Note: This blueprints article was taken from the December issue of the magazine.
What time is it? It's time to build a PC with our Blueprints! This month, we've built three rigs at three approximate price points: Baseline, Performance, and Ultra. Baseline gets you a powerful, no-compromises rig, suitable for gaming and content creation at 1080p. Performance gets you more, and the Ultra is for those who want a killer PC.
These rigs are lab-tested and editor-approved, and we'll update them every month. Feedback is, of course, welcome. Tell us what you think!
The big news this month is that the price of our Baseline rig has dropped a bit, going from $1,350 last month to low price of just $1,200. The drop is due to two factors—prices for PC parts keep falling, and we swapped out only one component, trading the Gigabyte GTX 660 Ti for the less expensive GTX 660. Since this rig is built for 1080p gaming, the GTX 660 fills the bill quite well and costs $80 less than the 660 Ti. We thought about inserting a Radeon HD 7870, given recent price drops that bring it in line with the GTX 660, but the GTX 660 is less expensive and faster, so in it goes. All other parts remain unchanged.
Click on page two for the Performance and Ultra builds.
The Performance build undergoes extremely light modifications this month as there hasn’t been a lot of new hardware introduced, and to be honest, this rig is already pretty bitchin’. We’re sticking with our Sandy Bridge-E Core i7-3820, 16GB of Corsair RAM, and our Asus GeForce GTX 670 GPU as it makes for a potent package, and represents the perfect middle ground between Baseline and Ultra. We have upgraded our SSD to the 256GB 830 model from Samsung, however, as its dollar-to-gigabyte ratio has dropped down to around $0.75, and let’s be honest—a 128GB boot drive is barely cutting it these days.
Since we dished on the parts required for a budget build last month, this month we’ve brought back the Ultra configuration a towering hulk of a PC designed to shred benchmarks and your line of credit. The Ultra configuration is about two stages below Dream Machine in that its budget is still “real world,” yet it is built using the best components available in every category.
The six-core Intel Core i7-3930K is running the show with a Corsair H100 water cooler keeping it frosty even at 4.8GHz overclocked. A modest 16GB of RAM from Corsair has found a cozy home in the Asus P9X79 motherboard, which is great for overclocking and will accommodate another GTX 690 if we ever need to play Crysis 3 on three displays at once. On the storage front, we’re sticking with 6TB of 7,200rpm storage for data and backup, and have upgraded our boot drive to the new 256GB Samsung 840 Series Pro SSD, which set seven out of nine benchmark records in the Lab this month. We also switched our LG Blu-ray drive in favor of a Lite-On model, but the writing is on the wall for physical media so we’ll probably remove this category soon. Finally, we’re sticking with Windows 7 Pro for now even though Windows 8 has arrived. We’ll definitely upgrade at some point, but probably not until SP1 arrives.