Fick’s Picks: April 2019 Desktops from R5,000 to R10,000

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Source: AMD

It’s strange to think that, just as we’ve come off weeks of load shedding that now’s a great time to build your own computer, but it’s the honest truth. With price drops across the board, GPU stock levels stabilising, astonishingly cheap SSDs and AMD’s Ryzen 3000 series on the horizon, it’s never been a better time to build your desktop than now.

R5,000 won’t break the bank

Price
AMD Ryzen 3 2200G (quad-core, 3.5-3.7GHz)R1,799
ASUS PRIME A320M-K (socket AM4, mATX)R899
G.Skill Ripjaws V2x 4GB DDR4-2666 CL15R899
ADATA SU800 256GB M.2 SATA SSDR699
Cooler Master MasterBox 3 Lite mATXR500
Corsair VS350 350W ATX PSUR500
Total:R5,296

It seems that AMD’s plans to rule the budget market have borne fruit. Not only is the Ryzen 3 2200G the sanest pick of the bunch when it comes to processors, you’d have to be sleeping on the job to pick anything else. Not only is it a fast quad-core APU with enough horsepower to embarrass previous-gen Core i5 chips, but it also has as much graphics horsepower as a GeForce GT 1030, a discrete card that costs almost as much as the chip itself.

Next to that, we have a decent motherboard in ASUS’ A320M-K, although there’s no chance of overclocking here. AMD may have “accidentally” left that in for Athlon 200GE owners, but not here. We also have 8GB of RAM for a reasonable price, which is a huge relief. This time last year prices were almost double this for regularly binned DDR4-2666 RAM.

Our storage is a single M.2 drive from ADATA. Although many readers may prefer SATA drives, there’s no need to waste space and cabling on a 2.5-inch chassis, so the system looks cleaner overall. Finally, the chassis and power supply options are both good. The MasterBox Lite 3 is basically a much cheaper Elite 344 without the endearing colours, while the 350W Corsair unit will do the job. You’ve got some space to manage cabling nicely, and we’re not too over budget to be a problem.

R7,500 will just be a little pinch

Price
AMD Ryzen 3 2200G (quad-core, 3.5-3.7GHz)R1,799
ASUS PRIME A320M-K (socket AM4, mATX)R899
G.Skill Ripjaws V2x 4GB DDR4-2666 CL15R899
GIGABYTE Radeon RX 580 Gaming 8G MI R2,499
ADATA SU800 256GB M.2 SATA SSDR699
Cooler Master MasterBox 3 Lite mATXR500
Corsair VS350 350W ATX PSUR500
Total:R7,795

How do you improve on an already perfect system now that you have another R2,500 to play with? By throwing in a GPU. While the Ryzen 3’s integrated Vega graphics cores do well enough for light gaming and some eSports titles with all the details turned down, the CPU cores are just sitting there with almost nothing to do, bottlenecked by the relatively slow integrated graphics. So I’ve chucked in an RX 580 to solve that problem.

Chucking in an RX 580 next to a Ryzen 3 isn’t a bad idea, but we’ve hit the limits of where this build can go. As AMD prepares to release their next-gen Navi mid-range GPUs in the coming months, deals like this are going to be more commonplace, especially from GPU vendors who made mining versions of their Radeon cards. Originally this one only had a six-month-long warranty and no extras, but now it comes with two games and a full three years.

JUMP ON THAT. Even if you’re not building a new system and are just looking for a 1080p upgrade, this is unbelievable value.

R10,000 might just require some explaining

Price
AMD Ryzen 5 2600 (six-core, 3.3-3.9GHz)R2,999
ASRock B450 Pro 4 (socket AM4, ATX)R1,499
G.Skill Ripjaws V 2x 4GB DDR4-3200 CL16R1,299
GIGABYTE Radeon RX 580 Gaming 8G MI R2,499
ADATA XPG SX6000 256GB M.2 NVMe SSDR799
Cooler Master MasterBox E500L WindowedR699
Super Flower SF-450P14HE 450W ATX PSUR650
Total:R10,444

Going a little over the budget was planned. The system needed to be cheap enough to be within reach of anyone with hope of saving for a year, but also not composed of tacky parts. I think I’ve partially achieved that. We start off with the Ryzen 5 2600 – not cheap, let me tell you. AMD may be having success in picking themselves up off the floor, but locally prices for processors aren’t lowering like they are in other countries. Perhaps that’s on the distributor end, because Ryzen first gen products aren’t getting similarly discounted. Not that six cores and twelve threads for around R3,000 isn’t a bargain, mind.

With the processor and that obscenely priced GPU eating up most of the budget, we have to be mindful of where the rest of the budget is spent. ASRock’s B450 Pro 4 is a decent mid-range option for some overclocking, and it’s got most of the bells and whistles like RGB controls that you might want. Our RAM likewise is middle-of-the-road in terms of capacity, even if the speed is what we want to get the most out of our chip. 8GB is a comfortable level of RAM these days, but it won’t be long before it isn’t.

Our storage kicks it up a little bit by switching from an M.2 SATA drive to NVMe. That’s well over 1GB/s read speed on paper, and 900MB/s on writes is slightly conservative on ADATA’s part. Finishing things off, Cooler Master’s MasterBox E500L is a neat, spacious, and functional chassis, while the Super Flower PSU (currently only available through Wootware) will kick the teeth in of other similarly priced alternatives.

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Critical Hit as an organisation.

Last Updated: April 12, 2019

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