Hard Drives and DVD-R/RW

Video Card, LCD Display and Audio

Mouse, Keyboard & Controller

Communications, Operating Systems, and more

Prices Roundup and Final Thoughts

Price Change: N/A

If you’re a little shocked that we’re still not using a four-core processor in our Intel configuration, well, we were a bit surprised too. But this comes from the fact that the only “good” Intel quad-core available for under $800 is the G0 stepping Core 2 Quad Q6600, with a rated speed of only 2.40GHz. Our system is built to tolerate overclocking, but we understand that many readers won’t do it.

Gamers who multitask might still want a four-core processor, and our alternative option remains the G0-stepping Core 2 Quad Q6600. These 2.40GHz parts still have awesome overclocking capabilities, though nothing near the heights achievable with the E8400. Q6600’s have used the G0 stepping for several months, so by now all the popular venders should be carrying this stepping exclusively.

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Not everyone is in agreement over the status of AMD’s new Phenom line, but the debate can be narrowed down by the fact that this guide is for an Extreme Gaming PC. The Phenom might beat X2 processors clock-for-clock, but that means little when the clock speed isn’t high enough to make up the difference. Our other choice would have been the Phenom 9600 Black Edition, but even overclocking it to 2.60GHz (the practical limit) only brings it up to the gaming performance of the less expensive, stock speed Athlon 64 X2 6400+.

Not that we’d cheap out on the processor for a $4,000 PC. While the Phenom 9600 Black Edition must be overclocked to its limit simply to reach the stock-speed performance of an Athlon 64 X2 6400+, the model we chose is a Black Edition, which could allow it a little extra overclocking room than the base model X2 6400+ we selected in our previous Extreme Gaming PC Buyer’s Guide.

Gamers who multitask might still want a quad-core, and the Phenom 9600 Black Edition remains a valid choice while still leaving a great deal of leeway in our budget for other gaming hardware.

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Few CPU coolers could hope to compete with the Thermalright Ultra 120 Extreme of our previous Extreme Gaming PC buyer’s guide, but Thermalright figured out how to take the design to the next level. By increasing the size of its heatsink even more and adding a second sink to cool the back side of the CPU socket, the company created its new cooling monster: The IFX-14.

Attached using only two screws on custom brackets, the IFX-14 fits both Socket AM2 and LGA775 motherboards and can use either 140mm or 120mm fans (not included).

Price Change: $0

Originally chosen for its moderate 49CFM airflow at a nearly-silent 20.1 decibels, the Scythe S-Flex SFF21E 1200RPM cooling fan remains our choice for “bare” Thermalright coolers. Two additional fans are added to our list to assist graphics card cooling, and should be used in the lower two side panel locations of the Cooler Master Stacker 830 chassis. The extra airflow is especially useful to overclockers, but anyone not overclocking may wish to forgo the additional $30 expense.

Introduction and Case

Processors and Cooling

Motherboards and Memory

Hard Drives and DVD-R/RW

Video Card, LCD Display and Audio

Mouse, Keyboard & Controller

Communications, Operating Systems, and more

Prices Roundup and Final Thoughts

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NVIDIA no longer makes the “fastest” Intel chipsets, but they’re still the only game in town for SLI support. This is a gaming PC after all. But even though we were pleased with our former Extreme Gaming choice, the Striker Extreme, we needed to update our selection.

Our new choice, the Striker II Formula, uses the NVIDIA nForce 780i SLI to support all current Intel processors, while offering dual-GPU SLI support.

Though not significantly improved over the Striker Extreme, the Striker II Formula still provides a full range of features such as three PCI-Express graphics slots, dual gigabit network support, and RAID support for up to six SATA and two PATA drives. ASUS continues its “Republic of Gamers” treatment with a noise-reducing removable audio riser card and several lighted function buttons, and has replaced the rear-panel LCD system status display with a module designed to sit atop a computer’s case, or in any other convenient nearby location.

The graphics card slots have all been upgraded, with two provided full x16 PCI-Express pathways in PCIx 2.0 transfer mode and the third extended from eight to sixteen pathways in PCI-Express 1.1 mode. On the other hand, ASUS got rid of the eight-phase capacitor-free VRM and eSATA ports of its “Extreme” predecessor. In some ways buyers pay more to get less in the Striker II Formula, but with processor compatibility on the line, it’s the price of progress.

Price Change: $0

Another “Republic of Gamers” board from ASUS, the Crosshair for AMD comes with an elaborate chipset cooler, an English-language rear-panel system status display, reduced-noise removable audio riser card, back panel system status display, and lighted power/reset buttons. But unlike our newly-selected Intel-compatible model, the Crosshair keeps its eight-phase capacitor-free VRM and dual eSATA ports in addition to the six chipset-supported ports.

The nForce 590 SLI chipset features 46 PCI-Express lanes capable of supporting two graphics cards at full x16 bus width, more than enough for a pair of today’s fastest graphics cards and even next-generation products. What’s more, BIOS has supported the Phenom processor since November of last year, so high-volume sellers have already purged their supplies of previous revisions.

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As DDR2 prices continue to tumble, we can now get a 4GB set for about the same price as what 2GB cost in our previous guide. But while we selected “known to overclock easily” DDR2-800, such guarantees are harder to find at higher capacities. Fortunately, OCZ stepped in with a lower-cost DDR2-1066 4GB kit that leaves us with quite a bit of padding in the budget for other parts.

A heat pipe along the upper edge extends cooling away from the warm air pocket surrounding the modules, and makes a great handle for retracting these from extra-tight slots. High-end OCZ memory been good to us in the past, so we have a fair amount of confidence in its part number OCZ2RPR10664GK 2x2GB set.

Introduction and Case

Processors and Cooling

Motherboards and Memory

Hard Drives and DVD-R/RW

Video Card, LCD Display and Audio

Mouse, Keyboard & Controller

Communications, Operating Systems, and more

Prices Roundup and Final Thoughts

Price Change: +$5 each

Seagate’s little 320GB drives were chosen as a balance between performance, flexibility and capacity. Gaming doesn’t require a huge amount of storage, but the scant 150GB available in Western Digital’s Raptors still doesn’t seem like much, so we’d probably need two in a RAID controller’s JBOD or Level 0 mode, just to get an adequate 300GB. For around the same price, four Seagate Barracudas in Level 0 will provide over four times the capacity at nearly twice the peak transfer rate. The tradeoff is slightly longer response times, but using four Raptors would have eaten too deeply into the budget.

The use of four drives also opens up the possibility of RAID 0+1 for anyone who wants both performance and redundancy, again at a slight performance penalty but still faster than a single drive. How valuable are your game saves? Seagate also covers its OEM drives with a lengthy 5-year warranty.

Price Change: 0

Continuing to establish burn-speed records with the addition of LightScribe capability, the Samsung SH-S203N is a repeat selection in our Extreme Gaming PC Builder’s Guide. It’s a shame the price hasn’t dropped since the previous guide, but at $35 a unit, we have no room to complain. It’s also a shame that BRD burners still cost hundreds of dollars, and media not far behind, and going this route would have cut deeply into our gaming hardware selection.

Write speed claims of 20x by most manufacturers are actually the peak speeds at the fastest part of the disk, so it’s no surprise that actual speeds vary between models. The SH-203N has specifications of 20x for both DVD+R and DVD-R media, 16x for dual-layer +R, 12x for DVD-R dual-layer, 8x for DVD+RW, and 6x for DVD-RW.

People who still use older media formats will be pleased with CD-R and –RW speeds of 48X and 32X, respectively, while DVD-RAM users will find it also supports this classic media at 12X speeds.

Introduction and Case

Processors and Cooling

Motherboards and Memory

Hard Drives and DVD-R/RW

Video Card, LCD Display and Audio

Mouse, Keyboard & Controller

Communications, Operating Systems, and more

Prices Roundup and Final Thoughts

Price Change: -$40 each

NVIDIA might not have released a new high-end graphics card, but that hasn’t kept the rest of the industry from moving forward. In fact, it’s probably because lower-cost products are now approaching the performance levels of the 8800GTX that its price has come down.

The standard-speed GeForce 8800 GTX 768MB is set at 575 MHz core, 1.35 GHz shader, and 1.8 GHz memory default clock speeds, which translates into a fillrate of 36.8 Gtexels/s and a memory bandwidth of 86.4 GB/s. This is a powerful single-card solution, and provides serious gaming power in a SLI configuration.

If you’re looking for something a bit faster without breaking the budget, a few lesser-known brands are even offering overclocked versions at similar prices.

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It’s been a while since ATI (now a division of AMD) has offered a compelling high-end graphics solution, but the HD 3870 X2 is finally able to challenge the venerable GeForce 8800GTX in performance. ATI fans welcome the news.

The Radeon HD 3870 X2 might not beat the 8800GTX in most games, but it’s certainly close, and slightly less expensive. Based on two mainstream HD 3870 graphics chips, this “Crossfire on a card” configuration clocks the graphics cores at 825MHz and the memory at GDDR3-1800.

Had these been our first choice, we could have also picked updated, Crossfire motherboards using either the Intel X48 Express or the AMD 790FX chipset. So why didn’t we go the ATI route? First of all, a few (and shrinking in number) games don’t use both graphics processors, and a combination of two dual-GPU cards in Quad Crossfire mode (QuadFire, CrossfireX 4-way) can be difficult to set up. But for ATI fans that have the time, money, skill, and patience, it’s a perfect solution.

Price Change: -$30

We blew a quarter of our budget on graphics cards, so why would we want to display such awesome graphics power on a skinny little 900-pixel high display? With CRT’s gone and “standard aspect ratio” LCD’s going for collector’s prices, our only viable option for getting the pixel count we want is to choose a 24″ widescreen display. But not just any 24″ LCD display would be worthy of a $4,000 PC. We wanted the best our budget would allow, and for that we chose the Westinghouse L2410NM.

Although officially a budget model, the Westinghouse L2410NM provides far greater performance than many buyers would expect. A true 8-bit MVA panel provides an 8ms response time and 176° viewing angle in both horizontal and vertical directions, with a 1000:1 contrast ratio and a 500 cd/m2 brightness level. These attributes closely approach the performance of higher-cost competitors, and our own experience with the L2410NM shows very few flaws that would otherwise prevent its use in high-end gaming environments.

So what are its flaws? Visually, the only noteworthy problem is that its default contrast ratio obscures certain dark objects, which can be compensated by increasing software gamma settings. Ergonomically, the stand is not height or side-to-side tilt-adjustable, and it’s bouncy enough to require a sturdy, heavy desk. These small sacrifices are necessary to get a 1920×1200 pixel screen with otherwise good performance into the budget we had left after configuring the rest of our system.

High-definition connectivity comes by way of VGA and HDMI, while additional devices can also be attached using component, s-video, or composite connectors. The unit includes a VGA cable, but we’d suggest buyers consider an HDMI to DVI cable as a complimentary item.

Price Change: 0

We brought back the X-Fi Platinum Fatal1ty Champion Series from our previous guide, which is identical to the X-Fi Platinum Fatal1ty FPS of our earlier four guides. With Creative blocking or buying the creative efforts of other sound chip developers, we had no other choice. Buyers still get a theoretical performance boost from 64MB of “X-RAM” for caching sounds, and this most recent model still features an ultra-high 109db signal-to-noise ratio enhanced by EAX 5.0 audio effects.

Still missing is real-time multi-channel digital encoding to a single output, via Dolby Digital Live or DTS Connect. Also, like all of Creative’s high-end cards since the SB Live, the lack of a case-standard front panel audio connector necessitates the use of a “Live-Drive” equipped model to enable front-panel headphone/microphone port access. All of these features were supposed to have been supported by an alternative X-Fi model from Auzentech, but the firm is apparently still unable to figure out the required driver alterations.

Price Change: -$30

Our chosen soundcard lacks DDL or DTS Connect and thus requires analog connections for multi-channel game audio. But loudspeaker technology hasn’t changed much since before the PC era, and high-end PC speakers had already been developed long ago. One product that still stands out as the pinnacle of classic technology, Logitech’s Z-5500 has survived our guide through and amazing nine revisions.

We’ve yet to find a 7.1-channel analog speaker system that can surpass the quality of Logitech’s 5.1-channel Z-5500, and games are typically encoded for 5.1 channels anyway. Those who believe they have a better plan are welcome to send feedback, but until then we’ll continue to go with the time-proven quality of Logitech’s top analog system.

Introduction and Case

Processors and Cooling

Motherboards and Memory

Hard Drives and DVD-R/RW

Video Card, LCD Display and Audio

Mouse, Keyboard & Controller

Communications, Operating Systems, and more

Prices Roundup and Final Thoughts

Price Change: $0

We considered a wide range of corded mice, including the Logitech G9 Laser, as well as various Microsoft and Razor models, and still haven’t found a good reason to move away from Logitech’s earlier G5 version. With its incredibly fine 2000 dpi laser sensor, low-friction PFTE mouse feet, on-the-fly sensitivity switching, and adjustable weights, the G5 Laser Mouse is as good a mouse now as it was when we first picked it.

There has always been a significant amount of personal preference when it comes to gaming mice and the good news is that our budget has enough room left over to consider more expensive units based on your own preferences. Many users prefer the Logitech G9 ($70) over the G5, while others would like a wireless mouse such as the MX Revolution ($75). The choice is yours, and we suggest going to a high-end retailer to try several display models before plunking down your hard-earned cash.

Price Change: +$21

Most of us would settle for a nice solid keyboard with good actuation “feel”, but Logitech’s G15 goes a few steps farther. Starting with a flip-up LCD panel capable of displaying a variety of information – from system statistics to player status and communications (depending on the applet employed) – it goes on to offer backlit keys for playing in dark rooms, 18 added programmable keys, media player and volume controls, and a built-in USB hub for convenient connection of a mouse and game controller.

The G15 has been at the top of our list for five consecutive guides, and we’re always looking for the next improvement that can meet the needs of most gamers. Once again, we’re open to new ideas, but if you were about to suggest an ergonomic model we already have a good alternative:

A combination of durability and styling make the Microsoft Natural Ergonomic Keyboard 4000 a great choice for anyone who doesn’t want or need the features of the G15, so long as they’re accustomed to using the unique shape. Compared to the Logitech G15, the Ergonomic Keyboard 4000’s $45 web price is a bargain.

Price Change: +$5

Some games are just easier to play with a handheld controller or joystick, such as racing and several sports titles, so it’s a good idea to have one around even if rarely play these types of games. One might even consider that complicated keyboard controls are one reason why so many PC owners game on consoles.

Saitek surprised us last year by releasing a couple of wired PC game controllers, which was likely a benefit of technology convergence with USB-enabled game consoles, but neither of the new models has impressed us. As the product line had been allowed to languish for quite some time, the high-end P3000 is currently only available as a “new-old stock” model from various venders. Wireless freedom and the inclusion of two rechargeable batteries with charging base differentiate this “obsolete” part from current models of similar design: Get one before they’re gone!

Introduction and Case

Processors and Cooling

Motherboards and Memory

Hard Drives and DVD-R/RW

Video Card, LCD Display and Audio

Mouse, Keyboard & Controller

Communications, Operating Systems, and more

Prices Roundup and Final Thoughts

Price Change: N/A

Our recommended motherboards both include excellent Dual Gigabit Networking support, making discrete controllers a waste of money and space for most buyers. But those who need more ports might consider an Intel PRO/1000 PT Server Adapter. Intel’s long and glorious history in network controllers has all but displaced competitors at this market level, and the PRO/1000 PT is available in single, dual, and quad port designs.

The single port card uses a PCI-Express x1 slot for better flexibility in placement, while multiport cards use an x4 slot. The newer slot standard was chosen because legacy 32-bit PCI can only handle gigabit transfers in one direction at a time, while each PCI-Express lane is both twice as fast in each direction and bi-directional. Anyone who can’t spare a PCI-Express slot can substitute a 64-bit PCI PRO/1000 MT in 32-bit mode, since these are cross-compatible, but with an obvious loss in performance.

Hardly anyone requires an analog modem any longer, but those who do will find that our choice of Striker II Formula motherboard and PCI audio card leaves no room for additional PCI devices. An external USB modem such as the US Robotics USR5633 Faxmodem can do the job, using the ancient 56k V.92 protocol.

Price Change: N/A

Windows XP might perform better than Windows Vista, but support for the elder OS is slowly declining. In order to build a system that has a modicum of longevity, we were finally forced to concede our opposition and choose Vista.

The Windows Vista Ultimate OEM DVD requires the purchase of qualifying hardware, so a little extra consideration will be needed when selecting components from multiple venders. We also recommend the 32-bit version for the greatest software compatibility, though buyers are welcome to consider the 64-bit version.

32-bit versions of the OS are limited to 4GB RAM, of which only 3GB will be available since the remaining addresses are mapped to graphics memory. We chose a 4GB memory kit for our system anyway, because adding more than two modules to achieve 3GB could limit stability, especially when overclocking. Vista needs all the memory it can get.

Price Change: N/A

We had previously brought back the much-hated floppy drive to comply with the RAID driver installation requirements of Windows XP Setup. Fortunately, Windows Vista has no such requirements as most RAID controllers are automatically configured, and the software adds other driver installation paths for controllers that aren’t. We don’t even need a floppy for BIOS updates, since all well-regarded motherboard brands are able to use USB flash drives for this task.

Price Change: +$25

A UPS can be cheap insurance against both power surges (spikes) and brownouts (droops), and even prevent data loss in the event of a complete power failure. The value of this security should never be underestimated for any system, but increases with the cost of internal hardware.

Rated at 1000VA with an exceptional 700W load capacity, the OPTI-UPS Enhanced Series 1000C was previously chosen to support upgrades to SLI graphics and quad core processing, and for this guide we’ve gotten as far as the two graphics cards. Its moderate price did jump a bit this month, but enough user feedback exists to assure us of the quality in our selection.

OPTI-UPS goes a step beyond similarly-priced competitors in both wattage and disclosure. A “typical runtime load” of 45-55 minutes is similar to what competing products cite, but OPTI also provides the actual runtime capabilities most others won’t mention. Specifically, this unit is rated at 3 minutes full load capacity (700W) and ten minutes half-load capacity. The load time numbers may look small compared to the estimated run time, but one must wonder what competitors are tying to hide by not publishing their load times.

Our configurations are expected to “pull” around 520W of peak power during gaming, so users powering both the system and the LCD display should have several minutes to save their game and power down if ever their local power grid does go offline. Running less strenuous tasks whenever the grid goes down could bring your “typical runtime” in line with the company’s estimates.

Introduction and Case

Processors and Cooling

Motherboards and Memory

Hard Drives and DVD-R/RW

Video Card, LCD Display and Audio

Mouse, Keyboard & Controller

Communications, Operating Systems, and more

Prices Roundup and Final Thoughts

Intel Core 2 Duo System:

UPS: OPTI-UPS ES1000C – $125

Total: $3,860

AMD Athlon 64 X2 System:

UPS: OPTI-UPS ES1000C – $125

Total: $3,705

We were hoping that price cuts would at least allow us to step our system up to dual GeForce 8800 Ultra cards this month, but there still aren’t any competitive cards to force its price down. Similar disappointment surrounds AMD’s Phenom processor, since the available 9600 Black Edition has to be overclocked to its limit simply to reach the gaming performance of the old Athlon 64 X2 6400+ at stock speed. At least Intel got a little faster, though the company has yet to release a 45nm quad-core within our budget limits.

We finally brought ATI graphics back as an alternative selection, at least for those with the skill and patience to deal with the “teething pains” of its Radeon HD 3870 X2 in a “QuadFire” configuration. AMD has just announced driver support for quad and triple-GPU CrossFireX with Catalyst 8.3, so that’s definitely good news for ATI fans. On that same note, we finally gave in and accepted Windows Vista as a necessary, yet loathsome, step towards the continued viability of a gaming system that is meant to last several years.

As we look forward to our next Extreme Gaming PC Buyers Guide, we have some hope that AMD will cure its ills and produce faster Phenom processors and ATI graphics cards to force the hands of both Intel and NVIDIA. Until then, our current Intel configuration maintains its performance lead over AMD, while not progressing much from our previous Intel configuration.

The great news is that our Extreme Gaming PC didn’t actually need much improvement, as the stunning performance of our previous system still hasn’t lost its shine.

* Please note that prices do not include variable charges like taxes or shipping. The prices in our guide reflect market availability – generally the second or third lowest we found – in an attempt to minimize the financial burden associated with choosing multiple vendors.

Introduction and Case

Processors and Cooling

Motherboards and Memory

Hard Drives and DVD-R/RW

Video Card, LCD Display and Audio

Mouse, Keyboard & Controller

Communications, Operating Systems, and more

Prices Roundup and Final Thoughts

You're reading Extreme Gaming Pc Buyer’s Guide: March ’08

The 4 Best Pc Gaming Headsets

Table of Contents

Razer Kraken X – Affordable Comfort ($30-$40)

For this reason, we will be cutting out the very cheap choices ($15-$25) because we believe the overall experience isn’t worth the investment. Instead, you should try to invest an extra $10 to $15 to reach the $30-$40 range. At this price, you can get the affordable, yet reliable Razer Kraken X.

There are of course some compromises at this price point. The audio quality is actually quite good for gaming, but the music experience is very poor. The Razer Kraken X has a focus on treble, and very little bass, which is great for sounds like footsteps and small actions in-game you may otherwise miss, but that sound design is uncomfortable for most songs. Bass-heavy songs feel lifeless, and vocal heavy songs irritate the ears. In summary, perfectly usable for gaming, but not so much for music.

The microphone can be adjusted to your convenience – it has a large, bendable cable inside and you can detach it completely if necessary. Of course, comfort isn’t everything, and that’s why it’s often picked up instead of the equally comfier, but lighter Razer Kraken X.

There’s also a detachable sound card that plugs into the Cloud HyperX II’s 3.5mm jack on one side and a USB slot on the other side. It features 7.1 digital surround sound and separate volume controls for both the microphone and speakers. 

The microphone quality on the HyperX Cloud II is great, it’s able to minimize background noise and focus solely on your voice. If your squadmates complain, you have the freedom to adjust both the volume and the distance of the microphone to your mouth easily.

The average battery life for a full charge is 10 hours. If you somehow run out of power on both batteries, you can use a standard 3.5mm jack and that requires no power, at a cost to your audio experience. 

The Arctis Pro Wireless is reasonably sized at 357 grams and it uses a unique design, relying on a stretched strap to fit snugly on your head. The rest of the weight is held by a curved steel aluminum alloy frame that floats above the strap. Overall, it’s comfortable, but takes a little getting used to.

The Beyerdynamic DT 990 Pro is absolutely the best choice for getting high quality audio during gaming and music  at a great price. The trouble is, it’s actually a pair of studio headphones, which means going this route requires you to buy a standalone microphone and it’s also recommended to purchase a DAC/Amp for your PC to give the DT 990 Pro more power. 

The $75 Fiio E10K for is an affordable choice that has just enough power for the Beyerdynamic DT 990 Pro. When choosing a mic, make sure to read about the best microphones here.

However, it’s well worth the investment both in time and money to get the DT 990 Pro and required accessories. To put it into perspective, some of the biggest names in gaming purposely chose to go for the DT 990. 


Best Router Settings For Pc Gaming; Optimize Router For Better Gaming

Gaming over Wi-Fi is quite popular due to the lack of wires. But let’s be honest, using an Ethernet port will always be the better option to deliver a stable connection consistently. However, using Wi-Fi makes it possible for some even to consider the better option. With that in mind, then, we are going to explain ways that can deliver optimal gaming performance where your router is concerned. With modern routers, it shouldn’t be too difficult for them to deliver quality connections, but there are times when things do not work according to plan. If you want to optimize your Router for better Gaming, these are the best Router settings for PC Gaming, in our opinion.

Bear in mind that an old router may not have the technologies to keep up with the speed given by your internet service provider. For example, if you have a Gigabyte connection and your router can only push 100MB maximum, you won’t reach peak performance.

Best Router settings for PC Gaming

As it stands, a modern router is required at all times, at least, that is our view on things. So, to learn how to improve gaming performance, consider our following suggestions:

No need for gaming routers

Reboot your router

Multi-User, Multiple Input, Multiple Output

Turn on Quality of Service (QoS)

Use the latest Wi-Fi standard

Ensure you have a fast CPU and enough RAM

Optimize the Channels

Optimize Router for better Gaming 1] No need for gaming routers

Several companies today offer gaming routers for sale. They claim these routers are optimized for the best gaming experience ever. It’s funny because these routers usually come with extra ports and more powerful antennas, but the majority of gamers do not need any of that.

At the end of the day, most regular routers are equipped with all the basic features to deliver smooth gaming performance, but at the same time, one should not choose to go with a super-cheap router. They tend to have competent specs on paper but perform terribly in the real world.

2] Reboot your router

If you’re having problems with optimal performance, then the first thing to do above all else is to reboot your router. By now it should be common knowledge that rebooting a system does wonders in certain situations.

3] Multi-User, Multiple Input, Multiple Output

Chances are you’ve never heard of Multi-User, Multiple Input, Multiple Output (MU-MIMO), but it is an important feature for networks that serves more than a single device. With this feature enabled, your router will set up several mini networks that work with each device simultaneously.

We must note that MU-MIMO does not increase the speed of your network. Its purpose is to ensure you do not lose speed when more than one device is connected, hence not putting the router under a heavy load.

Of course, not every router comes with this function, but if yours do, then be sure to enable it right away.

4] Turn on Quality of Service (QoS)

OK, so in order to prioritize data packets for individual connected devices, routers make use of Quality of Service to get the job done. It really begins to work whenever multiple devices on a network are using a lot of bandwidth.

For example, if you are playing a video game, while others in your household are watching Netflix 4K along with speaking with friends over video chat, then obviously a lot of data will be in use, and that can slow down network performance a great deal for each individual.

This is where QoS comes into play because it is capable of prioritizing certain devices connected to the network. This will force the network to deliver the brunt of the data to, for example, the gaming PC, over everything else.

5] Use the latest Wi-Fi standard

Folks who do not have an Ethernet cable on-hand can use Wi-Fi, but to get the most out of the wireless connection, one must make use of the latest standard. At the moment, the latest standard is Wi-Fi 5, or AC. Another that is slowly becoming the new standard is Wi-Fi 6, or AX.

The newest standards bring forth faster and more stable wireless internet connections, so do not ignore them.

At the moment, there aren’t many Wi-Fi 6 devices available on the market, but that is changing. Therefore, it would make a lot of sense to purchase a Wi-Fi 6 router whenever you’re out looking for a replacement because you’ll be future-proofing yourself.

6] Ensure you have a fast CPU and enough RAM

Have you ever been using a computer that is connected to a fast network, but the internet runs slow? That is likely due to the power of the computer itself. Systems with insufficient RAM and CPU will not be able to tap into the full force of your internet connection, no matter how speedy it is.

Not only that, but it relates to the router as well. Routers with slow CPUs and low memory may not be able to keep up with high network demand. But such routers are usually expensive, so we can understand if most are not able to afford them.

Read: Tips to improve gaming performance in Windows PC

7] Optimize the Channels

Wi-Fi signals are known for interfering with each other, and that’s a problem because such things can slow down your internet connection overall. From our understanding, interference can happen on both 2.4GHz and 5GHz bands, but this happens mostly on the 2.4GHz band than the other. This is because the 2.4GHz is close to household devices such as a microwave, and it only supports 11 channels.

In terms of the 5GHz band, it supports 23-channels, and most of the devices in your home do not overlap with it.

Now, to optimize a channel, the best thing to do here is to choose the one that is the least used. The default channel is usually the same across most router bands, so all you to do is select a number that is odd because most people will never change from the default channel.

Read: How to add extra Ethernet ports to your Home Router

Is LAN or WLAN better for gaming?

A connection based on LAN will always be better for gaming rather than one that relies on WLAN. This is because there are many obstacles that can affect a wireless connection compared to one that is wired.

Read: How to set up Multiplayer Gaming on Windows Network

Is IPv6 faster for gaming?

IPv6 is superior for gaming because it means you no longer need to make use of port forwarding. That is because IPv6 will deliver to devices their own public IP address.

Is a gaming router better than Ethernet?

Some gaming routers might give a performance boost, but none can compare to an ethernet connection no matter the number of features the manufacturer promotes. So, if you are not afraid of wires, then an ethernet should always be the first choice and Wi-Fi secondary.

Build A Killer Gaming Pc For $100

Building your own computer from scratch allows you to craft the perfect rig for your needs, but if you’re on a super-strict budget, a shiny, new, custom-built PC isn’t always feasible.

So it’s a good thing you don’t need one of those to play games.

Sure, $400 or $500 might build you a decent budget gaming PC, but if money is tighter than that, your best bet is to go with something used. You might get lucky and find a cheap gaming PC on Craigslist, but you’ll get better bang for your buck going with something more common and less specialized: a decommissioned office PC.

That’s right—with a few choice upgrades, those Dell towers that litter office buildings ‘round the world can actually make decent gaming rigs. And your town is probably crawling with them, since schools and businesses often get rid of them in large batches.

Their loss is your gain—let’s bring one of those suckers back to life.

Related: Best gaming laptop: Five things to consider

What you’ll get

Before you start hunting for hardware, you’ll need to set your expectations. Even with a few upgrades, a low-end PC such as the Dell Optiplex I found won’t be playing all the latest triple-A titles at high resolutions with beautiful, ray-traced graphics. It will, however, handle a lot of lower-requirement esports titles like Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, League of Legends, Fortnite, Overwatch, and Rocket League. Depending on the upgrades you make, higher-end games like Shadow of the Tomb Raider might be playable if you’re willing to turn the resolution down to 720p. (If you run into any trouble, though, YouTube channel LowSpecGamer has a lot of tricks for playing newer games below the minimum system requirements.)

It doesn’t look like much now, but with a little love, this baby will help you win hundreds of battles. Whitson Gordon

Finally, know that this PC probably won’t be a long-term investment, so consider it a stopgap until you can afford a more powerful build. After all, we’re talking about pretty old, well-used hardware, and you can only upgrade it so far before it makes more sense to build a new PC from scratch. It also may require a bit more maintenance, so be ready to tackle problems if they happen—and make sure you have a good backup solution handy for your data.

If all that sounds palatable, it’s time to start deal hunting.

Where to find your parts

You can find used cheap PC parts all over the web, but the best deals are probably right in your neighborhood. I recommend pounding the pavement and finding your local electronics recycling centers, office liquidators, and thrift stores—give them a call or pay them a visit to see what kind of used PCs and PC parts they have. Alternatively, if you know people at local schools and businesses, ask them if their IT department is looking to offload any old gear.

It might go without saying, but you should always test the PC before handing over any money. Whitson Gordon

You’ll be able to find a lot of the components you’ll need this way, but not necessarily all of them. For anything you can’t find at an e-waste center, you’ll want to scour Craigslist, OfferUp, LetGo, and other similar apps. You can also try eBay, but the platform has a much larger audience, which means stuff tends to sell for its fair market price. But you’re scraping together a PC on the lowest budget possible, so market price is not what you want: you want a local seller who’s willing to negotiate a killer deal just to get it off their hands. (You can even try to find some gaming PC parts for free, but I wouldn’t bank on that too hard—especially if you want stuff in decent working order.)

Buying local also allows you to test the equipment before you hand over your money. When negotiating the sale, ask the seller to have it plugged in and ready to try when you go to pick it up. That way you can see if it boots into Windows, run CrystalDiskInfo to see if the hard drive is still in good shape, and make sure it doesn’t reek of smoke (seriously—this is more common that you’d think). If the PC doesn’t have a hard drive—it’s common for companies to destroy them for security reasons before they dispose of their computers—see if it boots into the BIOS, or bring a flash drive with the Windows installer on it and see if it boots into that. If everything looks reliable, you can take it home and start working on your upgrades.

Online sales like eBay do offer buyer protection, though, which is handy if you get a defective component. Craigslist doesn’t usually have any recourse for that, so you’ll have to weigh your risk tolerance with your budget and go from there.

Related: Nine tweaks to supercharge your gaming PC

What to look for

As with any PC build, it helps to plan things out before you actually go shopping. (We’re assuming you already have a general idea of what goes into building a gaming PC—if you don’t, you should definitely become acquainted with our PC building guide first.) Lay out your budget, figure out which computer parts will fit into it, then start your hunt. My goal was to build something for only $100 (because hey, I like a challenge), but I’ll lay out parts in a few different price ranges for those who have more to spend.

The tower

You’ve basically saved this poor PC tower from endlessly running Excel. Whitson Gordon

These office PCs also come in different forms. I recommend getting a larger “mini-tower,” rather than one of the smaller, slimmer machines—you’ll have an easier time fitting in a graphics card, power supply, and other upgrades. If you find a small rig for a price that’s too good to pass up, it’ll work, but you’ll need to either shop for low-profile graphics cards or jury-rig it into the case using a PCI-express riser.

Finally, think about your upgrade plans for this machine. If you’re just building a cheap PC to get you by until you can build a new, high-end rig in a few months, you don’t need to worry too much about compatibility with future upgrades. But if you’re planning on adding a bit more power to this build, you may want to narrow your search to models that use a standard 24-pin power socket on the motherboard. Some of these office PCs use a smaller, non-standard 8-pin power connector, which means you won’t be able to upgrade your power supply in the future. It isn’t strictly necessary—many people will be just fine with the included power supply and a low-power graphics card like I’ll be using here—but it’s nice to have the option in the future. (There are 8-pin to 24-pin adapters out there, but I’m hesitant to use power supply adapters like these since many are cheaply or incorrectly made.)

That sounds like a lot of caveats, but as you browse through the shelves at the e-waste center (or through photos on Craigslist), you’ll be able to spot these things pretty quickly. I found a few contenders here in the San Diego area where I live, but eventually went with a Craigslisted Dell Optiplex 9010 that hit all my requirements for only $50. It didn’t have a hard drive, but even with that caveat, it was the best deal I could find—a hard drive is a pretty cheap addition.

Remember, patience is key—you may not find a killer deal tonight, tomorrow, or even next week, but if you monitor things closely and negotiate your butt off, you’ll eventually find the perfect system for an unbeatable price.

The graphics card

For little money, the NVIDIA GTX 650 can get you a long way. Whitson Gordon

An office PC can handle day-to-day tasks just fine, but we’re gunning for a gaming rig here, which means you’ll need to pop in a dedicated graphics card. Again, you’ll want to hunt the used market for the best deals, and this is one area where e-waste centers probably don’t have what you need—but eBay just might.

On the low end, you can probably find an NVIDIA GTX 650 for cheap, as they usually sell for around $35 on eBay. It’s a bit long in the tooth, but you’d be surprised what you can get away with playing on a card this affordable—titles like CS:GO, League of Legends, and Dota 2 should run beautifully at 1080p, while games like Fortnite, Overwatch, and Rocket League may require ratcheting down the resolution a bit to stay at 60 frames per second. Something like this ASUS model is a good one to buy, since it doesn’t require a 6-pin connection to the power supply—which most office PCs won’t have.

If you can find it, an NVIDIA GTX 750 Ti would be even better, and is a good sweet spot for a build like this. It can crush most esports titles, and scrape by just enough in higher-end triple-A games. I found this Zotac model listed for $50 on OfferUp here in San Diego, which I negotiated down to $30—a pretty great deal. Again, the lack of a 6-pin socket is key if you don’t want to upgrade your power supply.

If you’re using a smaller PC, you’ll want a low-profile card—the NVIDIA GT 1030 is a popular one, and lies somewhere between the above two cards in power. It has a market price of around $50 for the less expensive models, but you might be able to get it for cheaper if you’re patient and buy locally.

The further you step up in cards—say, an AMD RX 460 or 560 for around $65, or a GTX 950, 960, or 1050 Ti for around $100—the more you can play. The 1050 Ti is also available without a 6-pin connector, and in a low-profile shape for slimmer desktops. At this point, though, you’ll need to consider adding a beefier power supply, which will increase the total cost of your setup. Still, a $200 rig powered by a GTX 1050 Ti is a fantastic value proposition.

You can go higher up the chain than that, but soon the old CPU in your salvaged computer will likely become a bottleneck, meaning your performance won’t increase enough to make the cost worth it. Plus, at that point, you’re probably better off building a PC from scratch rather than using the old office rig as your base anyway.

Other hardware (and software)

For security reasons, companies tend to destroy hard drives before disposing of their computers, so you’ll likely have to get a new one. Whitson Gordon

If you have more to spend—or your computer comes missing a few components—there are a few other things you’ll need to consider:

Storage: Many of these used PCs won’t come with a hard drive, meaning you’ll have to add one yourself. You have a few choices: you can grab a new 500GB HDD for around $25, though it’ll be a little slow. If you’re efficient with your storage, I’d recommend buying a lower-capacity, higher-speed SSD like this 128GB PNY model for $20. Or, if you have enough money, get one of each: use the SSD for your boot drive, your spinning drive for your files, and live your best life. If you find a tower that does come with storage, make sure to test its health with CrystalDiskInfo—if it’s starting to fail, see if you can negotiate the price down further to make up for the drive you’ll have to buy.

An operating system: You’ll need a 5GB flash drive to install Windows—if you don’t have one, borrow one (you’ll only need it for an hour or two). Almost all of these PCs should come with Windows licenses in the form of a 25-digit key printed on a sticker somewhere on the tower. If yours doesn’t have a Windows license, it’s probably not worth buying, since Windows costs about $100 on its own. If you plan on running Linux instead, you won’t need to worry about this, but since most people will probably want Windows for gaming, make sure it has that sticker.

A keyboard, mouse, and monitor: As with most PC building guides, we’re only focusing on the tower itself here—we’re assuming you have an old monitor, keyboard, and mouse lying around. But if you don’t, you can often find old office peripherals in the same e-waste centers and classified apps where you found the tower (you’ll just need to budget for them). There are also plenty of affordable “gaming” mice and keyboards on Amazon, from brands like Velocifire and Redragon, if you’re willing to spend a bit more.

A network connection: My machine didn’t have Wi-Fi, which was fine since I planned on using the more reliable Ethernet connection to access the internet. If Ethernet isn’t an option for you and your PC doesn’t have Wi-Fi, you’ll want to find a PCI or USB Wi-Fi receiver to access the web, either used or new on Amazon.

A better power supply: while I found the 295-watt power supply in my Dell Optiplex was adequate for my GTX 750 Ti, it’s definitely borderline. If you can afford a nicer model like this EVGA 450-watt unit, it’s a worthy upgrade. Your system will be more stable since it will have more wattage headroom for your hardware, and you’ll have a wider choice in graphics cards, since it has a 6-pin connector.

Some extra RAM: If your office PC only comes with 4GB of RAM, you’ll be able to get by, but it’s really at the edge of what I’d recommend on a Windows system today. Luckily, those old PCs use the older DDR3 standard, which means you can probably buy another 4GB for $10 (or less) on the used market. You’ll be glad you did, particularly if you plan on opening a lot of browser tabs or playing higher-end games.

You shouldn’t need much else, though some rubbing alcohol may be useful for cleaning the case, and a cloth for cleaning any dust off internal components.

Make your upgrades and install Windows

Once you’ve got your hardware in-hand—remember, patience is a virtue if you want the best price possible—it’s time to build your PC. We’ve already run through how to build a PC in this guide, so I won’t hold your hand every step of the way, but I will note a few things you may want to watch out for with Optiplex-like office PCs.

Let’s get the hard(ware) part over with. Whitson Gordon

I ended up with a $50 Dell Optiplex 9010 housing an Intel Core i5-3470 CPU, 4GB of RAM, and no hard drive. I added a GTX 750 Ti I got for $30 and an SSD I got for free from a friend who was leaving town—although let’s assume I paid $20 for the sake of a fair comparison. That comes out to $100 even for my final setup—though again, I’d recommend a bit more RAM and a new PSU if you have an extra $50 to spare.

My Optiplex was decently clean, though I did give the case a once-over with some rubbing alcohol and a microfiber cloth, especially where there was some leftover sticker gunk on the front. (Be careful not to remove that Windows license sticker, though.) I also removed the side panel, evicted some dust bunnies with a dust blower, and gently wiped off the fans with a dry cloth. If you have an electric air duster, all the better. (Canned air works too, though it’s terrible for the environment, so I don’t recommend it.)

Ventilation fans tend to accumulate a lot of dust and are usually gross. Give it some tender love and care by cleaning it. Whitson Gordon

If you have a new power supply, you’ll want to install that before any other hardware. Unscrew the four screws surrounding the power cable on the back of the PC, unplug all the rainbow cables from the motherboard and hard drive (if applicable), and swap in your new one.

Next, grab your hard drive or SSD and insert the SATA cable, along with the SATA power cable from your power supply. I’m using an SSD, so I kind of just let it hang out where the DVD drive used to be, but if you’re using a traditional hard drive, you’ll want to screw it into the hard drive caddy and slide it into the cage. (Strangely, my particular Optiplex didn’t come with the blue caddy, but they’re available on eBay for $4.)

If you’re using a hard drive, don’t leave it hanging—you’ll want to secure it to the caddy with a couple of screws. Whitson Gordon

Yes, this all can look a little intimidating. If you need help, look for your PC’s manual online. Whitson Gordon

Before you continue, you’ll want to use another Windows PC to burn the Windows installer to that flash drive using Microsoft’s Media Creation Tool. It’ll take a bit of time, so get the process started now and let it run while you perform the next steps.

Now you can plug your computer into the wall, connect your mouse, keyboard, and monitor, and fire ‘er up. Look for anything on-screen that says something like “Press DEL to enter Setup” or “Press F12 for Boot Options.” Press the key in question and enter the UEFI/BIOS menu—you’ll want to double check a few settings in here first. Make sure it’s set to boot using UEFI, not Legacy, and that Secure Boot is turned on (unless you’re using an operating system not supported by this feature). You’ll also want to make sure your SATA drive is set to AHCI, not IDE or RAID.

Get yourself comfy—there’s going to be a lot of booting and rebooting at this stage. Whitson Gordon

When you’re satisfied with your BIOS settings, insert your Windows flash drive and reboot the computer. It should boot automatically into the Windows installer. Choose a custom install, erase your hard drive of choice, and format it for Windows usage just like you would any other new PC. When prompted for a Windows key, enter the one on your computer’s sticker. Even if it’s for Windows 7 or 8, it should work for Windows 10 as well.

The installation process may take a while, so make yourself a cup of coffee and try to contain your excitement. You’re almost there—once Windows drops you into the desktop, you can head to the support page on your PC’s manufacturer site (e.g. Dell, HP, or Lenovo), look up your PC model, and download any necessary drivers—usually Windows will install generic drivers to get you by, but grabbing the chipset, network, and audio drivers may be necessary if those functions don’t work (or if you want extra features contained in the manufacturer’s driver). You’ll also want to head to NVIDIA or AMD’s website to install your graphics card’s drivers, since they can improve gaming performance.

You’re almost there, but nothing will work unless you get your drivers. Go to the manufacturer’s website, download and install them. Whitson Gordon

Once that’s done, I recommend running a CPU stress test like Prime95 to make sure your computer doesn’t have any power management or stability issues, preferably alongside HWiNFO so you can keep an eye on your CPU temperatures. If it can handle an hour with Prime95 running and staying under 80 degrees Celsius (176 degrees Fahrenheit) or so, you should be golden. (If you do have problems, you may want to have to do some troubleshooting—you might need a new power supply, or your CPU may be dying.) You can also run a GPU benchmark like Heaven for a couple hours to make sure your graphics card is in good shape.

Congrats! Now you have a new PC to play with. Your productivity might drop a little, but hey—you’re going to have a blast. Whitson Gordon

I know it’s hard to delay the fun, but if you can get through those stress tests, you can be much more confident that your PC is ready to game. When they’re finished, though, it’s time to play. Download your games and start with the graphics on their lowest settings, slowly ramping them up until the game becomes too choppy for your tastes. With a bit of careful tweaking, you’ll be mowing down alien invaders in no time.

Related: Best Cheap Gaming PCs

Mesh Elite Skylake Pca Skylake Gaming Pc Review



Our Verdict

At £999 without a monitor, the Mesh Elite Skylake PCA is one of the most expensive PCs in our group test, but its features and build quality most certainly earn that price tag. Its feels like a higher-quality system and the high-end internal components deliver useful additional capabilities and bags of upgrade potential.

It may not resemble a  gaming PC at first glance, but the Mesh Elite Skylake PCA exudes quality. Its tower case comes with a matt black finished that’s soft to the touch, giving it an expensive feel, while at the top an illuminated display shows the current CPU temperature in a variety of colours which can be altered at the push of a button. Also see: Best gaming PCs 2023/2023.

Unlike most of the gaming PCs we review, the case has no transparent side panel. It’s a real shame in this case, because the Mesh Skylake PCA is by far the most impressive-looking inside. The case is spacious, with plenty of available drive bays and the Gigabyte GA-Z170X-Gaming 3 motherboard features attractive red and black details. Most impressive though is the Raijintek Triton 250mm high performance all-in-one CPU cooler, its two transparent pipes fat and filled with striking blue coolant. There’s also a blue downlight which illuminates the desk surface from the bottom of the case. We’d say the build quality of this case is considerably higher than most, certainly a tier above those from Cyberpower and Chillblast.

Under that fancy cooler lurks an Intel Core-i5 6600K Skylake processor, overclocked from 3.5GHz to 4.4GHz. This yields a decent boost in performance without pushing components to the absolute limit. It’s coupled with 16GB of 2400MHz DDR4 RAM – a little faster than the base 2133MHz stuff found in lower-end systems and comes with a 250GB Samsung SSD backed by a 1TB Seagate hard drive. Although the SSD uses one of the two M.2 ports on the motherboard, it’s using the SATA interface, rather than PCI-E so it can’t match the raw performance of the Samsung 128GB SM951 used by Chillblast. However it does perform very well and its extra capacity may well prove more beneficial than extra speed. See all PC reviews.

Mesh has opted for the ever-popular Nvidia GeForce GTX 970 graphics card in the Elite Skylake PCA, and in this case it’s a Palit-branded model running at standard clock speeds, rather than the boosted speeds found in some competitors’ systems.

Mesh’s chosen motherboard doesn’t just look good, it’s also designed specifically for gaming and comes with a selection of features not found on lesser models. Not only does it support USB 3.1, but it also supports USB 3.1 Gen 2 which allows for speeds of up to 10Gb/s and up to a claimed 16 Gb/s using Intel’s USB 3.1 controller. It also supports both USB Type-C and Type-A connectors.

Audio quality has also been boosted, claiming 115dB signal to noise ratio and featuring support for the Sound Blaster X-Fi MB3 audio suite. The OP-Amp chips have also been made user-upgradable, so if you want the very best sound quality, you can swap them out for higher-fidelity alternatives of your choice. See all gaming PC reviews.

If you prefer to use an external USB audio device, you can use Gigabytes, “DAC-UP” USB ports which feature isolated power supplies to ensure there’s no interference from other components.

The board also includes a high-performance “Killer Ethernet” network interface, designed to reduce latency and improve overall system performance and is one of the few reviewed here to offer 2-way Nvidia SLI certification, allowing the addition of an extra GTX 970 as a future upgrade. The supplied 750W power supply also provides plenty of upgrade potential.

The Mesh Elite Skylake PCA is a great performer, but not the fastest overall. Chillblast’s Fusion Krypton, for example, beats is in the application performance tests, probably due to its faster SSD, and also beats it by a few fps in gaming, thanks to its factory overclocked card. The Mesh system does come with double the amount of SSD storage however, which means more games can be installed on it for much faster loading times.

Performance in our tests was as follows: PCMark 8 2.0 Home: 5316; PCMark8 2.0 Work: 5748; PCMark8 2.0 Creative: 7282; PCMark8 2.0 Storage: 4996; Alien vs Predator 1080/720: 89.6/169.6fps; Sniper Elite V2 Ultra/Medium/Low: 47.6/203.2/444.7fps; Final Fantasy XIV Creation Benchmark Maximum: 130.4fps; 3DMark Fire Strike Ultra/Fire StrikeExtreme/Fire Strike/Sky Diver/Cloud Gate/Ice Storm Unlimited/Ice Storm Extreme/Ice Storm: 2,588/4,919/9,494/24,308/23,574/207,151/183,687/194,602; max CPU temp under load: 51ºC; power consumption idle/load: 63/251W

Read next: Learn more about Intel Skylake and Windows 10.

Specs Mesh Elite Skylake PCA: Specs

3.5GHz Intel Core i5-6600K @ 4.4GHz

Raijintek Triton 240mm High Performance AIO Water Cooling Solution – BLUE Coolant

16GB DDR4 2400MHz

250GB Samsung M.2, 1 TB Seagate SATA 3 HDD

750W FSP Quiet Power Supply – Silver 80 PLUS

GIGABYTE GA-Z170X-Gaming 3

Windows 10 Home

Palit Nvidia GeForce GTX 970 4GB 1051/1178MHz Core, 7000MHz RAM

onboard sound

Killer Lan 2200 Gigabit ethernet

3x USB 3, 2x USB 2, 1x USB 3.1 Type-A, 1 x USB 3.1 Type-C

1 x D-Sub, 1 x DVI-D, 1 x HDMI

24x DVD Writer (read/write CD & DVD)

Aero Cool DS 200

ROCCAT ISKU Keyboard (ROC-12-722), ROCCAT Lua Mouse (ROC-11-310)

Gold Warranty (Lifetime Labour, 2 Year Parts, 1 Year Free Collect & Return)

Best Free Gaming Vpn Or Gpn For Windows Pc

This article lists down the best free gaming VPNs for Windows 11/10. VPN (Virtual Private Network) is an encrypted connection over the internet that lets you surf online while being anonymous and secure. Now, a Gaming VPN or GPN (Gamers Private Network) is basically a VPN software that provides you optimal online gaming experiences with reduced ping time and lag, good security, and better speed.

Gamers experience a lot of connection spikes, high ping time, high latency, and lower speed that deteriorate their gaming experience. In that case, using a VPN for gaming or GPN is a solution. If you are looking for a free VPN for gaming purposes, you have landed on the correct page. Here, we are going to mention some of the better free gaming VPN software that you can use on your Windows 11/10 PC.

Best Free Gaming VPN or GPN software for Windows 11/10

Here are the best free Gaming VPN or GPNs available for Windows 11/10 PC:

Betternet VPN






1] Betternet VPN

Betternet VPN is a free VPN software for gaming for Windows 11/10 PC. This VPN software is used for the purpose of gaming, streaming, and privately browsing. It supports secure gaming with some good features. No registration is required to use this free gaming VPN.

You can improve online gaming speed with lower latency through it as it uses Catapult Hydra protocol that maximizes security as well as speed. Although, it is not compatible with routers. Additionally, it uses OpenVPN with AES 256-bit encryption and IPsec with AES 128-bit AES-CBC encryption.

However, the free edition of this gaming VPN software has some limitations. For example, it offers 500 MB of free data per day in the free edition. Also, it only provides one server location (US) in the free edition. However, that’s not too bad for free gaming VPN software.

2] Urban-VPN

Urban-VPN is a free gaming VPN for Windows 11/10 PC. It offers fast servers with lower latency and reduces ping time that eventually enhances your online gaming experience. It also provides dedicated gaming VPNs for games like PubG, Free Fire, and Mobile Legends. If you want a specific gaming VPN, download and install the respective game VPN from its official website. It even lets gaming enthusiasts play specific games by downloading them from countries with a prior launch date.

In addition to enhancing the gaming experience, it also provides good security. It keeps your data and files private. Apart from that, all primary features of a VPN are available in it. It offers over 80 server locations, lets you browse anonymously, allows unlimited bandwidth, avoids ISP throttling, and lets you unlock any website.

The user interface of this gaming VPN is minimalistic. You can download and then install it on your PC from here.

Read: VPN does not work over 3G or 4G in Windows.

3] DewVPN 4] Speedify

Speedify is a free VPN software for secure gaming, web browsing, live streaming, and video calling. You can enjoy lag-free gaming using this VPN. It enables you to use all your internet resources at the same time to achieve optimal performance for online gaming. You can optimize online gaming even with higher packet loss rates.

It offers 2GB of free data per month and allows P2P. Additionally, it utilizes channel bonding technology that enhances speed by combining multiple internet sources. Like, you can use your WiFi along with mobile data and enjoy gaming without lag and speed issues. This VPN is not compatible with routers, although you can use your PC connection with the gaming console.

It is a great VPN that uses AES 256-GSM and ChaCha 256-bit encryption. It combines features like speed, security, and stability for the internet in one VPN software.

Want this free VPN for gaming? You can download it from here.

Read: VPN connection failed due to unsuccessful domain name resolution

5] TunnelBear

Another VPN software that you can use for gaming is TunnelBear. It offers 500 MB of free data per month, however, if you tweet about it, you can get 1GB of free data. It supports P2P and lets users access about 26 server locations. It is good for secure gaming. But, many security features are only available in its premium plan.

6] ProtonVPN

ProtonVPN is a popular VPN software that is suitable for gaming. It comes with both free and paid plans. This VPN software provides a secure gaming experience with AES-256-Bit encryption and features like kill switch and secure core servers. You can enjoy gaming with unlimited bandwidth. Its free edition provides access to 23 servers in 3 countries. You can also access geo-blocked content through it.


chúng tôi is yet another good free VPN software for gaming for Windows 11/10 PC. It provides a greater gaming experience by reducing ping time and lag. Using it, you can connect to a server from 75+ worldwide servers locations. It lowers latency and enhances online gaming speed. It also prevents ISP throttling. You can also be the first to play recent games by downloading them from a server in the location with an earlier release date. Additionally, it also protects you against Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks.

So, play any game anywhere with good security, fast VPN connection, no throttling, and zero log promise with chúng tôi Some of its features are only available in the premium plans of this VPN service. You can download it from here.

More best free commercial GPNs and VPNs for Gaming:

There are some other GPNs specifically used for enhancing gaming experiences. For example, WTFast is a great dedicated GPN that smoothens your gaming experience by reducing ping time and connection spikes. Another good GPN is Outfox that stabilizes your connection and lets you play online games with enhanced speed. However, these services are paid.

You can also use some paid VPNs like Hotspot Shield, NordVPN, CyberGhost, etc. for secure and optimal gaming.

See: Which VPN is the best to buy? VPN Comparison Chart.

Are VPNs good for gaming?

VPNs have some benefits for gamers that they can utilize. They allow users to access various locations and servers in other regions for playing games with friends. Also, VPNs offer a secure gaming experience. You can avoid DDoS attacks and ISP throttling by using a VPN for gaming. Some VPNs also provide a faster speed that also optimizes your gaming experience. We have mentioned some good VPNs for gaming above in this article. You can try any of them and enhance your online gaming experience.

Which free VPN is good for gaming?

VPNs like WTFast, Betternet VPN, Urban-VPN, DewVPN, and Speedify are really good for gaming. These VPNs provide a free plan with limited features that you can try. We have discussed these VPNs in detail that you can check out above. If you can afford a paid VPN, there are some greater options like NordVPN, ExpressVPN, Surfshark VPN, and VyprVPN.

Hope this helps you find a good free VPN for gaming.

Now read: Fix Can’t reach the VPN Server error on PIA on Windows 11.

Update the detailed information about Extreme Gaming Pc Buyer’s Guide: March ’08 on the website. We hope the article's content will meet your needs, and we will regularly update the information to provide you with the fastest and most accurate information. Have a great day!