Having completed our mechanical keyboard & gaming motherboard buyer's guides, we're now moving on to the gaming world's most critical component: Video cards. This video card buyer's guide looks at the best GPUs for gaming at various budgets, starting at $100 and rising up to the $600 flagships. Then again, you could build the $300 ultra-budget APU-powered machine we posted.
AMD and nVidia have recently been embattled in price wars, most clearly highlighted by the GTX 760's price-drop to $200 and the R9 270's drop to $135, both powerful GPUs that launched at significantly higher price points. This price war has influenced several other graphics solutions currently on the market, ensuring a prime buying period for those building new PCs.
And that price-tag includes the operating system. CyberPower is selling its Fang Mini R9 SE complete gaming system for $99, a box partnered with Gigabyte that resembles the Brix. The Fang Mini (product page) ships equipped with an R9 M275X 2GB GPU, A8-5557M quad-core CPU, Windows 8.1, and a 120GB SSD. This small form factor gaming box normally retails at nearly $1000, but will be marked down to $250 with $150 of rebates, landing it at $99. The unit is being offered as a “door-buster” pre-Black Friday sale in limited quantity. 300 units will be available, starting at 6PM (1800) EST today, 11/26.
The unit is capable of driving medium graphics in larger AAA games, but needs a serious RAM upgrade. We'd recommend a minimum 4GB kit of SO-DIMM DDR3L RAM, like this Kingston 1x4GB DDR3L 1600MHz kit for $70.
Back when computers were becoming commonplace in business, mechanical keyboards such as the IBM Model M, were common. The Model M uses springs that buckle under pressure to complete a circuit, allowing for a letter to be typed. For the way the springs function, they are aptly named “buckling springs.”
Then, the rubber dome was invented.
The rubber dome is literally a dome of rubber that, when depressed, completes a circuit and causes a letter to be typed. While these seem to be very similar, they differ substantially in feel and design. Buckling springs allow for faster, more tactile and loud clicky-clack typing. Despite the advantages of a buckling spring, rubber domes are much cheaper to produce, so now rubber domes are by far the most common switch used in keyboards.
Motherboard selection is mercifully less intimidating than picking a laptop for gaming. With boards, we can establish a set of criteria and narrow down the selection immediately to something more manageable; lower prices than other components also make selection somewhat easier to mentally justify. Our criteria for motherboard selection typically includes consideration of socket type, form factor, ability to overclock, and chipset
We've previously published chipset guides for both AMD's latest chipsets and Intel's Haswell chipsets, each of which shows the differentiating features between various inter-platform options. This buyer's guide looks at the best gaming motherboards for Intel's Haswell and Devil's Canyon processors, then AMD's FM2+ platform. AM3+ is not considered in this guide, given its age and our decision to abandon the platform in PC build guides. We've also opted to exclude X99 motherboards from this guide, given the added complexity and entirely different architecture.
We'll start with tables, then cover the things to look for in a motherboard, and then move on to our selections for this season.
Now that Black Friday is upon us, we have loads of hardware sales to choose from – more than we could possibly list here. We found what we consider the best sales going on right now. Only once a year do we see sales of this magnitude: An NZXT H440 for $90 (won't go live til 11/28), 240GB SSD for $85, R9 270 for $135, and more.
Since the creation of gaming laptops, their performance has generally been substantially lower than their desktop counterparts. Somewhat excitingly, this has been changing in recent years. The release of nVidia’s Maxwell-based mobile GPUs introduced laptops that are inching closer to the performance of their desktop brethren.
While gaming laptops generally provide worse performance-per-dollar and customization options when compared to self-built PCs, their advantages in mobility are unrivaled for traveling gamers.
It's “Black November” again – presumably next year will be “Black 2015,” at the rate we're going. Regardless, there are legitimately worthwhile sales in the gaming hardware and software worlds. We've got full round-ups coming in short order, but for the meantime, we'll just highlight VisionTek's R9 290 “CryoVenom” sale.
It's been a while since our last proper home theater gaming PC build; as Steam's Big Picture mode continues to develop, and with the impending arrival of Steam's Linux gaming platform, HTPCs now have more big-name support than ever before. This time, I wanted to put together an "enthusiast-class" HTPC, meant for those who want to play games on high resolutions with maximum settings and play around with overclocking, too.
Using several Cyber Monday & remnant Black Friday deals, we're able to put together a high-end gaming computer for relatively low cost. This $1028 HTPC build is best used as a DIY DVR or Big Picture gaming PC (for the likes of Assassin's Creed IV, Battlefield 4, Thief, etc.).
When I set-out to build this one, I struggled for a good ten minutes on one motherboard versus another... and ultimately decided to put together a list of components that I thought would be fun to build, not just functional. This system packs a couple TFLOPs of power in a small box and will run relatively quietly, so let's hit the list!
Instead of our normal weekend hardware sales round-up, this one aims to list the best Cyber Monday / remnant Black Friday computer hardware sales. Having discovered a 2x4GB 2400MHz kit of low-profile memory for $65, a high-end case for $45, a 4770K for $290, and a 600W PSU for $30, you could build half a system with these sales.
Black Friday and Cyber Monday are upon us, and there are many great deals out there to choose from. We've already rounded-up the best gaming CPUs and video cards (along with their sales), but now we're selecting the best gaming cases for your hard-earned dollar.
Having assembled many PC builds this year, I realize that the case is the one component that you will see daily, so the aesthetic appeal takes high priority. Next, we look for a case that fits into your allotted budget, and the last thing we check for is proper air flow to ensure the temperatures inside the case remain as low as possible.
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