Hello boys and girls, ladies and gentlemen, gamers and trolls! Welcome to the final System Builder’s column for this month. I just thought I’d break the monotony here for one moment by announcing that next month I’m going back to checking out laptops at the same price points I’ve covered this month, just to keep things even. I will also be posting another, less-frequent guide for AMD fans. Now, I know you lot are a little depressed right now but don’t worry! I’ve got some things worked out for you and you may even be surprised at what the Bulldozer platform allows me to squeeze in.

But for now we dive back into the high-end and see what kind of hardware we could get for these two price points. Note that when we get back to desktops in August it will be mostly dominated by the new Ivy Bridge Pentiums and Core i3 processors so if you’re holding out and saving, just hold out for another month more. I promise you, its going to be worth it. 

I know, I know, I’m sorry AMD, but you just have no place here anymore. Its been increasingly hard for me to recommend an AMD processor over Intel especially where gaming performance is concerned. For other purposes and possibly an all-round workhorse, the FX-8150 is the cheapest and best chip money can buy, but only if you’re working in a multi-threaded environment. Most apps, games especially, favour Intel chips where single-thread performance is much better. I plan on showing off how APU systems can be a better buy next month, though, so all is not lost.

Today I’m planning on making these two budgets stick to Intel’s X79 like glue. There’s no reason to not cross over now and especially because when compared to Sandy Bridge, Sandy Bridge-E has longer legs. They’re only slightly longer, mind, but the LGA2011 socket should have a longer lifespan at the least. I’ll offer both options, but they’re both equally capable chips and platforms.

I think this is relevant.

Granted, most people will go to the cheaper or more overclockable Z77 platform because these rigs below are built as all-rounders – many other sites choose to focus on graphical performance when they don’t take into account anything else desktop users may do. It makes no sense chucking in the biggest, most badass mother of a processor when I’m compromising too much in other areas. That’s possibly the reason why there’s not enough cheap X79 boards on sale – there’s just little to no uptake these days. I’ll have both routes covered for you today, so its your choice which road to take.

On to the builds!

R13,000 Budget

Intel Core i7-3820 @ R3054 (Intel Core i7 3770K @ R3414)

Intel DX79TO Thorsby @ R2395 (ASRock Z77 Extreme4 @ R1556)

TEAM Xtreem Dark DDR3-1600 8GB @ R425 (buy two of these with the Z77 option)

KFA² Geforce GTX670 2GB DDR5 @ R4276

Seagate Barracuda 1TB @ R957

LG GH24NS90 @ R167

Cooler Master Silent Pro M2 750w @ R1083

Corsair Carbide 400R @ R859

Total: R13,216

So again, there’s no SSD. I found it hard to squeeze in the tech even considering that we had an extra R2500 to spend over the last rig. True to my word, I managed to fit in an X79 build and the poor man’s version of the GTX680. I did have to back down to an Intel board for the first time, but if you’re an entry-level adopter with this much cash to spend, some brand compromises have to be made. The rest is mostly the same from the R10,500 build – in fact, if you were shopping around with R13,000, the R10k build does make a good point because you can fit in a GTX670, a larger PSU and a 120GB SSD in there for what could be regarded as generally the best gaming setup all-round.

If you’d prefer the Z77 platform and the guarantee of an overclock, I put an option for you guys in there. Go for the i7-3770K with 16GB RAM and the exceptionally cheap Asrock Z77 Extreme 4. The Z77 option is, arguably, the better choice here.

R18,000 Budget

Intel Core i7 3770K @ R3414 (Intel Core i7-3820 @ R3054)

ASUS Maximus IV GENE-Z @ R2000 (Intel DX79TO Thorsby @ R2395)

TEAM Xtreem Dark DDR3-1600 16GB @ R850

KFA² Geforce GTX670 2GB DDR5 in SLI @ R8552

Seagate Barracuda 1TB @ R957

LG GH24NS90 @ R167

Cooler Master Silent Pro M2 750w @ R1083

Antec Eleven Hundred @ R1125

Total: R18,148

Here I couldn’t recommend a non-K series processor without annoying enthusiasts who have this kind of money in line for a new rig – you’d naturally want top-Dollar performance for your money. So there are both Z77 and X79 rigs here for your perusal, but the Z77 setup will run appreciably faster in every benchmark and game you can think of once you abuse that multiplier. Clocking up the i7-3770K to 5Ghz with a nice watercooling setup with two overclocked GTX670s is even a piece of cake for the Silent Pro M2 720w and it’ll be enough power for your next three major upgrades. I also upgraded to Antec’s huge Eleven Hundred chassis with enough space for everything you see here and more. A good chassis lasts a very long time and its important that future upgrades are also take care of.

So that’s it for this month folks. Next month we’ll be looking at some more hot laptops while the new Core i3 Ivy Bridge chips settle into their respective price points and AMD gets whalloped again. I’m posting my analysis of AMD’s Trinity this week so if you’re looking forward to buying one, make sure you stop in the Tech section and see what its all about.

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