The 2008 PC Builder's Bible

Oh ho ho. This is a gaming joystick that Tim Allen would approve. Whether you’re piloting jumbo jets, dog fighting in space combat, or rumbling around in mechs, there’s no better way to get immersed in a simulation than with Saitek’s flagship product. 30 programmable buttons, led lit switches, an LCD display screen are just a few of the features on this joystick/ throttle combination. Flying around in Battlefield 2 will never be the same again!

No mere monitor is big enough for a real gamer. This projector turns what was once a wall into a gigantic high-definition screen for gaming or movies. Expensive, but awesome.

Because of the steep price tag, we don’t recommend these for everybody – only those who demand the very best in audio quality. For those people, you can’t beat the E4C’s passive noise cancellation technology and comfort. Plus, they’re light and ultra-portable!

Play those old arcade classics the way they were meant to be played by pounding, beating, and punching the nearly indestructible X-Arcade Tankstink (with pinball side buttons!). Ah, the good ol’ days.

The Microsoft Wireless Gaming Receiver lets you use any wireless accessory available for the Xbox 360 on your PC—including the Wireless Headset, the Wireless Racing Wheel, and, of course, the Xbox 360 Wireless Controller.

Now the standard gamepad that all Games for Windows–branded games must support, the Xbox 360 controller also just happens to be comfortable, responsive, durable, and now wireless, too. Don’t worry—no one’s going to think you’ve sold out to the console dark side.

Harsh—the G25 Racing Wheel has better appointments than my real car: a leather-wrapped wheel with 900-degree rotation and two force-feedback motors that have surprising grit and kick. The leather wrapped six-speed shifter pushes down with good resistance, but it’s the hefty, solid pedals that leap far ahead of the toy wheel sets you’re used to.

The TripleHead2Go has a DVI and a VGA input on one side, and three DVI outputs on the other. You connect the little grey box to your PC with a DVI or VGA cable, and plug the other end to three displays. Your PC sees the three displays as a single, humungously widescreen Franken-monitor, so if your displays are identical and your videocard can deliver a good framerate at the panoramic resolution you choose (up to 3840x1024), you will be amazed at the image. That’s a lot of eye candy, and if you’re into flight simulators, hang on to your ’chutes, because you’re really going to be blown away by being able to glance left and right as if you were looking out port and starboard windows. TripleHead2Go works as well in Vista as Windows XP, but be warned that the effect is far less impressive at some of the more modest resolutions.

What’s it like to sit on a 6-foot wide bag of pure comfort? We found out by melting in Sumo Lounge’s new SumoSac, a massive 55-pound cushion of tangible relaxation. This new beanbag chair stands at 3-feet tall and is wrapped with a soft micro-suede cover, making it even more comfortable than our previous favorite Omni bag. The shredded urethane foam filling the bag also never needs to be replaced, so we could imagine ourselves sprawled on one of these until Kingdom Come.

The Novint Falcon is a mouse/joystick replacement controller that looks like a robotic Hershey’s Kiss that waddled straight out of Portal. The action takes place on the interchangeable ball grip mounted at the front of the unit on three articulated arms, which are connected to force-feedback motors that update about 1,000 times a second. You can move the ball in all three dimensions, and the motors add resistance to simulate surfaces and textures. Sounds pretty dry until you fire up the demo, which places a giant sphere in the center of the screen for you to fondle as you change its composition. Turn the sphere to steel and it becomes smooth and impenetrable. Cover the sphere in sandpaper and you can feel your virtual hand stroking the fine grit. Turn the sphere into honey and you meet resistance trying to punch through until your hand emerges from the other side. You can also download Haptics-Life 2, a mod for Half-Life 2 that adds “haptic”—or touch effects—to one of the best games ever made for the PC, and makes it even better. Landing from a high jump in your buggy causes the grip to jerk wildly with every impact, and you’d best brace yourself when switching from the relatively delicate pistol to the Magnum, because the kick delivers a hell of a meaty punch to the palm.

Prices, parts, and lots of pictures to show you how to build the perfect gaming PC
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