System Builder Marathon, Q1 2013: $800 Enthusiast PC

CPU, Motherboard, And Cooler

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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    Top Comments
  • manitoublack
    That's a great value PC there. Would be hard pressed to think of a more compelling combination for the money. Well done.
    17
  • Other Comments
  • DragonClaw
    The table outlining the components of the build. It should read 800$ and not 1000$, I think?
    0
  • abbadon_34
    guessed they reused the previous template, sure it'll be fixed soon and people will wonder what we're talking about
    -1
  • mayankleoboy1
    Quote:
    Although we're going to miss the snappy boot-up times and almost-instant application launches the solid-state drive enabled, we probably won't be penalized too much in the benchmark results.


    And therein lies the problem with benchmarks.
    An enthusiast PC, without a SSD boot drive?
    -8
  • manitoublack
    That's a great value PC there. Would be hard pressed to think of a more compelling combination for the money. Well done.
    17
  • qTrueno
    The heat sink breaks easily but it is a good cheap solution, as long it doesn't break.
    0
  • ipwn3r456
    If this machine were at $1000 budget, might as well add a 128GB SSD, and replace the HD 7870 to a HD 7950.
    -1
  • butremor
    "Overclocking

    Overclocking the Core i5-3550K is"
    0
  • ARICH5
    i think you couldve found a cheaper z77 solution and squieezed in a 64mb cache hdd
    -10
  • dudewitbow
    ipwn3r456If this machine were at $1000 budget, might as well add a 128GB SSD, and replace the HD 7870 to a HD 7950.



    there would be marginal performance boost from switching from a 7870 LE(nerfed 7950, heck can call it a 7930 and it would be partially correct in a way) to an actual 7950. Though its likely the outcome for the 1k budget coming up next.
    2
  • abhijitkalyane
    I really wasn't expecting the AMD chip to be so close to the i5. I'm a bit surprised. The power consumption figures look bad for the FX though.
    2
  • Chairman Ray
    I would like to see builds for non-overclocking as well if they are comparing non-overlocked benchmarks. The $800 isn't a good estimate of what you can achieve in a non-overclocked build when you are paying all that extra for unlocked parts. A locked i5, locked mobo, no heat sink, and smaller PSU will scrape enough for a small SSD. This would be a more well-rounded build that a lot of people would choose especially if they are not planning on overclocking.
    -2
  • stickmansam
    abhijitkalyaneI really wasn't expecting the AMD chip to be so close to the i5. I'm a bit surprised. The power consumption figures look bad for the FX though.


    That's cuz the 8350 is using a 670 which in GPU heavy titles will boost its numbers higher. Same GPU would show a more different story and the price difference between a 8350 and a i5 3570k is only able to bump a 7870xt to a 7950 at most, not to a 670

    399650 said:
    Quote:
    Although we're going to miss the snappy boot-up times and almost-instant application launches the solid-state drive enabled, we probably won't be penalized too much in the benchmark results.
    And therein lies the problem with benchmarks. An enthusiast PC, without a SSD boot drive?


    For a $800 budget, I would rather get all the real in game performance I can first while and add a ssd later than lose out on fps and get faster load times

    higher fps(stronger cpu, gpu) > faster load times

    770750 said:
    I would like to see builds for non-overclocking as well if they are comparing non-overlocked benchmarks. The $800 isn't a good estimate of what you can achieve in a non-overclocked build when you are paying all that extra for unlocked parts. A locked i5, locked mobo, no heat sink, and smaller PSU will scrape enough for a small SSD. This would be a more well-rounded build that a lot of people would choose especially if they are not planning on overclocking.


    $35 saved from cutting cooler and k is not enough for an SSD
    4
  • jdwii
    abhijitkalyaneI really wasn't expecting the AMD chip to be so close to the i5. I'm a bit surprised. The power consumption figures look bad for the FX though.


    After looking at this it would seem illogical to buy a 8350 over a I5. But yes it does do decent interns of price/performance.
    1
  • mayankleoboy1
    StickmansamFor a $800 budget, I would rather get all the real in game performance I can first while and add a ssd later than lose out on fps and get faster load timeshigher fps(stronger cpu, gpu) > faster load times


    This would have been correct for a "$800 Gaming PC" .
    But for a "$800 Enthusiast PC " , a SSD is a must. Even a 64GB, lower end SSD would have been OK.
    -4
  • de5_Roy
    i am a bit surprised.
    this build looks like a budget-upper-midrange build (if that makes any sense). the mobo... looks weak. the cooler and gfx card looked... cheap. i didn't expect the oc core i5 3570k build to keep up with oc fx8350 build in threaded benches (for $200 less, even). only 7zip seems to take advantage of 8 integer clusters/cores properly and the rest of them don't seem to scale well beyond 4~ cores. i noticed that trend in games but this is the first time i've seen it in non-games softwares. i use handbrake, lame mp3 and archivers (7z, zip/rars), so those benches were very informative for me. thank you.
    when i first started reading, i wanted to see an fx8320, cm hyper 212 evo(or a corsair clc) with a sturdy 970 mobo + radeon 7870xt. as i read on, this current build and its performance started to look more and more interesting.
    -2
  • blazorthon
    dudewitbowthere would be marginal performance boost from switching from a 7870 LE(nerfed 7950, heck can call it a 7930 and it would be partially correct in a way) to an actual 7950. Though its likely the outcome for the 1k budget coming up next.



    The difference between the 7870 XT and the 7950 can be huge when overclocking is considered. That lost memory bandwidth is no small matter for Tahiti LE when it runs at around 1.2GHz. I also suspect that the lost compute units from 28 to 24, although not a significant loss, are considerable.


    EDIT:
    http://www.tweaktown.com/reviews/5120/powercolor_pcs_radeon_hd_7870_tahiti_le_2gb_myst_video_card_review/index7.html

    Also, not only are the 2560x1600 bencmarks not the only ones showing such a comparison, but also the 1920x1200 and 1680x1050 benchmarks. This is also fairly consistent across most games. Both of these claims are demonstrated to be true by the rest of this article.
    1
  • blazorthon
    595654 said:
    That's cuz the 8350 is using a 670 which in GPU heavy titles will boost its numbers higher. Same GPU would show a more different story and the price difference between a 8350 and a i5 3570k is only able to bump a 7870xt to a 7950 at most, not to a 670 For a $800 budget, I would rather get all the real in game performance I can first while and add a ssd later than lose out on fps and get faster load times higher fps(stronger cpu, gpu) > faster load times $35 saved from cutting cooler and k is not enough for an SSD


    We could easily scrape out enough money from the budget for a decent 60GB/64GB SSD such as Plextor's M5S 64GB without really hurting core performance, at least if we didn't stick to Nweegg (granted Tom's doesn't have much option left in that if they want free systems to hand out). Loading times alone could be worth it.
    -1
  • silverblue
    The i5-3570K's overclock appears to be "4.4 GHz @ +0.085 V" as opposed to showing "4.4GHz @ 1.15 V".
    1
  • silverblue
    de5_Royi didn't expect the oc core i5 3570k build to keep up with oc fx8350 build in threaded benches (for $200 less, even). only 7zip seems to take advantage of 8 integer clusters/cores properly and the rest of them don't seem to scale well beyond 4~ cores. i noticed that trend in games but this is the first time i've seen it in non-games softwares. i use handbrake, lame mp3 and archivers (7z, zip/rars), so those benches were very informative for me. thank you.


    I'm wondering if Blaz's disable-one-core-per-module trick would help Piledriver here, as you'd have a single core with access to 2MB L2 and 2MB L3 without the scheduler needing to worry about the second integer core. As it is, even if the software could make full use of all the CPU cores, they'd likely have a memory contention or bandwidth issue.

    Steamroller will definitely improve matters but AMD will continue to be behind until anybody but the creators of 7Zip thread their software to hell (outside of rendering and productivity apps, of course).
    0
  • m32
    These results are pretty eye opening! I already knew it, but dang. As an AMDer, I can't wait for Steamroller (good thing I get to see Haswell first). They need to improve performance, but power consumption as well. No excuse this time around.
    2