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Core wars: Multicore gaming PC shoot-out (photos)

You can get a surprising amount of power in a desktop priced between $1,000 and $2,000 these days, from fast 3D cards to six-core CPUs. Here's a roundup of a few such systems, all of which will handle almost anything you throw at them.

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CNET Reviews staff
1 of 5 Sarah Tew/CNET

Dell Studio XPS SX8100-1986NBC

Dell's retail-only version of its XPS 8100 line balances a fast Core i7 860 CPU with a decent midrange ATI Radeon HD 5770 graphics card. It might trail the pack on overall game performance, but it will still handle most titles, and it's also the most affordable system in this bunch.
2 of 5 Sarah Tew/CNET

Gateway FX6831-01

We can't say we love the Gateway FX6831-01's case design, but its combination of a Core i7 860 CPU with a Radeon HD 58500 graphics card makes it, perhaps, the most well-balanced PC in this round-up in terms of performance in games and regular applications. And even if the case lacks universal cosmetic appeal, we find it hard to complain about the unique front panel hard drive system that makes it easy to add storage space.
3 of 5 Sarah Tew/CNET

HP Pavilion Elite 190T

HP weighed down our Pavilion Elite 190T with home entertainment-oriented extras that help drive the price up above $2,000. You get the same core performance in its base $1,899 configuration, however, which includes Intel's six-core Core i7 980X Extreme chip--currently the fastest desktop CPU around. We have yet to see another PC with that chip for such a low price.
4 of 5 Sarah Tew/CNET

Maingear Vybe

Maingear's Vybe features a surprising amount of upgrade room--up to two graphics cards--for such a compact chassis. The base $1,299 configuration also comes with AMD's new six-core Phenom II X6 CPU, which helps push the Radeon HD 5830 graphics card past its competition on games that make use of multiple CPU cores. You'll want a beefier power supply to get the most out of this PC's upgradability, but as is, this is a fast, well-built gaming system.
5 of 5 Sarah Tew/CNET

Velocity Micro Edge Z30

We reviewed the Velocity Micro Edge Z30 back in September 2009 when we awarded it an Editor's Choice. It held the midrange performance crown for a while, but it has since been surpassed by more recent PCs. You can still order a competitive Z30 configuration if you visit Velocity Micro's Web site.

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