Welcome back to the Sytem Builder’s Guides, boys and girls! Say, if you were looking for a cheap yet capable gaming system between R4000 and R6500, you might have just happened upon the very thing that could help you. Today I’ll be going through two computers that you can assemble yourself and that will be great all-rounders in terms of what they’re capable of.
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In the months between June and August I had another sequel in my Laptop Buyer’s guide series that may or may not have influenced NAGlings to invest in some mobile computing performance for their pleasure. I also had a look at a builders guide specially for AMD fans and concluded that while things at the high-end were easier because the lower price of high-end parts from the red team allowed for more graphical muscle, I decided that CPU performance could be better and games and certain applications would most certainly benefit from it.
With Intel’s Ivy Bridge Core i3 and Pentium chips nowhere in sight its still Sandy Bridge that takes a commanding role in the low-end market and we’ll see what those options are in a moment. Nvidia also has some work to do in the low-end graphical department and only the GT650 can remedy this – the new GT640 and GT630 are rebrands of previous-generation cards at the same price point and are based on Fermi architecture. AMD, then, is using every ounce of its GCN design to make sure it wins even the bottom line.
Mind you, once the GT650 and the GTX660 and GTX660Ti hit the floor, it will be a whole different ballgame for gamers and those in need of an upgrade. Watch this space.
Going a little overboard this month with the entry-level budget build, I decided to pay more attention to power delivery and efficiency this time round. In previous builds I had to settle for a Thermaltake chassis and power supply but here, with the cheaper overall price for the rest of the components it makes the over-spend worth it.
In terms of changes I moved to a GTX550Ti as it is now more competitively priced to the AMD HD7750. In most games the Fermi technology wins with outright speed compared to the slightly slower and much more efficient GCN architecture in the Radeon contender. The rest of the rig is mostly low-end, with the better power supply and the RAM being the only luxuries we can afford now. With an eye to performance, you’ll be playing games at 720p on high settings, or 1080p with medium details and low levels of AA.
Raising the budget slightly to R6500 along with keeping most of the other components from the R4000 build allowed me to slide in a very potent combination – Intel’s Core i3 2120 chip along with the massively capable Radeon HD6950 1GB. Since GTX560Ti varaiants are hard to find these days, AMD’s HD6870 and HD6950 cards are sweeping in the sales from buyers who can’t afford the HD7850 and need something now, instead of waiting for the GTX650 and GTX660 launch in the coming months.
While I admit that It might not look like the most balanced combination in the world, the pairing of the i3 and the HD6950 is a great one for gamers. Not only is the dual-core chip powerful enough to feed the graphics card with the information it requires, but this would enable the rig to play all games at 1080p resolution with high details comfortably. Note that AA will still be restricted thanks to the low amount of VRAM available on the GPU, but so long as gamers stick to 2x AA with trilinear filtering and turning off effects they don’t need, performance should be plenty fast for any title on shelves today.
This might, however, turn on its head in a month or two’s time. If the GTX650 ends up performing on the same level as the GTX560, possibly even the Ti version with some overclocking, then there’s every chance this build will change to accommodate an entry-level Core i5 or AMD FX six-core chip along with the aforementioned GPU. Watch this space because most NAGlings typically start their budgets at this price point.
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