So we’re approaching the end of February and we’re on our way to March. Tomorrow is the release/announcement of whatever Sony is planning and PC owners couldn’t be happier – with a new generation of consoles pushing the boundaries of what’s possible, we’ll see better use of our hardware and those eight-core processors that AMD’s been punting for the last two years. Today we’re sort of in the rich segment, with PCs costing as much as a good second-hand car. But these behemoths are for the power-user, the gamer who likes his/her triple-display 3D setup for playing Skyrim with all the swanky mods, or Crysis 3 on ultra. For those of you who like to push the boundaries of what’s possible with today’s hardware, this section is for you.


R18,000 Budget: (1080p with Ultra details with 8x AA, 2560 x 1440p with High details and 2x AA, 5760 x 1080p with Medium to High details and 2x AA)

Intel Core i7 3770K @ R3499

ASRock Z77 OC Formula @ R2790

TEAM Xtreem Vulcan 16GB DDR3-1600 @ R764

PowerColor Radeon HD7970 3GB DDR5 @ R3999

OCZ Vertex 4 256GB @ R2548

Seagate Barracuda 2TB SATA @ R1099

Be Quiet! Straight Power E9 580W @ R982

Cooler Master HAF XM @ R1389

Corsair H100i 240mm All-in-One @ R1362

Total: R18,432

So, a couple of things about this build. Its really an overclocker’s baby, this one. The combination of the unlocked Core i7 chip, one of the best overclocking boards on the planet and a water cooler means you’ll be hitting 5Ghz in no time at all. Most everything here is geared for speed and even the Vulcan RAM has been recorded to overclock to DDR3-2133 data rates with the right setup. This rig is, really, the highest LGA1155 can sensibly go. Its going to be the swan song for the platform for the next few months while the days to the Haswell launch fly by.

I’d like to note that I pondered over this build for an hour and could have been an X79 affair, but with the locked i7-3820. While X79 does have the promise of longevity thanks to the upcoming Ivy Bridge-E chips, it was going to be hamstrung in the interim by the lack of any tweaks to the CPU. But then it would have rendered the Corsair Hydro water-cooler pretty useless and you’d be stuck with over a thousand bucks extra that you have no idea what to spend on. You could try find a GTX680, or a faster SSD or a bigger and possibly better power supply, but none of that will change the performance in games, which will already be at an absurdly high level at 1080p or even native 30″ resolutions.

Admittedly, this build is a bit compromised and I expect that the next one will be a bit more well-adjusted. At this moment, R18k is enough for a good setup, but there are many, many variables that may throw it one way or the other. Oh, and I’ve omitted the DVD-Drive here. I figure that many enthusiasts in this price range already have one lying around, or don’t need it at all. more people are buying their games through various digital distribution platforms so the DVD is slowly going the way of the Dodo.

R28,000 Budget: (2560 x 1440p with Ultra details and 8x AA, 5760 x 1080p with High details and 4x AA)

Intel Core i7-3930K @ R6300

ASRock Fatal1ty X79 Professional @ R3141

G.Skill TridentX 16GB DDR3-2400 @ R1585

PowerColor HD7990 dual GPU 6GB @ R9899

OCZ Vector 256GB @ R2925

Corsair GS700 @ R1152

Corsair Obsidian 650D @ R1599

Corsair H100i 240mm All-in-One @ R1362

Total: R27,963

Screw it, there’s no reason to have a R21,000 budget, it won’t be that different from the previous one. So I decided to raise the final budget a little and jump to the R28,000 price point. That extra ten grand bump should tell you one thing about what you’re going to see here – that’s right, the dual-GPU Radeon HD7990!

In all honestly, this is pretty much the most I could ever imaging spending on a rig. As it stands, its pretty much perfect. I chucked out the 2TB drive to make way for the dual-GPU monster and I expect that those of you with this much cash to burn already have a few drives lying around. This rig’s aim is to have zero compromises. No compromises on memory, no compromises on the chassis’ cooling ability and definitely no limitation as to how far you can overclock it. Its the second-most-ultimate-ey rig aside from the NAG Dream Machine which is pretty much what you could call the cream of the crop.

In addition, if you’re spending this much money, you can expect a rig of this sort to last you up to five years maxing every single game before it starts to show some age. And even then, it’s possible that it will go further than that, because the way in which software performance progresses isn’t linear. In a somewhat related manner, there’s an old wive’s tale that I was told last year that’s stuck with me:

“A man goes out to buy wellington boots for work and sees two pairs that he likes. One pair costs £10 and another costs £25. Both look about the same, but the more expensive pair will last the longest. The man does have £25, but he chooses to save the rest of his money and walks out with the cheaper boots. Later, on the same day, his friend goes to the same shop and buys the more expensive pair. They compare their purchases at work and go about their day.

Over the next five years, the man who bought the younger boots buys four more pairs to replace the ones that break. His friend sticks with his £25 pair and saves more money over time.

The moral of the story? Don’t buy crap and buy the best you can afford. Often, your better-quality purchases will last longer than you anticipated. That’s not to say that one should bankrupt oneself, but planning better for the future will save you a bit of money.

That’s all for this month, everyone! Tomorrow morning’s the Playstation reveal and I suggest you all check it out when it’s over. Next month we’re back onto the Laptop Buyer’s guide in the same price points. By the time w’re back to the desktop, it’ll be two months to Haswell’s launch and Haswell may mark the last time that desktop users will have abundance of choice.

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