Feeds

Build a BONKERS gaming PC

Money to burn? Put it to use building a monstrously powerful games rig

Internet Security Threat Report 2014

Feature There is a select band of gamers who will only be satisfied by a huge amount of graphics and processing power. For them, the only thing to do is build a bonkers gaming PC.

In my opinion, the tricky part of the job is organising the pile of parts that you’ll use for the build. While we ‘Build a Bonkers...’ writers don’t worry too much about money, I don’t want to encourage waste.

Intel Core i7 Extreme

The sensible and cautious way to proceed, then, is to do things in stages. Buy the case and power supply; install the motherboard, CPU and memory; hook up the cooling; bung in some storage followed by a few graphics cards and - voila - you have a bonkers PC. The slow and steady approach will take you a few weeks but should avoid commonly made mistakes, such as buying a 200mm fan for a case that only provides 120mm and 140mm housings.

Alternatively, you can finalise your plans, go for broke and order a stack of hardware in one hit and that way keep the carriage costs to a minimum while also saving time.

Crazy CPUs

Let’s start with the processor, as that has a massive bearing on performance, as well as dictating your choice of motherboard chipset. The fundamental question is whether you buy from AMD or from Intel. On paper, AMD’s Socket AM3+ Bulldozer FX-8150 looks convincing. It has a clock speed of 3.6GHz and eight physical processing cores, all for a mere £150.

AMD FX-8150 Bulldozer

AMD's FX-8150 Bulldozer is giving ground

In practice, the FX-8150 disappoints and in the 3D Mark Vantage benchmark turns in a CPU score of 18,994. Even an aged Intel Core i7-2700K can manage to rack up 24,721 points. Using the latest, 2013 edition 3D Mark Fire Strike Extreme benchmark, the AMD achieves a Physics score of 6709 while the Core i7-2700K weighs in at 9226.

Just as significantly, the AMD system with a single Radeon HD 7950 graphics card draws 250W of power under load while the Intel equivalent only needs 190W. So the AMD draws more power and delivers less performance than Intel’s previous generation of processor, Sandy Bridge. It looks even worse compared to Intel’s newest platform, Ivy Bridge, which has slightly higher levels of performance - approximately five per cent - than its predecessor, as well as improved efficiency that saves about 20W under load.

So AMD is out of the equation.

The obvious starting point for the gamer with one eye on the budget is the Core i7-3770K, a 3.5GHz part with four physical cores and Hyper-Threading technology to make it appear to have eight. However, we want a bonkers processor so my chosen piece of silicon is the Sandy Bridge Extreme. This CPU is based on previous-generation Intel technology, but you get six physical cores which Hyper-Threading takes to 12, and a quad-channel DDR 3 memory controller. This requires a larger, LGA2011 processor socket, an Intel X79 chipset and £800 out of your wallet.

CPU Z readout for Intel and AMD

CPU-Z readout: Intel's Core i7-3930K and AMD's FX-8150

In return, you get a 3D Mark Vantage CPU score of 36,699 marks and a Fire Strike Extreme Physics score of 12,560, while the PC power draw is a reasonable 245W under load - ie. the same as the AMD Bulldozer, which scored rather less well in those benchmarks.

It is far from clear whether Intel will release an Ivy Bridge Extreme processor later this year or simply move straight on to Haswell, its next-generation processor architecture.

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk

More from The Register

next story
Will.i.am gets CUFFED as he announces his new wristjob, the PULS
It's got four KILOWATTS of something, apparently
Don't wait for that big iPad, order a NEXUS 9 instead, industry little bird says
Google said to debut next big slab, Android L ahead of Apple event
Netscape Navigator - the browser that started it all - turns 20
It was 20 years ago today, Marc Andreeesen taught the band to play
A drone of one's own: Reg buyers' guide for UAV fanciers
Hardware: Check. Software: Huh? Licence: Licence...?
Jaguar Sportbrake: The chicken tikka masala of van-sized posh cars
Indian-owned Jag's latest offering curries favour with us
iPhone 6 shunned by fanbois in Apple's GREAT FAIL of CHINA
Just 100 Beijing fanbois queue to pick up new mobe
The Apple launch AS IT HAPPENED: Totally SERIOUS coverage, not for haters
Fandroids, Windows Phone fringe-oids – you wouldn't understand
Here's your chance to buy an ancient, working APPLE ONE
Warning: Likely to cost a lot even for a Mac
Is living with Dolby Atmos worth the faff?
Subtle, naturalistic ambiance – perfect for Transformers 4
prev story

Whitepapers

Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
Win a year’s supply of chocolate
There is no techie angle to this competition so we're not going to pretend there is, but everyone loves chocolate so who cares.
Why cloud backup?
Combining the latest advancements in disk-based backup with secure, integrated, cloud technologies offer organizations fast and assured recovery of their critical enterprise data.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Saudi Petroleum chooses Tegile storage solution
A storage solution that addresses company growth and performance for business-critical applications of caseware archive and search along with other key operational systems.