Readers of the UK mag (and our forum) will be aware of the PC Gamer Rig. It's what we keep in various stages of disrepair in the office and consider to be the 'average' PC – one that's not too expensive, but specced up well enough to run any game past or present at a respectable lick. It functions both as a guide to the sort of base system we'd expect anyone buying or building a new machine from scratch, and as a guide to upgrades if you're looking to just replace a single part.
And now it's online, in a new weekly feature we're calling 'The PC Gamer Rig'. Catchy, isn't it?
The arbitrary budget we set ourselves for The Rig is £1,000/$1,500, but we'll always try to get the best value possible out of it. We're a little bit over budget this month before of the sudden rise in hard drive prices as a result of flooding in Thailand, but we reckon they'll be back down again soon. The general idea is that if you want to put together a PC that's better – be our guest. But this is a sort of 'PC Gamer Recommended Specs' – generally speaking, spending less will be a false saving as performance or longevity will suffer.
In its new online incarnation, we'll be using The Rig to flag up new hardware releases and kit we're testing in the office, find new and better bargains online, and benchmark new games as they come out.
This week's set-up was benchmarked running Battlefield 3 at generic 'High' settings, 1920x1080 resolution, at a steady 55 frames per second.
The prices shown below are based on various shopping comparisons and best value finds, linked to where possible.
One final thing – for reference, although the Rig should look like it does in the picture at the top, it usually looks more like this (and no, that's not the right motherboard...):
An unlocked Sandy Bridge quad core, capable of all the top end features but hyperthreading.
An awesome Z68 board, comes with mSATA connectors for mini SSDs and Intel's caching technology.
Eight gigabytes of fast 1600MHz DDR3 for £50. Grab it quick, just in case it's a misprint.
A good low cost card that'll get you gaming at decent framerates on a single monitor.
Hard drive prices have shot through the roof over the last week, doubling as a result of flooding in Thailand. Expect this to come down again soon.
Fast DVD writers are pretty much generic these days, and there's no real argument for spending any more.
Easy access to all components and not too noisy either, our favourite budget case looks better than others too.
A decent 650W PSU that's rated well for efficiency. The minimum you should try to get away with.
Classic Logitech style in a brand new mouse, this 3600dpi mouse is comfortable and precise.
Microsoft SideWinder X4
Backlighting, macros and anti-ghosting for £25? Yes please.
Astonishingly low price for an IPS screen, and the LED backlight means it's thin, so hardly takes up any space on your desk.
Being phased out for a newer model, so grab a bargain while they last.