Friday, June 22, 2012

Mid-range gaming rig 2012-June(estimated price: $1000)

In the previous post, I discussed about a decent gaming PC but when we calculated the price, it was a bit on the expensive side. So I thought of recommending some alternatives to the cut cost. This is what I come up with.

List of alternatives

CPU: Intel Core i5 3450 ($199.99: $30 saving)

Since all the none-K models have a locked multiplier, which maxes out at 37 with the Core i5 3450, you won’t be able to break the 4GHz mark. But with some luck and testing, you might be able to reach 4GHz if your CPU can handle a decent BCLK overclock. You need 108MHz BLCK for 4GHz, which is not impossible, but improbable. But you should be able to get to 106MHz-ish BLCK, because IvyBridge isn’t as restrictive as Sandybridge was. All in all, you will be able to get close to 4GHz with this chip, which is only 10-15% slower than the 3570K @4.4GHz.

CPU Cooler: Stock Intel cooler ($0: $34.99 saving)

You can try the stock cooler for now, but if it is getting too hot, go with the original Hyper 212 Evo cooler because it is pretty much there at the top when it comes to delivering the most bang for the buck.

Video card: GIGABYTE GV-R785OC-2GD ($259: $140 saving) or any other variant of HD7850

GTX670 delivers a very high bang for the buck, and you cannot really find a better bang for the buck kind of card in the mid-range. But you can pretty much match it with a stock HD7850. But if you get this particular Gigabyte model, which comes with a 13% factory overclock + much better cooler at only 8% price premium, you can pretty much get close to the HD7870 territory. Who’s to say that you cannot overclock more? ;)

Sound card: Onboard Realtek ALC898 ($0: $71.99 saving)

Like I mentioned in the previous post, this integrated solution is pretty good even compared to the previous ALC889 or ALC892 chip. I suggest that you first try it out, and then decide whether you need a dedicated card.

SSD: OCZ Agility 3 120GB ($104.99: $25 saving)

Samsung drives are more reliable, so maybe you should not change it. But I am using Sandforce; 2 of my previous drives were Sandforce – and they never failed on me. So it can be pure luck. Also, the latest drives are more stable than a year or so ago, because most of the bugs are fixed on the controller end. You can go for 60/64GB model, but I would not recommend them because the price per GB is higher. You would only be saving around 30% but would lose 50% on space.

Case: Zalman Z9 Plus ($64.99: $75 saving)

When you cut prices, you cut features, but this Zalman case comes with a handy set of features which are available on higher end cases. For the price, this is unbeatable value. It even has a fan controller (only 2-way, but still…), SSD support, air filters, LED lit fans, partial window, 4 front USB ports, tool free HDD mounting with anti-vibration rubber, support for cable management etc.

Power Supply: CORSAIR Builder Series CX500 ($59.99: $80 saving)

This is a decent PSU, just not the highest end. But since it is from a very reputable maker, you cannot go wrong. Besides, the rig with these new components doesn’t need a lot of power. You won’t be stressing the PSU much. You would be fine.

The final list

So here goes the recommendation:
Component Suggestion Price (US$)
CPU Intel Core i5 3450 @3.7~4GHz 199.99
CPU Cooler Stock Intel Cooler 0.00
Motherboard Asrock Z77 Extreme4 134.99
RAM Corsair Vengeance LP 1.35V 8GB DDR3 54.99
Video Card GIGABYTE GV-R785OC-2GD 259.99
Sound Card Integrated Realtek ALC898 Audio 0.00
Hard Drives OCZ Agility 3 120GB 104.99
Samsung HD204UI 2TB 119.99
Case Zalman Z9 Plus 64.99
Power Supply CORSAIR Builder Series CX500 53.99
Total 993.92


So all in all, that is a massive $456.98 saving without badly cutting the performance. You will get about 80% (or even more) performance at 2/3 the cost of the originally proposed rig. If this is still too expensive for you, we will look at a cheaper, but quite capable rig next.
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