It used to be that spending more than $5,000 or $6,000 on a high-end gaming PC returned very little in the way of actual performance. However, with Intel's pricey solid-state hard drives tearing up performance charts, suddenly dropping $8,000-plus on a performance PC will actually get you a noticeable speed benefit on a wide variety of applications.
It's mostly for that reason that we let Falcon Northwest submit an $8,000 Mach V last November, and it's why we agreed to let Maingear send us its three-way SLI-equipped Ephex gaming desktop, which we posted this morning. We weren't convinced that the expense of three graphics cards plus the expensive 1,200-watt power supply to run them was worth it, but excluding both technologies felt like too much of a restriction on the modern no-limit desktop now that solid-states drives have come into their own.
We know fewer people may be shopping for top-end gaming PCs at the moment, but even if this review provides practical buying advice for a very limited audience, we still think it's worth examining the upper echelons of the PC market, as a glimpse ahead to the kinds of hardware that will be more common, and more affordable in a few years. We also intend to spend a lot of time this year on more down-to-earth PCs, hopefully starting with HP's forthcoming Firebird, unveiled at this year's CES. Stay tuned.