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$700 Budget Rig

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May 14, 2012 7:33:08 AM

Hello TH Community! Well, as the Thread Title says, I have around $700 to spend on my second build PC. I was wondering how I would know what to get that would be in a sense "even". Meaning, how would I know what part of my pc is bottlenecking the other, I've seen a lot of people posting that you should get an i3 and a 7850, because they are around even, and it would tkae an amazing GPU to bottleneck processors like 2600k's. At this point I'm pretty damned confused, but his is what I'm looking at so far, PLEASE point me in the right direction as I'm not a computer expert.
Approximate Purchase Date: (e.g.: August-ish)

Budget Range: ~$700

System Usage from Most to Least Important: Gaming, Entertainment (movies)

Parts Not Required: Monitor, Keyboard, Mouse, Speakers, Optical Drive, Hard Drives

Preferred Website(s) for Parts: I built my first computer off of Newegg.com and haven't had any troubles. :) 

Country: United States

Parts Preferences: N/A

Overclocking: Yes, Later once my budget allows me to buy liquid cooling.

SLI or Crossfire: Most likely not.

Monitor Resolution: 1680x1050 (I will be buying a new 1080p Monitor, though.)

Additional Comments: here's what I'm looking at right now.

CPU: Intel Core i5-2500K Sandy Bridge 3.3GHz (3.7GHz Turbo Boost) (219.99)
GPU: XFX Double D HD-687A-ZDFC Radeon HD 6870 (189.99) With a 30.00 MiR
PSU: OCZ ModXStream Pro 600W Modular Power Supply ($69.99)
Case: ZALMAN Z9 Plus Black Steel / Plastic ATX Mid Tower Computer Case (Will this be enough space being a Mid-Atx?) ($59.99)
RAM: CORSAIR Vengeance 8GB (2 x 4GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1600 ($49.99)
MOBO: ASRock Z68 Extreme3 Gen3 LGA 1155 Intel Z68 HDMI SATA 6Gb/s USB 3.0 ATX Intel Motherboard ($121.99)

What part of the computer would be bottlenecking the other? And If I could save a little bit in a certain area, where would it be? Lastly, Just leave your honest opinions, anything would greatly help me, some constructive criticism would be helpful. :)  All in all do you guys (the experts) think this is a good build for my budget?

More about : 700 budget rig

a b B Homebuilt system
May 14, 2012 8:02:38 AM

The Radeon 6870 is a little weak for 1080p, but it's great for 1680x1050. If you intend to upgrade your monitor, you might also want to step up to a 7850 instead of a 6870.

The case is large enough.

In order to fit a 7850 into your budget, you might want to take that i5-2500K and go down to a weaker i5. The lowest i5 is still not slow enough to bottleneck even a 7850 and the price difference should let a 7850 fit into your budget nicely. You can still overclock the cheaper i5s to about 4GHz with Turbo Boost settings and BLCK, if that's why you wanted the 2500K. Also, there's no need for liquid cooling to overclock. A $20 air cooler, such as the Cooler Master Hyper 212 Plus, will bring the i5s almost to their limits (limits that don't involve cooling such as phase-change cooling or liquid nitrogen). You might want to grab a $40 RAM kit instead of a $50 kit if your budget is too constrained, there won't be a performance difference so long as it's the same frequency and timings (but remember to stick with Corsair, G.Skill, or Crucial as the brand to ensure the best reasonably possible quality RAM).

Other than the Radeon 6870 at 1080p, I see no bottle-neck, except for the lack of an SSD (SSDs generally don't fit into $700 gaming machine budgets anyway).
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May 14, 2012 8:21:23 AM

oh god, avoid that OCZ psu. I had one like it and it died. you're gonna be better off with a non-modular corsair one. well maybe my psu was defective from the start but who knows.

my 6870's fine with 1080p just not with the best settings. try to find better deals with the amd 7000 series.

I agree with blaz you won't need to liquid cool an i5 especially IB/SB, all you need is a good air cooler. like the 212+
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a b B Homebuilt system
May 14, 2012 11:23:58 AM

Just because it's an OCZ PSU, it doesn't automatically mean that it's bad. It's a highly rated PSU on newegg with more than 750 ratings and an average of 4 eggs. Most low ratings were not even because of problems with the PSU, but things such as the cables not being long enough to hide behind the motherboard and the rebate took longer than they liked. Really, the cables being a little short is only a problem for cases that mount the PSU on the bottom, instead of the top, of the case.

Granted, I'd recommend a Corsair, Antec, or Seasonic branded PSU over an OCZ, but it still isn't junk.
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a b B Homebuilt system
May 14, 2012 12:07:13 PM

7850, 2500K

PCPartPicker part list / Price breakdown by merchant / Benchmarks

CPU: Intel Core i5-2500K 3.3GHz Quad-Core Processor ($169.99 @ Microcenter)
Motherboard: MSI Z68MA-G45 (B3) Micro ATX LGA1155 Motherboard ($89.99 @ Newegg)
Memory: Corsair 8GB (2 x 4GB) DDR3-1333 Memory ($39.99 @ Newegg)
Video Card: MSI Radeon HD 7850 2GB Video Card ($259.99 @ NCIX US)
Case: Zalman Z9 Plus ATX Mid Tower Case ($49.99 @ Newegg)
Power Supply: Corsair 430W ATX12V Power Supply ($26.98 @ Newegg)
Total: $636.93
(Prices include shipping and discounts when available.)
(Generated by PCPartPicker 2012-05-14 08:06 EDT-0400)
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May 14, 2012 12:14:54 PM

go with FinneousPJ's build and just add a hyper 212+ and a slightly higher wattage power supply (i.e. 500w)
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a b B Homebuilt system
May 14, 2012 2:27:32 PM

I agree with TheBigTroll, just add in a Cooler Master Hyper 212 Plus and a higher wattage PSU to the build that FinneousPJ suggested and remember, if possible, try to stick with Seasonic, Antec, and Corsair as PSU brands.
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a b B Homebuilt system
May 14, 2012 3:40:55 PM

The PSU is fine. He also said he will later buy liquid cooling.
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a b B Homebuilt system
May 14, 2012 3:55:49 PM

Yes, but we have already established that liquid cooling will only waste money that is better spent in other places. Also, the PSU is really pushing the limits for that system. It is not enough for overclocking those components. I wouldn't dare give them even moderate overclocks with it. Get at least a 500w PSU for overclocking those components. So yes, it's fine, but it's just too close to being not enough for my tastes, especially if overclocking is concerned. Better safe than sorry and it's not the safe end of this at all.
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May 14, 2012 4:27:48 PM

blazorthon said:
Yes, but we have already established that liquid cooling will only waste money that is better spent in other places. Also, the PSU is really pushing the limits for that system. It is not enough for overclocking those components. I wouldn't dare give them even moderate overclocks with it. Get at least a 500w PSU for overclocking those components. So yes, it's fine, but it's just too close to being not enough for my tastes, especially if overclocking is concerned. Better safe than sorry and it's not the safe end of this at all.

+1
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a b B Homebuilt system
May 14, 2012 4:42:50 PM

FinneousPJ said:
http://www.tomshardware.co.uk/radeon-hd-7870-review-ben...

The 7850 is the lowest, using only 250W for the entire X79 system.


That's not the point. Add up the TDPs for all components and add in 10w per RAM module and add in the TDP for the storage drives and any other devices that are connected. Then add in another 20 to 50w for the motherboard (depends on the board and varies widely with boards that have more complex chipsets and more additional hardware generally using more power) The power supply should have at least a 25% lead on this theoretical maximum, worst case scenario when it comes to overclocking in order to ensure it can survive the most strenuous situations, such as a burn-in benchmark, not just games. A 500w PSU does this and leaves room for an upgrade down the road. It's a safer investment, especially in the long term.
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a b B Homebuilt system
May 14, 2012 5:24:10 PM

You're not getting it. That figure is for the entire system; you can subtract from that figure some watts for the mATX mobo and less RAM.

But I'll humor you:

130 W 7850
95 W 2500K
50 W mATX mobo
10 W RAM
10 W HDD

295 W total, mind you every component will never be at 100% load at the same time. Adding 25% we get 368.75 W which is only 86% load on the PSU.
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a b B Homebuilt system
May 14, 2012 5:33:45 PM

Now consider it with an overclock. The CPU could use over 25% to 50% more power and the GPU could also use a good deal more power. Increased strain on the RAM increases it's power usage. Also, who's to say that the HDD only uses 10w (some use more, some use less) and you only counted the RAM once. 10w per module, not per kit.

Do the math right and you get this:
130w 7850
95w 2500K
50w mobo
20w RAM (assuming two modules)
unknown usage on the hard drive, they vary widely between about 5 and 20 to 25w and some high performance drives might stretch that limit.

Just at stock (not including the HDD), we have 315w. Let's just stick with your 10w assumption for the HDD to do this quickly, there's 305w at stock and you want at least another 25% headroom so just over 380w. Yes, your PSU choice can hold this without a problem. However, overclocking would push beyond it's practical, rated limits.
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a b B Homebuilt system
May 14, 2012 5:49:03 PM

I'm quite certain modern DDR3 modules don't use 10 W per part.

Is there any reason you say you can't load the PSU past 80%, that seems rather arbitrary.
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a b B Homebuilt system
May 14, 2012 5:52:58 PM

It decreases power efficiency and longevity to load most PSUs past around 80 to 85%. Some are completely okay with it, some are not. Most nowadays are not as good at going beyond their rated maximum as most older PSUs were.

How much power that the modules use depends mostly on their voltage, and partially on their frequency (binning deciding how low their voltage can go at a given frequency). Some DDR3 modules use more than 10w (usually the high voltage modules, not as common anymore), some use less, but that's generally the low voltage modules that use less. 10w is a common average. Regardless, you are arguing against ensuring a safe overclock and that's generally not the best idea. Even that 25% headroom is not always enough, especially with some parts that can use more than their TDP is supposed to allow.

The headroom is also important because over time, the maximum wattage of a PSU drops (often up to several percent per year), so it helps to make sure that the system will last a long time without needing to have it's PSU replaced or it's power usage dropped somehow to retain stability.
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a b B Homebuilt system
May 14, 2012 5:58:45 PM

Actually the 80 plus standard requires that the efficiency be at least 80% at 100%.

I'm not arguing against a safe overclock, I'm arguing against wasting money. Using your figure of 305 W maximum, the unit has a 41% overhead. I'm simply saying it's enough for the system.
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a b B Homebuilt system
May 14, 2012 6:15:58 PM

Figure in overclocking though, and that headroom diminishes sharply. Beyond that, like I said, PSUs degrade over time, so it could cause a premature failure if it doesn't start off with a high enough wattage rating. Overclocking plus the degradation could cause severe problems in the next one to three years for this PSU. Just increasing it to 500w almost completely eliminates the chance of failure from this specific cause and that's worth the extra $5 to $10 for a 500w model instead of a 430w. Besides, the build is more than $50 under the budget, so there's plenty of room to not skimp on the PSU.
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a b B Homebuilt system
May 14, 2012 6:19:55 PM

I agree I was surprised to see the build come in so cheap. You could easily put some more cash into the mobo and PSU.
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a c 118 B Homebuilt system
May 14, 2012 6:26:54 PM

For a modern gaming system, I wouldn't touch a PSU without at least 500 watts from a reputable brand with an 80+ efficiency certification, regardless of what a Kill-A-Watt reading is. My A+ certification prep text book states this, and I see no reason to disagree with them. Having said that, if a budget is a concern, then yes you can get a lower one and probably be fine. But then again, my friend who uses a 20oz mountain dew bottle as his car's radiator reserve bottle is probably fine too.

Overclocking increases the power draw substantially, the components are made to run efficiently at their default speeds. Theres certain things you shouldn't go cheap on regardless of whether or not you can get away with it.
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a b B Homebuilt system
May 14, 2012 6:31:26 PM

You do realize the trend for power consumption is down, not up in new components?
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a b B Homebuilt system
May 14, 2012 6:36:00 PM

FinneousPJ said:
You do realize the trend for power consumption is down, not up in new components?


Doesn't matter. PSUs degrade over time and if OP upgrades to a higher power GPU configuration (such as CF), then more wattage would be necessary anyway (although at that point, a 500w could not be enough anymore). Parts aren't really using less power much, just becoming more power efficient. CPUs are going down in power, but not by much at all. Graphics cards are not going down.

Also, for those components that are going down in power usage, their power efficiency can often drop like a rock as they get overclocked. Ivy Bridge does not have this problem, but Nvidia Kepler cards do. Overclocking is not power efficient for them like it is for the GCN Radeon cards.
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a b B Homebuilt system
May 14, 2012 7:04:42 PM

blazorthon said:
Yes, but we have already established that liquid cooling will only waste money that is better spent in other places. Also, the PSU is really pushing the limits for that system. It is not enough for overclocking those components. I wouldn't dare give them even moderate overclocks with it. Get at least a 500w PSU for overclocking those components. So yes, it's fine, but it's just too close to being not enough for my tastes, especially if overclocking is concerned. Better safe than sorry and it's not the safe end of this at all.

+1 it's never a wise choice to skimp on psu
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a c 118 B Homebuilt system
May 14, 2012 7:09:34 PM

FinneousPJ said:
You do realize the trend for power consumption is down, not up in new components?

I do realize this, but I also realize that when you overclock components you dramatically increase its power draw. And as mentioned power supplies do degrade overtime, particularly the capacitors in the power supplies, this factor is increased the closer you run it towards its rated output. A capacitor for all intents and purposes is a rechargeable battery. The higher draw you put on it and the more frequently it has to be replenished, the shorter its lifespan is. CompTIA recommends figuring out the maximum power the system needs and choosing a power supply that has a wattage rating 30 percent greater than the needed wattage (and thats not figuring in overclocking).
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a b B Homebuilt system
May 14, 2012 7:20:53 PM

I have no idea what CompTIA is but as an electrical engineering student I very much have to object the notion that a capacitor is a battery.
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a b B Homebuilt system
May 14, 2012 7:24:00 PM

You get the point. Like a battery, it charges, it discharges (although not in the exact same way) and the more often you do this, the more it degrades. Running a PSU closer to it's maximum (or even at or beyond it's rated maximum) increases the rate of decay.
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a b B Homebuilt system
May 14, 2012 7:36:33 PM

That looks good. It also comes with a free Flash card reader too.
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a c 118 B Homebuilt system
May 14, 2012 8:12:26 PM

FinneousPJ said:
I have no idea what CompTIA is but as an electrical engineering student I very much have to object the notion that a capacitor is a battery.



CompTIA http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/CompTIA

Edited for abrasiveness, sorry if you already read it. CompTIA is an association of tech people who provide competency certifications for people in the computer tech field.



http://www.ehow.com/list_7643772_similarities-between-c...
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a b B Homebuilt system
May 14, 2012 8:23:39 PM

nekulturny said:
CompTIA http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/CompTIA

TLDR, people who actually know what they're talking about. No offense, but a battery indeed is very similar to a capacitor. Both store electrical energy in the same fashion and neither have a indefinite life of usability.

http://www.ehow.com/list_7643772_similarities-between-c...

Grab a university physics book and read about capacitors. Then grab a chemistry book and read about batteries. Then make an educated assessment; that article it ridiculous. Yeah, they may look similar, but they're completely different.
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a c 118 B Homebuilt system
May 14, 2012 8:26:15 PM

Look, I'm not trying to argue with you. I don't need to read a physics and chemistry book to know that if CompTIA recommends something regarding the building, maintenance and repair of personal computers that it should be heeded, not doing so is done at your own risk.
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a b B Homebuilt system
May 14, 2012 8:29:35 PM

nekulturny said:
Look, I'm not trying to argue with you. I don't need to read a physics and chemistry book to know that if CompTIA recommends something regarding the building, maintenance and repair of personal computers that it should be heeded, not doing so is done at your own risk.

No, but I recommend you do if you think capacitors and batteries are basically the same, especially when you seem keen on working with electrical components. Physics regarding electronics is not as tedious as it sounds like ;) 

Sure, I can agree a 500W PSU is a safer bet, but I remain adamant the 430W is enough for the build outlined :p 
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a c 118 B Homebuilt system
May 14, 2012 8:33:20 PM

I said for all intents and purposes. In the respect of a capacitor it holds an electrical charge to maintain consistency in the current.

And just like I said with my friend who decided a 20oz mountain dew bottle would be "sufficient" for his anti-freeze reservoir rather than going to a junk yard and paying 5 bucks for a proper reservoir off an old car is probably sufficient too, that doesn't make it a wise financial decision.

But I'm content to agree to disagree with you.
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a b B Homebuilt system
May 14, 2012 8:53:33 PM

The 430w is adequate for stock performance, but not for overclocking. As adamant as you are, it's not a reasonable thing to gamble on anyway.
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May 14, 2012 10:57:30 PM

FinneousPJ said:
7850, 2500K

PCPartPicker part list / Price breakdown by merchant / Benchmarks

CPU: Intel Core i5-2500K 3.3GHz Quad-Core Processor ($169.99 @ Microcenter)
Motherboard: MSI Z68MA-G45 (B3) Micro ATX LGA1155 Motherboard ($89.99 @ Newegg)
Memory: Corsair 8GB (2 x 4GB) DDR3-1333 Memory ($39.99 @ Newegg)
Video Card: MSI Radeon HD 7850 2GB Video Card ($259.99 @ NCIX US)
Case: Zalman Z9 Plus ATX Mid Tower Case ($49.99 @ Newegg)
Power Supply: Corsair 430W ATX12V Power Supply ($26.98 @ Newegg)
Total: $636.93
(Prices include shipping and discounts when available.)
(Generated by PCPartPicker 2012-05-14 08:06 EDT-0400)


I was just wondering, is the motherboard any good? I read some of the reviews and they said otherwise, should I just shell out some more cash to get a better motherboard, or will this one suffice? and I'm kind of skeptical about the PSU also, I'd rather buy higher wattage than too low :)  Also, Thank you everybody for your input :) 
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a c 118 B Homebuilt system
May 14, 2012 11:05:11 PM

MSI used to be a really good brand for motherboards, although lately I've been noticing that the reviews on their boards have been pretty low on recent models. I don't know whats up with that.

If you live in the US, you can certainly get a board with better reviews around that same price with similar specs like this one:

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

For the Power supply, I stand by my previous statements that 500 watts is a more appropriate minimum.
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
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May 14, 2012 11:09:44 PM

With the MIR, the msi board comes in at 89.99 :(  the asrock extreme3 gen3 was the original one that I was looking at, and I like that one a lot :)  But, I was wondering on the MSI one, since it's Micro ATX, and all of the parts are closer together, wouldn't it generate more heat and be harder to fit larger parts, (like the 7850) on it, I mean I know it would fit, but it'd be huge in comparison to the mobo. thanks for the input :)  and I agree also about the 500W psu, I definately don't want to get too low of a wattage.
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a b B Homebuilt system
May 14, 2012 11:39:50 PM

Sticking with ATX motherboards would be the best way to go.
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a c 118 B Homebuilt system
May 14, 2012 11:53:20 PM

I'm a fan of full sized ATX boards myself. Generally microATX have less expansion slots, RAM, SATA and USB slots, (although not always), I've seen microATX boards with features that can rival their slightly larger cousins.
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May 15, 2012 3:46:01 AM

Okay, last question, would a 7850 be overkill? I mean I will be playing games like BF3 MW3, Diablo III, Skyrim and WoW. (more in the future) but I mean won't the 6870 max all of those out with room to spare? Is the 7850 really that much better? and whatever your opinion is, which brand of GFX card would you recommend? I really like XFX, which is who I got my gpu for my first build from.

Here's the XFX version of both the 7850: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
6870: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

I mean the $100 difference in the two cards could really go somewhere else if it's not worth it there, and I know the i5 2500k is a really good budget processor for gaming, but is it too much for a $700 budget rig? I mean I obviously would want more performance, but i could use the extra $100 to make it look aesthetically pleasing :p 
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a b B Homebuilt system
May 15, 2012 3:47:39 AM

You could get a cheaper i5. Even the cheapest (Sandy or Ivy) i5 is not nearly slow enough to bottle-neck the 7850. The 7850 is not overkill for 1080p with the quality settings maxed out and some big AA. Also, that 7850 comes with two free games (DiRt 3 and DUES EX), so even if you don't like them, you can sell them for $30 to $50 each, more or less making up the difference in the graphics card cost.
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May 15, 2012 3:50:50 AM

Yeah I kind of figured that, so I mean what would be a better balanced cpu/gpu setup? Where one isn't bottle-necking the other, hopefully? like an i5 2400 and a 7850? but then I can't overclock right? and on newegg (which isn't where I would be getting the i5 from, but just merely an example) it is only $20 more for the upgrade :p 
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a b B Homebuilt system
May 15, 2012 3:54:37 AM

The i5-2400 can be overclocked to almost 4GHz. All i5s and i7s can be overclocked, it's just that with Sandy and Ivy, only the K edition CPUs can have huge overclocks. You can still overclock through manipulation of the Turbo settings and BLCK.

Really, if the difference is only $20, then the 2500K is a fairly attractive option. I'm used to the spread being larger, so I mentioned the cheaper i5s as an alternative if the 2500K and 7850 can't both fit in your budget.
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a c 118 B Homebuilt system
May 15, 2012 4:25:11 AM

How do you overclock a 2400? Just at the FSB?
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a b B Homebuilt system
May 15, 2012 1:06:56 PM

Quote:
The i5-2400 can be overclocked to almost 4GHz. All i5s and i7s can be overclocked, it's just that with Sandy and Ivy, only the K edition CPUs can have huge overclocks. You can still overclock through manipulation of the Turbo settings and BLCK.

Really, if the difference is only $20, then the 2500K is a fairly attractive option. I'm used to the spread being larger, so I mentioned the cheaper i5s as an alternative if the 2500K and 7850 can't both fit in your budget.
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a c 118 B Homebuilt system
May 15, 2012 6:30:16 PM

Oh I see, no I didn't read it all the way clearly. Overclocking with BCLK is a terrible idea LOL. JUST DONT TOUCH IT! Sandy Bridges dont like it at all from what I've read.
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a b B Homebuilt system
May 15, 2012 6:40:30 PM

No, it's not. Overclocking MUCH on the BLCK is a terrible idea for Sandy and Ivy. An up to 5% on the BLCK (105MHz) is not a problem. Ivy is supposed to be a little more lenient on it. The bulk of an overclock on the Sandy and Ivy non-K editions is through Turbo. With Turbo alone, the i5-2400 can be brought up to about 3.6GHz to 3.8GHz. The BLCK can then be used to bring that up to about 3.8GHz to 4GHz (for the i5-2400). Ivy i5s can probably go a little higher, but not much higher.
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a c 118 B Homebuilt system
May 15, 2012 6:42:33 PM

Maybe, I wouldn't do it. I've read a lot saying Sandy Bridge really doesn't tolerate it, maybe its fine, but as good as the 2400 is, I'd let the turbo do its job and leave it alone.
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a b B Homebuilt system
May 15, 2012 6:54:15 PM

Then just use the Turbo. Point is that even non K edition LGA 1155 i5s and i7s can be overclocked, even if it's not as far as the K editions.

Besides, BLCK overclocking doesn't damage the system. It can't be done far because it loses stability quickly, but it doesn't cause damage. It's not like running the computer with the memory voltage too high. It loses stability quickly just because the BLCK is used by more components on the LGA 1155 platform than older systems (such as the SATA and PCIe buses) and these components need to run at a specific speed, so increasing the BLCK frequency that they base their frequency on puts them above their stable limits. It does not cause damage, the components just can't work stably if you raise the BLCK more than around 104MHz to 105MHz (higher quality mobos can usually take slightly greater BLCK frequency increases then lower end models).
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