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Old 14th Sep 2016, 22:37   #1
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Rising from the Ashes: The Hardware Buyer's Guide

Hi all,

Long-time readers will know all about the Hardware Buyer's Guide. It was once a monthly feature detailing the components we'd pick for a PC build given certain budgets or design criteria. It hasn't been monthly since 2010, and despite some valiant efforts to resurrect it, none have really succeeded.

The cries from ageing forumites about bringing it back have not fallen on deaf ears, despite appearances, and plans are now in motion to re-establish a Hardware Buyer's Guide, with the first one hopefully published before the year's end

It will move to a quarterly schedule, as the amount of work required sifting through all components and rechecking prices each month isn't worth it on a monthly basis where things do not change too often: most hardware advice from 2-3 months ago is still applicable today. We won't lock ourselves into too rigid a schedule beyond four a year - it makes sense to wait a bit and see what major launches bring to the table rather than publishing a HBG right before one for the sake of scheduling.

Moving to the main point of this post, I want to know what you want to see from the new HBG. What budgets (500, 1000, 2000?) are most applicable, or what design criteria (small form-factor, VR ready, low-noise, RGB wizz wizz bang bang?) do you think are best?

Realistically, the criteria will change over time, and a limit of 5 systems per month seems sensible - enough to maintain major differences between them, and not so many that it sends me or someone else insane every few months.

I was also thinking of a final page where we recommend our current favourite peripherals in a few different categories.

At this stage all other ideas are welcome, especially those that are going to make the process more efficient on our side. What information is truly critical to keep? Do you want to see paragraphs and paragraphs of text justifying the decisions, or just a snippet summary of each spec? Is there anything previous HBGs have missed that would now be welcome?

Thanks in advance
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Old 17th Sep 2016, 10:34   #2
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Firstly, this is music to my ears and I can't wait to read the first HBG, maybe a Winter 2016 edition?

Personally, I have never used a HBG to build a whole system from scratch, but would be tempted by upgrades every time I read them. Therefore total budgets (500, 1000 etc.) aren't really a useful criteria for me. Although it makes sense to suggest balanced systems, e.g. Budget, Mid-range and Premium. There has to be a mini-itx build! A Premium 4K system would be good (as I have a 4K screen), a Mid-Range QHD system and then a Budget 1080p level system. You could include the monitor in each build as this is often a cost not factored into a budget.

A peripherals section would be good; Keyboards, mice, headsets, speakers e.t.c.

At the moment HBG are few on the ground, there's Tom's "Best GPU/CPU for the money" however, they compare prices in USD so it's not very useful to a Brit with the current exchange rates, but what's great about their guide is they explain their decisions at every price point. Custom PC magazine have a 10-page elite list which is too big and decisions aren't explained, there's a lot of repetition. Something in between the two would be great. Explaining for example, why you would chose a 480 over a 1060 in terms of GBP price and performance at the intended screen resolution is critical for me but there's no need to write many paragraphs and feel like you have to justify it, at the end of the day it's an opinion piece which most readers will value. A snippet summary of each spec, like in Custom PC is useful the first time you publish a HBG but I won't read it if it doesn't change between editions. Also a budget 1080p/Mid-range QHD/Premium 4K system is pretty self explanatory

Hopefully others will chip in their ideas and I'll come back if I think I've missed anything.

Last edited by j_jay4; 17th Sep 2016 at 11:31. Reason: Refined the description of builds
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Old 17th Sep 2016, 11:09   #3
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A properly water cooled build would be great, although probably quite a bit of work, but I think it would be unique.

In the interests of efficiency I wouldn't include hard drives or optical drives in any of the builds, stick to SSDs. You could also leave out the OS, you'll probably recommend Win10 in all builds so the OS is a fixed cost across all builds and could be mentioned at the start.
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