Thursday, February 11, 2010

Build a High-end Gaming PC

Finally, it's time to build our high-end gaming rig to take on the host of games that will launch in the near future. Our mid-range PCs too will be able to handle these games without much of an issue but the future is DX11, and come November, we'll catch a glimpse of what it can bring to the table and possibly what the future of gaming would look like.
So without further delay, let's build our rig.

CPU and Motherboard Combo
AMD Phenom II X4 955 Black Edition  
Price: Rs. 10,500

Asus M4A79T Deluxe

Price: Rs. 12,500

Ever since AMD launched the Phenom II 965 CPU, the X4 955 has been pushed down in price, which is great for someone looking for a high-end quad core CPU. It was either this or the Corei7 (Lynnfield) CPUs, but availability is a big issue right now which makes the Phenom II the best candidate.  
For the motherboard we went with the Asus M4A79T Deluxe (790FX, SB750), which again is a feature-packed board that is rock solid, which is handy when overclocking. We reviewed the DDR2 version of the motherboard that blazed through all of our tests and this one is no different.
Apart from the performance, it supports three-way CrossFire, DDR3 up to 1600MHz, 8+2 phase power, Anti-Surge protection and many more. The coolest feature of this board has got to be the Turbo Key feature that lets you turn your cabinet's power button into an instant overclocking switch. Again if this is a bit too much then I would suggest you go for the DDR2 variant of the same board.

G Skill F3-10600CL7D-4GBPI DM (2x2GB)
Price: Rs.5650

4GB of DDR3 RAM should perfectly compliment this motherboard, plus it comes with heat sinks to keep the temperature under check. The latency for this memory is 7-7-7-18 and runs at a low 1.5v, which means more headroom for overclocking.
Remember if you're going for the DDR2 board then make sure you buy DDR2 memory.


Hard Drive
1TB Seagate
Price:Rs. 4,050

We had to step it up here, so out goes the 500GB and in comes the 1TB that gives you the best price/GB value. Here Seagate is the cheapest and doesn't have any issues like their 500GB drives are facing. WD is a couple hundreds more, so it's up to you which one you prefer.


Graphics card
Sapphire HD5850 1GB
Price: Rs. 17,500

Arguably one of the hottest cards around after HD5870, this one is just perfect for our build and also the one I'm most eager to get my hands on. There is no alternative from the competition that can match its performance and low power draw. Yes, it has two 6-pin power connectors but don't let that fool you, as it virtually shuts off when idle.
How does it fare? Well, it thrashes the GTX285, which costs a few grand more, plus here you're getting full DX11 support for the upcoming games, which is what you need to look out for when investing in such a high end card. I would have loved to include the HD5870 if it was selling around 20K but we'll have to wait for that to happen.
The availability is not widespread right now but I would strongly suggest you pick this up even if you have to ship it from somewhere.


Cabinet and SMPS 
Corsair VX550 
Price: Rs.5800

CoolerMaster CM690 (With side Window)
Price: Rs.4700
Prices have shot up like crazy for PSUs, and sadly we must give in, or else suffer the wrath of a failing PC a few months down the line. Here we have two good PSUs; one is a CoolerMaster Real Power Pro (RS550-ACAAA1) and the Corsair VX550. Both of them have very similar features like 80+ efficiency, Active PFC, sleeved cables, two 6-pin power connectors and plenty of SATA and Molex connectors.
The CoolerMaster PSU is slightly cheaper than the Corsair but it wasn't available at the time of this guide, so we went with the Corsair. Once again, don't be fooled by the 550W, not only is it more than enough for this rig, but its actual peak output is 650W, which just shows how much headroom we have.

Put simply this is the best mid-Tower cabinet since sliced bread. The CoolerMaster CM690 is a spacious cabinet that sports a tool less design, support for six 120mm fans but more importantly, it looks brilliant. If you want bling, then go somewhere else, but if you want a stealthy, roomy cabinet that would look good even in your living room then you can't go wrong with this. 


Optical Drive
LG, Sony DVD Writer
Price: Rs. 1,125
I was thinking of putting in a Blu-ray drive but when I called up a couple of places to inquire about the prices and heard things like 12K, I changed my mind. For now, it's best to stick with our trusty DVD writer.

BenQ G2412HD
Price: Rs. 12,000
While the 21.5" Samsung is great, 1920x1080 still looks a little better on a 23.6" monitor. The BenQ G2412HD is better than the previous E2400HD monitors and comes with the same features, but a better frame and aesthetics. HDMI is present of course and we have an audio out port as well to route the audio from HDMI.
We are currently reviewing this model and so far it has performed well. Another option in this price range would be the Samsung P2350, which is also a good performer but lacks HDMI. 


Keyboard & Mouse
Logitech Media Keyboard
Price: Rs. 500
Logitech MX518
Price: Rs. 1,400
For gaming all you really need is a comfortable keyboard and a good mouse which is why we've kept it the same. Every gamer will attest that the MX518 is still the best and cheapest gaming mouse available. Plenty of shortcut buttons and easy on the fly DPI switching makes this the ideal tool in a gamer's arsenal. One small problem though, it's not for lefties.



Altec Lansing FX5051 (5.1)
Price: Rs. 10,000
The Altec Lansing FX5051 is one of the best 5.1 systems available. The speaker system earlier was priced too high when we had reviewed it but now has dropped by 3k. Also, some of the cons that we saw back then can be ignored to quite an extent. The inadequate bass and higher volumes was quite a downer but it can be put aside as the rest of the system delivers.
The sharp highs and good mids along with the decent bass provide a good experience. Comfort wise this system has a wireless remote provided that lets you control the system even when seated away from it. The control pod is also very good with several tweaking options and input options like AUX & MIC. This is one of the better 5.1 systems your 10k can get you. The best part is that these speakers support USB as well, so you can easily connect it to a notebook as well.
For the full review read here



Additional Components

Core-Contact freezer 120mm CPU Cooler
Price: Rs. 2,700

One of the best heat sinks in the market, this is compatible with both LGA 775 as well as AM3 motherboards and provides some of the best cooling performance for the price. It comes with its own thermal paste as even a fan controller bracket allows you to manually control the fan speed. This is definitely recommended if you plan on overclocking the Phenom II.
CoolerMaster LongLife 120mm Case Fans
Price: Rs. 450 (per piece)

One of the cool features of these fans is the amount of air they move without being noisy. They are also available in different colors and will go well with the transparent side window.
Asus Xonar DX Sound Card
Price: Rs. 4500

This relatively cheap sound card is a good option in case you're not too happy with the onboard audio. Don't be fooled by its size though, as it carries most of the features of its older siblings and offers better value for money. Some of its features include, ASUS AV100 audio processor, Sampling Rate: 24-bit/192kHz, EAX level: "5", Dolby Home Theatre, Analogue 3.5mm audio jacks and optical S/PDIF and many more. The performance is good for the price and it also emulates Creatives EAX features quite well in most games. Overall a good pick for your rig.


Final Build

Putting together all those components is going to be expensive, but again, a high-end rig doesn't come cheap. Prices of components have gone up quite a bit and what we've put together here will offer very good performance and more importantly easily handle the upcoming games, which is what you look for when building a high-end machine.

There are certain things that you can avoid to reduce the cost, like those 5.1 speakers for instance, not everyone has space for a 5.1 setup. Instead you may want to get yourself a 2.1 or even a good pair of headphones.
That's all for now folks, hope you spend your money wisely……………



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