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Building the Perfect PC, Third Edition by Barbara Fritchman Thompson, Robert Bruce Thompson

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5. Building an Extreme System

In the first two editions of this book, we built systems designed to provide top performance for 3D games. We were planning on doing the same for this new edition, until we talked with several friends who are heavily into gaming. They all told us that, although gaming PCs are still used by many gamers, they are rapidly declining in popularity, with most gamers shifting to gaming consoles.

So, for this edition we decided that rather than building yet another dedicated gaming system, we’d instead build an extreme system. An extreme system is one in which one or more functions—processor and memory performance, video performance, hard disk performance or capacity, noise level, and so on—are optimized for top performance, sometimes at the expense of other functions.

A gaming system is, of course, one form of extreme system, but there are others. For gamers, 3D graphics performance is critical, but for some extreme systems they don’t matter much, if at all. Robert, for example, is doing increasingly more video production, which can place extreme demands on a system. For that purpose, processor performance and hard drive capacity and performance are critical, but even integrated video is perfectly acceptable.

One of our correspondents provides an even more striking example of an unusual extreme system. He produces high-resolution CGI graphics videos as a hobby(!), and he’s built his own small render farm of several extreme systems configured in a Beowulf ...

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