PC DIY Buying Guide - Q3 2010


Shortlisting your Components

Shortlisting your Components

Some of the more frequent and recurring questions that we noticed in our Hardware Clinic forum, has to do with what PC components to purchase. Queries like, "What graphics card to buy" and "recommend a system rig below $XXX" are so common that there's even a Buyer's Guide created by forum members. With such popularity of these topics, we decided to lend a further helping hand with our own PC buying guide. For starters, we'll get this guide going on a quarterly basis but we'll gauge community response to tweak it or consider incorporating other suggestion in future guides.

Before we start, we would like to highlight our Price Lists section, where one can download the latest price lists from local retailers and find out what other promotions are available. These prices will be the ones quoted in our buying guide.

The Ground Rules

Since there are so many components within a PC, we have to set some boundaries to prevent this guide from turning into a tome. For one, we're not going to recommend any displays or monitors, as there are too many models of different sizes out there to cater to every need. We're also not going to factor in the cost of the operating system; it's simple enough to get the OEM versions of any flavor of Windows from the retailers when assembling your PC, and of course, there are always those who intend to install free Linux based alternatives like Ubuntu. You should however get a 64-bit operating system if you can.

Peripherals like the keyboard and mouse are also excluded, since these boil down to personal preferences and have little to do with PC performance. Finally, we are also not going to recommend any audio cards, as the majority of users nowadays rely on the integrated, onboard audio on their motherboards, and only those with a specific purpose in mind will be shopping for quality audio cards.

This leaves us with the following types of components - the processor and motherboard (we're treating it as a bundle since that's the common mode of sale locally), memory, graphics card, hard drive, optical drive, power supply and chassis.

We have divided our recommendations into three systems, representing the Budget (below S$800), Mainstream (below S$1500) and High-end (below S$2500) segments. No doubt, these are arbitrary price points, but we feel that they fit in with how PC vendors are segmenting their desktop offerings. We have tried to maximize the given budget when possible, so there are usually slightly lower priced (and less well-known) alternatives that will perform similarly. In most cases, we have provided an alternative for those who prefer a certain platform or have a different usage model.

So without further ado, check out the next pages for our recommendations.