In this article we’ll be taking a look at the prices for various combinations of hardware, specifically the CPU/APU and motherboard. Now that Intel’s Haswell is generally available, we feel it’s time for an update.
Because we’re just looking at the backbone of the system and not the rest of its components, we’re only concentrating on the CPU/APU and the motherboard in the R1,000 to R6,000 price range. Links to price comparisons on chassis, memory, hard drives, power supply and all other things we’ve covered in our previous price round-ups can be found at the bottom of this article.
The tables below show the various components available from local retailers. The lowest prices are highlighted in Bold. If a product is listed as “Sold Out” or is out of stock, that price does not make it into the table.
- 2c, 4c, 6c, 8c = the number of cores in the processor.
- HT = Hyperthreading.
|Intel Pentium G2020 2.9GHz 2c||659||673||640|
|Intel Core i3-3220 3.3GHz 2c HT||1372||1346||1327||1299||1420.88|
|Intel Core i5-4330 3.0GHz 4c||2138||2260||2249||2300.73|
|Intel Core i5-4670K 3.4GHz 4c||2773||2879||2849||2938.38|
|Intel Core i7-4770K 3.4z 4c HT||3993||4175||3815||4199||4312.89|
|MSI B75MA-E33 mATX||616||654||690||649|
|MSI H77MA-G43 mATX||909||956||941||979|
|Gigabyte P85-D3 ATX||1125|
|MSI Z87-G43 ATX||1699||1787|
|Gigabyte Z87X-UD3H ATX||2487||2523|
|AMD A4-5300 3.4GHz 2c||642||648|
|AMD A8-5600K 3.6GHz 4c||1299||1330||1260||1379||1427.30|
|AMD FX-6300 3.5GHz 6c||1752||1856||1780||1749||1970.95|
|AMD FX-8320 3.5GHz 8c||2290||2243||2133||2349||2378.02|
|AMD FX-8350 4.0GHz 8c||2598||2547||2860||2699||2723.25|
|MSI FM2-A75MA-E35 mATX||686||746||729|
|MSI FM2-A85XA-GD65 ATX||1155||1449||1373||1229||1250.84|
|ASUS M597 EVO R.20 ATX||1228||1426||1499||1525.23|
|ASUS M5A99X Evo ATX||1642||1858||1828||1899||1950.33|
|ASRock 990FX Extreme9 ATX||2385||2475||2290|
Low-end desktops: General use, some older/indie games, Blu-Ray playback
- Intel Pentium G2020 + MSI B75MA-E33: ±R1,309
- AMD A4-5300 + MSI FM2-A75MA-E35: ±R1,365
In the budget segment we have two similarly priced platforms. The Pentium G2020 and the A4-5300 are good enough for most of the tasks they’ll be asked to perform and will even play one or a few indie games as well as run a productivity suite.
All things equal, both platforms are good choices and it would come down to a coin flip. Once light gaming or HD content enters the fray, the AMD combo becomes the better choice. A slight price hike is noticed on the Intel platform and our AMD recommendation drops R20.
Budget desktops: General use, light gaming, photo/video editing, Blu-Ray playback
- Intel Core i3-3220 + MSI H77MA-G43: ±R2,285
- AMD A8-5600K + MSI FM2-A85XA-GD65: ±R2,630
This is the budget sweet-spot. Both combos are really good for most of the tasks you’ll perform with them and either one is a great pick. The i3-3220 would be better-suited to gaming with discrete graphics because the HD2500 graphics still doesn’t really count for much. The AMD combo is the better choice if you can’t afford discrete graphics yet or just want a simpler system.
Some stock issues with the Core i3-3225 force us to drop to the i3-3220, along with its inferior HD2500 graphics. Consequently, the AMD recommendation drops to the quad-core A8-5600K, which is still a much better pick for casual gaming.
Mainstream desktops: Does all the things!
- Intel Core i5-4330 + Gigabyte P85-D3: ±R3,362
- AMD FX-6300 + ASUS M597 EVO R.20: ±R3,241
In the mainstream segment, the Core i5-4330 goes up against the FX-6300. Although Intel’s Haswell is a little faster clock-for-clock over Ivy Bridge, at this point it’s a better buy for a whole new rig rather than an incremental upgrade over a LGA1155-series Intel processor. Both are great choices, however – for gaming or heavy productivity with multi-tasking.
Once you use something that does like more cores, like Crysis 3 or Supreme Commander, the FX-6300 matches up and even beats the i5 in many places. The AMD combo’s lower overall price, along with overclocking and full tweaking options is the icing on the cake.
High-end gaming: All the things! (just a little bit faster)
- Intel Core i5-4670K + MSI Z87-G43: ±R4,648
- AMD FX-8320 + ASUS M5A99X Evo: ±R4,466
In the high-end we have the Intel cookie-cutter build – an unlocked Core i5 and a reasonably cheap Z87 board sets you up for pretty much any match-up and any game. Its generally faster in games than the AMD combo and will overclock higher and run more efficiently.
However, the AMD combo is a good choice for use with multi-threaded apps, as the extra four cores help it streak ahead into Core i7 territory. It may be the equal in games to the i5 now, but in the future it will pull ahead. The weak Rand has pushed up the price a bit, but it is noticeably cheaper and better kitted out.
The Big League: Super-high performance, no compromises
- Intel Core i7-4770K + Gigabyte Z87X-UD3H: ±R6,603
- AMD FX-8350 + ASRock 990FX Extreme9: ±R5,067
At the top is the FX-8350 and the Core i7-4770k. Both can address eight threads, both are unlocked, both perform very well in all performance metrics. As usual, the Core i7 pulls ahead in games and applications that prefer strong single-core performance, while the FX is the winner in multi-threaded games and apps, even running straight up against the Sandy Bridge-E processors.
The only real difference between the two here is how high you can overclock them and what kind of performance they offer with tweaking. The AMD combo is now the more flexible option when it comes to overclocking, as the Core i7-4770K will use about the same amount of power and produce more heat when overclocked and under load.
The fact that the AMD pairing is also cheaper than last month’s prices also speaks volumes about the two company’s philosophies when it comes to chip design.
The chassis, memory, hard drives, power supply and all other things we’ve covered in our previous price round-ups can be found here:
- SA SSD price roundup
- Desktop PSU price roundup
- SA DDR3 memory pricing roundup
- Hard drive price roundup
- Top 5 bargain gaming PC cases
- Entry-level graphics cards: gaming vs function
- Mid-range graphics cards: Price vs Performance
- High-end graphics cards: Bigger means better