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A lab on fire: Five gaming PCs that torched our benchmarks

Comparison of recently reviewed gaming PCs from AVADirect, Falcon Northwest, HP, Maingear, and Velocity Micro

Why, yes. Double down, even. If not for the intense feelings I had for Intellivision (you never forget your first), I may have ended up a PC gamer instead of strictly a console guy. Digital Press

Let me start with a disclaimer: I'm a console gamer. Always have been, since my friend down the street in Minneapolis got an Atari 2600 in 1979, and I trumped him a year later with Mattel's Intellivision. (Along with George Plimpton, we found Intellivision's Major League Baseball to be clearly superior to Atari's Home Run baseball. Intellivision baseball, hockey, and skiing were pretty much all I cared about in 1980.) Like Larry King with wives, there's long list of consoles that I traded in for newer models over the years: Intellivision to Intellivision 2, to NES, to Sega Genesis, to PlayStation, to Xbox, to Xbox 360. As I moved from console to console, I never did find the need to plunk down for a gaming PC, and thankfully any old PC can run an Intellivision emulator.

If I were a PC gamer (and I happened across a pile of money), however, there are five systems that would definitely be on my list. Since May, we've reviewed one gaming PC each month that has really impressed us. These five desktops are all overclocked, and all but the AVADirect system feature a quad-core processor, so you know your investment--prices of our review units range from $3,600 to nearly $6,600--is well equipped to stand the test of time. Three of the five earned an Editors' Choice, including the HP Blackbird 002, which is only the highest0rated desktop we've ever seen at CNET--at least since Rich Brown and I have been here. (The other two award-winners came from Maingear and Velocity Micro.)

For a specs comparison, videos, and the reviews themselves, I've assembled this page for your viewing pleasure.