Huawei API v4.0

Sunday, March 14, 2010

The Enthusiast's PC ($1,500)

The Enthusiast's PC

• Excellent performance • Heavy multitasking and everyday computing • Perfect for gaming

The Enthusiast's PC incorporates the perfect blend of both the Entry-Level Rig and Luxury System, making this our most harmonious build. Our intent is to keep this system within the grasp of the average computer enthusiast, essentially offering a fully loaded PC minus some of the unnecessary bells and whistles that could set you back an additional grand or two.

ASRock P55 Pro
Intel Core i5 750
OCZ 2x2GB DDR3 1600MHz
Video Card
Radeon HD 5850
Asus VH236H 23"
Intel X25-M 80GB + Western Digital Caviar Black 750GB
$225 + $80
Optical Drive
Sony Optiarc AD-7240S-0B + Lite-On iHOS104-06
$25 + $62
Power Supply
Corsair CMPSU-650TX 650W
Antec Nine Hundred
Sound Card
Cyber Acoustics CA3550RB 2.1
Input Devices
Logitech G500 + G15
$57 + $85

**We are admittedly breaking our intended $1,500 price point, but we truly believe an SSD and Blu-ray reader belong in the Enthusiast's PC. Removing these two components brings us well below the $1,500 range.

Processor, Motherboard, Memory

We can't think of a better foundation for this system than Intel's Core i5 750. It's at the perfect price point for the average user and with a little tweaking you can meet or exceed the performance offered by the $590 Core i7 960. The Lynnfield platform offers savings all around. P55-based motherboards are cheaper than your average X58 board, and Lynnfield processors have a dual-channel memory controller, meaning that you will likely save on buying one less RAM module (2x2GB versus 3x2GB for example).

ASRock's P55 Pro has just about anything you might want in a basic motherboard. It supports up to 16GB of RAM at DDR3 2600MHz with overclocking, and it has some useful features including an onboard CMOS reset and power button, an LED POST code display, and CrossFireX (as well as Quad CrossFireX) support. The RAM kit chosen for this build is the same from our Entry-Level Rig.

Graphics, Monitor

The Radeon HD 5000 series is no longer in short supply, so you shouldn't have a problem finding the HD 5850. At the time of writing there were plenty in circulation for considerably more than the list price ($320 vs $260).The 5850 runs cool, fits on most cases and also brings forward-looking technologies like Eyefinity and DirectX 11.

Our selected display steps forward on the size and price of the monitors chosen in the Budget and Entry-Level builds. With 23" of screen at a resolution of 1920x1080, the Asus VH236H will fit many roles, whether you're watching movies, gaming, or just multitasking. Other worthy 24" alternatives are the slightly pricier Samsung T240HD and HannsG HH-21HPB or the harder-to-swallow Dell U2410 which carries an IPS panel.


In our September update, we tried to squeeze an SSD into the budget, but it just wouldn't fit without major sacrifices -- mainly because of the pricier X58 motherboard and Core i7 920 processor. This time around, there is plenty of headroom for an SSD along with a hefty storage drive.

Although they have suffered from some firmware issues, Intel's X25-M SSDs have been at the top of performance charts from the get-go. The 80GB X25-M should provide ample space for a fresh copy of Windows 7, standard applications and a few games while Western Digital's 750GB Caviar Black houses your media. Make sure the X25-M you order is a second-generation unit, which can be recognized by a "G2" in the model number.

We've chosen to pair a standard DVD burner with Lite-On's affordable Blu-ray reader to give your Enthusiast's PC that extra mile of functionality, but if you want to save $25, feel free to drop the spare drive. Likewise, if you have no use for a Blu-ray reader, exclude it from your purchase.

Power Supply, Case

The 550W Corsair CMPSU-550VX is a great choice for $10 less than our chosen 650W unit, however 550W could be cutting it close on some multi-GPU configurations, so spending more now to have headroom later makes the most sense to us.

Antec's Nine Hundred mid-tower chassis is one of the best selling computer cases in recent times. It features a sturdy steel construction and ships with three 120mm fans as well as one top-mounted 200mm fan. Despite its acclaim, the Antec Nine Hundred is showy, and that's a deal breaker for some folks. For something that looks a bit tamer, see Antec's Three Hundred or Lian Li's cases. There are also a variety of well-priced full tower chassis in circulation, with Sunbeam's Transformer and NZXT's Zero 2 being popular choices.


Despite its grasp on the computer audio market, Creative's sound cards and drivers have left a bitter taste in the mouths of many. For that reason, we've selected HT Omega's Striker. That said, some users undoubtedly prefer a card that's more mainstream or simply need support for the latest EAX titles, in which case the Creative Sound Blaster X-Fi XtremeGamer should be suitable. There are a variety of 2.1 speaker systems in the $20-$50 price range, but Cyber Acoustics seems to offer the best bargain with a peak power output of 68W and a plethora of solid reviews.

Input Devices

Even if you're not a hardcore gamer, Logitech's G500 mouse is an excellent choice at $57, and the G15 keyboard is somewhat of a de facto among gamers. The G500 is in a sweet spot as far as price for performance goes, but if you need something less expensive, take a look at our Entry-Level Rig. Other gaming-oriented keyboards include OCZ's Sabre OLED

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