More Bang, More Bucks
As the saying goes, you get what you pay for. And when it comes to PCs, there's a lot to get. Though $500 can buy a serviceable machine and $1500 can net a pretty sweet gaming rig, that's just the beginning of the price range for hardcore computing power. Here's a look at what you could have if money were no object.
Falcon Northwest Mach V -- $8130
Your PC's innards are state of the art--shouldn't the exterior say as much? The folks at Falcon Northwest can build you a blisteringly fast computer. But they can go one step further, too, and airbrush custom artwork onto the chassis. Alas, good taste isn't necessarily included.
Photo: Falcon Northwest
Maingear Shift -- $8208
If you want a behemoth that's as imposing as it is powerful, you want Maingear's Shift. The chassis screams "pragmatism be damned," and the machine is packed with solid-state drives and no fewer than three graphics cards. You get all of that in a vertically mounted case, for optimum airflow.
Falcon Northwest DRX -- $8107
Slick automotive paint, 12GB of RAM, a GeForce GTX 480M graphics board, and three 256GB solid-state drives can push the cost of a Falcon DRX laptop over $8000. But hey, you get a free backpack to carry it in!
iBuyPower Level 10 -- $7609
Like some Frank Gehry nightmare made manifest, iBuyPower's Level 10 throws conventional design wisdom to the wind. Created with help from BMW Group Designworks USA, the case will run you $800. But sacrifices must be made when your space-age tech demands that Jetsons-style flair.
Lenovo W701ds -- $6469
Lenovo's dual-screen W701ds mobile workstation starts at $3299, but configuring it with the fastest CPU and graphics card, 16GB of RAM, and dual solid-state drives really runs up the bill.
Hardcore Computer Reactor X -- $9668
Flowing magma frying your equipment? Don't abandon your secret lair! Hardcore Computer's Reactor X submerges its delicate components in a nonconductive oil, for unparalleled heat dissipation. As an added bonus, the glass paneling will (likely) stop a bullet, and the coolant is slick enough to trip up the most heavily armed assailants.
Photo: Hardcore Computer
HP EliteBook 8740w -- $5552
HP's top-of-the-line mobile workstation starts off expensive, and gets even pricier when you configure it with the best CPU, the most RAM, and the fastest graphics. But it's the extra $500 that you can spend on the color-calibrated, wide-gamut DreamColor display that puts the whole thing over the top.
Origin PC EON18 -- $9416
With a $500 custom paint job, an nVidia Quadro FX 3800M workstation graphics board, a Core i7-940XM CPU, 8GB of RAM, three 512GB solid-state drives in a RAID 0 configuration, and a Blu-ray burner, it's no wonder this custom high-end laptop costs over nine grand.
Panasonic Toughbook 31 -- $5798
This laptop can survive 6-foot drops and extreme shock, vibration, humidity, altitude, rain, dust, and sand. It's fully MIL-STD-810G certified. This sort of durability doesn't come cheap, though: You'll pay almost $6000 for this Core i5-540M-equipped machine with a 13.1-inch screen.
Had enough of the PCs of the rich and famous? Want to add serious performance to your more modestly priced system? Find out what you need to know to overclock your CPU.