Following from my previous column in which 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 R8500 to R10,000 to spend. You can expect some more high-end products this time round, and I’ll do my best to squeeze in a SSD for caching or boot purposes.

At this price point, Intel becomes a slightly better option compared to AMD’s value range and the Core i5 chips provide a good price/performance ratio here. Users who tend more towards productivity instead of gaming will also find that Intel’s Quick Sync technology works very well for deciding video and accelerating applications. For graphics cards, I’ll provide both AMD and an equivalent Nvidia card as an option if one exists in the same price range – applications that use CUDA like Photoshop are more common than ones that use AMD’s Stream technology. Then again, with GCN in their new HD7000 series, things might be looking up for AMD in the GPGPU space.

Also of note is AMD’s new APUs and FX processors – while they provide good performance, they no longer provide the bang-for-buck the Phenom parts used to provide. While there are APUs that deserve mentioning here, leaning towards Intel is a trend most tend towards as their budget increases.

Onto the builds!

R8500

AMD PhenomII X6 1055T 2.8Ghz @ R1271

MSI AMD 990FXA-GD65 AM3+ @ R1606

Patriot Viper II DDR3-1333 4GB 2X2GB CL7 x2 @ R656

MSI AMD Radeon HD 6850 Power Edition 1GB GDDR5 @ R1882 (Nvidia option)

Seagate Barracuda 7200RPM 500GB SATA HDD @ R802

LiteOn 24x SATA DVD-RW DL @ R188

OCZ Agility 60GB 3 Series SSD @ R944

Antec 520w HCG Gaming Power Supply @ R774

Cooler Master Elite 370 @ R395

Total: R8518

Things didn’t change much here. We’re still going with the AMD Phenom X6 processor with a change in RAM to lower-speed but better-timed Patriot Viper modules for 8GB of RAM. The motherboard has also changed to the 990FX chipset, providing a solid base for future upgrades to AM3+ processors like Piledriver and Trinity. We’ve also got a Radeon HD6850 and an OCZ Agility SSD for a super-fast boot drive. So long as you install Windows to the SSD with a few vital applications, you’ll have space left for a game or two that you require the utmost performance from. Using an SSD also enables multi-tasking on a bigger level than previously possible and reduces load times in games and applications. Finally I changed the PSU to the Antec HCG 520w – being a design based off Seaconic’s reference 520w, it should keep this baby ticking for a very long time.

R10,000

Intel Core i5 2500K @ R2215

Gigabyte Z68XP-UD3 @ R1916

Kingston Hyper-X DDR3-1600 4GB CL7 x2 @ R1055

Sapphire Radeon HD6870 1GB DDR5 Flex @ R2580

Seagate Barracuda 7200RPM 500GB SATA HDD @ R802

LiteOn 24x SATA DVD-RW DL @ R188

SilverStone ST60F Strider 600W @ R924

Cooler Master Elite 370 @ R395

Total: R10,075

That’s quite a change, isn’t it? I’m not so sure many enthisiasts will like what I have to say, but alright: the high price of the Intel Core i5 platform strangles your options. On a tight budget like R10, 000 (believe me, its tight even at this level) I couldn’t possibly stick in a SSD without removing something vital – Gigabyte’s UD3 boards feature 90-degree rotated SATA ports, the Z68 chipset allows the use of an SSD cache without much fiddling, the HD6870 is an absolute brute when overclocked, and the Silverstone Strider is the best budget modular PSU there is. Unless we skimp on a few things, we won’t be fitting an SSD into here anytime soon.

Tune in next week to see some drool-worthy systems! Next month I’ll be having a look at laptops instead to give people some perspective on how things have changed in the notebook market.