UGM 2008

Ten years ago we launched ZDTV (which later became TechTV) and The Screen Savers, its most popular show. We wanted to begin with a bang, so Kate Botello and I decided to build the “Ultimate Gaming Machine” basing it on Lloyd Case’s design from Computer Gaming World. In 1998, that meant a PII 400 Mhz, 128 MB of RAM, and a fabulously expensive widescreen Sony CRT (and a price tag of over $10,000). Here’s what it looked like back then…

There have been 9 UGMs built since then, the most recent for Attack of the Show in 2005 (which cost around $6000 and was a lot faster). Since I’m launching TWiT Live 10 years later I thought it would be fun to see what the UGM would look like these days. Only this time, we’re going to let you build it.

Starting Friday, June 6, we’ll be inviting you to pick the parts for UGM 2008. From processors, to motherboard, to video and sound system, the choice will be yours. We’ll spend a couple of hours debating the merits of each component, with expert commentary to help you decide, then when we reach consensus we’ll buy it. At the end of the month we’ll assemble our creation and then give it away to some lucky TWiT Live viewer.

I’m not sure exactly how we’ll give it away. I know I mentioned this on TWiT and proposed a crazy scheme to get me more followers on Twitter. All I can say is I must have been drunk. It won’t be necessary to follow me, or Dvorak, and it definitely won’t be necessary to unfollow Kevin. I’m going to check with the legal department and find a fair way to do this that doesn’t require anyone to join Twitter!

We’ll kick things off Friday, June 6, at 3p Pacific, 6p Eastern, 2200 UTC with a processor showdown. AMD or Intel, which will it be? I’ll have experts on both sides then I’ll ask you to decide. June 13 it’s Motherboards and Memory. June 20th, video cards and monitors. June 27th storage and peripherals. We’ll finish the machine on the 4th of July, choose the best five games for it, and award it to a lucky winner.

So join us Fridays starting in June as we recreate one of the most loved bits we ever did on The Screen Savers. It should be a lot of fun, and who knows, you could walk away with UGM 10!

167 Replies to “UGM 2008”

  1. Vista 32 Bit is better you don't have to worry about getting verified drivers. Also If you have to think about how hard it is to find all the drivers for the system. I'd go go with a quad core being water cooled. just to help with speed Just some thoughts!!

  2. Hello,I hope that concerte the shortcomings of the sites hosted on its server … =)If you need only to contact!Z4i0n – Zer0Day Group

  3. The reason I suggest Vista 64-bit is that 32-bit x86 operating systems (including Vista) limit any application to 2GB of memory, so there are limitations when you want to install 4GB and get maximum advanatge of the extra memory. I, myself used Vista 32 with 2GB of memory in my game box when I built it last year for the same concerns you have on drivers. But I understand that drivers are getting better for 64-bit. Also, a good rule of thumb is provide a GB for each core for maximum performance – quad core = 4GB.

  4. Great idea, Leo. I think it would be a great celebration of the decade since TechTV was launched.Good luck for your project, and your checkbook!

  5. Leo,I am glad that you decided to change your UGM giveaway plan. Suffice it to say that I am a lawyer and familiar with sweepstakes laws. I thought of an alternative for you to use to boost your twitter numbers. How about offering to randomly select a certain number of twitter followers (1,3, 10, whatever) to join you on one of your shows? My guess is that most people who listen to TWiT or GizWiz, etc would like nothing more than a chance to be part of the banter. You could screen winners to see which show would be best for them or do something entirely separate. Anyway, I think that would get you clear of most sweepstakes laws and give a real incentive for folks to follow you on twitter.William Branscom

  6. How about a way to watch TWIT Live via mobile phone? Windows Mobile 6? iPhone? I'm usually not near a computer during the core TWIT Live hours, and of course Flash Video doesn't work on mobile phones.

  7. I need to find an attorney to advise me on sweepstakes laws – I still want to give UGM away and I want to do it legally. Can you help?

  8. Translation:This is the hacker who zapped the TWiT Forums and He's not a native speaker (I think he's Brazilian) but he's saying:”I hope you've hardened your sites. If you need help email me.”I found the code he'd used to access files on the server (a little PHP script he uploaded to an open directory – c9.php – stupid me I left it open for file uploads but it was also surfable.) He used that to gain access to the MySQL databases for those two sites. I have learned my lesson.

  9. Gerry Todd? Who is this guy? You keep referencing him. I didn't get it until I watched your YOUTUBe embed. Why can't I find a Wiki on him? Seems pioneering in the 70s. Like Benny Hill was with his TV humor. I was a child in the 70s. Did I miss this boat in NYC? Can you write/start a wiki on him Leo?

  10. Something nifty like the “What the Heck is It?” contest tied in with TWiT live would be fun. Probably not “important” enough of a contest to give away a UGM, but cool nontheless.As far as the PC itself, I would think a backlit TWiT logo on the side (maybe in window form, with lights inside?) would be fun. I'm sure Colleen has the ability to cut out the logo on the side of the case :). IMHO, a case mod would really set this apart. Any good nerd can put together the best parts(if they win the lottery :P), but something to make it truly unique makes this a real prize.

  11. Hello,I am not Brazilian but I speak English …If the script is called C99 … Me makes up half impressed with a person who has knowledge may say a little higher than those on other computers have failed as a beast on the server but mistakes happen all servers are vulnerable to some method only enough time to explore the vulnerability of them …Until!Z4i0n – Zer0Day Group

  12. If I can't then I can put you in touch with someone who can. Its more annoying than it is difficult because its regulated by in each of the states rather than by the feds. Send me an e-mail and I'll send you my contact info.nicephorus at

  13. Cool idea… Oh, and you might wanna take a look at the new Acer Predator – thier top of the line gaming rig… It's got some good specs (triple gfx cards for example), and a “nifty” looking case. More here:

  14. Hmm… I am not sure my last post got through. Anyway, Either I can help or I can put you in touch with someone who can. The problem with sweepstakes law is that it is generally enforced by the states, not the feds. So, you have to deal with 50 different rules. Fortunately, they are similar enough that you should be able to devise a way to keep everyone happy.Send me an e-mail and I'll get my contact info to you.nicephorus at

  15. Hello Leo, just finished listening to Net@night, this episode was a godsend for me, because I blog lightly on Tumblr, but I was looking for a way to have comments on there, and you guys talked about it.By the way it's a great service thank you.PS: I'm french living in Paris and I wonder how many of your TwiT listeners are from France?

  16. I did a search for classic TSS episodes on YouTube and came across the 1st UGM…man how I miss those days….I watched TechTV more than any other channel…good luck with new UGM and figuring everything out.

  17. It could be comments to a blog post you make about the UGM. I like the idea of someone writing a brief memory of ZDTV, TechTV, or TWiT as an entry. If the entry is via a comment here or on the site, it wouldn't require the entrant to have anything special.

  18. Haha! “32MB RAM, not an unreasonable amount. 128 MB RAM, a very unreasonable amount! A LOT!” 🙂 That made me smile.

  19. Ya, you have to have either 3 30″ monitors (OLED if/when they're out) or else that freaky Alienware curved monitor… (but its resolution isn't so good — only 900 vertical, but 2,880 horizontal!).Ultimate should have a FAST hard disk. RAID is demanded. RAID 5 for safety or.. Drobo? Is that fast? Or just big?

  20. Holy crap, that Samsung XL30 monitor is really pricey! $4,600!You could build an entire 95% killer gamer machine for that much!I like the $175 Western Digital Raptor X WD1500AHFD 150GB 10,000 RPM SATA 1.5Gb/s.

  21. Boy Leo, I forgot how thin and young you looked back then. I must have looked like a newborn!(I'm 24 now)

  22. Too bad the Twitter contest giveaway didn't pan out. I was already a follower of you and Dvorak and not Kevin and no one asked me to do it. How about just doing a XBox 360 with some cool add-ons? You would get off alot cheaper!

  23. Leo, you should definitely bring back the old Patrick Norton segment about creating an aweseome PC for under 500 bucks.

  24. I remember watching that show, it was before I got into IT. I still have my signed Kate Botello/ Leo Laporte ZDTV cube

  25. i was about to ask the same question… come on leo, you know you'd like to hand deliver the prize to me in australia!

  26. I was wondering if a free room air conditioner will come with this thing too? 😉

  27. Awww leo.. I was looking to the fun bitch fight between you and Kevin when we all had to unfollow him to win the pc

  28. LOLOL on the first UGM! I had for the time an even MORE smokin' system – a PII/450 w/192 MB RAM, a 540 MB Ultra ATA 100 7200 RPM hard drive, 10/100 Ethernet, a CD-RW drive running Win98SE, with a FireWire I/O card…and USB ports that really worked! I used that system to capture and edit video, and review Windows-based video software back when I wrote for VIDEO Magazine. It was the first time consumer nonlinear editing seemed even POSSIBLE to the 95% of people who used Windoze…. Good times, eh? 🙂 🙂 🙂

  29. Eight gigabytes of RAM is extremely small for the UGM. You would need something like 32GB for it to be considered elite. Also 10K RPM is crap compared to the 15K drives that are out on the market.

  30. For the CPU I would go Intel. QX9770 Quad Core Extreme with a ASUS P5N-T Deluxe motherboard. DDR3 has no real advantage at this point in time. There is no real speed increase over DDR2 in cases its slower then DDR2. 4x2GB 1066Mhz DDR2 memory. 2x 300GB WD Raptors RAID 0 + 4 1TB Seagate 7200.11 RAID 5. Windows Vista Ult x64. With 64-bit Vista more ram can be available to games that need it There are more and more games that take advantage of 64-bit Windows. Everything I run from iTunes to games work fine under 64-bit Vista. 2x XFX PVT98UZHEU GeForce 9800 GX2 1GB 512-bit GDDR3 for QUAD SLI Video.I

  31. You know what's funny is, just yesterday I came upon an ollllld blog post of mine (I am gathering old archives to create a “life stream”) where I referenced this very same video. Funny to see it twice in two days. 🙂

  32. Leo, re TWiT 145 and your recommending the Pratchett books – as a British listener to TWiT I felt you could do with a little education on the subject of Nigel Planer. es, he has a great British accent on the audio books but he is also famous as 'Neil' from the 1980's BBC TV series “The Young Ones”. Catch this YouTube snippet – Neil is the long-haired hippy character:

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