Specifications and discussion
Upgrading an older PC is only beneficial if newer components slot right in on a like-for-like basis. However, every few years a radical shift in technology renders certain systems practically obsolete. For example, purchasing high-performance graphics cards based around the AGP interface is difficult, while grabbing large chunks of DDR1 memory - 4GB-plus for a modern PC - is expensive.
It's better to throw down the cash on a brand-new PC than to spend an inordinate amount of money upgrading, say, a six-year-old system. But what to buy and how much to spend? Taking the hassle (and some fun, we might add) of building it yourself, a bevy of system integrators do all the hard work for you.
Catering for the reader who wants the utmost flexibility in choosing the components but would rather have experts put it together, system-builder Wired2Fire provided HEXUS with a complete PC priced a touch below £1000, including VAT - indicative of a premium system in mid-2011.
|Processor||Intel Core i5 2500K @ 4.8GHz (48 x 100MHz BCLK)|
|Mainboard||ASUS P8P67, P67, LGA1155|
|Memory||4GB (2 x 2GB) Corsair Vengeance DDR3-1,600 @ 9-9-9-24-2T|
|Hard disk(s)||Samsung Spinpoint F3, 1TB, 32MB cache, 7,200rpm|
|Display||Hanns-G HH241DPB 24in full-HD|
|Graphics hardware||Sapphire Radeon HD 6970 2GB (stock clocks)|
|Optical drive 1||Blu-ray reader|
|Optical drive 2||None, optional extra|
|Sound hardware||Onboard high-definition audio|
|Speakers||None, optional extra|
|Networking hardware||10/100/1000 from ASUS motherboard|
|Operating system||Windows 7 Home Premium, 64-bit|
|PSU||Corsair CX600 non-modular|
|Input devices||Logitech keyboard and B110 optical mouse|
|Additional software||None of note|
|Notable items||Pre-overclocked CPU|
|Included warranty||Two years, return to base (second year is labour only)|
|Price||£969.00 including VAT|
|Shipping||From £29 including VAT|
Intel's Core i5 2500K is the only chip we'd recommend for a PC in this class. Wired2Fire understands the potential of the second-generation Core processor, which is multiplier-unlocked, and factory-overclocks it to a lusty 4.8GHz. Cooled by the chunky Fenrir heatsink and 120mm fan, there's everything to like here.
We'd like to see a Z68-class motherboard provide the backbone of the system but can understand the inclusion of a P67 board for budgetary reasons. ASUS builds decent boards and the P8P67 is no exception, though do bear in mind that it only supports AMD's CrossFireX multi-GPU technology - SLI is available on higher-up models.
4GB of DDR3-1,600 memory is ample and the inclusion of a Radeon HD 6970 2GB makes a lot of sense in this gamer-orientated rig. Wired2Fire bundles in a reasonable-quality Hanns-G full-HD monitor, which includes a DVI input, and it mates well with the graphics.
Blu-ray players are now cheap enough to be included on mid-priced builds and the LG model plays all of our discs without fuss or excessive noise. Corsair's CX600 PSU is non-modular but that's not overly concerning at this price point.
We've long advocated using SSDs as boot-drives for all systems. Wired2Fire allocates priority to budget elsewhere, meaning that a 1TB hard-drive is the sole storage provider. After using solid-state drives in our test systems for over a year, we'd do everything possible to include one, sacrificing other components.
Finished off with basic input devices from Logitech, the system is well-rounded and, going by what we already know of the CPU and GPU, capable of handling all but the most strenuous of workloads.
Don't like a certain component? Wired2Fire has an online configurator that enables you to swap certain components - add in an SSD or an SLI-supporting motherboard - for a reasonable premium.
The system is offered with a standard two-year warranty, with the first year return-to-base and second covered by a labour-only scheme. Builds take between five and 15 working days. You can opt for a 'fast' build, for an extra £30, which guarantees a five-day despatch.
Value for money
Adding up the constituent parts leads to a build-it-yourself price of around £965, or the same price as the Wired2Fire-supplied PC. This price doesn't include any overclocking or warranty cover, telling us that the asking price is rather good.
Solid specifications and ostensibly good value for money, let's take a closer look.