CPU: Intel Core i5-3570K
The Core i5-3570K proved itself to be a superb processor for the money a long time ago, particularly when it comes to overclocking (thanks to an unlocked multiplier). The introduction of Intel's Haswell architecture doesn't change this. The company wants $250 for its Core i5-4670K, and I got this thing for $220. Although we placed our orders before the Haswell launch, based on what we've seen from Chris' launch coverage and the forums with regard to overclocking, we have no regrets about using Ivy Bridge here.
At the price we paid, this is the one component that shapes the rest of my system. It's time to pick our motherboard and cooling subsystem accordingly.
Motherboard: MSI Z77IA-E53
Ironic though it may seem, mini-ITX motherboards are typically pricier than full-sized ATX platforms. Cramming more hardware into less space isn't easy, after all. So, rather than roll the dice on something that might not get the job done for us, we simply picked the value leader in Thomas' Four Z77-Based Mini-ITX Motherboards, Reviewed, MSI's Z77IA-E53. Despite the small form factor, it boasts a wealth of features including Bluetooth, eight-channel audio, and an enthusiast-oriented GUI-driven UEFI. We bought the board for $150 on Newegg.
CPU Cooler: Antec Kuhler H2O 620 Liquid Cooling System
Our build's limited size meant that a large CPU heat sink just wasn't in the cards. At $58, Antec's Kuhler H2O 620 costs about twice what we normally set aside for cooling at this price point. But it also gives the potential for exceptional overclocking. More important, we know it'll actually fit inside our chassis of choice. Technically. We can't be sure if the large radiator will install cleanly until we put everything together.
- Mini-ITX For The Enthusiast: Smaller Size, Bigger Budget
- CPU, Motherboard, And Cooler
- Video Card, Power Supply, And Case
- Memory, Hard Drives, And Optical Drive
- System Assembly And Overclocking
- Test System And Benchmarks
- Results: Synthetics
- Results: Media Encoding
- Results: Rendering And Productivity
- Results: Adobe Creative Suite
- Results: Compression Tools
- Results: Battlefield 3 And The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim
- Results: F1 2012 And Far Cry 3
- Power And Temperature
- Smaller System, More Money, And Greater Performance