PC Hardware Buyer's Guide August 2013
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It's been a while, but it's finally back - our guide on what to buy whatever your budget when it comes to PC hardware. Until quite recently, there wasn't actually a great deal to talk about where new hardware is concerned, with price changes being the main consideration when looking at what to buy.
In the last couple of months, though, we've had a spate of new hardware launches too.
Most prominent of these is the launch of Intel's Haswell range of processors, which brought with them a new CPU socket, LGA1150. We've reviewed a couple of the new processors already, such as the Core i5-4670K
and Core i7-4770K
, but how do they hold up when it comes to the bigger picture?
Nvidia has also been busy with the announcement of new mid-range and high end graphics cards in the form of the GeForce GTX 760 2GB
, GTX 770 2GB
and GTX 780 3GB
. All are impressively powerful but how do they fare against AMD's line up, many of which are significantly cheaper than they have been? Just to muddy the waters further, it's also worth noting that AMD is rumoured to be launching its next gen 'Volcanic Islands' graphics cards in less than 10 weeks - it never stops...
A raft of new motherboards to support the new CPU socket have also arrived and we've got new SSDs, sound cards, cases and PSUs too so all-in-all there are some substantial changes in this buyer's guide.
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How Does Our Buyer's Guide Work?
The prices we show are averages that you should be looking to pay for the components, and then an overall budget for each of the PCs we've designed. This is in response to the fact that prices fluctuate over the month, and products go in and out of stock, not to mention the included cost of delivery for all the parts that we need to take into account - and everyone has their favourite retailers and e-tailers too.
As usual, a run-down of our systems is as follows:
- The Affordable All-Rounder is highly budget-conscious, but still offers plenty of gaming potential and an upgrade path.
- The Enthusiast Overclocker system is for those who want to squeeze out the most performance, although not necessarily the most MHz, for their money. It has tonnes of gaming grunt for the best use of little cash.
- The Gaming Workhorse offers supreme performance for the heavy multi-tasker and gamer, while staying under the £1,000 mark if possible.
- Our Premium Player package is for those who want the latest, highest-performing kit with excellent cooling that won't sound like a hive of angry hornets, and without going way into the thousands.
- Our Mini-ITX gamer is a heads up for those wanting to build a pocket rocket gaming PC. We're currently working on reviews of items we've included, but rest assured our choices are backed up by some in-depth testing.
It's important to note that the buyer's guide isn't something you have to take as gospel. It's simply a list of hardware that we've reviewed or at least tested in our lab (we can't recommend anything we haven't), is good value and has stood up to our testing. Whether you're in the market for an entire PC-worth of gear or simply looking to upgrade a few key areas following recent hardware releases, you can use our list of the top hardware to help you select your components.