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CPU, Motherboard, And Cooler

System Builder Marathon, Q1 2013: $800 Enthusiast PC

CPU: Intel Core i5-3570K

This is the staple component of our $800 system, and we'd frankly need a lot more money in our budget to even consider a pricier Core i7. Fortunately, this K-series SKU is multiplier-unlocked, giving me a significant differentiator that Paul's $600 box does not enjoy.

Read Customer Reviews of Intel's Core i5-3570K

Selling for $230, the Core i5-3570K might be challenged by AMD's $200 FX-8350 at it stock clock rates in threaded applications (albeit at much higher power consumption. When overclocking is an option, however, this Intel chip is in a league of its own.

Motherboard: ASRock Z77 Pro3

Read Customer Reviews of ASRock's Z77 Pro3

Our smaller budget means we have less flexibility when it comes to platform selection. Thankfully, ASRock sells a number of value-oriented options designed for enthusiasts. The Z77 Pro3 has all of the BIOS settings needed for serious overclocking attempts, but at a reasonable $90 price tag.

It's pure coincidence that this platform is so similar to the Z75-based board Paul chose in yesterday's story; we don't compare notes before making our selections.

CPU Cooler: Rosewill RCX-ZAIO 92

Read Customer Reviews of Rosewill's RCX-ZAIO-92

We reviewed Rosewill's inexpensive RCX-ZAIO-92 back in 2010 (Roundup: Six Sub-$40 Performance CPU Coolers Compared). It performed well in that story, particularly at its low price point. 

Given a lower budget today, we thought it'd be a perfect time to try this third-party solution once again. The RCX-ZAIO-92 only adds $15 to our total cost.

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