PC Hardware Buyer's Guide, January 2011
Posted on 19th Jan 2011 at 11:05 by bit-tech Staff with 55 comments
At the top of this list is a not-so-secret graphics card launch that we’re expecting early next week, which promises to make most cards in the £150 to £220 price bracket seem utterly archaic. Add to this the pile of new LGA1155 motherboards that are currently taking over our labs, and it's clearly premature to recommend anything concrete right now.
That said, we don’t want to leave you totally in the dark, so below is the system we would build right now if you put a gun to our collective head. The core of the PC consists of the mind bendingly overclockable Intel Core i5 2500K seated in the excellent Asus P8P67 motherboard. This combination will keep just about everyone happy, but if you simply have to get a dual-GPU setup, then you should opt for the Pro version of the P8P67 or the MSI P67A-GD65, both of which support SLI and Crossfire.
We’ve also answered the question of graphics with the GeForce GTX 460 1GB. These cards can be had for just a smidgen over £130 at the moment, which is a steal for a card that can play most modern games at up to 1,920 x 1,200. However, if you’re desperate for more gaming grunt, then swapping this out for a GeForce GTX 570 1.3GB will do you proud.
Meanwhile, we’ve used a Gelid Tranquillo cooler to tame our 2500K CPU. Of course, you could opt for something a little flashier, but LGA1155 CPUs put out relatively little heat, so it’s not absolutely necessary. The case we’ve chosen is the Xigmatek Utgard, as it has great build-quality and a and a well-rounded feature set for an affordable price. However, if you’d like something a little more distinctive or specialised, perhaps for a large water-cooling system, then there are plenty of other options to consider. Other good cases on offer include the Silverstone FT02 and RV02, the Fractal Design Define R3 and the Cooler Master HAF 912.
As for the rest of the kit, we’ve added a healthy 1TB of storage to the build, along with 4GB of branded 1,600MHz DDR3 and a standard SATA DVD-RW optical drive. You could, of course, also complement the 1TB disk with an SSD if you’ve got the budget for it. If so, we recommend the C300 range of drives from Crucial.
We hope you'll agree that getting a fully-fledged Sandy Bridge system for a shade under £700 is pretty reasonable, especially when you consider that the build will offer performance near to an LGA1366-based system.
We'll be back to our normal monthly buyer's guide at the start of February, so check back then or ask in the forums if the above build doesn't quite match your needs.