Blueprints: The Maximum PC Recommended Builds - June 2012

Alex Castle

In the June issue, we debuted a new section of the magazine: Blueprints. Here's how it works. We've built three rigs at three approximate price points: Baseline, Deluxe, and Ultra. Baseline gets you a powerful, no-compromises rig, suitable for gaming and content creation at 1080p. Performance gets you more, and Ultra gets you into six-core, dual-GPU territory.

These rigs are lab-tested and editor-approved, and we'll update them every month. Feedback is, of course, welcome, and we're in the middle of a debate as to whether to include a lower price range into the lineup. Tell us what you think!

Note: Updated 6.20.2012 with the builds from the August 2012 magazine issue.

Baseline

Baseline

Parts list
Case Fractal Design Define R3 www.fractal-design.com
PSU Corsair TX750 V2 www.corsair.com
Mobo Asus P8Z77-V www.asus.com
CPU Intel Core i5-3570K @3.4GHz www.intel.com
Cooler Cooler Master Hyper 212 Evo www.coolermaster.com
GPU EVGA GeForce 560 Ti 448 www.evga.com
RAM 8GB Patriot Gamer DDR3/1600 www.patriotmemory.com
Optical Drive Samsung SH-222 www.samsung.com
Solid State Drive OCZ Agility 3 120GB www.ocztechnology.com
Hard Drive Seagate Barracuda 3TB www.seagate.com
OS Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit www.microsoft.com

Approximate Price: $1,340

Now that we’ve reviewed some Ivy Bridge motherboards, we feel comfortable making a recommendation: the Asus P8Z77-V, with the new Core i5-3570K. And now that hard drive prices have dropped we’ve gone for a faster, bigger HDD.

We’ve had some readers ask why our Baseline rig costs over $1,300. Maybe baseline is the wrong word—this is a no-BS, sweet-spot gaming machine that’s forward-compatible and powerful without being overkill. We can, and do, build sub-$1,000 (and sub-$700) gaming rigs, but they require compromise due to budget constraints. The Baseline doesn’t.

Deluxe

Deluxe

Parts List
Case NZXT Phantom 410 www.nzxt.com
PSU Corsair HX750 www.corsair.com
Mobo Asus Sabertooth X79 www.asus.com
CPU Intel i7-3820 @4.7GHz (overclocked) www.intel.com
Cooler NZXT Havik 120 wwww.nzxt.com
GPU Asus GTX 670 DirectCU II TOP www.asus.com
RAM 16GB Corsair Vengeance DDR3/1600 www.corsair.com
Optical Drive LG WH12LS39 BD-R burner www.lg.com
Solid State Drive OCZ Agility 3 120GB www.ocztechnology.com
Hard Drive Seagate Barracuda 3TB www.seagate.com
OS Windows 7 Professional 64-bit www.microsoft.com

Approximate Price: $1,870

Our Baseline is everything you need for high-resolution, high-quality gaming. Full stop. But if you add an extra $500 to your budget, you get more stuff: eight processor threads instead of four, eight RAM slots, and an upgrade path to a six-core CPU down the line. You also get a Blu-ray burner and one of the fastest GPUs we’ve ever tested. This Sandy Bridge-E rig has remained mostly the same since it debuted in June, except for the videocard—and the price. We’re now recommending Asus’s GTX 670 DirectCU II TOP, which outperforms a stock GTX 680 on all of our benchmarks, while being $70 cheaper.

Ultra

Ultra

Ultra
Case Cooler Master Cosmos II www.coolermaster.com
PSU Thermaltake Toughpower Grand 1050W www.thermaltakeusa.com
Mobo Asus P9X79 Deluxe www.asus.com
CPU Intel i7-3930K @4.8GHz (overclocked) www.intel.com
Cooler Corsair H100 www.corsair.com
GPU EVGA GTX 690 www.evga.com
RAM 16GB Corsair Vengeance DDR3/1600 www.corsair.com
Optical Drive LG WH12LS39 BD-R Burner www.lg.com
Solid State Drive Samsung 830 Series 256GB www.samsung.com
Hard Drive Seagate Barracuda 3TB (x2) www.seagate.com
OS Windows 7 Professional 64-bit www.microsoft.com

Approximate Price: $3,460

Our Ultra configuration is for the Maximum PC reader who needs ultra-fast encoding and rendering, tip-top graphical prowess, and speedy storage. It’s a step above what’s necessary for 95 percent of the population, but a step below Dream Machine. So it’s merely absurd, not absolutely over the top. Speaking of which: Dream Machine is next month!

The price of our Ultra configuration is down to just (?!) $3,460, thanks mostly to GPU price drops. Instead of two Radeon HD 7970s, we’re recommending a GTX 690. If you’re going to have two $500 GPUs in one machine, you might as well put them on the same card and save some room and some power.

Intel’s Core i7-3930K is $600 worth of six-core madness, and the Corsair H100 cooler makes it easy to push the CPU to 4.8GHz from its 3.6GHz stock speed.

Cooler Master’s Cosmos II case is huge and luxurious, with plenty of airflow to cool everything, and the Asus motherboard is great for overclocking and will hold another GTX 690 if you go absolutely out of your gourd for power. We’re keeping the 256GB Samsung 830 SSD and 6TB of speedy mass storage.

Suggested Pairings

Kick-ass peripherals for your new rig


Keyboard

Razer BlackWidow Ultimate

$130, www.razerzone.com

Mouse

Cyborg R.A.T. 9

$100, www.cyborggaming.com

Speakers

Corsair SP2500

$205, www.corsair.com

Gaming Headset

Corsair Vengeance 1500

$100, www.corsair.com

Midrange Monitor

Asus PA238Q

$300, www.viewsonic.com

Premium Monitor

Dell UltraSharp U3011

$1,200, www.dell.com

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