The Best PC Deals Around – May 2013 (Part 2)

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Best Silent PC: Silent 2000

Price: $1,079

Retailer: Computer Planet


Best Silent PC: Silent 2000

One of the problems with powerful PCs is that they have a habit of sounding like a jet taking off. Nine different fans might give you unparalleled airflow, but it can also be very distracting if you’re trying to work. If that’s the case, you’ll want a silent PC. Many retailers offer specially engineered ‘silent’ systems, but we’re quite fond of Computer Planet’s. It’s Silent 2000 model contains an Ivy Bridge Intel Core i7-3770 with a low noise Arctic Cooling heatsink, a Be Quiet 350W power supply, Cooler Master Sileo 500 case and a Gainward Nvidia GeForce GT210 1GB Silent graphics card. In case you haven’t noticed, that’s a lot of discreet hardware. Rounding the system out is 8G (2 x 4GB) of RAM, a Gigabyte GA-B75M-D3H motherboard, 1TB Seagate Barracuda and 24x DVD+/-RW optical drive. The default setup includes Windows 7 Home Premium (as well as various utilities) and a three-year warranty.

What we liked: All of the silence. There’s barely a component in there that’ll make a noise. No fan on the CPU, no fan on the GeForce 210, a reduced fan on the PSU and a low wattage to keep the system temperature down. It’s hard not to respect that level of commitment. The rest of the specs are no slouch either; it’s not exactly a super-powerful gaming system (the GeForce 210 is no better than the CPU’s integrated graphics – the separate GPU helps keep the CPU’s temperature low), but it will take care of your computing needs with nary a peep to remind you it’s there. Perfect for building a home theatre box or a discreet file server.

What’s the catch?: If there’s one thing we’d change about this system, it’s the inclusion of the a mechanical hard drive. The thing about hard drives is that they’re noisy and hot – two things you don’t want a silent system to be. Luckily, Computer Planet’s customization mechanisms are hugely simple to use, so we can tell you that swapping the 1TB HDD for a 128GB SSD adds less than $30 onto the overall cost. A more hefty 240GB SSD takes the price up to $1,275, but is worth it if you’ve got a lot of data to store. Either way, you could pair the SSD up with a mechanical drive which can at least be configured to switch off when it’s not in use, meaning you get the best of both worlds: lots of storage, but almost no access noise. Bliss.

Best High-End Gaming PC: The Raven

Price: $2,000

Retailer: Utopia Computers


Utopia Computer’s ultra-customizable approach to system building might be the thing that makes its website truly great to use, but even if you just wave through its systems on the default setting you can end up with some stunning hardware. We were most impressed with its Raven Z77 setup, which is true enthusiast territory. An Ivy Bridge Core i5-3750K CPU with Corsair H80i Liquid cooler, Gigabyte Z77X-UD5H motherboard, 16GB (2 x 8GB) of Corsair Vengeance 1600MHz RAM, GeForce GTX 670 2GB graphics card, 600W 80PLUS Corsair Builder CPU, 120GB ADATA S510 SSD and 1TB SATA 6Gbps Seagate Barracuda, 24x dual-layer DVD+/-RW optical drive and Windows 8. You even get a unique Raven RV01 chassis, free overclocking and cable management, and a frankly insane ten-year warranty with lifetime tech support.

We were most impressed with its Raven Z77 setup, which is true enthusiast territory

We were most impressed with its Raven Z77 setup, which is true enthusiast territory

What we liked: Pretty much everything. The Core i5-3570K CPU, the GeForce GTX 670, the 80PLUS certified CPU – the default specs for the system mirror our preferences near exactly, with a perfect balance between price and performance (though, admittedly, a balance that is aware it’s operating at the high-end of the market).

But forget the hardware; what really impressed us were the extras. Not only do you get a pretty sizeable stack of free games (and a $38-off launch special discount), but Utopia will also overclock your system for you at no extra cost AND tie your cables up neatly. Expertise like that is hard to buy. You might be able to find another system off the shelf that’s as good as this for a similar price, but Utopia’s form suggests that you’ll struggle to find someone who can build it better than they can. You can even add things like custom lighting colors to your system. You get all the benefits of building a system yourself, but none of the hassle of actually building it. Nothing short of fantastic.

What’s the catch?: The only catch here is that the website makes it so easy to make your system that little bit better that you’ll probably end up buying one better than you need, just because you get a very clear picture of what an extra five or ten pounds will buy you, and that quickly stacks up. If you’re on a budget, maybe stay away – not because their systems are bad value, but because if you know what you’re missing out on, it’s only going to make you feel sad.

More seriously, there is one place where it’d be nice to customize a little, and that’s the case. Presumably there’s a good reason it only offers one for each line (one suspects it’s probably to make sure such customizable systems can actually be distinguished from one another) but, while the unconventional Raven RV01 case is clearly its preference, it’d be nice to choose your own. To be fair, we’re really nitpicking to come up with that criticism, and that’s evidence of just how strong Utopia’s offerings are.

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