Maximum PC




LAST ISSUE, we paid more attention to the overall costs of the budget builds and tried to level the playing field. With increases across the board for PC components, our costs had risen to the point where they weren’t exactly budget builds anymore. So we made a few adjustment­s to bring prices down while still offering well-rounded w PCs. With changes to the PSU, GPU, SSD, and HDD for fo the AMD machine, we managed to bring the price down, but a few extra swaps this time around have lowered it even further.

First, we swapped out our ASRock X570 Steel Legend ATX AM4 A motherboar­d and replaced it with an MSI B550M PRO-VDH WIFI Micro ATX mobo. Although it’s a smaller Micro ATX form factor a board, it does everything we need it to and saves $15. O Our biggest saving came when downgradin­g our GPU, instead of sticking with our ASRock Radeon RX 6600 XT Challenger D O OC 8GB, we opted for a 6500 XT card, an Asus TUF Gaming OC R Radeon RX 6500 XT 4GB GPU, saving us $90. We kept the same H HDD, SSD, and RAM configurat­ion but chose a smaller PSU as th the larger EVGA offering from the last issue was no longer on sa sale. These changes bring our overall price for the AMD machine do down from $921 to $805—a saving of $116. There’s a small hit to pe performanc­e, due to our GPU and motherboar­d alternativ­es, but no nothing that will be a major detriment to this build.

As for the Intel build, last time we brought down the cost to ju just under $900 but, as with the AMD machine, we swapped our motherboar­d for an alternativ­e ASRock model. Although lacking a few features, this is the same B660M chipset and saved $15. We also swapped out the GPU for a similarly performing card, this time an older Asus TUF Gaming EVO GeForce GTX 1660 Ti OC 6GB. With comparable performanc­e to the RTX 3050 card before it, we saved an extra $60. Finally, we opted for the same PSU from the AMD budget machine, bringing the total down to $782.

AS IN OUR PREVIOUS ISSUE, we tried to cut down our prices for the mid-range machines. It’s difficult to do so while maintainin­g the same power and trying to keep your components up to date. Of course, compatibil­ity also plays a part, and upgrading your CPU may also require a new motherboar­d or RAM.

So, to keep our mid-range machines balanced, we’ve made some changes to lower the price and maintain the performanc­e. Kicking off, we swapped out the AMD Ryzen 7 7700X for the AMD Ryzen 5 7600X, saving $80. Granted, the 7 700X is a great chip but for a mid-range rig, the latter fits the bill with six cores, 12 threads, and an impressive max boost core of up to 5.3GHz. We introduced the ASRock Radeon RX 6750 XT Phantom Gaming D OC 12GB GPU last time around, but we’re swapping that for a cheaper alternativ­e, the ASRock Challenger Pro OC, which comes in at $409—a saving of $21. We also swapped out the ATX motherboar­d for a Micro ATX ASRock B650M PG Riptide WIFI mobo, saving a further $55 over the previous ASRock B650E PG Riptide WIFI ATX. That’s a total saving of $151 this time.

Applying the same thinking to our Intel mid-range system, we reverted to the Intel Core i5-12600K from an Intel Core i513600K. We lose a little performanc­e and efficiency, but the 12600K is more than good enough to power our system and was $60 cheaper. The ASRock Z690 Phantom Gaming 4/D5 motherboar­d went up from $200 to $230, so we swapped it for the Gigabyte Z690 Gaming X ATX ($200). The GPU had to change too, as the Asus GeForce RTX 3070 Dual V2 OC 8GB hiked up in price, so we brought in the Gigabyte Eagle OC GeForce RTX 3060 Ti 8GB card to replace it, at least until the 3070 cards fall in price. Both machines receive the EVGA 750 BP 80+ Bronze PSU for under $100, but despite making some savings, the increase in GPU price means the total Intel cost hasn’t significan­tly fallen.

FOR OUR TOP-TIER turbo machines, building a system with outright power in mind is the priority and keeping one eye on the budget can take a backseat here, well kind of. It would be easy to get carried away with adding unrealisti­c parts just for the sake of it, but these systems are designed to showcase some of the latest and greatest component configurat­ions, after all. With the recent release of the next-generation Intel and AMD processors, Nvidia’s 40 series GPUs, and AMD’s latest Radeon RX 7000 series, these systems have some serious heat.

We can finally introduce the latest AMD GPU, the Radeon RX 7900 XTX. In the previous issue, these cards were way over their RRP—you could grab one for around $1,500, but nobody wants to pay $500 over the odds, no matter how special they are. This month, they’re back down to where they should be, so out goes the XFX Speedster MERC 310 Black Edition Radeon RX 7900 XT 20GB and in comes the same model, but the XTX variant with 4GB of extra VRAM. There’s no denying that this is a mighty powerful GPU—it has a boost clock of up to 2,615MHz and 24GB of GDDR6 this card can easily game at 4K on ultra settings with FPS scores of 90 and above. That’s based on benchmarks with the AMD Ryzen 9 7900X, which we also have in this AMD turbo machine. Unfortunat­ely, that’s the only change for the AMD rig.

Even that single change on the AMD side is more exciting than the complete lack of activity on the Intel Turbo rig. One possible reason is that we have recently added to both of these systems, so they are certainly future-proofed. The Asus GeForce RTX 4090 TUF Gaming OC 24GB is our weapon of choice here and remains in the build this month as it is still one of the ‘cheapest’ RTX 4090 cards you can pick up. We use that term lightly as it is still astronomic­ally expensive, but it’s the best available at the time of writing. Hopefully, we will get to see a slight decrease in RTX 4090 GPU prices soon as these cards rock, much like the performanc­e of both of these Turbo systems.

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