APC’s Live Builds Gaming editor Chris (Igniserator) Lampard is a gamer who decided at 15 to start building his own PCs to get the best gaming performance possible on his budget. He might work in IT now but says he’s still a gamer at heart with a passion for knowledge about PCs. Below is his first Gaming PC build for APC where the challenge of course is to build a system that will smash a game like Crysis but on a budget within the reach of ordinary people. All prices are in Australian dollars.
CORE SYSTEM [updated: September 8 2011]
CPU: Intel Core i7 2600K – $325
I’ve gone with the newest generation Intel Core i7 a processor that’s able to achieve a clock speed of 5GHz on air cooling. With such high core speeds it means it will easily handle the latest games. Also the smaller 32nm manufacturing process results in lower temperatures and less power usage which means better overclocking results.
COOLER: Corsair H100 – $169
The new top-of-the-range closed loop system from Corsair incorporates double the size radiator and also an extra fan. You could also run a 4-fan push-pull configuration for maximum efficiency. This system basically doubles the cooling compared to what most people use so expect super low temps and noise since it won’t have to blow to hard to cool things down. Also incorporated is a fan speed control on the pump whose level is indicated by white LEDs surrounding it. Note that a case with 2 x 120MM adjacent fans is needed.
MOTHERBOARD: Gigabyte G1.Sniper2 – $429
The newest board from the gamer’s division at GIBABYTE the G1.Sniper2 really hits the sweet spot with features like a Bigfoot Killer NIC for great latency times; Creative Sound Blaster X-Fi on-board audio and high quality Nichicon MUSE capacitors. The aesthetics on this board are the best yet with the incorporated firearm shaped heatsinks and the incredible -looking LEDs. The board includes support for 2200MHz memory and SLI/Crossfire although if you are using Crossfire or SLI the PCI-E speed is limited to x8. There’s also SATA 6Gb/s USB 3.0 and all the usual socket 1155 motherboard trimmings. The real focus is gaming with a side of overclocking.
GRAPHICS: VTX3D AMD Radeon HD 6990 4GB – $799
Choosing between this and the GTX590 was hard but however the $200 saved here allows for better hard drives for the system. Also I see no reason in paying the extra $50-$100 for better known brands unless their cards have a different cooler or are overclocked – but if they are the stock AMD board why pay more? They all have a two year warranty anyway. This card will easily power a 5760×1080 resolution at max settings on just about any game while achieving 60+ FPS. I do plan on overclocking the card to see what extra I can get also. This item has had a price bump from limited stocks and availability so it is probably out of reach for most people till new stock arrives if you got one consider yourself lucky specially for $799.
RAM: 2 x 4GB G.Skill Ripjaws X F3 – 17000CL9 2133MHz – $129
The new speed in memory is 2133MHz and that’s what this kit is running at out of the box. I expect to get 2200MHz + out of these modules easily. I went with only two sticks as two always overclock better than four sticks. But if overall speed isn’t a necessity then another pair would be fine to add in. However I find 8GB a sustainable amount of memory for most users.
HARD DRIVE 1: 4 x OCZ Vertex 3 60Gb RAID 0 – $556 ($139 each)
These solid state drives are the ones to beat in the SSD world at the moment. The last generation SSDs were capable of 280/270MB/s but the new drives are capable of 550-500MB/s in other words double the speed of last generation. This equates to sub-10 second Windows load times and also sub-5 second game load times. That’s blazingly fast performance with no bottleneck. Expected data speeds of 1Gb/s+ !!! once a RAID array is set up.
HARD DRIVE 2: Western Digital Caviar Black 1TB – $88
The storage drive can be the one from your current build or you can put in something like the WD Caviar Black for the extra storage speed boost. 1TB is a good place to start and the Caviar Black model keeps the transfer rates up. The reason for using only a single drive is that its fully reliable assuming SMART is enabled and running fine so all backs ups and steam games music video’s etc. should be stored on this drive for safe keeping.
OPTICAL DRIVE: Pioneer DVR-219L DVDRW – $29
Prices are down again on drives and this Pioneer is one of the best and also going quite cheap. I suggest you pick one of these up if you’re using a drive that’s two years or older just for the transfer speed boost that newer generation drives provide. I hate waiting for installs.
PSU: Silverstone Strider 1200W Gold – $275
I was taken by this PSU’s fully modular design and the gold efficiency rating. It’s also very well priced. The reason I have gone with such a large power supply is to future-proof the build as the next addition to it will probably be a second HD 6990. Also a very quiet power supply and not as flashy as some out there also has the hammer finish.
CASE: Antec Twelve Hundred V3 – $205
I ended up going with the Antec as I needed a 2 x 120MM fans at the rear to support the new Corsair H100 cooler. This case also has 13 drive bays and accepts motherboards from Mini-ATX to ATX. It has a max video card length of 444MM which is massive! There’s a front USB 3 port with the other usual suspects and also a CPU cut-out a bottom mount power supply and a top 200MM exhaust fan. This case is roomy and well ventilated; in all a great case.
TOTAL SYSTEM COST – (AUD $3133)
Do you have suggestions for improving this system? If so add your comments below.