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TechSpot PC Buying Guide: Mid-2014 Update

By Steve · 37 replies
Aug 8, 2014
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  1. yRaz

    yRaz Nigerian Prince Posts: 2,229   +1,306

    Very interesting article, however there is one thing I disagree with in both the enthusiast and luxury system and it might not be what people expect. It is the speakers you choose. The Z623 and Z906 have some fairly mediocre sound quality. If you're going to buy a quality soundcard buy some speakers that can take advantage of it. The Klipsch Promedia 2.1 system far out performs both logitech speakers in sound quality and they definitely kill Z623 in power. At first glance the Z623 and Promedia 2.1 systems both have 200 watts RMS, but saying they are both 200 watt systems is like saying the nikon D90 and vivitar 12mp are both 12MP cameras.

    Considering that the MRSP of both the PM2.1 and Z623 are the same, go with the promedia. If you're looking for hands down sound quality in a luxury system, get a set of bookshelf speakers and an amp. Audiophiles laugh at surround sound. A good pair of bookshelf speakers will knock the socks off even the best of 5.1 systems.
  2. DKRON

    DKRON TS Guru Posts: 569   +25

    The best low priced case would have to be the Silverstone Precision Series PS10 Black, full tool-less and looks sweet and cheap. Also with speakers I would go with a Logitech Z906 THX 5.1 Speaker System at least, the rest of their speakers don't bring the bass like those ones
  3. AnilD

    AnilD TS Enthusiast Posts: 38   +23

    In my case I would keep the Logitech speakers over Klipsch's if I wanted "PC speakers" that sound really good. I bought the Promedia 2.1s a few years back and came unimpressed (not to mention I had two different sets failing on me). As has been pointed out several times before, if you are after studio class audio, you should look beyond PC speakers and expect to pay for it.
  4. yRaz

    yRaz Nigerian Prince Posts: 2,229   +1,306

    Everyone likes to talk about bass, as if there is only one spectrum of sound that is important. Of course, everyone's preferences are going to be different, but overwhelming bass destroys the rest of sound. There are two other rangers you are completely missing with the logitech speakers. Every time someone talks about how they need more bass I think about those kids riding around with subs in their cars.

    Hell, the sub in the Z906 is 165W, 30 watts higher than the promedia. That isn't because it produces more bass, it's because it uses the power it has access to less efficiently. The satellites on the Z906 are 67 watts each, but they produce such a low quality sound it's just make the bad sounds louder.

    Watts are the megapixels of the audio world. You should largely ignore them. sensitivity and sound quality is the important parts and the Klipsch Promedia 2.1 out do the Z906 by an order of magnitude in both categories.

    Perhaps I was lucky, but I have had the same pair of Promedia's I bought back in 2007. As far as serious listening goes I have a pair of JBL 4311's paired with a Marantz 3300 preamp and two MA 6100 monoblocks.
    Last edited: Aug 8, 2014
  5. DKRON

    DKRON TS Guru Posts: 569   +25

    Yea agreed, my diamond series warfdale speakers are unbelievable sound quality but they also cost 3 grand
  6. WangDangDoodle

    WangDangDoodle TS Addict Posts: 199   +71

    I wouldn't buy anything new right now. At least not graphics cards. According to--what I'd consider to be reliable--rumors, Nvidia is just about to launch their 800 series. I don't know what's going on with AMD, but I haven't heard much about their next series. Either way, the price vs. performance on graphics cards will be flipped and burped within a matter of months. I'm pretty sure we'll get more bang for the buck then.
  7. @WangDangDoodle:
    For AMD, rumours about the Tonga architecture (speculated to be a Maxwell counterpart focusing on perf/watt) keep coming up. And there is also something Ice thingy, but this was mentioned far less often, I couldn't memorize the name.
  8. Cpu's are also to update at Xmas are they not ?
    I don't know if the cases in Luxury are bang for buck. They are huge and the Cosmos2 is one of my favorites, but it really is overkill and over priced. The HAF X is apparently as far as I have seen from tests best for temps. And it too is huge. The Cosmos looks way nicer. It definitely says bling. But I want the best cooling in any luxury case.
    I have the cosmos s and its being a dust magnet lately.
  9. While I hear great stories of people who have had Logitech products, that were great, but died, and then replaced with newer models thanks to Logitechs apparently amazing customer service, (or lack of wishing to talk to you, take your prize and go away approach ?) I dunno if I would take a G19.

    Luxury keyboard, Ducky Shine 2/3 or Corsair RGB Mechanical, Ducky Shine 4 when they arrive? :)

    This article will need redoing in a few months with new gfx n cpus coming.
  10. hellokitty[hk]

    hellokitty[hk] Hello, nice to meet you! Posts: 3,448   +145

    I do like to downsize on the power supplies so I would recommend something in the range of $40 Antec Earthwatts 380D for the entry level, $50 Rosewill Capstone gold for the enthusiast, and $80 Rosewill Capstone 550m for the luxury.
  11. Nobina

    Nobina TS Evangelist Posts: 1,272   +775

    Greate recommendations. I would only add that if you want high sound quality, you generally don't go for 2.1 speakers.
  12. Experimentongod

    Experimentongod TS Maniac Posts: 261   +103

    The jump in price from "Entry-Level" to "Enthusiast" is quite absurd. There's a gaping hole there. I would call it something like "Affordable Enthusiast", more than enough for high quality 1080p gaming but a lot cheaper than the "enthusiast" build you propose.
  13. Jad Chaar

    Jad Chaar Elite Techno Geek Posts: 6,515   +974

    @Steve I feel like an AMD CPU of some sort could be added to the entry level alternative. Also, for the budget box, I think either the Pentium Anniversary or the AMD Athlon 750K would better suite the build. Also, I think the Hyper 212 Evo is probably a better bet over the SilverStone Argon in the enthusiast build (should be the product rather than alternative).

    Finally, the $110 link for the storage SSD in the "Enthusiast build" sends you to a GPU, not an SSD :D.

    Overall, nice improvements.

    This is not criticism of any kind Steve, I am just putting forth some suggestions :D. But then again, you probably tested these builds, so they are probably the best.
  14. pmcardle

    pmcardle TS Booster Posts: 117   +22

    How come every tech site review that has detailed components for building rigs always exclude the price of the OS in their total cost? Is it assumed that you would use a pirated copy? I understand that the actual build-up is purely hardware related but it won't do anything other than post without the operating software. And I can bet that most users of an enthusiast rig will be installing 7 or 8.
  15. Steve

    Steve TechSpot Editor Topic Starter Posts: 2,836   +1,960

    You are right the Silverstone Precision Series PS10 is a great case and certainly a valid alternative to our suggestions. I have the PS10 and the SPEC-01 that we recommended, frankly you would only pick one over the other based on looks. So I don’t think the Silverstone PS10 is the ‘best’ low priced case, it’s just one of the better examples.

    While that is true you could say not to buy now because X hardware is coming out soon any day of the year. It could be many months before the next gen card in your price range is released. That’s a lot of gaming to be missing out on.

    Intel’s Broadwell CPUs are in coming, again read post above about waiting.

    The thing about the luxury build is that it is a ‘luxury’ build.

    We were hoping the PC industry would stop moving once we published this article, the thought of shiny new hardware down the track is terrible! (we update this article every few months and have do for years).

    Cheap power supplies :S Okay. I am not sure a 550w Rosewill power supply would be a wise choice with a Core i7-4790K and GeForce GTX 780 Ti combo.

    Quite absurd, how could that be? We have four systems and we set a budget for each one there is nothing silly about that.

    Budget system is around $500 complete ($350 for core parts).

    Entry-level rig is around $900 complete ($660 for core parts). Max budget would be $1000 here.

    The Enthusiast's PC is about $2000 ($1500 for core parts).

    The Luxury System costs $4500 ($2900 for core parts).

    See how the price of each system roughly doubles, that is not an absurd mistake. Matt was just good at math.

    No we don’t assume you would use a pirated copy. We assume you can work out what operating system you would want to use all on your lonesome. Some operating systems are free so why put a price on it, there are also a heap of Windows versions so that's a guide in itself. Do you already have a paid copy of Windows, are you upgrading?

    When everyone does something there is probably a good reason for it, other than pirating :p

    Rather than pick apart your post I will just say, you are right! :)
  16. Railman

    Railman TS Booster Posts: 708   +101

    Nice to know that my current set up would be classed as 'Enthusiast' even if I am missing some of the components! Saving up for sound card and graphics card. Also thinking of buying a satellite card with S2 receiver.
  17. hellokitty[hk]

    hellokitty[hk] Hello, nice to meet you! Posts: 3,448   +145

    SLI GTX780 TI takes like 600w, you will be fine with a rosewill 550w with a single card.
  18. Evernessince

    Evernessince TS Evangelist Posts: 1,918   +1,112

    I agree. Get rid of the internal sound card and get an external DAC and amp(if you're using headphones).
  19. veLa

    veLa TS Evangelist Posts: 774   +221

    I feel like more could have been done with the entry level rig. There's nearly a $1000 gap between it and the enthusiast system when it comes just to core parts. And come on guys, a dual-core CPU? That just shouldn't be recommended anymore under most circumstances because it's just not future proof these days.

    Pretty spot on for the budget box, enthusiast and extreme systems though.
  20. Steve

    Steve TechSpot Editor Topic Starter Posts: 2,836   +1,960

    Sure but that’s in a base system configuration with an SSD and a single fan, at least it is on our test system. Add in half a dozen case fans, multiple hard drives and whatever else you are likely to install in these systems and you start to run out of headroom. Not to mention your proposed prices for dodgy power supply’s saves $20 - $50. Seems like a very unwise saving if you want to future proof the system for future upgrades or expansion.

    I am not quite sure why we are having trouble grasping the concept of a budget. As I said in my last post…

    Budget system is around $500 complete ($350 for core parts).

    Entry-level rig is around $900 complete ($660 for core parts). Max budget would be $1000 here.

    The Enthusiast's PC is about $2000 ($1500 for core parts).

    The Luxury System costs $4500 ($2900 for core parts).

    The entry level rig has a budget of $1000, what more would you like to be done to the system keeping within that BUDGET?

    The entrly level system has a Core i3 processor, it supports 4 threads but yes it’s a dual-core. For less than $150 which CPU would you have gone with? If your answer is a quad-core AMD CPU then errr that’s the wrong answer.
  21. Railman

    Railman TS Booster Posts: 708   +101

    I am in the enthusiast bracket and I had to buy a new PSU. I went for a Corsair CS750M on several grounds. Future expandability, no risk of running out of power. Reliability both for the PSU and protection for motherboard. Compatibility with Haswell CPU as it support low-power sleep state. Modular cabling meaning tidier case. Low noise.

    I have had issues with cheap PSUs in the past so I am very particular about quality. Buying cheap PSUs is a false economy.
    Steve likes this.
  22. Blue Falcon

    Blue Falcon TS Addict Posts: 161   +51

    I would spend $10 extra for the R9 270X over R9 265 and GTX750Ti.

    Right now you can even get the R9 270X for $165:

    I presume the prices provided of $160 for 265 and 750Ti don't include rebates? I have seen GTX750Ti 2GB and R9 270 regularly for $140-145.

    Better yet, R9 280 for $180 which is 63% faster than 750Ti and 38% faster than R9 265 http://www.computerbase.de/2014-08/grafikkarten-2014-im-vergleich-sommerausgabe/2/


    I would also strongly consider the EVGA SuperNova 750 G2 PSU for ~$100 (850W model goes for $110 on Newegg too) for an Enthusiast rig since it's modular and comes with a 10-year warranty and achieved some great review scores:
    Last edited: Aug 9, 2014
  23. Keyboard/Mouse is subjective, but I would say a mechanical keyboard like the K70 is an absolute minimum for a Luxury system.
    Speakers: AudioEngine A2+ or A5+... if you need more bass, then add either an A8 sub or BIC F12.
    Personally, I am moving towards microATX motherboards and cases, because I don't need the extra expansion slots and prefer being able to make my case disappear as much as possible.

    Finally, I am in love with the LG 34UM95 Monitor. It doesn't have the color accuracy of my Dell U2711s and I give up a bit of screen real estate compared to having two monitors, but I find it easier to concentrate on the screen without having a bezel in the middle. Plus thunderbolt support means I can plug my Mac Pro in and tile the screen with my PC on one side, Mac on the other.
  24. Nero7

    Nero7 TS Addict Posts: 254   +90

    A Luxury PC with only 3gb of vram? heresy I call.

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