What Hardware Should I Buy? - February 2010

February 3, 2010 | 11:12

Tags: #build #building #buyers #case #cheap #computer #cost #decision #free #gold #guide #hardware #inexpensive #live #make #new #performance #purchase #what

Companies: #bit-tech #game

Gaming Workhorse

While our Enthusiast Overclocker system is built around maximising overclocking and gaming potential on a budget (well, as much of a budget as Lynnfield allows, at least), but for those looking for excellent all-round performance will want a 'proper' multi-tasking PC.

With an LGA1156 CPU, rather than "fuller" LGA1366, The system is still just as great for any demanding use, and the fact the Core i7-860 has a higher native clock and better TurboBoost than the Core i7-920, means that even without overclocking there's a performance favouring too. Naturally this PC can take heavy gaming at 1,920 x 1,200 24" LCD resolutions, and is capable of processing a heap of RAW images or encoding video or audio.

The Core i7-860 can be bought for around the same price of the Core i7-920 (d0), however a decent motherboard like the Gigabyte GA-P55A-UD3R is far cheaper than its X58 alternatives, allowing for more money to be pumped in elsewhere. These two together, along with our favoured Titan Fenrir cooler, and there's easily 4GHz or greater achievable out of this combination.

What Hardware Should I Buy? - February 2010 Gaming Workhorse

We've dropped in "just" 4GB of 1,600MHz DDR3 memory here to fit to the sub-£1k budget, however if you really are building a workstation you should probably be looking at a 8GB to dive into. It then goes without saying that you must then remember to choose a 64-bit OS to make use of it all as well. Four 2GB DIMMs together are more common, however two 4GB DIMM kits are slowly appearing on the market. Also, be wary that we've found an "8GB kit" might not be the best value option, instead check out the cost just buying two 4GB kits instead because it will work just the same.

What Hardware Should I Buy? - February 2010 Gaming Workhorse What Hardware Should I Buy? - February 2010 Gaming Workhorse

On the graphics front it has to be the ATI Radeon HD 5850 1GB. Prices do fluctuate roughly around the £215 mark, but given the high demand it can vary considerably. There is currently no Nvidia alternative available, still, so the HD 5850 has effectively this segment sewn up, although as we mentioned in the Enthusiast Overclocker, the competition comes from itself - a few readers have been investing in two HD 5770 1GB cards instead. We still recommend the faster, single card route, however if you do fancy CrossFiring it up, remember you'll need a compatible and more expensive motherboard such as the Gigabyte GA-P55-UD4.

The guys at CustomPC recently tested the Antec TruePower New 650W and recommended that at this price, so this month it gets the nod again. Alternatives include the Corsair TX650W we previously recommended, or, a ~600(-700W) of your choice if you have a particular favourite or brand you'd like to use.

We've included in the same Fractal Design R2 case here again, or Cooler Master HAF 922 for our States-side friends, however we realise people might want something a little more upmarket. Alternatives include the popular Antec Nine Hundred Two, 183, 193 or Twelve Hundred and Lian Li Lancool cases too. Going upmarket you might want to stretch to the Cooler Master ATCS 840 or Lian Li PC-9B.

What Hardware Should I Buy? - February 2010 Gaming Workhorse What Hardware Should I Buy? - February 2010 Gaming Workhorse

Finally drop in the Samsung Spinpoint F3 1TB hard drive and a SATA DVD-RW optical drive and you're all done. If you have a particular penchant for a Blu-ray drive for watching Blu-ray movies on your PC, then drop one in for £50-60, however no games or software come on Blu-ray so we don't really feel it's worth the cost. We'd also love to include an SSD in this machine, however the budget still doesn't accommodate this and we haven't really found a product that yet fits. We have Kingston's latest V+ series and G.Skill's "budget" Falcon II to review this month however, so maybe it will change by March? Keep an eye out for those.
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