Jun 11 2012 - With the economy on so many people's minds, performance computers have changed dramatically from what they once were. Now more people are looking to get the most performance for their dollar. Of course, someone looking at playing PC games will have very different needs from someone looking to do video editing. Because of this, I have broken down this list into a variety of different categories of computers depending upon either you primary tasks or budget.
With pricing starting around $750, the Dell XPS 8500 is probably one of the most affordable systems available with the new Ivy Bridge processors. For $1100, its possible to get the high end i7-3770 quad core processor equipped with a large 12GB of DDR3 memory that lets it power through just about any task possible. Dell didn't skimp on the storage either offering 2TB hard drive which is double what most in this price range offer. They even include a wireless networking adapter with Bluetooth capability for wireless peripherals. The big downside is the graphics system. They equip it with the NVIDIA GeForce GT 640 which is a new low to mid end graphics card that isn't well suited to gaming compared to most and offer limited upgrade options. Still, those wanting solid performance for general computing, its a good choice.
At $1199, the Gateway FX6860-UR10P is relatively affordable for the features it packs in. The difference here is that it doesn't necessarily excel in one area but instead offers a good option for each component that adds up to a fairly balanced experience. It uses the Intel Core i7-3700 quad core Ivy Bridge processor matched with 12GB of DDR3 for solid general performance. An AMD Radeon HD 7770 graphics cards lets it be capable of gaming up to the standard 1920x1080 resolution of most monitors. It even comes with a 2TB hard drive for plenty of storage space even though it uses a variable speed green drive for a bit less performance. The best part is that they make it easy to add extra storage space without having to open up the computer thanks to their easy swap SATA bays. The big downside is that it uses the older chipsets which means it does not feature support for the SSD caching or virtualized graphics.
Dell uses the Intel X79 chipset and Sandy Bridge-E processors for their premiere gaming desktop the Alienware Aurora. While it isn't as new as the Ivy Bridge, it actually does offer a bit more performance and most importantly, better support for those looking to use multiple graphics cards in a single system. Thankfully, a more affordable quad core i7-3820 based version is now available for $1499. This system offers solid performance and with the NVIDIA GeForce GTX 555 graphics card, solid gaming performance in a well designed case. It can easily handle modern games up to the typical 1920x1080 resolution. Of course, there are a large number of customization options available for getting even better performance from the higher end graphics cards and processors.
There are a large number of specialized companies out there in the market to build customized performance systems but most charge large premiums for their systems. iBUYPOWER's Gamer Paladin E840 is a much more affordable performance gaming desktop platform that offers a huge range of parts to select from to build you personalized system. The base system is priced at $1399 and comes with the new Ivy Bridge i7-3770K quad core processor that is unlocked for possible overclocking and 8GB of DDR3 memory. They do equip it with an older Radeon HD 6850 graphics card which is capable but a generation behind but it does feature an 800W power supply for lots of upgrade options including multiple cards. They even give it a three year warranty which is better than many retail systems.