Winter 2009 PC Buyer’s Guide
Just in time for the holidays, FiringSquad is here to help you build that new gaming rig or upgrade your existing one. With a little help from Santa or some (hopefully well-deserved) self-indulgence, you should be able to get the most out of the slew of great games that have been coming out lately. Quite a bit has happened since the last edition of this guide, including the release of ATI’s next-gen DirectX 11 parts and Intel’s new Lynnfield-based processors for the LGA 1156 platform. All throughout, a turbulent economy and manufacturing difficulties have led to higher prices on components like RAM or hard drives and lower than expected supplies on most mid- to high-end graphics cards.
The HD 5000 series of Radeon GPUs from ATI are the first to support DirectX 11. With no competing products from NVIDIA this year, they are also at the top of the performance ladder. Unfortunately, chip shortages combined with high demand for these cards means it’ll be tough to get your hands on one this holiday season. Many of the builds in this article include affected graphics cards, but alternate recommendations will be presented in case you’re ready to buy and don’t want to have to wait to jump at any new stock that comes in.
The new Lynnfield CPUs are a boon for the thrifty enthusiast since they are poised to be the new kings of bang for the buck. Motherboards based on their P55 chipset are cheaper than those featuring the Bloomfield’s X58, yet performance is surprisingly competitive between the two. Lynnfield has the benefit of using 35W less power, but it doesn’t have support for triple-channel memory. If you’re in the market for a Core-i7, be sure to check out the more expensive builds in this article for advice.
No matter how much you’re looking to spend, there is something for you in the Holiday 2009 Buyer’s Guide, so what are you waiting for? Turn the page already!
All prices cited were taken from Newegg.com as of 12/9/09. Items marked with a double-asterisk feature a mail-in rebate that is not factored into the build price.
All system builds contained in this article are educated suggestions. We cannot be held responsible for unforeseen incompatibilities or availability issues or any other problems you might associate with our advice.