PC Gaming Hardware – What PC to Buy Guide (May)

Ill admit that I have once again pushed the budget to its max for this months PC however the reasoning behind this is that this is genuinely an excellent time to buy a gaming PC.  Intel, Nvidia and AMD have now largely released all of their major releases and a sensible purchase now will last you a good long time without becoming obsolete.  The system below will stand you well for years to come.

The Entry to Mid Level System:

Case:
NZXT Tempest 210

Cost – £43
The Tempest is a revision of the NZXT Source I have previously recommended and is currently slightly cheaper.  That said cases seem to have a slight price hike at the moment.  As before you are getting rear and ceiling fans included, internal cable management, screwless design as well as a USB3 compatible front socket. From a personal perspective, I think its a nice looking case to boot.

Power Supply:
OCZ CoreXStream 500W

Cost – £35
Slightly less powerful than previously but you really dont need all that power.  In truth a 350W would manage but its always good to have a little headroom any most upgrades you might consider later, 80% efficiency, which at this price is excellent and should give you a nice stable platform. Spending less on a PSU is usually false economy especially in a machine you plan on using for games.

CPU:
Intel Core i5 3550 3.3Ghz

Cost – £166
My first expensive change in that I have both upgraded to one of Intels new Ivybridge CPUs and I have also gone for their top end i5.  Unless you are planning on overclocking there really is no point in spending money on the higher spec K series chips and on the whole for gaming its best to put the money into graphics power. This i5 sports intels turbo boost and has more than enough power for games as well as a number of revisions that Ivybridge brings over the previous series. Admittedly there isnt a great difference in performance between the Ivybridge and Sandybridge, but the price is largely the same too so you may as well get the new one.  The reason for the top end CPU rather than lower down the pecking order is again to do with negligible price difference but more about this being a good time to buy a PC so invest in quality.

Motherboard:
MSI H77MA-G43

Cost – £67
Last weeks big change remains the same, I have switched from the older 6 series intel boards to one of their new 7 series boards which support native Ivybridge, USB3 and PCI-E3 support as well as the various enhancements that Intel have made to caching, SSD support and other benefits.  The limitation of the board selected here is that it only has a single high speed PCI-E socket and therefore will be more suited to a single GPU setup.  An extra £10 will get you a Z77 board with this support but given the power of single card GPUs you really dont need to go to this length.

RAM:
8GB Crucial DDR3 1600MHz Ballistix Sport

Cost – £31
RAM is very cheap at the moment and prices seem to be holding although I woundnt count on that forever. Lifetime warranty and good service from Crucial when you need it. I would also say that we are now getting to the point that its worth having a minimum of 8GB RAM for gaming comfort and at this price I would even be tempted to double that to 16GB if you can stretch the budget.

Graphics Card:
Sapphire HD 7850 2GB

Cost – £186
Since the release of the Nvidia 680 and 670, AMD have been reviewing the prices of their current market cards which has seen price reductions across the board.  Its true the 6870 I have recommended is now even cheaper, but this is an excellent price for a card that’s only a couple of months old!  AMDs latest architecture and 2GB of memory put it clearly above the Nvidia 560Ti 448 core in my mind and the 660 is likely delayed till the tail end of this year.

Hard Disk:
WD 1TB Caviar Blue 7200RPM 32MB Cache

Cost – £70
Hard disks are still pretty expensive but prices are falling quickly from their peak. I have finally been able to recommend a 1TB storage as well as SATA III which will perform better than the budget drives I have been previously recommending although this has raised the price a little. We are finally back to being able to put in good performing platter based drives without remortgaging the house, but hopefully the prices will continue to drop.

Optical Drive:
Samsung 22x DVD/RW

Cost – £13
With the exception of Sony which I would tend to avoid due to their tendency not to support all disk types, 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.

Monitor:
Ilyama Prolite 23″ X2377HDS

Cost – £134
LG, AOC and Asus may have started the trend of lost cost IPS screens, but there are now a number on the market including this offering from Ilyama.  As with the other panels these are getting favourable reviews consistantly getting better with every model released.  On that basis its hard to argue in favour of the older TN panels any more unless you are interested in 3D.  IPS options in this price bracket are becoming more and more common, with the AOC i2353Fh and the LG IPS235V, its worth shopping around.

Mouse:
Gigabyte M6900

Cost – £17
Clearly modelled after other successful gaming mice, Gigabyte have pulled together a very attactive combination of functionality, performance and price. Its very hard to justify more expensive options with this on the table.

Keyboard:
Cyborg V5

Cost – £35
Back lit, anti ghosting and macro keys make it hard to beat at the price, what more do you need?

Headset:
Plantronics Gamecom 380

Cost – £19
Plantronics have recently updated their Gamecom range and this 380 replaces the outgoing 367. As before the 380 has high quality sound, comfortable for long play sessions with a reasonable mic attached as well as a much improved build quality around both its cabling and headband. Not something you typically see in headsets of this price.

Total cost of the above:

£816

As before, Ill be shortly following this article up with an update to the Overclocker’s system previously recommended.

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