What Hardware Should I Buy? - October 2009

Written by bit-tech Staff

October 8, 2009 | 09:31

Tags: #build #building #buyers #case #cheap #computer #cost #decision #guide #hardware #inexpensive #make #new #performance #purchase #what

Companies: #bit-tech #game

Enthusiast Overclocker

The Enthusiast Overclocker is a PC designed for those looking to buy a PC that maximises performance, without splashing out on premium hardware. If you're not into hardcore video encoding and more extreme multi-tasking, but still love your high definition gaming, we've worked with this PC to generate the best balance possible, providing that is, you spend time learning how to overclock it.

Despite our misgivings about the platform's current value, we’re sticking with an entry level Core i5 system as the basis for this month’s overclocker build. LGA 775 has reached the end of its product lifespan now and it’s fair to say LGA 1156 has a stronger future going forward than AM3 (which will be replaced with AM4 within a year or so). As such, LGA 1156 is the superior platform going forward, with the i5 750 processor hitting the sweet spot when it comes to value. The motherboard and memory we’ve chosen have also benefitted from healthy drops in price over the last month, making the inflated price of LGA 1156 a little more bearable.

What Hardware Should I Buy? - October 2009 Enthusiast Overclocker

UK Price | US Price: Asus P7P55D

We've not been able to power out at many LGA 1156 motherboard reviews as we might have liked this month (Rich: Oi! What are you saying, Harry?), but the Asus P7P55D (note: this is not the Deluxe version) is a strong contender for the value conscious buyer looking to jump aboard LGA 1156. Like its bigger brother, the P7P55D Deluxe, it still has a vast array of BIOS options, but from some internal testing we've determined that it's still a very capable board with good overclocking prowess. Now its price has slipped a little, at £103 it's really quite a bargain.

UK Price | US Price: Intel Core i5 750
UK Price | US Price: G.Skill/A-DATA 4GB 1,600MHz Cl9 DDR3

The Core i5-750 at just under £140 is better value than last month and we've included the same great value DDR3 memory kit that was in the affordable system too. If you want something faster for a little more overclocking fun, there's always the slightly more expensive 2GHz option (US), but the Core i5 750 is already pretty expensive, so you’d be forgiven for foregoing fancy RAM, especially since last month prices have rocketed skywards for DDR3. If you have a favourite memory supplier or find a great deal on your own, don't be afraid to substitute it for that instead because at the end of the day: memory is memory.

UK Price: ATI Radeon HD 4890 1GB
US Price: ATI Radeon HD 4870 1GB

Thanks to the release of the ATI Radeon HD 5000 series, the price of the Radeon HD 4890 has dropped through the floor, making it a fantastic value proposition, as we found in our Graphics Card Buyer's Guide. While we still think the cards are far too noisy under load, we would absolutely up-sell ourselves the extra £10 over the Nvidia GeForce GTX 260-216 to get one of these for better gaming performance. Our US friends aren't quite so lucky when it comes to price cuts, so have to make do with something a little slower to keep within the same budget.

UK Price | US Price: Cooler Master HAF 922

The Cooler Master HAF 922’s great price, flexibility and excellent out of the box cooling makes it a fine choice for an overclocking rig, especially as it has inbuilt fittings for watercooling radiators should you choose to get your hardware wet. However, if you're not digging the less than elegant look of the HAF 922, other fine choices include the Antec P183 or a few LanCool cases, although to be honest there's not a lot around the £90 mark that's really got it all like the HAF does. If you do like the HAF, but find even this expensive, the Cooler Master Scout is a little cheaper still, although suffers from inferior build quality in places.

UK Price | US Price: Cooler Master Hyper 212 Plus

While the retail Intel CPU cooler will suffice, we'd strongly recommend upgrading to something a little meatier for overclocking. In the office we've been using Noctua's NH-U12P and Cooler Master's V8 heatsinks, but these unfortunately retail for upwards of £50, pushing them out of our budget for this machine. If you already own a Noctua though, don't forget an upgrade kit costs nothing from Noctua directly - so perhaps it's worth considering this as a future-proof purchase anyway.

Despite our lamenting the Cooler Master Hyper 212 Plus as mediocre, it does suffice for an overclocked Core i5-750, but be wary that it can't take heavy overvolting. The awesome Titan Fenrir should now be selling with an LGA 1156 kit, in which case we can thoroughly recommend it, although you’ll need to check with retailers to ensure the 1156 mount is included.

UK Price | US Price: OCZ ModXStream Pro 500W

The OCZ ModXStream Pro 500W might seem a little weak, but for the money it's very quiet, modular, and works perfectly fine when we tested it. All too often it’s tempting to buy the PSU with the most watts you can afford, but the ModXStream 500W is more than enough to power the system we're recommending here and still keep in budget. If you do want something with a little more juice, turn over the page and check out the Be Quiet! Dark Power Pro 650W.

UK Price | US Price: 1TB Samsung SpinPoint F3
UK Price | US Price: LG GH22NS50 SATA DVDRW

With even budget SSDs well out of this system's price range, we’ve instead selected the superb new [eurl=http://www.bit-tech.net/hardware/storage/2009/10/06/samsung-spinpoint-f3-1tb-review/1]1TB Samsung Spinpoint F3[/eurl, which finally dethrones its predecessor, the Spinpoint F1, after previously featuring in every single bit-tech buyer's guide to date. At £55 it’s an absolute bargain, thrashing every other mechanical drive when it comes to sequential speeds and matching the very top end of hard disk performance when it comes to real world uses such as boot times and loading games.
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