Today we’re back into the high-end of the desktop component market looking at options for R13,000 and R18,000. These are the commonly asked-about price points because according to NAG’s recent survey, most people have in the region of R10,000 to spend on computer components every year. If you’re keen for a new desktop this month, take a look inside to see what’s cooking! A surprise awaits you…
With AMD’s octo-core FX processors still battling it out with the Core i5 quad-core chips, you won’t often see a high-end recommendation with an AMD platform in it. In comparison to Intel’s offering, the FX chips are slower clock for clock, have a higher power consumption figure and just aren’t as efficient, especially when it comes to price/performance margins.
Previously I tried to include the X79 platform into the high-end rigs that you’ll see today in my June episode of the buyer’s guide at this same price point. While the X79 platform has more PCI-Express lanes, a quad-channel memory controller and the ability to drop in a six-core CPU from Intel’s Extreme Edition series, it doesn’t have the same kind of oomph and value for money that Z77 boasts, especially with the Core i7 Ivy Bridge chips kicking sand in everyone’s face.
Also making its debut in the lists somewhere is Nvidia’s bothersome little GTX660 Ti. Its an absolute steal under the R3500 price point and makes choosing AMD’s Radeon HD7870 a little harder. Putting two in SLI would be gorgeous. Three together is enough to give even the hardened hardware fans a brain aneurysm from the oodles of awesome dripping from the tiny Kepler-based performer. Maybe you’ll see it here, maybe not. Scroll down to have a look.
There’s not a lot changed from the R11,000 build I posted up last week, but you can see improvements all-round. We have a larger focus on overclocking thanks to the Core i7 3770K, higher-frequency RAM and the Nvidia GTX670, which with a bit of overclocking is just a slower GTX680 in disguise.
You’ll notice that the SSD is included, but as a 64GB cached drive. I find that its better to have more storage instead of faster storage within the budget I’m constrained to and a 64GB cache is large enough to never make you feel the ill-effects of overwriting older cached files too many times (if at all). That said, there is the option of dropping both the SSD, the 500GB hard drive and using two of these RAM modules in order to squeeze in OCZ’s Agility 3 240GB. As a OS and the primary drive to store your games, its price is unequalled. Your budget overshoot would be a bit bigger, but its well worth the price if you’re concerned about performance above all else.
In a similar vein, dropping the same components and choosing OCZ’s Vertex 4 128GB would allow you to keep the better RAM as well as give you a bit of cash to drop on an aftermarket cooler, perhaps Cooler Master’s Hyper 212 Evo for starters. That said, the lower available drive space will be a hindrance to completely enjoying your rig and the former options are the better bets in the long term.
I tried sparing no expense, really I did. I shoved in two GTX660 Ti 3GB cards, water cooling, a SSD and a huge 750W power supply, but in the end everything still fell under budget. Its mesmerising what the GTX660 Ti does to high-end rigs, powering every game easily in single and dual-card configurations while not skipping a beat.
Thanks to the 6GB of VRAM, you’ll be able to game on multi-monitors with multiple levels of AA added on and lots of memory-hungry visual settings. The only way this could ever get better for gamers is if the promised HD7990 falls in the R8000 price range, with GTX690-beating performance to boost. it would require a larger power supply in the 800w range but that’s cool with me, so long as AMD figure out a way to keep power consumption and heat issues under control.
For under R7500, two GTX660Ti cards offer better performance than a single GTX680 and even make the price of the GTX690 extremely hard to swallow. The cards in tandem perform on average about 15% slower, prompting many online reviewers to note just how gob-smacked they are at how strongly the pair performs, which ends up being on par with two GTX670s in many situations. Triple SLI with these puppies draws level with the GTX690 and, as Tom’s Hardware found, may even eliminate the problem of stuttering altogether. That still brings the total price to under what most retailers are asking for a single GTX690. Hardware.info came away from their review suitably astonished with SLI results, especially in multi-monitor setups. For such a cheap, mid-range card, it punches far above its weight in tandem.
So there you have it for this month, boys and girls. If you’re looking for a rig at either of these price points, what you see here represents the best value-for-money and balanced performance possible. Go get your hardware and start playing some games!