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. Some of that performance is hidden in overclocking or through choosing newly-revised parts that may only be available in limited numbers due to binning processes or manufacturers subtly changing their lineup to fight the competition. Take a look inside if you’re in the market for a new budget gaming computer.
So, AMD’s APUs are making some waves in the waters, but its deep waters out there. The bigger fish is Intel and the cheap Sandy Bridge chips aren’t making life any easier. If you’re looking for a rig that fits in the smallest budget possible, then AMD’s APU makes a perfect fit. With Trinity on the way this year and improved IPC and a better graphics chip inside, it may make some room for itself in the low-cost computing segment. For now, Intel’s Pentium and Core i3 processors are better performers. In addition, I’m moving away from Western Digital drives and instead putting in Seagates. The lower prices help me fit in better hardware. While Seagate drives only come with a one year warranty, I suggest that gamers and anyone else using them now keep a backup of your important stuff on another disk drive. You should be doing that in any case. If your drive fails after a year, you’re going to have to buy a new one.
Its the nature of the beast, unfortunately. On to the builds!
So here our rig for June ends up being a little better than the April build. Dropping the Western Digital drive, opting for a cheaper CPU and compromising a little in the chassis and power supply allowed us to fit in a Sapphire HD7750. Its at least two performance brackets above the HD6670 and the extra PCI-Express power slot on the end helps the card overclock to HD7770 levels. At stock speeds of 900Mhz it could easily reach 1Ghz and would achieve similar performance to a stock HD6850. Finally, maxing out the RAM will ensure you have enough memory for the next two or three years. At this price point you’ll be playing games at HD resolution but with one or a few settings like AA turned down. Perhaps use mostly medium settings if you want comfortably playable performance in any title you fire up, or drop to 720p resolution with max settings. You will need that molex adapter though.
And here we stop and see how far we’ve come in the two months since my April builds. I shoved in the revised Core i3-2125, 8GB of RAM and a GTX560, easily usurping the older configuration. What’s interesting about the Core i3-2125 is that it comes with Intel’s HD3000 graphics chip normally featured in the Core i5 processors. This is likely a binned quad-core that never made it through the tests with Hyper-threading tacked on to match the other models. You might struggle to find stock since this chip in a board that supports LucidLogix Virtu MVP acceleration is a bargain and easily better value for money than a Core i5-2400. Moving to a better chassis and power supply is what pushed the build over budget, but I think its definitely worth the extra cash. You’ll be playing games on high or Ultra on a 1080p screen, but the cheaper Core i3 may prevent you from enabling taxing settings like AA. On the whole you’ll be satisfied, so buy it and get playing!
Join me next week as we explore the R8,500 to R10,500 builds!
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