Monitor, Storage, Audio

Monitor

Acer AL1717 Abm 17" LCD - $ 150

Acer is an excellent brand and their 17” AL1717 lives up to those standards. This model comes with integrated speakers, so if audio isn’t as important to you, or you mainly use headphones, the integrated speakers should be more than sufficient and you can save some more money. The 17” monitor features a 500:1 contrast ratio, 300cd/m2 brightness, 16.2 million colors, a .264mm pixel pitch, and a maximum resolution of 1280x1024. While the maximum resolution isn’t very high, when paired with our video card, it is more than enough for quality gaming.

Hard Disk Drive

WD Caviar SE 120GB - $ 74

Western Digital’s Caviar series has always been one of the best out there. With 120GB of space, there is more than enough to give anyone plenty of breathing room. Featuring 8.9ms average seek times and an 8MB cache, this is about as fast as your drive can get without going for a 10,000rpm Raptor.

Optical Drive

LG 16x DVD-R+/-RW - $ 40

Featuring a 1MB cache, 16x DVD/48x CD writing, and the ability to write DVD-RAM at 12x, this is an overall excellent drive. We have been impressed with LG drives in the past, making us fans of the brand, and this is not exception. It is capable of Writing DVD+/-R at 16x, DVD+RW at 8x, DVD-RW at 6x, CD-R at 48x, CD-RW at 32x, and DVD+/-R DL at 10x and 6x respectively. This is a tray-loading PATA drive and can be bought in black and beige.

Soundcard

Onboard Audio - $ 0

Or upgrade to: Diamond XtremeSound XS71 - $ 28

While onboard audio has been improved over the past years and continues to do so, some of us want more. Diamond’s XtremeSound provides just that at a very reasonable price. Featuring 7.1 channel support, 24-bit/96KHz playback, Dolby EX and DTS support, and EAX 2.0 and A3D support, this card is well worth the upgrade if onboard isn’t good enough for you.

While Creative doesn’t license the latest versions of EAX out to its competitors, the 2.0 compliance is still a relief and should provide with good support for all but the highest sound quality in the latest games. Also, given Creative’s notorious reputation for driver support, this may be considered a better buy over Creative’s solutions in this price bracket.

Speakers

Integrated Monitor Speakers - $ 0

Or upgrade to: Logitech X-230 32W 2.1 Speakers - $ 35

Unless you really don’t care much about audio in your PC or primarily use headphones, we recommend using the upgrade option and going with the Logitech X-230 speakers. With two 6 watt satellites and a 20 watt subwoofer, these won’t blow off the roof, but will more than get the job done. The main satellite features a separate volume control for the subwoofer and also includes a headphone jack for private or late-night listening. At $35, these speakers simply can’t be beat.