System Builders Guide: August R18,000 to R30,000

Today’s the last day of the System Builders Guide for this month and it’s going to be a crazy time following this post. NAG is going to be reporting all the news from Gamescom and we’re going to be seeing some exciting games and hardware announcements popping up very soon, so keep a close eye on the site here. For this week, we’re back into the high-end market and dabbling in LGA2011 motherboards, multi-GPU setups and a whole lot more. Follow me after the jump to do some drooling!


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

Intel Core i7-4770K @ R4115

ASRock Z87 Extreme6 @ R2411

Corsair H100i Hydro 240mm @ R1276

G.Skill Ares Blue DDR3-2133 8GB @ R899

PowerColor Radeon HD7970 3GB GDDR5 @ R3995

Samsung 840 SSD 250GB @ R2295

Seagate Barracuda 1TB SATA @ R769

ASUS DRW-24D3ST @ R190

Be Quiet! Pure Power L8 730W @ R1014

Cooler Master 690 III @ R1059 (Cooler Master HAF XB @ R1049)

Total: R18,023

More difficult decisions crept up here, but some price drops and platform changes have given us a much better all-round rig. The Core i7-4770K heads off the list slapped underneath a Corsair 240mm water cooler – the idea here is that you overclock it as far as the silicon allows, which is currently around 4.6 to 4.7GHz. Along with that we’re adding in ASRock’s feature-laden Extreme 6 motherboard and 8GB of DDR3-2133 memory from G.Skill.

Some boosts were seen elsewhere, notably with the 250GB Samsung SSD, a slightly better power supply from Be Quiet that replaces the GS700 and a recommendation for the new Cooler mMaster CM690 III. While its still not going to be available until midway through September, its going to be the chassis to beat from that point on. Dipping with the graphics card, I moved back to PowerColor to stay close to budget. It still has a games bundle from AMD’s Never Settle campaign, but this time you get to choose when and what games will be bundled.

The alternative build from AMD uses the FX-8350 and the extremely gorgeous ASUS Crosshair V Formula-Z. Push the PSU up a little by swapping in the Corsair GS800 and then do something insane – add in two PowerColor Radeon HD7870’s in Crossfire, or two Gigabyte GTX660 Ti’s in SLI. Either solution will be potent for gaming and both setups will deliver better performance than a single Geforce GTX680 or Radeon HD7970 can muster. At this price point, choosing AMD is a good idea if you don’t mind the occasional game not supporting your multi-GPU configuration from launch.

R22,000 Budget: (5760 x 1080p with High details and 8x AA, Ultra HD 4K with Medium details and 2x AA)

Intel Core i7-4770K @ R4115

ASRock Z87 Extreme6 @ R2411

Corsair H100i Hydro 240mm @ R1276

G.Skill Ares Blue DDR3-2133 16GB @ R1789

PowerColor Radeon HD7950 3GB in Crossfire @ R6698 (Gigabyte GTX760 2GB in SLI @ R6764)

Samsung 840 SSD 250GB @ R2295

Seagate Barracuda 2TB SATA @ R1095

ASUS DRW-24D3ST @ R190

Corsair GS800 800W @ R1277

Cooler Master 690 III @ R1059 (Cooler Master HAF XB @ R1049)

Total: R22,205

It doesn’t get more high-end than this for the Intel LGA1150 socket. We’re kitting it out fully here with 16GB of DDR3-2133 memory, a Crossfire or SLI configuration by default, a 2TB hard drive and a speedy Samsung 250GB SSD. There’s not much more in here that we could want, save for things like an audio card.

The Crossfire and SLI options are also very nice. Now that AMD’s fixed their Crossfire drivers and are continuing to improve on the work done with the Catalyst 13.8 Beta driver, its a much more viable solution than it was before. The GTX760 is also an incredible value-for-money card, putting out the same performance as a GTX670 for less money than a good GTX660 Ti. Nvidia is playing some hard ball here, although it may lose out to the Radeon pair because you get two Never Settle codes. I’d recommend using up one of them for now, saving the second Never Settle code for when more enticing games come along, like Battlefield 4, which you’ll get for free.

AMD also has a lot to offer, swapping in the Core i7 and the Extreme 6 for the FX-8350 and the ASUS Crosshair V Formula-Z once again. Only this time, the money saved goes to the PNY Geforce GTX780. Yes, it’s not going to be as fast as a Crossfire or SLI confiiguration of two high-level cards; two well-priced GTX770s  or HD7970s could beat it quite easily. But the GTX780 is really the fastest single-GPU card there is for under ten grand. It whallops a Titan once overclocked and can trail the GTX690 by a small margin. There’s a price to pay for exclusivity and this is it.

R30,000 Budget: (5760 x 1080p with Ultra details and 4x AA, Ultra HD 4K with High details and 2x AA)

Once again, we come to the super high-end lineup of the guide and for this episode, I don’t have a recommendation. That’s because Sandy Bridge-E is getting a bit long in the tooth and will be replaced in September by Ivy Bridge-E. Its going to be cheaper, faster, use less power and it’ll overclock better as well.

The arrival of Ivy Bridge-E will also be accompanied by new motherboards from every vendor possible. The X79 chipset has some life in it yet, but choosing any of the boards out there now without waiting to see the revamped models would be a bit mad. In addition, AMD’s going to be announcing new products in September and I have a good hunch that it’s going to be the start of the HD8000 series.

Mind you, this only applies to builds that were going to be based on the LGA2011 platform. The other recommendations I’ve made today still stand, and either of them will be good companions for your gaming needs. But I can’t recommend anything from Intel’s premium lineup until I know more about what Ivy Bridge-E will offer.

That’s all for this week folks. Stay tuned to NAG Online for the Gamescom 2013 footage and remember to badger Miklos to finish his games and play The Last of Us.

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