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Thread: Hexus Monthly PC Build Guide September 2011

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    Militant Battle Moose! CAT-THE-FIFTH's Avatar
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    Hexus Monthly PC Build Guide September 2011

    Un-official HEXUS Buyers guide SEPTEMBER 2011

    Intro Stuff and other shenigans

    It seems that the next quarter will be interesting times for PC hardware. AMD's Bulldozer based CPUs are set to debut,Intel is releasing its new enthusiast socket 2011 range and AMD is rumoured to introduce its new 28NM HD7000 series GPUs. SSDs are already reaching the magical £1/GB level too.

    The guide and even more milarky

    I finally have got around to doing this!! A new feature from the Moose(apart from vehicular associated plummeting),which will attempt to formulate a number of builds at certain price-points.

    This buyers guide will be in seven parts:


    The builds only encompass the base unit including a copy of Windows 7 Home Premium 64 bit OEM(that was a mouth-full,phew!).

    Monitors and other peripheral suggestions are on the third page of the guide.

    This guide is not necessarily the only correct path available and is dependent on what components are available at the time it is formulated. These will change from time to time,as will the cost.
    If any parts are not available,drop a line on the hardware forum(not literally!) and I am sure a friendly forum member will help you out. If you do happen to come across one who is not friendly a mod will soon be around to, ahem, beach them.

    The guide is more geared towards decent quality components and upgradeability and is not necessarily the cheapest. Beware of the suggestions which place short term performance over long term reliability.

    Component suggestions and price ranges are taken from Scan.com,Ebuyer.com,Dabs.com and Aria.com only.

    Postage and special offers

    Ebuyer offers free slow postage on orders over £49.99 and Dabs do the same for orders over £99. However,Scan offers free next day postage on orders over £20 excluding VAT for forum members with 20 constructive posts:

    Free Delivery

    Scan also has daily and weekly offers too:

    Scan Today Only

    Scan Shop Offers

    As usual do shop around and check for the best prices.


    ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------


    Bigger Budget Gamer Build

    The Bigger Budget Gamer as the name implies is for the user who has a decent budget and wants high performance gaming at a reasonable price. It should run most games at 1920X1200 or 1920X1080 and even BF3(gasp,horror!) at reasonable settings if the Alpha results are any indication.



    The case of choice this month is the ThermalTake Dokker(link). It has support for graphics cards upto 12.5" in length and has the advantage of an integral HDD dock. It even supports a 200mm top fan for those who like their cases windy! The alternate case this month is the Coolermaster CM690 II Lite(also known as the Basic) which can support graphics cards upto 11.9" in length(link).

    The Antec TruePower New is a semi-modular Bronze rated PSU based on a reliable Seasonic design. With 4 PCI-E power connectors it is ready for SLI and Crossfire setups. The cheaper Bronze rated XFX PRO 650W is not modular but has cabling for two cards too and is also based on a Seasonic platform. For those of you wondering why I keep mentioning "bronze" rated it means the PSU is between 81% to 85% at most common loads.

    The Samsung F3 range is based on 500GB platters and offers an ideal mix of performance,noise and price compared to many competing models.

    The GPU choice this month is split between the GTX560TI and HD6950 1GB. Both offer comparable performance in many games;the HD6950 1GB supports multi-monitor gaming using one card and the GTX560TI fights back with better 3D support.

    The CPU choice this month is the Core i5 2500K offering blistering performance at stock speeds and decent overclocking headroom. However,remember overclocking is variable between different batches of CPUs so don't get worried if you don't hit the magical speeds seen on xtremesystems.com! OTH,they probably do push a gazillion volts through them(not good).

    If you are worried about overclocking or simply CBA, remember a Core i5 2500K is as fast in games as the previous generation uber expensive Core i7 975 Extreme Edition(it's true). It means you still have a CPU faster than most of the gaming PCs in the world.

    The P67 based MSI P67A-GD53 is my recommendation for this month. Its combination of price,overclocking ability and support for PCI-E 2.0 8X/8X Crossfire and SLI is hard to beat.
    The alternative motherboards this month are based on the Z68 chipset which offers SSD caching and Quick Sync support. They both offer USB3.0 and SATA3.0 support.

    Both the Corsair A50 and Gelid Tranquillo air coolers are the coolers recommended this month. If you intend not to overclock my advice would be to get a Core i5 2500 and use the stock cooler.

    Optional Components



    SSDs improve general responsive and loading time of the OS and applications. With the latest firmware,the Crucial M4 is my recommendation this month and offers a mix of decent read speeds and reliability. The SandForce SF2200 series SSDs have not been recommended this month due to firmware issues which have affected many implementations. However,these hopefully will be fully solved in the next few months meaning they will probably appear in the guide.

    A sound card might be of use of those looking to improve the quality sound output from their PC and reduce the load on their CPU.

    If you want to take advantage of the current low RAM prices, as little as £35 will get you 8GB of branded 1600MHZ DDR3.


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    Gamer Orientated Build

    Gaming orientated builds need to consider a pair of upgrade cycles,namely the CPU and the GPU and hence a balance needs to be found between each other. An essential part of this mantra is having a decent motherboard.

    Common components



    The case of choice this month again is the ThermalTake Dokker. As mentioned before it has support for graphics cards upto 12.5" in length and has the advantage of an integral HDD dock and supports a 200mm top fan. The alternative this month is the very white Xigmatek Midgard White Knight Case(link) which is based on the Cooler Master 690 range. The alternative alternate case this month is the very black Casecom K5-9388(link) which is an Ebuyer exclusive. For some reason the black version of the Xigmatek Midgard is twice the price.

    The XFX Pro 550W PSU is based on a tried and tested Seasonic platform and has the advantage of a 5 year UK limited warranty. The Antec HCG 520 is also Seasonic based and is more widely available. The OCZ ZS 550W is relatively new but has received decent reviews.

    The Samsung F3 range is based on 500GB platters and offers an ideal mix of performance,noise and price compared to many competing models.

    The GPU choice was a close one this month. Both the HD6870 1GB and GTX560 1GB have very similar performance in games. However,the HD6870 1GB wins this month as it is available for as little as £130(link),has lower power consumption and currently many come with a copy of Deus Ex: Human Revolution. I would be careful about confusing the slower GTX560 with the faster GTX560TI.

    Core Components



    This month we have split the core components list between an AMD based one and an Intel based one. The Phenom II X4 955BE quad core offers decent performance in multi-threaded games and has an unlocked multiplier for easy overclocking although an aftermarket heatsink will be required. It also comes with a copy of Deus Ex: Human Revolution. The Asus motherboard is also compatible with the upcoming Bulldozer CPUs.

    The Core i3 2100 has very strong single threaded performance meaning it will be excellent choice especially for lightly threaded games like StarCraft II. However,it cannot be overclocked but the MSI motherboards offer an upgrade path to the Core i5 2500k and possibly Ivy Bridge. Both the AMD and Intel motherboards offer USB3.0 and SATA3.0 ports.

    Optional components



    The Corsair A50 is the choice for this months guide,followed by the Coolermaster Hyper 212 for those of a more budget inclination.

    An SSD improves general responsive and loading time of applications. With latest firmware,the Crucial M4 is my recommendation this month and offers a mix of decent read speeds and reliability. The Kingston V+100 trades speed for capacity. However,even a relatively slow SSD will be a big improvement over a fast hard drive such as the Samsung F3.


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    General Purpose Build

    The general purpose build is a budget build which is capable of light gaming as well as decent performance in a range of applications.

    Common components



    The case of choice this month is the Casecom 5288 which is an Ebuyer exclusive. For the price it offers features seen in much more expensive cases such as a top mounted PSU,120MM fan attachments and tool-less drive bays.

    The XFX 450W is based on a reliable Seasonic design and is my recommendation this month. The Antec EA380 is the alternate choice which is based on a similar platform.

    The F3 500GB uses a single platter meaning lower noise and higher performance. The alternative is the tried and tested Western Digital Caviar Blue which is a slower design.

    The HD5670 GDDR5 is the graphics card choice for this month. The similarly priced GT440 GDDR5 is around 10% to 15% slower on average and consumes more power. If you are running Linux I would get a Nvidia card though.

    Core components



    This month's recommendation is for the Athlon II X3 450 or 455. It combines reasonable single threaded performance with decent performance in multi-threaded applications such as video encoding and many modern games. The Pentium G840 is the Intel alternative which has strong performance in image editing applications and lightly threaded games such as StarCraft II.

    The AMD motherboards mentioned this month are based on the older 760G chipset;the 800 and 900 series motherboards have not reached this price level yet. They are both AM3+ which means Bulldozer is supported however the full picture will not be clear until it is released(only the 900 series are guaranteed to fully work with Bulldozer). Both motherboards work with 125W TDP CPUs and the Asus supports USB3.0 too. The Intel alternative motherboards are based on the H61 chipset meaning they are limited to only two RAM slots. None of these motherboards are really orientated for overclocking.
    Last edited by CAT-THE-FIFTH; 10-09-2011 at 11:13 AM.

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    Hexus Monthly PC Build Guide September 2011

    HTPC Build

    This build is primarily for media playback and recording purposes.

    Common Components



    The case chosen this month is the Silverstone Milo ML03B which offers an excellent blend of size,cost and looks for a lower end case. The alternative is the slightly bigger Silverstone GD05 which has three 120MM fans included as well(how nice of them).

    Both PSUs suggested are 80+ Bronze which means excellent efficiency. The Samsung F4 is well regarded for its low noise and low power consumption. The Western Digital Caviar Green is a similarly priced if not slower and hotter running alternative. The Hauppauge WinTV Nova-TD 500 has dual tuners and is a popular choice among HTPC enthusiasts. The Enermax T.B.Silence VR have twister bearings(a ball bearing variant) for a longer lifespan than cheaper sleeve bearing fans and have an integral fan controller.

    Of course another important component in an HTPC is a proper keyboard. This month I have chosen the Rii mini wireless keyboard which can be had from LinITX.com for around £41 delivered(link).



    Another alternative keyboard is the Xenta PKB-1720 for around £20 delivered(link).




    Core components



    The 35W G620T was chosen for its very low power consumption and very low profile stock cooler. Most of the CPU decoding is handled by the HD6450 graphics card with its UVD3 decode block. The alternative this month is the A6-3500 which offers superior video encoding performance over a G620T and faster graphics card and better video decode perfomance over an HD6450 in a 65W TDP.

    In the next few weeks,the A4 dual core CPUs will be released with an HD6450 level IGP meaning the G620T might not last long as my recommendation.


    Optional components



    For the more discerning HTPC enthusiast a more powerful decode card might be of use. The GT440 DDR3 and HD6570 DDR3 will be ideal for such usage due to their increased shader power and memory bandwidth.

    Note

    There has been noise about the Hi10 encoded anime needing a very fast CPU. ATM,until I have done more research on this I cannot verify this claim. OTH,it could have been some people trying to win the contest of the worlds most overpowered HTPC??

    ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------


    SFF LAN Build

    An important aspect of an SFF build is to choose components with lower power consumption and heat production.



    The case chosen this month is the relatively svelte Silverstone SG05. However,despite its small dimensions it packs a 450W PSU and can accept a reasonably long graphics card. The CPU choice for this month is the Core i3 2100 which has decent performance in games despite its 65W TDP and comes complete with a low profile cooler. The CPU is coupled with the latest H67 mini-ITX motherboards from both Asus and Gigabyte which offer USB3.0 and SATA3.0 ports. The Sapphire HD6870 1GB gets another nod this month down to its lower cost and lower power consumption when compared to the GTX560. It also a dual slot cooler with no heatpipe extensions out of the top of the shroud meaning it should fit the SG05 relatively easily.

    However,quietness and performance components in an SFF system are not an ideal long term partnership,so make sure you keep the system cool by ramping up the fans when it is under load.


    ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------


    Fans?

    As you have noticed I have not talked about what fans to use in any of the builds. Many of the cases do come with pre-installed fans already but there might be cases(groan) where you just need more cooling!

    Here is an informative post on fans and fan contollers by Pob255:

    http://forums.hexus.net/2121100-post47.html

    This mini-review of the NZXT Sentry 2(one of the cheapest touchscreen fan controllers) by ExHail is worth a read:

    http://forums.hexus.net/2121139-post67.html
    Last edited by CAT-THE-FIFTH; 08-09-2011 at 10:43 PM.

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    Militant Battle Moose! CAT-THE-FIFTH's Avatar
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    Re: Hexus Monthly PC Build Guide September 2011

    Peripherals


    To go in hand with the PC builds suggested previously, this section deals with peripherals for the systems. This section is not an all out guide for every single peripheral in every class. It serves as more of a "helpful" start(hopefully) for getting your PC into a working state.

    Note

    Apart from the four retailers mentioned before I would definitely check pcbuyit as they are one of the cheapest places for monitors(link).


    ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------


    Monitors

    A decent monitor is essential for a gaming or media system. It is also often one of the longest serving components of any desktop PC.

    Now for the techno-BLURB!

    The monitors listed have panels of two types namely IPS and TN type. IPS panels have the advantage of darker blacks,more vibrant colours and much greater viewing angles than their TN counterparts. This means for image editing IPS panels tend to be better when calibrated.

    OTH,TN panels tend to be better for fast moving action and usually show less motion blur. However,more IPS expensive screens have RTC technology which helps boost responsiveness. Does this mean that monitors with non-RTC IPS panels are terrible for gaming - NO! It only means the RTC enabled IPS panels and TN panels are better for gaming!

    Now,lets look at some monitors(groan)!

    Bigger Budget monitors - £200 to £300



    *These lack RTC AFAIK,so might not be as good as more expensive monitors for gaming.
    (1)Check manufacturer's website for confirmation.



    In our bigger budget monitor range the recommendations this month go for the Dell U2412M and the BenQ XL2410T. For gaming the BenQ just edges the Dell due to its 120HZ refresh rate and support for 3D games.

    If you want monitors which perform well in games and are decent for image editing the Dell U2412M and Asus PA238Q seem the best bet. However,all of the listed monitors will perform well in a range of tasks. None of them are bad,so to say.


    Budget monitors - £100 to £200



    *These lack RTC AFAIK,so might not be as good as more expensive monitors for gaming.
    (1)Check manufacturer's website for confirmation.



    Of our budget monitors, the Samsung SM2233RZ and LG W2363D-PF are my recommendations for gaming use due to their 120HZ refresh rate and 3D gaming support. For monitors more comfortable with image editing and gaming,the Dell U2212HM and Asus ML239H are better compromises. The LG monitors listed lacked RTC so are not the best for gaming but have good image quality for image editing and general usage. The BenQ G2222HDL despite being the cheapest monitor is a good compromise between gaming and general usage if image editing is not a concern.


    ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------


    Gaming Mice

    An accurate mouse is important for playing FPS games. An important factor is comfort so there are no recommendations for which one is the "best" of all. Technically they all are great mice but I would look at the shape carefully before committing to one.




    ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------


    Gaming Keyboards

    Gaming keyboards are useful for the extra functionality that they can give hardcore gamers. The keyboards listed differ from normal keyboards in the amount of gamer specific optimisation they offer. Mechnical keyboards offer better key response and longevity over normal keyboards but at the expense of noise and higher initial purchase price. All the keyboards listed here are technically meant to be great.

    However,in most cases a standard keyboard will suffice and typing comfort is the most important factor to consider. So again like with the mice,you should see which one suits you the best.




    ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------


    Speakers

    A decent set of speakers for your gaming setup will help bring your games alive. The models listed here are not the cheapest but are among the best in their respective classes. Another alternative is to connect your computer to your existing hifi setup.



    The 5 channel systems will be great for reproducing the surround sound effects in many modern games. The two channel systems OTH will be easier to accommodate.
    Last edited by CAT-THE-FIFTH; 08-09-2011 at 10:38 PM.

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    Militant Battle Moose! CAT-THE-FIFTH's Avatar
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    Re: Hexus Monthly PC Build Guide September 2011

    Finally.....!

    Remember, when you are assembling your new bundle of joy - don't panic!!

    More importantly keep the Cat away and any random Moose who may wander into the room.



    See you next month in October's guide!!
    Last edited by CAT-THE-FIFTH; 08-09-2011 at 10:09 PM.

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    Now with added Ruffus Dog Tattysnuc's Avatar
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    • Tattysnuc's system
      • Motherboard:
      • Asus Rampage II Extreme
      • CPU:
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      • Memory:
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    Re: Hexus Monthly PC Build Guide September 2011

    Well done Cat. Nice to see all (well some at least!) of your expertise being put down and consoldated to help our fellow Hexites.

    Nice to see a deptarture from "Bit-tech say this" etc, and you putting your own version down. +rep....

    Ooops wrong forum. I mean "Thanks"



    Nice one. Keep up the good work. I know from my stats that I do in the Distributed computed part how long it takes...
    Join the HEXUS Folding @ home team

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      • CPU:
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      • Memory:
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      • Storage:
      • 256GB Crucial M4 + 500GB Seagate Momentus
      • Graphics card(s):
      • EVGA GTX 570
      • PSU:
      • Corsair AX650
      • Case:
      • Silverstone Fortress FT03
      • Operating System:
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    Re: Hexus Monthly PC Build Guide September 2011

    Cracking post CAT, nice work

    Desktop (3XS): 7 Ultimate, Silverstone FT03, Corsair AX650, Maximus IV Gene-Z, 2500K @ 4.5 GHz, 8GB RAM, GTX 570, 256GB M4, 500GB Seagate Momentus, 2*21.5" U2212HM, Tannoy Saturn S30
    Desktop 2 (Self-built): 7 Ultimate, CM RC-341, OCZ 400W XStream, GA-MA785GM-US2H, Phenom X4 9600 BE, 4GB RAM, 2TB HD204UI, 128GB Crucial M4, Acer P206HLbm
    Laptop (HP Pavilion DM1): 7 Ultimate, SU2300 1.2 GHz, 2GB RAM, Kingston 64GB SSDNow V
    Server (Self-built): Server 2013, Fractal Design R4, 580W be quiet! BN198, GA-F2A85X-D3H, AMD A8 5500, 16GB RAM, 120GB Samsung 840, 6*4TB Seagate

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    Militant Battle Moose! CAT-THE-FIFTH's Avatar
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    Re: Hexus Monthly PC Build Guide September 2011

    I have added HTPC and SFF PC builds. Hopefully the HTPC build looks fine and this guide will be of use to others!!

  12. #8
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    Re: Hexus Monthly PC Build Guide September 2011

    Very well done buddy. I think it would be easy at this stage to start commenting / criticising components XYZ, however overall you have done a sterling job, and anyone who disagrees about something is free to simply make their own guide!
    Kudos!
    I'm commenting on an internet forum. Your facts hold no sway over me.
    - Another poster, from another forum.

    System as shown, plus: Microsoft Wireless mobile 4000 mouse and Logitech Illuminated keyboard.
    Solid oak computer desk. HP DM1 laptop. Synology DS410j NAS.
    Sennheiser RS160 wireless headphones. Creative Gigaworks T40 SII. My wife.
    My Hexus Trust

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    Re: Hexus Monthly PC Build Guide September 2011

    Cat, your gamer build needs more CPU horsepower for games like The Witcher 2. An upgrade to the i5 2500k is more important than spending money on an upgraded CPU cooler. Yours is a great budget gaming build, but the requests I've had for gaming builds have allowed a little more.

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      • 120GB OCZ Vertex, 300GB WD Velociraptor, 1TB Samsung HD103SJ, 5x 2TB Samsung HD204UI
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    Re: Hexus Monthly PC Build Guide September 2011

    Cracking job Cat. If you don't mind though, I do have one suggestion. Since the build specs are graphics, users can't copy 'n' paste model numbers for research purposes. I know the CODE tags don't allow for the styling you've used but at least the content would be accessible.
    My only concern is should I hide my true identity? A costume maybe?

    0iD: Plus weeing in it every now & again does it good
    scaryjim: 10" is just a little large to hold comfortably in one hand, which makes it a lot harder to tap, swipe and generally interact with.

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    Re: Hexus Monthly PC Build Guide September 2011

    Cat why are you not a mod here yet? great post chap
    Quote Originally Posted by TAKTAK View Post
    It was so small that mine wouldn't fit into it

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    Re: Hexus Monthly PC Build Guide September 2011

    How the hell have you, of all people, managed to write this guide without suggesting or even mentioning a Llano APU?!

    Llano would slot nicely into HTPC and general purpose builds.

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    Re: Hexus Monthly PC Build Guide September 2011

    Thanks everyone for the thanks!!


    Quote Originally Posted by kalniel View Post
    Cat, your gamer build needs more CPU horsepower for games like The Witcher 2. An upgrade to the i5 2500k is more important than spending money on an upgraded CPU cooler. Yours is a great budget gaming build, but the requests I've had for gaming builds have allowed a little more.
    I did mention upgrade paths in the guide but maybe I should make it a bit more clearer.

    If you need a faster CPU,then up the budget by £60 to £70 to get a better CPU or add another £16 to £25 if you want to overclock the CPU in the case of the Phenom II.

    The problem is that if you start going that path,add another £60 for the CPU here,then lets add another £50 for the GPU,etc before you know it is a £700 build. I may just add in a higher spec machine to cover bases then at a £700 to £750 price point.

    However,loads of people realistically don't want to spend more than £500 on a base unit from my experience. I am around 10% over budget TBH!!

    Quote Originally Posted by pauldarkside View Post
    Cracking job Cat. If you don't mind though, I do have one suggestion. Since the build specs are graphics, users can't copy 'n' paste model numbers for research purposes. I know the CODE tags don't allow for the styling you've used but at least the content would be accessible.
    I will have a look at that too.

    Quote Originally Posted by Bagnaj97 View Post
    How the hell have you, of all people, managed to write this guide without suggesting or even mentioning a Llano APU?!

    Llano would slot nicely into HTPC and general purpose builds.
    As I mentioned in the guide the 65W Llano CPUs have not been released yet. Once they have they shall be making an appearance!
    Last edited by CAT-THE-FIFTH; 07-09-2011 at 10:36 AM.

  18. #14
    Headless Chicken Terbinator's Avatar
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    • Terbinator's system
      • Motherboard:
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      • Memory:
      • Corsair XMS3 8GB 12800/7-8-7-20
      • Storage:
      • M4 128GB, 830 256GB
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    Re: Hexus Monthly PC Build Guide September 2011

    Quote Originally Posted by CAT-THE-FIFTH View Post

    As I mentioned in the guide the 65W Llano CPUs have not been released yet. Once they have they shall be making an appearance!
    I believe Aria are doing a 65W Llano triple-core.
    Kalniel: "Nice review Tarinder - would it be possible to get a picture of the case when the components are installed (with the side off obviously)?"
    CAT-THE-FIFTH: "The Antec 300 is a case which has an understated and clean appearance which many people like. Not everyone is into e-peen looking computers which look like a cross between the imagination of a hyperactive 10 year old and a Frog."
    TKPeters: "Off to AVForum better Deal - £20+Vat for Free Shipping @ Scan"
    for all intents it seems to be the same card minus some gays name on it and a shielded cover ? with OEM added to it - GoNz0.

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    Militant Battle Moose! CAT-THE-FIFTH's Avatar
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    Re: Hexus Monthly PC Build Guide September 2011

    Quote Originally Posted by Terbinator View Post
    I believe Aria are doing a 65W Llano triple-core.
    By Jove!! You are right man!!

    +1 many Moo-chous gratious multiple Zathras inspired thankings!!

  21. #16
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    • Bagnaj97's system
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      • CPU:
      • AMD FX6300 @ 4.4GHz
      • Memory:
      • 2x4gb G.Skill DDR3 1600MHz
      • Storage:
      • Plextor M5S 256G SSD, OCZ Vertex2 64G SSD, 1tb and 2tb HDDs
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    Re: Hexus Monthly PC Build Guide September 2011

    Quote Originally Posted by Terbinator View Post
    I believe Aria are doing a 65W Llano triple-core.
    They're also in stock on scan.

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