PC Gaming Hardware – What PC to Buy Guide (March) cont.

As promised in the previous hardware update, Ive now updated the recommendations for the higher end overclockers system. Despite the changes from both Intel and Nvidia, there isnt quite as much change as you might expect. As always, rationale provided against each component.

The Enthusiast’s Overclocking System:

Fractal Design R3

Cost – £70
The Corsair Carbide I previously recommended has now gone up in price probably due to the favourable reviews it has been getting of late however this Fractal Design case is equally good, superbly designed with good features for best airflow, easy build and noise reduction and in my opinion is seriously sleek looking.

Power Supply:
OCZ Fatal1ty 750W Modular PSU

Cost – £70
Plenty of power headroom for upgrades and overclocking, 80% efficiency which should give you a nice stable platform, and a modular cabling system to manage airflow. Its pricey but when you are playing with voltages, a PSU you can trust is critical.  I have switched from the Corsair 750W purely on the basis of price.

Intel Core i5 2550K 3.4Ghz

Cost – £178
As before, I haven’t choosen the i7K due to the similarities in performance, if you are planning on doing lots of video encoding then get the i7 otherwise save your money, the i5 is rock solid. More interestingly, despite Ivybridge coming out in the next few months, the current highend Sandybridge chips arent losing out on much in comparison to whats in the pipline. You could invest now and not regret it later. I spent an additional £6 this month putting in one of the new Sandybridge K CPUs just for the bleeding edge overclock.

Asus P8Z68-V PRO Gen3

Cost – £147
This Asus board sports all the features you would expect from a highend board as well as plenty of future proofing options. Support for both Crossfire and SLI as well as both PCI 2 and 3 which the latest nVidia and AMD graphics cards use, the Z68 chipset should see you for a while. The addition of bluetooth is a nice touch too. This board doesnt come with some of the overclocking functions that some of the ‘for gamers’ boards do at the higher end however it does come with the ASUS CPR suite to help protect on some of your more adventurous overclocks and the BIOS has more than enough features to get you going.

16GB Corsair Vengeance DDR3 1600MHz

Cost – £80
RAM is very cheap at the moment but prices are creeping up. Lifetime warranty and good service from Corsair when you need it. Additionally on this set you have the benefit of decent heatspreaders to support overclocking and also quad channel support should you look to take this RAM with you into a future board that supports it (currently only the socket 2011 boards support quad channel).

Graphics Card:
2 x Gigabyte 560Ti GTX 448 Core 1280MB

Cost – £340
Due to the recent release of the latest nVidia 680 GTX some hunting around can find you some excellent deals on nVidia cards at the moment. The cost of the 680 GTX really was a little inhibitive to recommend in a system like this and the offers being made available on the cards selected are difficult to ignore. That said it wont be long before nVidia start expanding the 600 range which could change that. Here and now of course the 560Ti 448 Core is probably just about the best card for overclocking that you can buy and at this price they really are a steal.

Hard Disk:
BOOT: Corsair 120GB Force 3 SSD

Cost – £110
SSD prices have been unaffected by the price hike on platter based harddisks and are currently going through quite a coup. This Corsair disk is about as fast as you can buy and 120GB should be enough to get your system running nicely.

STORAGE: Seagate 2TB Barracuda Green

Cost – £90
Given the high prices of platter based harddisks at the moment this isnt actually a terrible price. Decent cache and SATA III connectively should see it meet you storage needs happily, and the slightly lower spin speed and power consumption should keep the noise down.

Optical Drive:
Samsung 22x DVD/RW

Cost – £13
With the exception of Sony which I would tend to avoid, all optical drives are the same so buy the cheapest. No real point getting Blu-Ray yet unless you are planning on using the PC as a media centre.

Sound Card:
Creative Sound Blaster X-Fi Titanium Fatal1ty Pro

Cost – £85
Firstly this is a top notch card which will deliver awesome sound, however it also has its own processing capability thus easing burden on your CPU which may help up your framerate. Was a tough choice between this and the previously recommended Asus Xonar however I went with Creative for the price.

Asus PA238Q LED 23″ IPS

Cost – £220
Consistently reviewed as the best IPS monitor in its class for both image replication and gaming response time. The picture quality is excellent, the panel and the stand are well designed the only real complaint is the 16:9 ratio rather than the preferable 16:10 but that really is nit-picking.

Logitech G400

Cost – £25
The remake of the MX518 which is commonly regarded as one of the best gaming mice produced. The quality and the value of this mouse are second to none.

Cyborg V5

Cost – £34
I have switched from the Microsoft X4 on the basis that as MS are closing the brand, its arguably better to buy something thats going to recieve ongoing support. Back lit, anti ghosting and macro keys make it hard to beat at the price which is more or less like for like with the X4.

Roccat Kave Solid 5.1 Surround Sound Headset

Cost – £64
After forking out the cash for such a decent soundcard you want a set of cans that are going to make the most of it which rules out anything using USB. This headset has a true surround sound system connected by each channel direct into the soundcard and the experience is hard to beat. The mic attached is decent and convenient if there is only one complaint it is that these can be a little heavy and may be comparatively less comfortable than other headsets.

Total cost of the above:


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