ExtremeTech's Ultimate Gaming Machine shoot-out


and Games for Windows magazine have combined their forces to take on a few of the ultimate gaming machines that are tearing up the scene these days. Over the last week, they rocked six, that's right, six full-on reviews of these rapacious rigs: the Dell XPS 710, Gateway FX530XT Gaming PC, CyberPower Gamer Infinity SLI KO, Alienware Area-51 ALX, Falcon Northwest Mach V, and VoodooPC Omen (pictured).

First up is the Dell XPS 710, which really didn't get high marks at all -- they dubbed it a "very average system." What made it deserve such a panning? Basically, the site found that it's overpriced ($5,314) for the performance you get (2.66GHz Core 2 Extreme Quad QX6700) -- Dell seems to have spent the extra money on case design and not the actual components. When stacked up against a very close rival, the Gateway FX530XT, ExtremeTech found that the 530 edged out the Dell system, earning points for a faster chip (3.24GHz QX6700 quad-core), smaller case, lower price ($4,030), and quieter fan. Keep reading to check out the rest of the hardcore action...

For the second round of tête-à-têtes, the site pitted the CyberPower rig against the Alienware, with the former definitely holding its own against one of the giants of the computer gaming world: the SLI KO blazes with a 3.46GHz Core 2 Duo Extreme X6800 chip, 2GB of RAM, and a pair of NVIDIA GeForce 8800 GTX graphics cards -- and weighs in at only $4,000. The Alienware, meanwhile, sports similar specs, but with a slightly faster schip (Core 2 Duo Extreme 3.63GHz), and double the RAM (4GB), although it's almost double the price, at $6,950 -- and it still had very similar benchmark scores. On the plus side, the Alienware setup has double liquid cooling and a pretty awesome case design, however ExtremeTech described the inner wiring as "a pretty big rat's nest" -- a very big no-no for something that's supposed to be meticulously crafted.

The final grudge match was between the Mach V and the Omen, which basically was a true fight for the crown of the Ultimate Game Machine title. The Northwest was a real contender, bringing the pain with a 3.51GHz Core 2 Extreme QX6700, Sanyo-Denki Water Cooler, 2GB of RAM, a pair of 8800 GTX graphics cards and a pair of Western Digital Raptor 1500s in RAID 0, not to mention a 750GB Seagate drive, custom paint job, and a matching keyboard / mouse. Plus you get a free Falcon coffee mug and t-shirt, with the former probably ending up staining the latter during marathon fragging sessions. What's the downside? This'll set you back a serious eight grand, no joke. Still, all of that wasn't enough to steal the hearts of the reviewers, so the Voodoo was pronounced the winner.

What makes it so great? Well, it's got the fastest chip of the bunch -- a 3.8GHz Core 2 Duo QX6800 -- which helped it earn top scores in most benchmark categories, plus a lower price ($5,700); it also ships with espresso chocolate and temporary tattoos, which we're pretty sure was the deciding factor. After all, the fastest way to a gamer's heart isn't through his/her fingertips, it's through impermanent body art.

Read - VoodooPC Omen
Read - Falcon Northwest Mach V
Read - Alienware Area-51 ALX
Read - CyberPower Gamer Infinity SLI KO
Read - Gateway FX530XT Gaming PC
Read - Dell XPS 710