December 2012 System Builder Guide

Article Index
December 2012 System Builder Guide
AMD Budget System
High-Performance Machine

December 2012 System Builders Guide

Those who choose to build their own computers have a lot of different options to choose from.  There are many different components from different companies that allow you to build a system to your taste and liking.  This of course requires some knowledge to put together a well-balanced computer system and to avoid the most common pitfalls.

We here at BCCHardware are going to do a Christmas special and show you three different computer packages for those who happened to get caught trying to figure out what they want to build.  We are going to build systems on that are tailored to those with a budget and those that want to build a performance machine.

GigabyteBudget Gaming System:

High-performance gaming machines are great, but sometimes every penny counts.  The goal budget computer system for gaming is to push the FPS (frames-per-second) to the extreme with a machine for about $600.  We will show you our recommendations and help you build a system without taking some shortcuts and without closing the door to future upgrades.

The low price means that some luxuries simply cannot be included in the build.  For example, there will be no SSD storage and only the stock cooling will be included.  If you feel that there is something on the list below that is missing in terms of extras, simply open your wallet and to add a few dollars extra.

Intel Budget System:

CPU Intel Core i3 3220 (3.3 GHz) ~$129.99
Motherboard Gigabyte GA-B75M-D3V ~$74.99
Video Card Sapphire Radeon HD 6870 ~$169.99
RAM Corsair Vengeance LP DDR3-1600 8GB Kit ~$41.99
HDD Seagate Barracude (1TB or 2TB) HDD ~$84.99 or $109.99
Case NZXT Source 210 Elite ~$49.99
PSU XFX Core Edition 550W ~$69.99

Build price ~$620

First up is a system with an Intel-based platform under the hood.  The processor choice falls on the Intel Core i3 3220 - a model with two cores and four threads that performs good enough for most new and old game titles.  We could have added a quad-core overclocking variant of Intel Core i5 3570K.  This of course would provide additional performance, but it’s price drives it out of the budget range.

The Gigabyte GA-B75M-D3V motherboard runs on the B75 chipset which is Intel's simplest variant with support for SATA 6.0 Gbps.  Although it is less important for the system is the possibility always nice to have for future SSD upgrades.

We rounded up with 8GB of DDR3 memory in the form of popular Corsair Vengeance LP.

For this build we chose an AMD Radeon HD 6870. With a price tag around $170, the HD 6870 has good overclocking margin.  This card has proven to offer a lot of performance for the money and is certainly enough for most games at a resolution of 1920 x 1080 pixels.  It is powerful enough to run BF3 at high settings with good framerates.  If you want to spend some more money, you can always step up and choose an Radeon HD 7870 or the GeForce GTX 660 Ti.

For storage we picked the mechanical hard drive Seagate Barracuda 1TB or 2TB, which will be of service to both the operating system and applications.

The power supply of choice is the XFX Core Edition 550W unit.  This model has enough power for both the base system with overclocking and future modest upgrades.

The case is the affordable NZXT Source 210 Elite.

On the next page, we'll cover the AMD equivalent to this system and we'll see what you gain and what you lose when switching sides to the red team.