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Gurupreet Singh

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The ten systems in this list represent what I consider the current best examples in computing design, and they’re more than just the sum of their parts. Whether your aim is to show off your good taste; to upgrade, tweak, and tinker; to frag into the wee hours; or to master and expand your digital-media library (or create some media of your own), you will find something on this list that, if not totally to your liking, will serve as an excellent comparison point as you shop around.

1. CyberPower PC Black Pearl

CyberPower PC Black Pearl

Armed with premier components and wrapped in a stunning shell, CyberPower’s Black Pearl ascends to the upper echelons of our Performance Desktop PCs category, despite fierce competition there.

The Black Pearl is built around Intel’s Core i7-980X processor, and packs components befitting its high price–such as 6GB of DDR3-1600 RAM, and three ATI Radeon HD5870 graphics boards aligned in Crossfire configuration. A 2TB hard drive handles storage, while a pair of 64GB solid-state drives arrayed in RAID 0 position host the 64-bit Windows 7 Home Premium operating system.

Price: $4200

2. Digital Storm Black Ops Assassin

Digital Storm Black Ops Assassin

It’s no secret that the customized design, features, and loadouts of performance PCs tend to get more unusual and awe-inspiring the higher up the price list one goes. That’s not to say that excellent inexpensive systems don’t exist; it’s just that the true Everests of the computing world demand a bit more dough. But not that much. Digital Storm’s Black Ops Assassin is a terrific combination of beauty and performance that doesn’t break the bankfor the dominance it delivers across nearly all the categories we analyze in a typical system review.

Price: $3391

3. Velocity Raptor Signature Edition

Velocity Raptor Signature Edition

Designed by founder, Randy Copeland, to be the absolute fastest, most envy inducing gaming system available. Winner of dozens of awards, the Velocity Raptor™ Signature Edition features everything Randy would want in an ultimate performance computer, without a single shortcut or compromise. Every unique system spends one week being hand wired, tuned, tested, and benchmarked by our senior engineers for a premium level of performance with a final round of QA from Randy himself. The end result is a PC that’s truly awe-inspiring. A PC that exceeds expectations. This system comes standard with a 1-year VelocityCare warranty, 24/7 emergency support, and a lifetime’s worth of bragging rights.

The Velocity Raptor Signature Edition includes:

* Intel Core i7 Extreme Edition processor
* The most powerful graphics on the planet – up to tri-SLI!
* Insanely fast hard drive options
* USB 3.0 and SATA 6 Gb/s support
* Meticulous hand assembly and precision cable routing
* An additional level of tweaking, tuning, and updates
* Rigorous quality control testing and benchmarking
* Award winning, 100% US based technical support

Price: $4949

4. Alienware Area-51 ALX

Alienware Area-51 ALX

The new Alienware® Area-51® brings you explosive firepower in the most upgradeable Alienware desktop ever — the ideal platform for high-end PC gaming. With its mind-blowing graphics, liquid-cooled processors and new aggressive design, you’ll have the edge before the game even starts. Your destiny is now under your control.

Lightning-Fast, Everywhere It Counts

Accelerate your games and digital media applications with Intel® Core™ i7 processors, featuring multi-core performance and support for overclocking up to an incredible 3.6GHz. With Intel® Turbo Boost technology, hyper-threading and an 8MB cache, you’ll be amazed by what you can do.

Price: $8522

5. CyberPower Cobra

CyberPower Cobra

For the past seven months, Intel’s Core i7 965 Extreme Edition served rank as the fastest desktop processor on the planet. Today it drops down a notch, as steamrolling out of Santa Clara is the launch of Intel’s newest flagship CPU and long anticipated followup, the Core i7 975 Extreme Edition. Benchmarks are in full force now that the NDA has been lifted, but rather than focus on the chip alone, we’ve decided to do something a little different. We’re going to look at one of the first OEM systems to incorporate the new flagship part in CyberPower’s Cobra Venom.

Price: $2399

6. iBuyPower Level 10

iBuyPower Level 10

iBuyPower’s Level 10 system features an Intel Core i7 processor, 6 GB of DDR3 memory, an Nvidia GeForce GTX 285 video card with 2 GB of video RAM, 1 TB of hard drive storage (plus a 128 GB SSD for the operating system). As befitting a boutique maker, a ton of options are available, including Blu-ray drives, an LCD control panels, and high-end networking cards.

Price: $2499

7. Maingear Shift

Maingear Shift

Radically Redesigned.

SHIFT uses the natural behavior of hot air as an advantage – by rotating the internal components of the PC so that all heat is radiated through the top vents and cool air is drawn in from the bottom, SHIFT can harness the most powerful hardware on the planet with ease. Heat is the enemy of electronic components, and hot-running components are more prone to failure. Large, slow moving fans assist with the airflow and are virtually silent, and also feature removable, washable air filters. Generous, inconspicuous ventilation grates and inlets allow for ample airflow without taking away from the design aesthetics of the SHIFT chassis.

Maximum Vertical Airflow.

All peripheral connections for your monitors, keyboard, mouse, and speakers are made at the top of the SHIFT, and a cover is in place to protect and conceal them. The cover is machined with a grill to allow the hot air exhaust to escape the system. This completes the SHIFT’s 90 degree design, ultimately making the SHIFT a visually stunning piece of hardware, and conveys a look unlike any other PC on the market.

Price: $2239

8. Origin Genesis

Origin Genesis

Origin spared no expense in assembling the Genesis’s loadout. At the machine’s heart is a Core i7-980X, Intel’s six-core, performance-oriented processor. The CPU is overclocked from its stock speed of 3.33GHz up to 4.3GHz; a network of blood-red arterial tubing pumps liquid coolant around the chassis, lest the silicon fry. The Genesis also offers 12GB of DDR3-1600MHz RAM and 2.1TB of space, in the form of a pair of solid-state drives in RAID 0, and a pair of 1TB storage drives.

Price: $6996

9. Alienware Aurora ALX

Alienware Aurora ALX

The new Alienware® Aurora™ ALX desktop delivers the ultimate, out-of-the-box gaming experience in a MicroATX PC. With factory-overclocked processors, the most extreme graphics and a new industrial design, you’ll have the best arsenal in the universe. Play hard and look good doing it. Absolute power is now in your hands.

Break the Speed Limits

Crank up your gaming speed to heart-stopping levels with Intel® Core™ i7 975 Extreme processors, pre-overclocked by Alienware experts for speeds up to an incredible 3.6GHz. With Intel® Turbo Boost technology, hyper-threading and an 8MB cache, you’ll achieve the highest benchmarks imaginable — while maintaining the system stability you expect from Alienware.

10. AVADirect Westmere-EP Xeon

AVADirect Westmere-EP Xeon

Here are just a few highlights of what this system is capable of:

  • Supports next generation Xeon® 5600 / 5500 series socket 1366 processors
  • Intel® 5520 chipset
  • Up to 192GB DDR3-1333MHz PC3-10600 ECC Registered memory
  • Selection PCI Express x16 graphics cards joined by the 2-way ATI® CrossFireX™ technology
  • Up to 6 SATA II 3 Gb/sec hard drives or SSD drives
  • Onboard High-Definition Audio (optional discrete audio card can be selected)
  • Onboard Gigabit LAN (optional discrete LAN adapter can be selected)

Price: $3111

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Top 10 Best Desktop PCs of 2011 – with prices, 10.0 out of 10 based on 1 rating

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