Welcome back boys and girls, to the second-last edition of the System Builder’s Guide! We’re exactly fourteen days away from Christmas and things are heating up in the malls and shops and even the online stores – stuff is just selling at breakneck speeds as people begin their present shopping. Some of the prices you see today may not even last for a week, so if you were thinking of buying a new tower today, you’d probably be better off with purchasing your stuff before the year’s end. With that, lets see what’s in the build lists for today.
R9000 Budget: (1080p with High or Ultra details with 4x AA, 2560 x 1440 with medium details and 2x AA)
Once again I need to address something that people will ask me about – the inclusion of the SSD. Generally if you’re building a high-end rig like this one, you’ll probably have a hard drive or two spare that you already use, so pouring more money into a new one to serve as a boot disk seems a bit silly. After all, we’re in this for more performance, not buying another bottleneck to an already fast system. If you do need a bigger boot drive, swap out the SSD for this 500GB hard drive and either put the change into a better chassis or a better CPU cooler.
One thing that was particularly easy for me was picking out the HD7870 for graphics duty, as it comes with a free copy of Far Cry 3 and 20% off Medal of Honour: Warfighter, as per AMD’s Never Settle Gaming bundle. Because Wootware specifically went and created a category on their site for the Never Settle bundles, that leaves me pretty impressed considering a number of other retailers don’t do this. In addition, the bundle is so cheap there’s little reason to stick with the GTX660 or the HD7850 – its only around R200 more expensive.
I’ve switched my chassis recommendations from Antec’s One S3 to Cooler Master’s Elite 311 Plus. While the front-panel USB 3.0 port doesn’t connect to the on-board header, it does offer good cable management and a removable hard drive cage. Its also cheaper and allowed me to duck in under the budget once again. Rebeltech had better pick up their slack though, because both the i5-3570K and the Asrock board are cheaper on Wootware.
On the other end of things, I’ve once again provided an AMD alternative in the form of the FX-8350. Gaming performance will be more or less equal to the i5-3570K, while it will trounce the opposition when it comes to multi-threaded performance. Power usage is around 80W higher at stock clocks, but that shouldn’t matter really to an enthusiast who craves more power.
R11,000 Budget: (1080p with High or Ultra details with 4x AA, 2560 x 1440 with high details and 2x AA)
Well, that’s pretty much what I wanted from the start. I had a dilemma earlier on with choosing between the current chassis and SSD recommendations over the HD7950 Never Settle bundle. Those of you who have an extra R500 to add to the budget should pick up that instead of the GTX660 Ti because the games alone cover the extra cash you’re laying down for the bundle. If you still have to buy Assassin’s Creed 3, though, the GTX660 Ti should come with a coupon for the game.
Here I’ve added in a better chassis and Intel’s 330 180GB SSD, which I think will be a welcome sight. 128GB is actually pretty small and the extra 50GB or so space would really help with adding in an extra two or three games onto the drive for faster load times. Once again, I’m assuming that an enthusiast aiming for a rig at this price point will have a few hard drives lying around already, so there’s no performance compromises here. As usual, the lack of any cheaper modular power supplies forces me to look beyond the R800 price point at the Corsair GS600W. That’s fine though, considering the chassis I picked has a lot of place to hide cables.
I’d like to mention the AMD option briefly here again. Because of stock issues and a lack of certainty regarding supply of AMD’s Piledriver chips, we once again are forced to stump up more money for the only octocore on the market, the FX-8350. If we were paying around R500 less for the FX-8320 that would be a much better bargain, but since most retailers have to get rid of FX stock based on Bulldozer, its unlikely that retail prices will drop locally with any kind of urgency. In addition, I couldn’t really find a well-priced AMD 990FX board in stock so we’ll have to settle for MSI once again – either this is because of stocking issues with international suppliers or uncertainty from local suppliers whether or not AMD is safe to back (and it is, but not that they would care).
Overseas, its a much more cutthroat market in the online sector which is why price drops happen much more frequently there. I think the retailers here should drop prices close to cost and have a fire sale of the Bulldozer products and clear things out. The main reason why no-one bought them in the first place was because they didn’t offer anything of value to buyers, like lower prices – selling them out would allow more retailers to get Piledriver stock in and then the party will really get started.
That’s it for this edition of the System Builder’s Guide! Next week we’re onto the R13,000 and R18,000 price ranges and I’m hoping to put up something awesome for the higher-end option. Stay tuned to NAG Online for more.