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Graphics Cards

A Futurelooks 2014 Holiday Gift Guide for the PC DIY Enthusiasts on Your List

Starting with entry level cards ranging $160 to $190 US with 2GB video memory, the ASUS STRIX GTX 750 Ti OC Edition or GIGABYTE GTX 750 Ti Black Edition are two good choices. We found the STRIX overclocked really well which is great for a budget card. Both provided a good medium settings level experience on the latest game titles.

A Futurelooks 2014 Holiday Gift Guide for the PC DIY Enthusiasts on Your List

For a smoother 1080p experience, you’ll want a capable video card. We recommend moving up to a very quiet GIGABYTE GTX 760 OC 4GB ($296 US) video card or racier ASUS STRIKER GTX 760 4GB ($280)  card. Both allow higher graphical details in games thanks to more memory and more CUDA cores.

A Futurelooks 2014 Holiday Gift Guide for the PC DIY Enthusiasts on Your List

The best 1080p and 2K gaming experience with maximum game settings on the latest games requires a higher end video card. We recommend jumping straight to an MSI GTX 970 Gaming 4G ($384 US), which offers higher factory frequencies as well as a neat red thermal design. And, finally, the ASUS STRIX GTX 970 OC 4GB ($375) video card also boasts higher frequencies but slightly more compact design. For another $100, you’ll be in the GTX 980 range.

A Futurelooks 2014 Holiday Gift Guide for the PC DIY Enthusiasts on Your List

Lets not forget that AMD also makes very good graphics cards as well. The MSI R9 280X Gaming 3G ($330) creates very smooth frame rates in game. It’s also a pretty quiet card thanks to the two large cooling fans. The red on black theme is also easy on the eyes not to mention matches many of the computer enclosure themes.

CPU Cooling (Air)

While there are plenty of CPU cooler options to choose from, it’s a very tough choice, because so many look and perform very admirably. Here are some of our favourite air coolers.

A Futurelooks 2014 Holiday Gift Guide for the PC DIY Enthusiasts on Your List

With cost in mind, the Thermaltake NiC C5 ($55 US) will do an admirable job thanks to its quality design and red theme. If you fancy a white theme and similar cooling performance, the Phantek PH-TC12DX ($60) will also cool relatively well for a budget cooler. But for overclocking, you may want something a little better.

A Futurelooks 2014 Holiday Gift Guide for the PC DIY Enthusiasts on Your List

Our premium overclocking air cooler selection includes the be quiet! Dark Rock Pro 3 ($60 US) and Thermaltake Frio Extreme ($85-90). Both boast dual radiators. The Dark Rock Pro 3 is a beautifully crafted jet black cooler and the Frio Extreme more conventional brushed aluminum design sporting a very a affordable $60 US. In either case, the coolers are quiet yet very capable of cooling well.

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