NAG Online > Technology > System Builder’s Guide: June R20,000 to R30,000

System Builder’s Guide: June R20,000 to R30,000

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Dun dun dun duuuuuuuun dun, dun dun dun duuuuuuuun dun, dun dun dun duuuuuuuuuuuuuun dun, dun dun nan duuuuuuuuuuuuuuuun. It’s the last of the System Builder’s guides for this month and we’re into the eye-wateringly high price points where you’d have to contemplate living with close on a year of debt just to afford one of these rigs. Still, this is what PC gamers live for – the ability to pick and choose which components they want and spec out a rig completely when they want it to last as long as possible. Follow me after the jump and see what’s in store for you if you have anything between R20,000 and R30,0000 burning a hole in your pocket. Also, I actually have a recommendation for the R30,000 bracket this time around.

R20,00000 Budget – Kicking In To High Gear

5760 x 1080p with Ultra details and 4x AA, UltraHD 4K with High details and 4x AA
Processor Intel Core i7-4770K 3.5-3.9GHz Unlocked R4169
CPU Cooler Corsair Hydro H75 All-In-One water cooler R1005
Motherboard ASRock Z97 Extreme6 LGA1150 R2778
Memory Crucial Ballistix Tracer LED DDR3-1866 8GB R1072
Graphics MSI Gaming Radeon R9 290 4GB GDDR5 R5797
Power supply Corsair CS650M 650W Modular 80Plus Gold R1133
Chassis NZXT Source 530 Full Tower R1299
Optical drive
Hard drive Seagate Barracuda 3TB 7200RPM R1381
Solid state drive Crucial MX100 256GB SSD R1430
Total (Rands): R20,064

Some of the recent price drops have given us cause to celebrate because hardware that was previously just out of our budget in the April guide now fits into the budget with no problem at all. We’re now sitting with an unlocked Core i7-4770K and an extremely versatile motherboard in the ASRock Z97 Extreme 6, complimented by the Crucial Tracer RAM  that we’ve had here throughout the month.

The MSI Radeon R9 290 carries over from the R16.5k budget from last week and is perfectly suited here as well. There is absolutely nothing that this rig wouldn’t be able to launch and chew through because of all the CPU and GPU horsepower shoved in here. Corsair’s CS650M makes a repeat appearance, offering very good efficiency, hardware and flexibility for the money.

We’ve bumped up to the NZXT Source 530 for the rest of the builds here and there are very few chassis that can compete with it. Its one of the most affordable full tower chassis on the market and there are many ways in which you can tweak the Source’s thermal performance to your liking. Rounding things out is a 3TB hard drive for storage and the odd game (up from 2TB in April) and Crucial’s MX100 serves as our boot drive, with enough storage for all your applications as well as 3-5 games that you play regularly.

Nothing especially special with the build, really, but it’s good value for money. R20,000 is where diminishing returns begin to kick in, but only at R30,000 does it come into full force.

R24,000 Budget – Hurting That Wallet!

5760 x 1080p with Ultra details and 8x AA, Ultra HD 4K with high details and 4x AA
Processor Intel Core i7-4770K 3.5-3.9GHz Unlocked R4169
CPU Cooler Corsair Hydro H100i All-In-One water cooler R1354
Motherboard ASRock Z97 Extreme6 LGA1150 R2778
Memory Crucial Ballistix Tracer LED DDR3-1866 4x8GB R2144
Graphics MSI Gaming Radeon R9 290X 4GB GDDR5 R7247
Power supply Corsair RM750 750W 80Plus Gold Modular R1429
Chassis NZXT Source 530 Full Tower R1299
Optical drive
Hard drive Seagate Barracuda 3TB 7200RPM R1381
Solid state drive Crucial M550 256GB SSD R2071
Total (Rands): R23,872

The next step up in our builds doesn’t change too much from the previous one. Most of the hardware remains the same with the exception of a few changes to accommodate more overclocking, or more efficient multi-tasking. Corsair’s Hydro H100i might only be cooling the CPU actively, but the extra fans on the top of the Source 530 will help exhaust heat out quicker.

Doubling our RAM to 16GB was a tough decision. It doesn’t really enable higher framerates or speed up any applications any more, but you can cram more stuff in there. Want to dive into something during work? Leave ALL the browser windows open. Keep ALL the tabs loaded. Have ALL the applications running.

Going lower, we’ve traded up to the MSI Radeon R9 290X and the Corsair RM750. The R9 290X is on par with the Geforce GTX780 Ti, but sells for a much lower price currently. Its a better choice than any of the 290X variants with the stock cooler, which will be much louder and hotter. The RM750 also gives us more overclocking headroom and opens up the ability to add in a second R9 290X in later on without having to worry about power delivery.

There are no changes on the chassis or mechanical storage sides, but we do use some of the leftover funds to bump up the SSD to Crucial’s M550. Although the MX100 would serve up similar performance, the M550 holds up better in sustained 4K writes and has overall better read and write speeds.

R30,000 Budget – You Paid How Much?

UltraHD 4K with maximum details and 4x AA
Processor Intel Core i7-4770K 3.5-3.9GHz Unlocked R4169
CPU Cooler Corsair Hydro H100i All-In-One water cooler R1354
Motherboard ASRock Z97 Extreme6 LGA1150 R2778
Memory Crucial Ballistix Tracer LED DDR3-1866 4x8GB R2144
Graphics MSI Gaming Radeon R9 290 4GB GDDR5 in Crossfire R11594
Power supply Corsair RM750 750W 80Plus Gold Modular R1429
Chassis NZXT Source 530 Full Tower R1299
Optical drive
Hard drive Seagate Barracuda 3TB 7200RPM R1381
Solid state drive Crucial MX100 512GB SSD R2920
Total (Rands): R29,068

Finally, something for the R30,000 bracket! The issue here is that Haswell-E is only launching closer to September now, so there’s not much reason to hold out on recommending anything for anyone with this much money burning a hole in their pocket. Only two changes need to be addressed here – the Crossfire pair and the 512GB SSD. I don’t know exactly what to do with the left over money, so I’ll leave that up to you to figure out.

The problem with Intel at the moment is that they are actively slowing down the sales and shipping amounts of Core i7 processors on the LGA2011 platform. They want as many people as possible to be waiting at the gates for Haswell-E and DDR4 and that’s the main reason why the Z97 family had boards in the same price points where X79 used to be – mainly because investing in X79 now is pointless. Haswell and certainly Devil’s Canyon are much better buys considering it’s a more mature platform. So, with the Core i7-4820K not offering any more benefits compared to the i7-4770K, I’ve decided to stick to the latter now.

That’s why I’ve pummeled most of the budget into a pair of Radeon R9 290 cards. In a pair and once overclocked, they are as powerful as one Geforce GTX Titan Z, which is Nvidia’s crowning glory in the dual-GPU world and sells for… just about R30,000. Here we’re spending one-third of that and getting almost double the performance of a GTX780 Ti, for the same price as a GTX780 Ti. How’s that for confusing?

A pair of R9 290s can chew through anything. That’s why the only setting that I’ve recommended that should yield playable settings is UltraHD 4K with maximum details, because anything under a 4K monitor or triple-monitor gaming scenario isn’t meant for this rig. Maybe there might be a case for running games at 240Hz (which only one monitor in the world can do reliably), but at that point we’re sitting with a processor bottleneck because there is no way that the i7-4770K would be able to keep up with that workload.

Sure, power consumption with two of these Hawaii-based monsters will be really high, but it’s not going to be higher than 600W altogether.

Lastly, there’s that 512GB SSD. In previous episodes of this guide, 512GB of solid-state storage would have set you back at least R6000, if not more. Recent efforts by Crucial to bring this down have started a SSD price war and currently Samsung is leading the high-end with a 750GB version of the 840 Evo. The idea of a 1TB SSD for R5000 by the end of the year isn’t completely unfeasible anymore.

Will Haswell-E and DDR4 memory find any place in my future guides? Perhaps. I’m not going to be optimistic about the price of DDR4 because it’s easily going to be 30% (or more) higher-priced than DDR3 memory at relative speeds and latencies. But the big benefit there is that DDR4 modules will have twice the capacity of DDR3, so even the cheapest modules will allow you to play Watch Dogs without worrying about how much system RAM will be chewed up by it.

That’s all for this month, folks! Tune in next month for the Laptop Buyer’s Guide.

Discuss this in the forums: Linky

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  • Mikhil

    **Drool**

    • James

      Ikr i almost drowned in mine

  • Jonathan King

    I wish I had a
    R20,00000 Budget :D

  • Smitty

    Hi Wesley,

    Could you advice me a R10 000 build? I know you are really busy, but if you have free time, please email me at (andrez.smit@gmail.com).

    Thanks for your time!
    André

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