PC Hardware Buyer's Guide August 2012
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It's been three months since our last buyer's guide but we're back with a comprehensive guide as to what you should be considering hardware-wise at the moment.
It's been a relatively quiet time for hardware releases, but a couple of factors mean that there have been sizeable shifts in some our recommendations since last time, especially at the budget and mid-range. Firstly, Nvidia has finally released the GeForce GTX 660 Ti 2GB. However, as many of you have noted, it's a pricey option for a mid-range frame-pusher, so we'll be discussing in detail which graphics card is best for you and whether the 660 Ti 2GB is worth the cash.
Secondly, we've seen prices drop all over the auction, with 256GB SSDs now costing less than £110 to AMD dropping the prices of its graphics cards to make them more competitive. Incredibly, AMD's 6800 series Radeons are still readily available, meaning they're tough to beat if you're after a decent gaming experience from a graphics card costing less than £100.
It's very much a graphics card month this month, then, however, we've also been tinkering with several new system types that we'll soon be adding to the buyers guide. HTPCs and mini-ITX gaming systems are all the rage at the moment, and we're finally in the position to be able to recommend something for you. The first out of the bag is our new mini-ITX gamer system. We've hand-picked the best mini-gear for those of you looking to build a PC that's big on power but low on size and noise. While we haven't got around to releasing reviews of the hardware yet, we've given it a thorough going over in our lab, with the best products listed here in the Buyer's Guide.
How Does Our Buyer's Guide Work?
The prices we show are averages that you should be looking to pay for the components, and then an overall budget for each of the PCs we've designed. This is in response to the fact that prices fluctuate over the month, and products go in and out of stock, not to mention the included cost of delivery for all the parts that we need to take into account - and everyone has their favourite retailers and e-tailers too.
As usual, a run-down of our systems is as follows:
- The Affordable All-Rounder is highly budget-conscious, but still offers plenty of gaming potential and an upgrade path.
- The Enthusiast Overclocker system is for those who want to squeeze out the most performance, although not necessarily the most MHz, for their money. It has tonnes of gaming grunt for the best use of little cash.
- The Gaming Workhorse offers supreme performance for the heavy multi-tasker and gamer, while staying under the grand mark if possible.
- Our Premium Player package is for those who want the latest, highest-performing kit with excellent cooling that won't sound like a hive of angry hornets, and without going way into the thousands.
- Our Mini-ITX gamer is a heads up for those wanting to build a pocket rocket gaming PC. We're currently working on a whole bunch of reviews for mini-ITX fans out there, but until we get these out, this is our list of the best hardware for your mini-PC.
It's important to note that the buyer's guide isn't something you have to take as gospel. It's simply a list of hardware that we've reviewed or at least tested in our lab (we can't recommend anything we haven't) and we know works, is good value and has stood up to our testing. Whether you're in the market for an entire PC-worth of gear or simply looking to upgrade a few key areas following recent hardware releases, you can use our list of the top hardware to select your components.