Following on from my AMD System Builder’s Guide this month where I looked at competing options from the red team at the R4000 to R6000 price points, today I’m going to try take that further and see if the AMD build will allow me to squeeze in more powerful hardware for a lower price point. Remember, AMD’s play since the Athlon FX days has been one of value-for-money and superior price-performance ratios. Lets see if they still have the chops to keep up that tradition with today’s builds. Note that I’m not able to test out any of these configurations, so performance at this point is purely theoretical. Sadly.

Previously I showed that you can still base a gaming rig around AMD’s stellar Athlon triple-core chips, since they are still in stock at some shops and online stores in very limited quantities. I moved up to the FX-4100 for the R6000 build in last week’s edition of the AMD-specific guide and in most gaming benchmarks with discrete graphics, it lines up with the Core i3-2130 from Intel very nicely. It actually shows how efficient Intel’s latest chips are – that a dual-core usurps and walks all over some of the best quad-core chips in the past two years is a hallmark of how Sandy Bridge has managed to cement Intel in every system builder’s lineup. Having said that, the FX-4100 does offer up two extra cores and may pull ahead in games that use more cores and don’t favour Intel’s Hyperthreading technology over the Bulldozer modules.

Without further ado, lets see what gamers can cram in today at these two price points.

R8500 Budget

AMD FX-6100 @ R1616

ASRock 990FX Extreme4 @ R1583

TEAM Xtreem Dark DDR3-1600 8GB @ R476

Sapphire Radeon HD7850 2GB DDR5 @ R2874

Western Digital Caviar Blue 500GB @ R718

LG GH24NS90 @ R162

SilverStone ST50F-ES 500w @ R545

Antec One S3 @ R536

Total: R8510

Pairing AMD’s six-core FX-6100 with a 900FX board is pretty much the staple I’d expect in any gaming machine based on an AMD processor at this price point. AMD’s previous six core processors were great value for money, often displaying nearly 75% of the performance of the Intel Core i7-990X Extreme processor for less than half the asking price.  Performance-wise, this should be the same as my Intel build in the June guide at this same price point,  but power usage and heat generation will be higher on the AMD platform thanks to the triple-module, six-core processor. The rest of the lineup looks pretty much the same as the Intel build and cements the idea that I had that the extra Builder’s Guide for the AMD platform wasn’t going to be that much different or better.

In most games you are going to be GPU-limited, as a lot of modern titles out there today can easily tax the HD7850 with multiple levels of FXAA and Ultra settings at 1080p. Until the Geforce GTX660Ti is released, there’s no better choice for a gaming-orientated rig, at least not under the R3000 mark. On the plus side, I discovered the Bitfenix Outlaw chassis, a throwback to Aerocool’s chassis which uses to retail for the same price but rotated the motherboard and everything else upside-down – really, really cool idea and a great talking point at LANs.

R10,500 Budget

AMD FX-8120 @ R1964

ASRock 990FX Extreme4 @ R1583

Kingston Hyper-X DDR3-1866 8Gb @ R762

Club3D Radeon HD7870 2GB DDR5 @ R3689

Seagate Barracuda 1TB SATA @ R917

LG GH24NS90 @ R162

Cooler Master GX550w @ R802

Corsair Carbide 400R @ R837

For once, the AMD build decisively pulls ahead of the equivalent Intel build I did in June, not only packing in more cores but also a faster graphics card to churn in the high framerates it should be capable at 1080p and 30-inch native resolutions. Its pretty good value for money and there’s no real reason to spend any more money on the FX-8150, hence my sticking with the cheaper octo-core in the range. I also picked up things in the RAM department, using slightly faster modules to accommodate a higher overclock. Note that the combination of the eight-core processor and the HD7870 could push power usage to around 360w in games and up to 400w in multi-threaded tests or workloads where both the GPU and CPU are stressed out to the max. Moving up to the GX650w would help create more headroom for higher overclocks if you’re worries about that sort of thing.

That’s all for today guys and girls, next week it’ll be the last of the Builder’s Guide series for AMD rigs, make sure you’re here for that one!

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System Builders Guide: June R8500 to R10,500 (with Intel chips)