The PC Gamer Rig: A graphics upgrade... or is it?

the rig mk 4

You can always hold off upgrading until the next big thing has been announced, so offering it as some sort of advice is a little bit weak. But the thing is, right now, there really is a good reason to hold off putting together a new machine or upgrading your old one. I've updated the PC Gamer Rig this week, but I'm not so sure you should.

Here's why.

On any other week, the change to our Rig's specs would be a major thing. I've swapped out the old GeForce GTX 560 Ti graphics card for one of AMD's new Radeon HD7850s. It's a little bit more expensive, yes, but only by £10-£20 or so. To justify that, it's marginally faster but it's a lot smaller, uses less power and runs quietly. Plus it has a lot of overclocking headroom if you like that sort of thing.

For a round up of components I'd recommend on a sub-£1000/$1500 budget, it's a shoe in. If the price were just a little lower it'd be one of the best cards ever.

However, you can't fail to have noticed that NVIDIA took the wraps off of its Kepler-based GTX 680 this week. While that card is stupido-money to buy, it'll be very interesting to see how it's cut back for the mid-range versions.

On the one hand, GTX 680 does look like a supremely efficient design which just has the edge over AMD's Graphics Core Next in games. On the other, it's laid out in such enormous blocks of CUDA cores that the performance of any GTX 660 and its ilk is hard to predict – we just don't know yet how many cores the lower end cards will have and what the surrounding design will be. You can't read anything into the battle that's coming based on what we've seen so far.

If you're on a real budget, mind, perhaps you should ignore the new cards altogether. If you shop around you can find AMD's outgoing Radeon HD 6870 for less than £140, which is a real bargain and will play anything you can throw at it at 1920x1080. Worth considering, I think.

What's in the Rig?


Intel Core i5 2500K

£150.30 / $219.99

Ivy Bridge is on its way, but unlikely to be worth waiting for.


ASUS P8Z68-V LX/Gigabyte GA-Z68AP-D3

£74.98 / $69.99

The Gigabyte board is amazing value. I wish we had rebates in the UK.


Crucial Ballistix Sport

£37.99 / $51.99

So long as it's a decent brand, RAM type won't affect performance dramatically.

3D Card

HIS Radeon HD7850

£188.77 / $257.72

Marginally faster than a GeForce GTX 560Ti, marginally more expensive too.

Hard drive

1TB Hitachi 7K1000

£76.92 / $132.99

We're still waiting for a big drop in price. It'll come.

DVD drive

Samsung SH-222AB

£9.95 / $17.50

Not really essential, but for less than £10 why not?


Bitfenix Outlaw

£36.98 / $48.95

Silly good bargain for a lovely case.

Power supply

OCZ ZS Series 650W

£64.99 / $79.99

More than enough power, and a decent supply too.


Logitech G400

£27.47 / $34.99

Classic Logitech design with a modern 3600dpi sensor.


Steelseries 6G|V2

£61.75 / $94.99

Looks like it's sold out across the UK (again), but due in again next week.


AOC i2353Ph

£140.32 / $179.99

Not a great stand, but astonishing picture quality for the price. As good as any other eIPS screen.


Creative SoundBlaster Tactic 3D Alpha

£35.76 / $39.99

Good for the price, but really good cans cost more. Why does no-one ever ask about speakers?

Total: £906.18/$1272.08

That's £3.22 more/$3.09 less than last month (I did cheat and remove the soundcard though).,