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

Once again I know this hasnt been as regular as before however the reason this time is slightly different.  I had a bit of a think about what I wanted to offer from this system which has slightly changed the way I have gone about selecting the parts.  I have come to the conclusion that I want to present two systems with parts selected at different ends of the market.  That way for those that want an easy choice, you just select one of them, and for those that want to customise you have more options in each category to focus on.

This months machine has taken into account some of those changes so you will see a lot less cross-over between the two systems.  Peripherals for example will now be higher end than the entry level system and you can decide how much you want to spend.

The Enthusiast’s Overclocking System:

CoolerMaster Silencio 550

Cost – £64
Ive long been a fan of CoolerMasters cases who across their whole range typically create options nice to work with.  The Silencio is no exception, another sleek looking case with heavy duty sound proofing and all the connectivity options including USB3 that you would expect.  A close second is the Fractal Design R3, both often go on sale, pick the cheaper of the two.

Power Supply:

OCZ ZS Series 750W PSU

Cost – £74
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.

Intel Core i5 3570K 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. As with the other recommendations, Ive switched to the top end of the Ivybridge range with the K series for overclocking.

CPU Cooler
Arctic Cooling Freezer 7 Pro rev2

Cost – £16
A bit of an oversight on my part that I have never recommended one of these before however they can make a significant difference in stabilising your CPU’s overclock.  The freezer pro may not be as fancy as some of the other options on the market but its capability is often comparable to options three times its cost.

MSI Z77A-G43 Z77

Cost – £82
As with the entry level system, 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. . MSI have long been an excellent choice for both price as well as the support they offer on their boards for overclocking.  Through the combination of build quality and strong OC software suites / BIOS support this board is difficult to beat.

16GB Corsair Vengeance DDR3 1600MHz

Cost – £70
RAM is very cheap at the moment and prices seem to be holding, whether you are building a whole system or not a RAM upgrade should be on your radar. 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:
Gigabyte GTX 670 Windforce 3X 2GB

Cost – £330
Normally here I would be recommending an SLI or Crossfire setup but with a lack of options in the mid range GPU market im favouring a single card solution in this system.  The GTX 670 is an incredibly capable card which makes it difficult to ignore in favour of say two 7850s in Crossfire.  Single card solutions are more reliable performers than dual card setups and leave more options open such us tri-monitor setups (which do not work with dual cards) or alternatively, adding another 670 further down the line.

Hard Disk:
BOOT: OCZ 120GB Agility 3 SSD

Cost – £73
SSD prices have been unaffected by the price hike on platter based harddisks and are currently going through quite a coup. I have switched from the Corsair Force 3 purely on the basis of price.  When asked about SSDs these are the two I recommend, buy whichever is the cheaper of the two as performance is like for like.

STORAGE: Seagate 2TB Barracuda Green

Cost – £77
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 your storage needs happily, and the slightly lower spin speed and power consumption should keep the noise down.  Prices however are still inflated and although falling its taking some time to get back to where they were.

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.

Hazro HZ27WD 27″ IPS

Cost – £370
A real game changer in terms of recommendation.  24″ 1080p panels are getting cheaper and cheaper but getting the next level up is also becoming more available.  The Hazro is a 27″ monitor which is big indeed but the real difference is its 2560×1440 resolution which gives you significantly more desktop space and vastly improved definition over the now standard 1920×1080.  Additionally the Hazro is built from the same components that the £1000+ highend Apple and Dell screens are made from so at this price they are incredibly tempting.

Logitech G400

Cost – £30
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.  You can pay more for more buttons and weights and laser accuracy but these are usually just gimmicks.

Corsair Vengeance K90 Mechanical Keyboard

Cost – £90
Looking at the price might make you wince a little but I did say this was going to aim at the higher end of the peripheral market.  In my mind there are two functions worth paying for in a keyboard.  Forget macro keys, usb hubs, volume sliders etc, mechanical actuations will significantly improve the typing experience and more importantly will last forever.  Additionally back lit keys are a god sent to anyone who ‘games’, like myself, predominantly in the evening hours.  If £90 really is too much then cheaper non backlit alternatives can be found around the £60 mark.

Corsair Vengeance 1500 Dolby 7.1 Surround Sound Headset

Cost – £68
Corsair have launched their new Vengeance range and as has become typical of them, they are hitting a very high quality indeed.  Its obvious that every element of the design has been carefully thought through from the quality of the sound, the microphone and the comfort and build quality.  As this headset is connected via USB I have opted to remove the sound card and rather rely on the drivers included with the headset.  If you are also planning on having speakers connected then I would add the soundcard back in.

Total cost of the above:



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