How much should you spend on a new gaming PC? We generally recommend spending a grand on such ventures, just because of the sort of power that can net you. But if money is a little tight, or you're simply looking to see what the entry level has to offer, perhaps you should be eyeing up something like this.
The real question is, how has DAW managed to hit that tempting price tag, and should a serious gamer consider it?
Right from the off, the signs are promising. In order to hit a low price tag, you need to focus on the kit that matters most. A sexy case isn't one of those must-haves, and this certainly isn't that. It's not awful, but it's something you'll want to slide under your desk rather than show off.
Pop the side off the chassis and you'll be presented with a fairly neat build. We've seen more discrete cable routing in our time, but everything is accessible and you should be able to squeeze in additional drives without much issue. The case may look a little juvenile on the outside, but inside it boasts nicely rounded edges and is surprisingly solid.
Hits the spot
More importantly, opening it shows you that the money has been spent in all the right places. Chief among these is the 1GB rendition of the Radeon HD 7850. This is an incredible budget card right now, and performs brilliantly when connected to a 1080p display - as can be seen from the benchmarks. The card manufacturer, VTX, isn't a tier one vendor, but it's still more than capable of pumping out the pixels.
The AMD FX-6300 handles the processor side of things. Clocked at 3.5GHz, turboing up to 4.1GHz, this six-core Piledriver chip is a great little performer and gets the nod from us as the best AMD chip for the money right now.
DAW keeps this puppy cool using a Xigmatek Loki cooler, with four case fans (two on the side panel) keeping air flowing nicely through the chassis.
The rest of the specification is solid enough, and there's even headroom for upgrades as the 800W PSU is more than enough for what's in here.
The DAW comes with 8GB of DDR3 1,600MHz which ensures your performance isn't held back, but you're not going to get an SSD for this much cash. The supplied 1TB 7,200rpm hard drive though does mean you've got plenty of space to play with.
Hook this machine up to a 1080p display and you'll enjoy great frame rates at the highest settings - it really does punch well above its price weight.
For comparison we've benched it against one of our test rigs, which boasts the same graphics card, but with an Intel Core i5-3570K on a Z77 motherboard. Our rig does better in Cinebench, but everything else goes to the DAW machine.
DirectX 11 gaming performance
Dirt Showdown: Frames per second: Higher is better
DAW BUDGET GAMING SYSTEM: 56
PCF TEST RIG: 52
DirectX 11 gaming performance
Sleeping Dogs: Frames per second: Higher is better
DAW BUDGET GAMING SYSTEM: 29
PCF TEST RIG: 28
CPU rendering performance
Cinebench R11.5: Index score: Higher is better
DAW BUDGET GAMING SYSTEM: 4.5
PCF TEST RIG: 5.7
It's worth noting that this is just a base machine - there's no keyboard, mouse or screen. You're going to have to get such things yourself, or transfer them across from your old system. DAW does have basic keyboard and mouse bundles from £15, which are worth buying at the same time if you need them.
So, should you buy this rig? Traditionally we'd recommend building a super-budget rig like this yourself, but for the money DAW is asking, it's a close call.
Adding everything up, we get to £500 for the hardware, with an OEM version of Windows 7 64-bit setting you back a further £70. That £30 difference is pretty much swallowed up by the shipping costs, and this is all before you figure in the warranty and your build time.