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Group test: what's the best PC component for upgrades?

The best components you can add to your PC

PC Advisor reviews the best PC components you can use to upgrade your PC.

5. ZOTAC Geforce GTX 460

The ZOTAC Geforce GTX 460 is available for around £169 inc VAT (despite a putative RRP of £199) and that's not a price-point we can argue with. Although it's a close contest, the price and performance difference between the GTX 460 and the HD 5850 make it easy to pick a card according to need. If you don't mind paying about 15 percent more for 10-15 percent performance hike and a better cooled and quieter running card, the HD 5850 wins out. However, if you don't mind the 10-15 percent performance drop, then you can't go wrong with the GTX 460.

4. AMD Phenom II X6 1100T Black Edition

Both, the Phenom 1100T Black Edition and the 1035T have a great value proposition. Who does not want to buy a processor with more cores and more speed, at a lower price? The only reason these processors don't steamroll Intel's counterparts, is that many users looking for even higher performance are willing to pay the big bucks and that is where Intel has an advantage. Else, those looking to build a mean machine on a budget, or those looking to upgrade from an existing AM3 processor are better served by this duo from AMD.

3. Asus M4A88T-M

The Asus M4A88T-M motherboard is a successor to the ones based on an AMD 785G chipset. If anything, our only complaint is that Asus did not use the newer SB850 for this board, thus leaving out SATA 6Gbps support. Also, this board is not for gamers, unless they are willing to turn off almost all visual eye-candy and make the game look very drab. Yet the integrated graphics (IGP - Radeon 4250) on this motherboard is the best in the mainstream price range. The Intel graphics integrated into the recent Core i5/i3 manages to give it tough competition, but even that is not ahead by much of a margin. In such a case, the price is the clincher for the Asus M4A88T-M, if you're looking for an AMD motherboard.

2. Sapphire Radeon HD 6850

This is an outstanding card for the money. At worst, it'll cost slightly less than the GTX 460, despite being marginally faster. Should the actual price turn out to be £10-£15 cheaper again, that makes this incredible value. Performance is great, and the features set is at least on a par with that of the GTX 460, bar the 3D support, which may be compensated for by excellent Eyefinity multi-screen options). Unless you're a real game freak, you really don't need to spend more than this.

1. Intel Core i7-2600K (Sandy Bridge)

The Intel Core i7-2600K is a worthy successor to the i7-860 and i7-920 chips at default clock speeds. If Sandy Bridge permeates the entire market, the (relatively) lower-end LGA1156 motherboards and processors can walk away. In fact, even the X58 line (including the hexacores) can now be scratched off the wish-list of most aspiring gaming/performance PC buyers, replacing the same with a Sandy Bridge board and processor instead. On balance, paying about the same amount for a higher-end processor and getting a 25 per cent increase in performance (besides overclockability) is a deal that is very hard to pass up. Despite the rapid socket changes Intel is going through, we can safely say that those looking to build a performance PC won't regret a Sandy Bridge purchase.

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