Systems for All Budgets (Part 2) - GX3500, GX1000 3D

11/14/2012 5:45:19 PM

Description: Extreme Gaming PC: GX3500

Extreme Gaming PC: GX3500

Once you decide that money is no object, the sky's the limit. However, even we can't bring ourselves to pretend a $4810+ PC is within the budget of all but the tiniest proportion of Micro Mart readers. So, rather than look at Computer's Planet's top PC, the GX5000 (at around $5612), we're going to look at the considerably more modest GX3500.

The system's gaming pedigree is clear, powered as it is by an unlocked, quad-core Intel Core i7 3770K at 3.5GHz. At base speeds, it's not substantially better than any of Intel's other high-end processors, but push it into overclock territory and watch it fly - particularly when you have Corsair's H60 liquid cooling system protecting it. You may even be able to get 5GHz out of it, if you know your stuff!

At this price, you start getting better extras as well. Chief amongst these is the LG Blu-ray drive, making this system a media center as well as a gaming rig. The case - a Cooler Master HAF-X - is packed with passive cooling features (such as an air duct over the graphics card) as well as space for multiple exhaust fans, easy-dock SATA drive bays, advanced cable management u features and a partition to isolate the PSU. Truly a case aimed at gaming connoisseurs, then.

The power supply is an encouragingly powerful Cooler Master 750W piece. It's more than most PCs needs, but the GeForce GTX 660 requires almost 300W just by itself when under load. Add in the other components and there's not as much overhead as the number initially suggests. The graphics card warrants it, though - there are better models, but in terms of power to value, it's easily the best you can get at the top end of the graphics card range. 16GB of RAM ensures that you'll never want for memory. If anything, it has too much - no game is going to require that amount. Even your operating system would struggle to fill it under the most ridiculous conditions.

The true premium addition is the 120GB SSD drive you get alongside a 1TB HDD. Caching textures and models from disk to memory can result in stuttering and slowdowns; running games from an SSD drive doesn't just stop this, it also reduces loading times.

Of course, you can still get better systems by spending more money, but there's no doubt in our minds that if you're after a high-end system, the GX3500 gives you the best value for money in the range.

Again, if you can afford to drop Windows 7, that saves you $112, and a little less RAM wouldn't be the end of the world, but it's so finely tuned in every other area, we wouldn't really change a thing about it.



CPU: Intel i7 3770K (4 x 3.5GHz)

RAM: 16GB DDR3 1333MHz

HDD: 120GB SSD and 1TB SATA-III 7200rpm

Case: Cooler Master HAF-X

Graphics Card: NVidia GeForce GTX 660 2GB

Optical Drive: LG Blu-ray/DVD/CD rewriter

Power Supply: Cooler Master 750W PSU

CPU Cooling: Corsair H60 Liquid Cooling

Motherboard: Asus

Sound: 7.1 HD sound

USB Ports: 8 x USB 2.0 and 2 x USB 3.0

Operating System: Windows 7 Home Premium 64 BIT


3D Gaming PC: GX1000 3D ($2087)

3D Gaming PC: GX1000 3D

A pre-built 3D gaming PC is an attractive package, and Computer Planet offer just one at the moment - the GX1000 3D. Although it seems expensive at over $2084, remember that it comes with a 27" 3D monitor (which is responsible for a fair chunk of that price) and the 3D Vision Kit which allows you to play 3D games in the first place. Knock those out of consideration and you have a fairly reasonably priced gaming system.

However, it's fair to say that unlike most of Computer Planet's pre-builds, this one needs a little work. For a start, putting an Intel Core 15 2500 CPU in a gaming system is near-unforgivable. The Intel Core i5 2500K costs barely $8 more at retail, but the unlocked multiplier means you get superb overclocking performance. Which, not coincidentally, is exactly the kind of extra someone buying a 3D-capable gaming PC might want.

It's clear that corners have been cut on most of the components in an attempt to make a 3D-capable gaming PC happens within a reasonable budget. Some completely sane restrictions have been placed on the RAM (capped at the minimum 4GB, which is still high enough for 3D gaming and watching 3D movies) and the hard drive space (a 750GB SATA-II drive isn't fantastic, but it is acceptable). By all means, cut back the components that aren't gaming-critical, but the CPU was not the right place to save that $8.

That said, the GeForce GTX 660 is an appropriate choice for 3D gaming, with its powerful, 3D Vision-ready GPU and enough RAM to do double duty on output without breaking its stride. The 700-watt CPU is a practical necessity for a graphics card that powerful, too, so there's very little wiggle room there either.

Although the standard specification comes with a 27" Acer HN274HBMIIID 3D monitor, we'd recommend swapping it out for the 27" Asus VG278H. It costs $64 more to do so, but the Asus is one of the best 3D monitors on the market. It's full HD, has LightBoost technology to help enhance duller 3D images and it's even got an adjustable emitter which allows you to sync the 3D from more positions than usual. If you're serious about 3D gaming, it's worth the extra cash.

While it isn't perfect, the GX 1000 3D is, if nothing else, a good place to start building a 3D system. Ultimately you may need a little more than the asking price to get something truly worth buying, but if you want to get both feet on the 3D ladder, it's hard to deny that there are far more difficult ways of doing so than this.



CPU: Intel i5 2500 (4 x 3.3GHz)



Case: Cooler Master 690 case

Graphics Card: NVidia GeForce GTX 660 2GB

Optical Drive: Dual-layer DVD reader and writer

Power Supply: Cooler Master 700W PSU

CPU Cooling: Intel CPU cooling fan

Motherboard: Asus Z77

Monitor: 27" Acer HN274HBMIIID

3D Kit: NVidia 3D glasses

USB Ports: 8 x USB 2.0 ports, 2 x USB 3.0 ports

Operating System: Windows 7 Home Premium 64-Bit


  •  Graphics Cards for All Budgets (Part 3) - Radeon HD 7950, GeForce GTX 580, GeForce GTX670
  •  Graphics Cards for All Budgets (Part 2) - Radeon HD 7770, GeForce GTX 560, Radeon HD 7850, GeForce GTX 660
  •  Graphics Cards for All Budgets (Part 1) - Radeon HD 6670, GeForce GTS 450, Radeon HD 7750
  •  Motherboards for All Budgets (Part 2) - Gigabyte GA-990FXA-UD7, Gigabyte GA-Z77X-UD5H-WB, Asus Rampage IV Extreme
  •  Motherboards for All Budgets (Part 1) - Asus M5A97 PRO, Gigabyte GA-Z68AP-D3, Gigabyte GA-990FXA-UD3, Asus P8Z68-V Pro
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  •  Polywell H7700i-400B - Desktop Power In A Tiny Box
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