PC Hardware Buyers’ Guide July 2010

Nvidia has finally launched a DX11 card worth buying.

Nvidia has finally launched a DX11 card worth buying.

We skipped last month’s buyers’ guide, because there wasn’t really much happening – Computex 2010 was dominating everyone’s thoughts, and the various previews and first looks meant that actual products weren’t being launched.

In the last month or so we’ve seen a huge range of new kit to play with though, from cheap CPUs that hit 4.62GHz on air to graphics cards that cost more than some people’s whole PCs. Oh, and Nvidia launched something that’s actually worth buying too – it’s been a mad month, indeed!

The hardware news at the moment is definitely the new GeForce GTX 460 launch. With cards slated to cost £180 for the GTX 460 768MB and £200 for the GTX 460 1GB Nvidia was on to a mid-range winner. That manufacturers have uncut this MSRP is amazing, and should give ATI something to think about when it comes to pricing its HD 5770, HD 5830 and HD 5850.

The pre-overclocked Palit Sonic, which looks like the Palit GTX 460 1GB Sonic Platinum but isn't quite as aggressively overclocked, costs an incredibly low £183.84 (inc VAT), while a stock-speed Palit GTX 460 768MB costs just £152.12 (inc VAT). If you like your graphics cards to have a bit more poke, there’s always the £970 Sapphire Radeon HD 5970 4GB Toxic, a massively overclocked, dual-GPU behemoth of gaming performance. A slightly more affordable, yet almost as powerful, card is Zotac’s GeForce GTX 480 AMP! Edition

We’ve seen some interesting developments in the world of CPUs too, with the new £75 Intel Pentium G6950 proving to be one of the most overclockable processors we’ve seen. The G6950 is certainly a better bet than the two unlocked CPU multiplier K-series CPUs that Intel also released recently. And there’s the age-old argument of whether it’s the Core i7-920 or the i7-930 that’s the best LGA1366 CPU for under £250.

All this, and we still haven’t mentioned Nvidia’s flop-tastic GeForce GTX 465, the epic performance of SandForce SSDs and the Marvell-powered Crucial RealSSD 256GB. Oh wait… It’s been a hectic month in the world of hardware, so let’s see how this affects our recommendations for building the best PC you can afford.

PC Hardware Buyer's Guide July 2010
The ability to destroy a planet is insignificant when compared to the power of the SandForce. Well, not quite. Click to enlarge.

How does our buyer's guide work?

We show an average price that you should be looking to pay for the products we've recommended, and then an overall budget for each of the PCs we've designed. This is in response to the fact 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 they buy from.

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 the most performance, although not necessarily the most MHz, for his or her money. It has tons 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 firmly under the grand mark.
  • 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.
  • Finally, the Folding Rig has been left off this month's guide as there's a new GPU client out that supports the Fermi-based cards. We'll be looking into the relative merits of various cards in a forthcoming article, but it's early days and we're not in a position to make recommendations at this moment. Stay tuned!
As always, we write the buyer's guide not as a definitive must-buy list, but as a monthly update of systems and parts we know will work well together within a particular budget. Take what you want from each build - from affordable, capable PCs, to gaming behemoths - whether it be just a few bits of hardware or the whole thing if you need a ground-up upgrade. We sift through the mass of hardware and recommendations, decide from what we've tested and what we know to be good, then set up the above PCs to fit several budgets.
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