When our editor first said we'd each be given £5,000 Virtual Crave Pounds to spend on whatever Christmas gifts took our fancy, I immediately logged on to the Autotrader Web site in search of a second-hand but still terrifyingly fast TVR Chimera. Apparently, blowing (virtual) company money on non-tech items isn't really in the Crave spirit, so after a (virtual) telling off I've now reconsidered.
The first items on my new, more tech-oriented shopping list are a set of components that I'll use to create a PC with better gaming performance than the newly launched Xbox 360. It'll be cheaper too. And capable of downloading 'interesting' Web content.
Representing the console kids is the brand new Xbox 360, which retails for £280. You'll need a game, obviously, so I've chosen Call of Duty 2 (£39.99 from Amazon on 360) -- the only title available for both formats. To get the best out of it, Microsoft recommends a hi-def TV, so I've chosen to pair it with Nick's first Christmas pick, the Samsung LE32R41BD, which will set me back a further £840.
This Xbox 360 set-up comes to a total of £1,159.99, so my PC set-up will have to be cheaper in order to be successful. Trawling the Web for bargains, I came across the following components, most of which can be bought from ebuyer.com:
Nvidia Geforce 7800 GTX 512MB graphics card -- £339.98
Asus A8V-E SE motherboard -- £57.99
AMD Athlon 64 3800+ CPU -- £195.84
512MB DDR SD-RAM -- £41.06
Maxtor Diamondmax Plus 9 60GB hard drive -- £38.26
LG GCC-4521BB 52x32x52x16 CD-RW/DVD-ROM drive -- £20.47
Belinea 102005 20.1-inch TFT screen -- £389.96
Ebuyer Extra Value MG-415 ATX Middle Tower Case -- £35.24
Call of Duty 2 (PC/DVD) -- £26.99
Ezkey Black Office Keyboard and 3 Button Value Mouse -- £8.73
Total cost of the console version: £1,159.99.
Total cost of my PC version: £1,154.52.
Beer money left over: £5.47 -- that's six cans of Stella and a packet of crisps.
Now here's why my PC is better than the Xbox 360:
1. The Samsung screen can only output a maximum resolution of 1,366x768 pixels, but the Belinea can throw out 1,600x1,200 pixels. Sure, the Samsung is bigger (32 inches), but you'll be sat right in front of the 20-inch Belinea, so you'll have a great view anyway.
2. The Nvidia Geforce 7800 GTX 512MB graphics card is faster than the Xbox 360's graphics card. I have no way of testing this theory, but I'm probably right. It can output higher resolutions, has tonnes more memory to store huge textures, and is faster than any current ATI card. And that includes (probably) the one in the Xbox 360.
SCORE: PC - 2: Xbox 360 - 0
3. Some might say the Xbox 360 has a far faster CPU than my PC, and they'd be right -- its tri-core IBM PowerPC stomps all over the Athlon 64 3800+. But I've yet to see any Xbox 360 game take full advantage of the multi-core CPU, so I'll be diplomatic and call this one a draw.
4. You can actually buy my PC. Xbox 360s are like gold dust. Invisible gold dust.
SCORE: PC - 4: Xbox 360 - 1
5. The mouse and keyboard on my PC give you far better control over Call of Duty 2 than the wireless pads of the Xbox 360. Enough said.
So there you have it -- conclusive evidence that PCs are better than consoles. Probably. -Rory Reid
Rory has bought these items:
Nvidia Geforce 7800 GTX 512MB graphics card
Asus A8V-E SE motherboard
AMD Athlon 64 3800+ CPU
512MB DDR SD-RAM
Maxtor Diamondmax Plus 9 60GB hard drive
LG GCC-4521BB 52x32x52x16 CD-RW/DVD-ROM drive
Belinea 102005 20.1-inch TFT screen
Ebuyer Extra Value MG-415 ATX Middle Tower Case
Call of Duty 2 (PC/DVD)
Ezkey Black Office Keyboard and 3 Button Value Mouse
He has £3,846 left to spend before Christmas Day.
Click here to find out more about Crave's virtual Christmas shopping spree.