All-round Deluxe PC - February 2014
The all-round Deluxe PC will last you a few years without requiring any upgrades. It is a bit more expensive, but is very complete as well. Using the internet, gaming, business applications, photo and video editing - all of these are possible on a good all-round PC, and you should never feel that you are lacking in performance for any of those activities.
This means a good processor and graphics card from the upper mid-range segment. Fast, yet affordable. You also need enough RAM and storage space, not to mention an attractive chassis and reliable power supply that can last several years. Of course you need a quality monitor, mouse and keyboard, as these are used very frequently.
This PC will cost more than the standard all-round PC, but it is also more powerful and has higher-end components. If this exceeds your budget somewhat, then you can have a look at out standard All-round PC instead.
Please note: the PC Buyer’s Guide is compiled based on independent component tests performed by Hardware.Info. If no new, superior products are released that should replace one or more of the components, then the component(s) will remain the same as the previous month.
If you want to know more about how we compile our PC Buying guides, have a look at this article.
A Deluxe all-round desktop PC should of course have state-of-the-art hardware, and for processors that means the Haswell architecture from Intel.
We picked the Core i5 4670 non-K edition without HyperThreading or free multiplier. That's because the K edition does not support VT-d I/O or Transactional Memory, (TSX in Intel jargon). Both technologies will likely become more important in coming years.
If you prefer more speed, the K edition is easier to overclock. But overclocking is not the primary goal for this configuration.
If you are buying a new PC, at the moment we recommend 8GB RAM. That goes double for a DeLuxe PC. DDR3-1600 is sufficient for our chosen platform, faster memory does not add a lot and with the current high prices, we would advise the cheaper option. As we write this, Crucial's set (which we tested with good results) is relatively affordable, but do consult our price comparison engine. As long as you look at the bigger brands, it matters little which kit you buy if price is the main concern.
The Haswell processor brought with it a new generation chipset. We used the MSI Z87-G45 Gaming motherboard. The gaming features such as the audio and the network chips are of a quality that's welcome in any PC, not just gaming rigs.
You can find more informatin in our motherboard round-up.
It goes without saying on occasion you'll want to play a game on your DeLuxe PC, of course in Full HD. A great card for gaming at that resolution is de AMD Radeon R9 270X, which always performs great at medium quality settings and frequently can even manage high quality without difficulty. It has a great price performance ratio and that goes double for MSI's offering, which is also pretty quiet.
We chose for a 250 GB SSD this time round, so you can install a decent number of programs on the SSD, profiting from shorter loading times and fast writes.
Samsung's 840 Evo 250 GB offers good performance thanks to its TurboWrite technology and best above all, is very affordable.
The data disk doesn't need to be fast: quiet, efficient and affordable are key. Based on those criteria, Western Digital's Caviar Green series is according to our latest comparison test the best choice. We opt for the 3TB version, which has plenty of space for the future.
For the DeLuxe PC we choose a combo drive, so you can watch Blu-ray films if you want. The LG CH10 we tested has gone end-of-life, so we go for the CH12, which is a bit faster.
The Corsair Carbide 330R keeps the components cool without producing much noise, and it's not extremely expensive. And the fact that it looks good, is only a bonus. It has plenty of space for this configuration, so a large chassis such as the Fractal Design R4 isn't necessary.
For the current configuration a 500-watt power supply is enough.
Corsair's CS-M series offers "Gold performance for a Bronze price". Our tests confirm the slogan: the 650 W version offers great performance for the price.
From our recent test of desktop sets, we learned that there is quite a bit of variety in quality in the currently sold models, even with similarly priced competitors.
However, Microsoft's Wireless Desktop 2000 is affordable as well as solidly built, with a decent keyboard and mouse. Both connect wirelesly and respond fast to commands. A nice extra is the encryption for the wireless connection, a comforting thought these days.
Unless you're a gamer or frequently watch movies, it's best to get a 2.1 (stereo and subwoofer) rather than 5.1, or even just two very good speakers.
The Edifier R1600T Plus happen to be two very good speakers and look like traditional speakers. They have built-in amplification and are shielded, so they're made for PC. They have a very nuanced sound signature, with a nice balance between highs and lows.
The Dell UltraSharp U2412M performed very well in our test. The e-IPS panel has 1920x1200 pixels, is colour fast with excellent values, has lots of options and settings, and the price is very reasonable. You can find cheaper screens, but not better for this price. Whether you want to edit photos or play games, this monitor will do a good job.
|Processors||Intel Core i5 4670||£225.11|
|Memory modules||Crucial Ballistix Sport 8GB DDR3-1600 CL9 kit||£67.82|
|CPU coolers||Cooler Master Hyper 412S||£34.99|
|Motherboards||MSI Z87-G45 Gaming||–|
|Graphics cards||MSI Radeon R9 270X Gaming 2GB||–|
|Hard disks/SSDs||Samsung 840 Evo 250GB||–|
|Hard disks/SSDs||Western Digital Green 3TB||£82.99|
|Optical drives||LG CH12NS30||–|
|Cases||Corsair Carbide 330R Black||–|
|Power supplies||Corsair CS550M||£79.30|
|Keyboards||Microsoft Wireless Desktop 2000||–|
|PC speaker sets||Edifier R1600T Plus Black||–|
|Monitors||Dell UltraSharp U2412M Black||£208.16|
|Save as your own wish list||Average total price:||£698.37|