Today I investigate options for System Builders looking for a brand spanking new rig, I’ll take a look today at options for those who have about R4000 to R6000 to spend. I’ll be squeezing the budget as best I can, and will try to extract the maximum performance out of each rig.
At this price point, AMD used to rule with their extremely cheap yet hard-hitting Athlon series. Unfortunately, thanks to the arrival of Intel’s Sandy Bridge processors on the bottom end of the market, things have been tough for the underdog of late . Users who tend more towards productivity instead of gaming will find that AMD provides better performance for multi-threaded applications, even at this price range. However, Intel is the better performer all-round. For graphics cards, I’ll provide both AMD and an equivalent Nvidia card as an option if one exists in the same price range – however, AMD will only be viable for a few months until Nvidia’s Kepler architecture sinks to the mid-range cards. Once that happens, expect Nvidia to take the top spot in more than one build.
Onto the builds!
This time I didn’t go too far out of budget. The entry-level pick for this month gets by well with a Sandy Bridge dual-core processor, 4GB of RAM and a kickass non-reference Radeon GD6670. The HD6670 only really comes into its own when paired with DDR5 RAM, as most reference models are held back by the weak DDR3 most manufacturers place in to save costs. Western Digital is now my brand of choice, still offering a full three-year warranty to customers. I also added in a quality Corsair PSU and a good-looking chassis, the Cooler Master Elite 372. I’ve always been a fan of the Elite range – this one offers serious long-term capability for upgrades, and even has space for up to seven 120mm fans. This rig is best paired up to a 19″ or 20″ screen.
MSI Radeon HD6850 Cyclone 1GB DDR5 @ R1596 (no Nvidia equivalent)
For this rig I had the option to go over-budget and hook up with an AMD FX-4100, but surprisingly there’s no difference betwwen that and the Core i3-2100 – so I stuck with Intel this time, and chose the faster Core i3 2130. The motherboard and RAM are good value for money, and only upped things to 8GB to keep it interesting. As our browsers and applications consume more RAM, its only fitting that we start out with extra memory muscle. At this point, DDR-1333 is marginally slower than DDR3-1600, and there’s no reason why choosing the faster memory will be the better choice – you really won’t see the difference. Going down, I was able to stick in a Radeon HD6850, a huge boost up from the HD6670. The HD6850 performs on the same level as Nvidia’s GTX570 in some benchmarks and games, and will provide comfortably playable framerates at 1080p with High settings.
Tune in next week for the R8500 and R10,000 budget builds!