This category’s name is self-explanatory – this configuration is aimed at people that don’t want to settle for the absolute minimum, but can’t aim for a budget-killing gaming rig either. Here are our hardware picks for a balanced PC that should have no trouble running GTA V and other recent titles at medium-high settings. All up this type of setup should cost around $1,100.
One of the processors with the best price / performance ratio comes from Intel, in the shape of the Core i5 4460. Priced just below $200, this little beast packs in 4 physical cores running at stock frequency of 3.2 GHz, which can hit 3.4 GHz when needed, thanks to the Turbo Boost technology.
The AMD equivalent in terms of price is the FX-8370 Black Edition. However, despite the fact that it packs in 8 cores, and has a higher operating frequency (4.3 GHz), the FX falls behind the i5 in terms of computing performance in games. It does run faster when it comes to applications that are optimized for multi-core architectures.
Also, unless you want to go deaf (ok, not really, we’re just exaggerating a bit to make a point), you should seriously consider buying an aftermarket cooler. The Cooler Master Hyper 212 EVO is a well-priced cooler that will bring down both the heat and the noise.
If you’ve opted for the i5, the Gigabyte GA-H97-D3H is a great pick to match it with. The board packs in the powerful H97 Express chipset, which means you’re also ready for the next generation of Intel processors (Broadwell), as well as all the features you may need: 4 DIMM slots, all types of PCI slots (PCIe 16x, PCIe 4x, PCIe 1x as well as legacy PCI), 6 SATA3 expansion ports, M.2 high-speed port and many more.
For the AMD camp, the MSI 970 Gaming motherboard is a solid option. It comes with the AMD 970+SB950 chipset, as well as a wide array of connectivity and expansion options – 4 DIMM slots, 6 SATA3 ports, USB 3.0 and much more.
Regardless of your platform of choice, this 2 x 4GB Corsair Vengeance Dual Channel memory kit will make for a nice addition. The memory modules run at 1600 MHz, and come with some mean-looking heat-spreaders to keep them nice and cool even during an intensive gaming session.
The video card is the component that does most of the hard work when it comes to gaming (along with the processor), so picking the right one is quite important. To make it easier to decide, we went with some options that all fit in a $200-ish budget.
From AMD, the best pick is the R9 280. While there are plenty models out there, our money would go on Gigabyte’s version of the R9 280, mostly because of the highly-efficient WindForce cooling system and the factory OC. Whether you’ll go with the Gigabyte version or not, if you opt for the R9 280 you get 3GB of DDR5 video memory and a 384-bit memory bandwidth– enough to handle most current games (GTA V included) at high settings and 1080p resolutions.
If you’re an NVIDIA fan, your best pick within the specified budget is the GTX 760. Slightly less powerful than the R9 280, the GTX 760 packs in only 2GB of DDR5 memory and has a 256-bit memory bandwidth. That’s still plenty of horsepower to run modern games at high settings and 1080p resolutions. Our pick for the GTX 760 is this MSI, due to its high-performance Twin Frozr cooling system.
At a price tag of roughly $50, this 1TB SATA3 Western Digital Blue hard drive is a decent choice in terms of storage. Aside the hard drive, you might want to consider adding a Solid State Drive to significantly decrease operating system, software and game loading times. Although quite pricey compared to traditional hard drives, SSDs are well worth their money. This 250GB Samsung 850 EVO SSD provides plenty of space for the operating system, software and even a few games.
Choosing a good power supply is mandatory if you want to make sure all your components operate correctly. The power consumption of the system may vary, depending on the exact components you chose (AMD’s processors, for example, are more power hungry than Intel’s), but it should fall within the range of 750W power supply (with some decent room for upgrades). Our picks are the Corsair CX750M and the EVGA SuperNOVA 750B1. Both models are modular (allowing for a good wire-management), 80+ certified (ensuring good power efficiency) and come with sleeved cables for improved aesthetics.
When it comes to cases, aside from some options such as wire-management possibilities, cooling system and interior space, it’s really down to individual preferences to decide. Our top picks would be the Zalman Z11 and the NZXT S340. Both cases come with an attractive design, a windowed side panel, solid wire management possibilities, and fittings for a whole lot of coolers, with included dust filters.
A well-priced monitor to go with this configuration is the AOC i2367Fh 23-inch Full-HD monitor. Aside from the fact that it comes with a high-quality IPS panel that ensures great color accuracy, the i2367Fh also comes with breathtaking aesthetics – its 2mm bezel makes it look like it’s frameless, while the metal brush finish on the lower edge of the display gives it an exquisite appearance.
Keyboard and Mouse
A powerful PC shouldn’t lack some powerful peripherals to go with it. If you want the simpler path, the CM Storm gaming keyboard and mouse bundle is a best-buy at roughly $30. Bump up the price and you can get the Razer DeathStalker keyboard and Razer DeathAdded Chrome mouse combo.
This configuration should meet the needs of a casual gamer that wants a PC capable of running GTA V and all other modern games at above average settings. A configuration like this is likely to bring you in the ballpark of $1,100, but we say it is money well spent. Unless you don’t settle for above-average performance, and have a bigger budget, that is, in which case we recommend that you check out the configuration following.
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