For the Rig is all things to all people: if you've never built a PC before and want to know what kind of spec you should aim for, let the Rig be your guide. If you want a list of potential upgrades that give you the best possible value for money, let the Rig be your guide. If you want to know how to put together a complete PC for less than £1000/$1500... well, you get the idea.
So what has changed during the haitus? Not an awful lot – AMD's new Radeon HD7000 cards have been launched at too high a price to cause a massive drop in existing midrange cards, which means NVIDIA's GTX 560Ti remains the best value card overall.
If you want to save more money, you could opt for the even cheaper Radeon HD6870 , mind. In a recent test I carried out for the mag, the HD6870 is between £30 and £40 cheaper than the GTX560Ti and is still its equal in games like Skyrim. It struggles comparatively in DX11 tessellation effects, but there's no game I found in which the GTX560Ti ran at playable framerates but the HD6870 doesn't. It just has that bit of extra headroom that's worth the difference if you can afford it.
Elsewhere I've been convinced to downgrade the case a bit. Corsair's Carbide 500R is a thing of beauty, but it's also quite pricey for what's ostensibly a good value build. Bitfenix' Outlaw, on the other hand, is an absolute steal for £40/$50.
The most significant change, however, is the addition of an add-in sound card. While onboard sound is absolutely fine these days, ASUS' Xonar DG costs just £20/$25 and crucially has a headphone amp circuit on board. That feature makes more practical difference to my ears than any of the expensive extras
'audiophiles' insist on, plus there's some solid sound processing silicon on there too.
What's in the Rig?
Intel Core i5 2500K
You could go for a cheaper Core i3 or six core Phenom, but the Core i5 2500K is the best all rounder available today.
Good value for a Z68 board, and fully featured for everything bar dual graphics.
Crucial Ballistix Sport
Buy a spare while you're at it, given these prices.
GeForce GTX 560Ti
Hunt around for the best prices, and don't be fooled by the extra value of the non-Ti version.
Samsung Spinpoint F3 500GB
If you can, use your old hard drive and buy an SSD for about the same price instead.
You could consider a quieter drive if you want. Or doing away with it altogether and buying a memory stick.
Not just good looking, but soft to the touch too.
OCZ ZS Series 650W
Plenty of power for what you'll need.
Classic Logitech design with a modern 3600dpi sensor.
Microsoft SideWinder X4
The price is rising. I suspect this keyboard may not be long for this world.
ASUS Xonar DG
Not essential, but a great extra for £20.
Iiyama Prolite X2377HDS/AOC i2353Ph
They're not my favourite eIPS screens – but they are top value.
Steelseries Siberia v2
Quite a bargain at this price, but you might be better off with hifi headphones.
That's £9.02 more/£70.20 less than last time .