Sign in with
Sign up | Sign in

CPU, Motherboard, And Cooler

System Builder Marathon, March 2010: $1,500 Enthusiast PC
By

CPU: Intel Core i7 920

Pardon the pun, but Intel's Core i7-920 CPU is at the core of our component selection. We wanted to pit a comparably-priced Core i7 system against the Core i5-750, and when that's the goal, the i7-920 is the only model in the budgetary neighborhood. It was at least a month ago when we selected components for this SBM--now that the Core i7-930 model is available, it would probably have been our pick, but the Core i7-920 remains a fine choice for our purposes.

Read Customer Reviews of Intel's Core i7-920


The comparison between the Core i5-750 and Core i7-920 is very interesting because, from a practical standpoint, the more visible difference between these processors is the Core i7-920’s ability to utilize Hyper-Threading. Both CPUs have four physical cores running at 2.66 GHz at nominal speeds (and 2.8 GHz with all of the cores active), but the Core i7-920 presents eight logical processors to the operating system. Of course, there are many more technical differences than that.

The Lynnfield-based Core i5-750 employs an on-die PCI Express controller limited to 16 lanes of second-generation connectivity. Compare that to the X58 Express chipset's 36 lanes. Also, the Core i7-920 sports a triple-channel memory controller versus Core i5-750's dual-channel logic.

Motherboard: ASRock X58 Extreme

Read Customer Reviews of ASRock's X58 Extreme


To compete in the same ballpark as Core i5-750, we need an appropriately-priced motherboard, but we don't want to give up any performance, features, or overclocking potential. We want our cake and we want to eat it, too.

Fortunately, my fellow editor Thomas Soderstrom has already done the ground work for us in his sub-$200 Core i7 board roundup. When the dust settled, the ASRock X58 Extreme took the “recommended buy” honor with a combination of great overclocking and performance capabilities and the lowest price. At $160, it's actually $10 cheaper than the Gigabyte P55-UD4P we used in tandem with the Core i5 750 CPU in the previous SBM.

CPU Cooler: Rosewill Fort 120

Read Customer Reviews of Rosewill's Fort 120


Rosewill's FORT 120 has proven itself to be an effective LGA 1366 cooler that can handle the Core i7's massive heat output, but without breaking the bank. At $40 online when this review was written, it's an easy choice for overclockers looking for big performance on a small budget.

Ask a Category Expert

Create a new thread in the Reviews comments forum about this subject

Example: Notebook, Android, SSD hard drive

Display all 93 comments.
This thread is closed for comments
Top Comments
  • 10 Hide
    Anonymous , March 17, 2010 7:37 AM
    The labels on all the charts appear to be wrong. They're mentioning a "Current $1300 System" but I thought the current system was $1500?
Other Comments
  • 6 Hide
    shubham1401 , March 17, 2010 6:29 AM
    Now this is an excellent PC for overall usage...


  • 2 Hide
    sabot00 , March 17, 2010 7:01 AM
    Love to have this PC. Great components, really wish Fermi at least drops prices.
  • 0 Hide
    skora , March 17, 2010 7:17 AM
    I find it funny Cleeve that you mention the effects of ATIs monopoly on the high end GPU market but nothing on the CPU front. How much better off would we all be if AMD had a competing product for the Core i5/7s.

    Out of curiosity, how big is the storage capacity needed for your benchmark suit? I know you were over budget, but how close could you have come to one of the lower capacity SSDs and their performance advantages?
  • 10 Hide
    Anonymous , March 17, 2010 7:37 AM
    The labels on all the charts appear to be wrong. They're mentioning a "Current $1300 System" but I thought the current system was $1500?
  • 2 Hide
    anamaniac , March 17, 2010 7:50 AM
    To be honest, this just somehow seems disappointing to me.
    But then I think of how much I spent on my rig, and got less, I'm even more disappointed.

    It's crazy that prices keep raising on everything though. 6 months ago I was $9/GB for DDR2, in Canadian dollars. $12.50/GB for DDR3. It's absolutely ridiculous.
  • 0 Hide
    Otus , March 17, 2010 7:51 AM
    It looks like i5->i7 is not worth it for gamers. The increases when FPS
  • 2 Hide
    Crashman , March 17, 2010 8:08 AM
    OtusIt looks like i5->i7 is not worth it for gamers. The increases when FPS


    I've got news for you: i3->i7 is not worth it for gamers. Tom's Hardware has an interesting article in the works.
  • 0 Hide
    p1n3apqlexpr3ss , March 17, 2010 8:15 AM
    @Crashman
    Sounds good, this something to do with the i3 HTed vs traditional quad thing?
  • 0 Hide
    Crashman , March 17, 2010 8:20 AM
    p1n3apqlexpr3ss@CrashmanSounds good, this something to do with the i3 HTed vs traditional quad thing?


    I think it's a Windows 7 thread shifting and dual-threaded games thing, since both the i3 and i7 have HT.
  • 0 Hide
    Stardude82 , March 17, 2010 9:20 AM
    SethVNThe labels on all the charts appear to be wrong. They're mentioning a "Current $1300 System" but I thought the current system was $1500?


    The whole comparison is BS. $200 is a lot of money where I come from and the stock cooling on the i5 750 is garbage. The low-end Conroes had much better cooling and they were only 65W TDP. I say stick your no-name heatsink on last quarters machine, call it a $1400 box, redo the overclocking and then publish the results as that way they will be at least somewhat relevant.
  • -8 Hide
    baracubra , March 17, 2010 9:21 AM
    Great build!

    One thing I would change is the case...this doesn't look mean/rough enough for such a gaming rig, and there's no option of adding lights to interior to beef it up cuz the side cover isn't transparent :( 
  • -6 Hide
    Onus , March 17, 2010 9:23 AM
    You broke the budget. Sorry, but FAIL.
  • 0 Hide
    eddieroolz , March 17, 2010 9:27 AM
    Seems like a fairly decent article to me. The increase in gaming performance is just staggering o.O

    On a side note, whoever that gets this rig is very lucky, the i7 in this one is probably one of the more overclockables ones, it seems. Too bad I'm just north of the 49th :( 
  • 0 Hide
    Crashman , March 17, 2010 9:31 AM
    Stardude82I say stick your no-name heatsink on last quarters machine, call it a $1400 box, redo the overclocking and then publish the results as that way they will be at least somewhat relevant.
    It's not just "any" no-name sink, it's one that provided surprisingly good performance in its review:

    http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/corsair-h50-fort120,2370-5.html
  • 0 Hide
    RySean , March 17, 2010 9:45 AM
    The RAM for the current build was incorrectly listed as:

    2 x A-Data 2GB DDR3-1333 Kit
    2 x 2GB (4GB Total), 533 MHz (1,066 MHz DDR), CAS 7-7-7-59

    Feel free to delete this comment once it's fixed.
  • 4 Hide
    the_krasno , March 17, 2010 10:08 AM
    I commend you for the case choice. I have that case myself, installed 2 more fans and never regretted it!
  • 0 Hide
    Stardude82 , March 17, 2010 10:10 AM
    CrashmanIt's not just "any" no-name sink, it's one that provided surprisingly good performance in its review:http://www.tomshardware.com/review [...] 370-5.html


    Nearly any no-name heatsink would be better than the current stock cooling. I wasn't dissing the sink, the defensiveness makes me think there was some shilling for New Egg going on since Rosewill is just the name New Egg slaps on to "unbranded" imports.
  • -3 Hide
    Sihastru , March 17, 2010 10:17 AM
    AsRock motherboard, had one once, NEVER again! The problems are not worth the amount of money you might save...
  • 0 Hide
    peckiro , March 17, 2010 10:41 AM
    Good matchup. For the money though I think I'd still go with the I-750.
  • -4 Hide
    cib24 , March 17, 2010 10:54 AM
    Swap the cooler with a Hyper 212 Plus and the PSU with a Seasonic 750w 80-plus certified Gold and I'd buy it.
Display more comments