What Hardware Should I Buy? - August 2009
Well, the British summer came and went in a flash flood of rain, wind and thunder in central London, but that only means more excuse to stay in and build new PCs! That's our excuse at least.
With Lynnfield around the corner and a future AMD quad core out later this month, it might be tempting to hold out for just a short while - and this is certainly something we'd encourage considering - but if you really can't wait to build a new PC, he's our list of recommendations from affordable, capable PCs, to gaming behemoths. We sift through the mass of hardware, decide from what we've tested and what we know to be good, then setup a few PCs to fit several budgets.
We've gone up to five systems this month for the first time - the price gap has been increased to accommodate the super budget conscious (Affordable All-Rounder), the Overclocking Enthusiast who wants to squeeze the most performance (although not necessarily the most MHz) for his or her money, the Gaming Workhorse, which offers supreme performance for the heavy multi-tasker, while keeping under the grand mark, and finally, our Premium Player package for those who want the latest, highest performing kit, but without going way into the thousands.
We've also added our all-new Protein Origami rig into the equation for those of you who are keen Folders. This isn't designed to be the biggest and baddest folding rig, but it will deliver an excellent ppd (points per day) and it doesn't break the bank either.
As always, all recommendations made in the guide are based entirely on either our personal experiences with hardware or our own reviews (both on bit-tech
and in Custom PC) and occasionally positive feedback and suggestions we receive from our ever-growing community. With such a huge amount of experience and product knowledge behind our recommendations, you can rest assured any product listed will be a quality choice, but not the only answer, as you will clearly have your own personal preferences.
Affordable All Rounder
Not everyone can afford, or needs a Core i7 or Phenom TWKR!!!11oneone CPU - but how about a nifty dual core setup capable of 3.5 to 4GHz with a graphics card that will handle the latest DirectX 10 games at 1,680 x 1,050 and only cost £360? Let's just say we're really pleased with how this build has turned out this month, and we can't think of a better way to get the most value
from a very small budget.
As has been the case over the past few months, we've got our Intel Pentium Dual Core E5200
and Gigabyte GA-EP43-DS3 motherboard together again. We avoided the E5300, despite its higher multiplier, because the P43 board will easily achieve a nice round 333MHz bus speed, overclocking the E5200 on its native 12x multiplier to 3,996MHz if you're lucky.
Coupled with the very affordable Akasa 965 cooler, or Cooler Master Hyper TX3 if you're in the States (although admittedly it's quite a pain to install) and 4GB of DDR2-800MHz, this core build provides plenty of raw power.
Intel Pentium Dual Core E5200: UK | US
Gigabyte GA-EP43-DS3: UK | US
Akasa 965: UK
Cooler Master Hyper TX3: US
4GB DDR2-800MHz: UK | US
We've noted people's recommendations from last month, and swapped the elusive Radeon HD 4770 512MB
for the Nvidia GeForce GTS 250 512MB. Both are around the same price in the UK, although our US friends will pay $20 more so might want to go for the HD 4770
The Nvidia product is more mature (a rebadged 55nm, 9800 GTX+), affording better core performance and driver support. With its single 6-pin PCI-Express connector it doesn't draw too much power either, so the Corsair CX400W PSU
is ample, yet a very quiet runner, and despite the GeForce GTS 250
being longer it will easily fit in the Antec Three Hundred we've included here.
Nvidia GeForce GTS 250 512MB: UK | US
Corsair CX400W PSU: UK | US
Antec Three Hundred: UK | US
Throw in an LG SATA DVD-RW drive and a single platter (so cooler and lower power) 500GB Seagate 7200.12 SATA hard disk, and you've got a cheap and very affordable PC that packs a serious punch.
LG GH22NS50 22x DVD-RW SATA Black: UK | US
500GB Seagate 7200.12 SATA hard disk: UK | US