Gaming PC for under £1000

Custom Built Gaming Computer

We were recently approached by a customer looking for two gaming computers with a total budget of £2000. They wanted gaming computers with great performance and striking looks. The obvious choice of components would have been an Intel i7 processor, a high end NVIDIA graphics card and a ton of RAM, but this puts the computer well over budget. Instead we opted for components that would give the best performance under actual use by the customer.

Intel i5-4670 Corsair Vengence Red

Firstly we decided to use the latest generation of Intel processors, fitting the top end i5-4670 Haswell processor. With 4 cores and no hyper-threading, the single core speed is actually faster than the latest i7 processors, which would only outperform the i5 if more than 4 cores are required, and for our customer they wouldn’t be.

For the RAM we decided that 8GB would be sufficient, but left 2 of the 4 slots free so that this can easily and cheaply be upgraded in future when necessary. We did however install Corsair Vengence Red RAM due to the low latency and low voltages, which allow for more stable overclocking and faster speeds.


For the graphics card we opted for the NVIDIA GTX 660 Ti, which is a very good graphics card for gaming, scoring well on both in-game tests and benchmarks. As we were building gaming PCs we spent a significant proportion of the budget on the graphics cards as this is definitely going to be the key component under load.

For storage we chose to use a 120GB solid state hard drive as the primary drive, with an additional 1TB hard drive for storage. Although not essential for running games on max setting, it does mean that games open, load and save at lightning fast speeds as well as allowing the PC to boot up in a matter of seconds; no one likes waiting around for their PC to boot up or the game to load.

Custom Built Gaming PC

Finally we assembled the components in the eye-catching and award winning NZXT Phantom 410 cases. The final PCs looked great and performed very well – our customer was very impressed.

New Xbox to be the Xbox One

Yesterday the successor to the hugely popular Xbox 360 was announced via live webcast, and thousands tuned in for their first glimpse of the Xbox One. Billed as ‘the ultimate all-in-one home entertainment system’, the Xbox One aims not just to be a next generation games console, but also to dominate the smart TV and home entertainment market – even announcing that Steven Spielberg will be producing a Halo-based TV show exclusively for the Xbox One.

Xbox One with new Kinect and new controller

In terms of specification, the new Xbox features an eight core CPU, 8GB of RAM (with 3 GB reserved for apps and the operating system), a 500GB hard drive and a Blu-Ray player – statistics that are fairly comparable to the stats that Sony announced for their PS4 back in February. However, the Xbox One will also come with a much-improved Kinect, designed to track minimal hand, wrist and shoulder movements, better voice recognition and even be able to read users’ heartbeats. It will also be able to record 1080p video. The Xbox One will also feature two ‘modes’ – one for gaming, one for apps and internet browsing – that means that two activities can be run simultaneously, such as gaming and browsing the internet. Great for reading walkthroughs online while playing a game.

Whilst Microsoft’s eyes may be on becoming the big thing in all round home entertainment, we all know the games are what matters. Last night the big reveals included EA’s upcoming sports releases (FIFA 14, NBA Live 14, Madden NFL 25), Forza 5 and the new Call of Duty: Ghosts, as well as sketchy details about Quantum Break, the new release from the people behind May Payne 3. Games will now be installed to the hard drive and can be played without having to use the disc. A new and improved matchmaking system for online gaming will be provided for developers to utilise, and use of the cloud-based Live servers should allow developers to create more ‘living and persistent worlds’ – presumably along the lines of the new SimCity responsive gameplay. However, unlike SimCity Microsoft have insisted that the Xbox One won’t have to be permanently connected to the internet (although reports have suggested that a connection every 24 hours will have to be established, as well as a connection whilst installing games).

So where’s the downside? As always, some of the big reveal hasn’t gone down overly well with the core fans. The Xbox One has no backwards compatibility with Xbox 360 games (due to the Xbox One’s switch to x86 architecture), and there has been no announcement regarding a work-around solution for this (unlike Sony, who announced a streaming service to combat this very issue at their big reveal). Also, a confusing series of announcements and updates has clouded the issue of second-hand games – Microsoft appear to be insisting on a ‘one disc, one owner’ approach to games, with the game being installed to an Xbox Live account. Once the disc is passed on, the installation for the original owner will no longer work. So far there has been no clarification as to how this would work for multiple accounts on one Xbox, and a confusing set of announcements and denials has so far not clarified if a fee would have to be paid for unlocking a second-hand game and installing it to a new owner’s account. This has already proved to be an extremely unpopular announcement for the gaming fan base, and hopefully further announcements will clarify the issue once and for all. All eyes are looking to the upcoming E3 event for more information – both from Microsoft and from Sony.

Microsoft Teases New Xbox Announcement

For those that consider themselves gamers, the launch of a new generation of console is the biggest news of the year. It’s been seven years since the launch of the Xbox 360, and now the games industry is rife with speculation that it’s time for the next generation of consoles to emerge – and the next console war to begin. Microsoft have now upped the ante, with Xbox Live’s Major Nelson (the Director of Programming for Xbox Live) adding a countdown to his blog that coincides with the 2013 E3 event, the biggest event for the gaming industry, with the words “And it’s on…”. Whilst he may just be unable to contain his excitement for E3, the internet has exploded with numerous theories – most prominently, that Major Nelson is teasing the announcement of a new Xbox console at E3, with a release date possibly for Christmas 2013. This would particularly fit in with the current Windows rebranding, namely the new Windows 8, Windows phones and Microsoft Surface tablets launched in 2012.

One of the major puzzlements is the name of the new console. Whilst popularly referred to as the Xbox 720, the development codename for the new console has been leaked as being the Microsoft Durango. However, in July 2012 Tech Radar announced that Microsoft had bought several new domain names, including and Not only does this fit in with the new Windows 8 branding, but eagle-eyed gamers have pointed out that an 8 on its side produces the infinity symbol, leading to theories that the new console may be called the Xbox Infinity. As for the specification of the new consoles, the jury is out. Educated guesses, along with a little pure speculation, has the most likely specification as a quad-core Intel processor, Nvidia graphics chipset and possibly 4GB or 8GB of memory. A new and improved Kinect is also likely to be announced at the same time. This specification would allow much improved graphics and significant gaming power – something that was demoed by games such as Watch Dogs and Star Wars 1313 at the E3 2012 event. Both games appeared to need console power far above the current contenders, again fuelling speculation that a new generation of consoles were just around the corner.

So if Microsoft is preparing to launch a new console, where does this leave Sony? In their quest for higher performance and specification than the Xbox 360, Sony released their PS3 too late for the market and have struggled for market share against the more popular Xbox 360 and Wii systems. In trying to remain competitive, Sony had to sell their PS3s at a significant loss for two years before technological advances allowed them to cut production costs. Sony’s priority will now be to not let Microsoft get the same head start again; rumours have a new Sony console also under development, codenamed the Orbis. This is rumoured to have AMD CPU and GPU (possibly a dual GPU set-up) with 8GB of memory and a 256GB hard drive – again, emphasising graphical and processing power rather than trying to gain the casual gamer with novelty items such as the PlayStation Move.

In the end, it’s all down to a waiting game for the keen gamer – but with titles such as Grand Theft Auto V and Bioshock Infinite promising to push the current generation of consoles to their limits, gamers shouldn’t find the wait too punishing just yet.

Is Digital Gaming the Way Forward?

With the news that Game has officially gone into administration, the traditional high street store seems to be more under threat than ever. Now that Game, and its sister chain of stores, Gamestation, have suspended trading, what will rise to take its place? In terms of the high street, the competition is overwhelming, but flawed. Other big chains, such as HMV, are in just as shaky a position, and supermarkets may be cheaper (reports suggest that supermarkets sell the biggest titles at a loss), but the selection found in the games aisle is limited at best, with most offering only a handful of the biggest sellers. For second-hand buyers, though, there’s not much good news. Game and Gamestation offered a huge range of pre-owned games, and without them there’s simply not the same level of choice available on the high street, with the exception of CEX. Even worse, news of the next Playstation 4, due for commercial release in winter 2013, comes with no backwards compatibility and an anti-used game system that requires you to ‘lock’ a purchased game to your account. Any pre-owned games will be limited to trial versions, and to unlock the full version you’ll need to pay a fee. Rumours of the next-gen Xbox coming with a similar feature are also rife. With that in mind, pre-owned games may soon be on their way out.

The obvious answer, of course, is to turn from the high street to online stores. With a wider range of games and often much cheaper prices, it seems like the obvious answer, although online prices are set to go up with the banning of the avoidance of charging tax by basing companies on the Channel Islands. However, sales figures for Mass Effect 3 showed that it did not perform as well as expected as a result of not appearing on shelves (Game famously failed to secure a contract to sell this and other big titles). If such a large title suffers a setback from a lack of a high street appearance, what would happen to smaller titles? There is still a large percentage of consumers that enjoy the experience of buying from a bricks-and-mortar store: from the amateur gamer or present buyer looking for some advice, to the avid gamer looking to hang out and browse. Plus, online stores come with a period of delay from purchase to play, meaning that the thrill of playing comes several days after you actually hand over the cash.

Maybe the answer is to turn to a digital medium. Both consoles and PCs have embraced the digital age, offering the chance to purchase and play a game without having to leave the house. Sales figures suggest that consumers are also starting to warm to the idea, with Germany’s digital and physical sales virtually equal, and US digital sales expected to rise to 58% by 2013. Whilst demos have always been available, there’s a certain efficiency in being able to properly test a game by downloading a demo, playing it, and then purchasing the full version straight away if you like it, without even getting up off the sofa. More and more games are being added to the catalogues available through consoles and PC-based services such as Steam, and the Xbox even has an arcade section dedicated to celebrating the best in independent creativity and design, far away from the big studio titles. With the meteoric rise in downloading apps and games on smartphones and tablet PCs, there seems to be a push towards immediate and easy access to games through the device you use for gaming; it remains to be seen whether this will catch on for full sized gaming experiences.