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Here's how it happened. War Machine, a subsidiary of Brea, Calif.-based white box builder Golden Star Technology, makes custom gaming systems built exclusively on Intel processors and Nvidia video platforms. But for IDF, Intel asked War Machine to build its display systems on the chip leader's own video chipset, according to War Machine director Pete Norwich.

The trouble was, the system builder found that the Nvidia video card it normally uses in its PCs wasn't playing well with Intel's chipset. So, in a one-time solution strictly for IDF, War Machine wound up putting in an ATI video card instead.

"We're Intel-only and Nvidia-only but we did this strictly for IDF. The ATI video card was necessary because Intel wanted us to use their chipset," said Norwich.

War Machine will be giving away one of its top-of-the-line custom systems as a grand prize at IDF, he said. The models on display are equipped with Intel Core 2 Duo processors, but the company will switch that for a quad-core on the grand prize giveaway system. The ATI video card will remain.

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War Machine's custom systems run from $999 to $6,000 for a gaming system that would take up a good chunk of your living room real estate. With its black casing and prominent skull logo, a War Machine is not for the faint of heart. Norwich estimates that about 60 percent of his customers buy War Machine systems strictly for high-performance gaming.

He said builders of high-performance systems like War Machine have been encouraged by the attention top-tier vendors have been giving to gaming recently, particularly in the form of acquisitions.

"The fact that Intel just acquired Havok, Dell bought Alienware, and HP bought Voodoo and now have come out with the Blackbird shows that these guys think it's going to explode as well. And when the DirectX 10 games come out, you're going to need bigger systems and more juice. The bandwagon's going to keep getting bigger," Norwich said.