System Builder Marathon, Q2 2013: $1300 Enthusiast PC

CPU, Motherboard, And Cooler

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.

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


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

Read Customer Reviews of MSI's 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

Read Customer Reviews of Antec's Kuhler H2O 620


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.

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  • Madn3ss795
    I'm against using Corsair CX PSU in a mid-end build. You also admitted that 750w is overkill. 90$ can get you a SeaSonic M12II 620 Bronze with much better components.

    Additionally, Samsung 840 120gb only costs 20$ more than the Adata XPG SX900 64.
    10
  • tomate2
    its nice to see Toms trying something new like a mini itx build on the system builder marathon
    10
  • Other Comments
  • Madn3ss795
    I'm against using Corsair CX PSU in a mid-end build. You also admitted that 750w is overkill. 90$ can get you a SeaSonic M12II 620 Bronze with much better components.

    Additionally, Samsung 840 120gb only costs 20$ more than the Adata XPG SX900 64.
    10
  • itzsnypah
    Anymore these days all SBM gives me is a good laugh. Maybe it's because I've gone more elitist as my component knowledge increases or mabye that SBM builders don't have free reign on what brands they can buy.

    Did you know that a 250gb Samsung 840 has been holding at ~$180 for months and that a 750w PSU in a mITX system makes you look unintelligent? Or that 2133 ram costs the same as 1866?

    I think it's time you guys start building machines you would actually own and not ones that tops the charts but are horridly flawed.
    1
  • tomate2
    its nice to see Toms trying something new like a mini itx build on the system builder marathon
    10
  • Someone Somewhere
    So, ways I think this is dumb:
    • DDR3-1866. Save $20 and get -1600.
    • WD Black as a storage drive. I'd consider it overpriced as a boot drive. Save $35.
    • Geven the 770 and 680 are basically the same card (in fact the 770 may be slightly better), save $30 and get the 770.
    • More than $1 per GB on an SSD. For $10 more you can get a 120GB 840.
    • 750W PSU. You're trolling me. That could run two of them.


    And yeah, title on page 3 refers to a non-existent Sapphire 680.
    -6
  • vmem
    Awesome idea picking the mini ITX theme btw, we're long overdue for one :)

    just a thought, while we're on themes, maybe a pure number cruncher/work-horse for the next SBM? could be fun for the "all work and no play" folks out there :P
    3
  • agnickolov
    Personally I'd save money on the HDD with a cheaper 1TB for $60 and use the money for a larger 128GB SSD. Considering you can get one for as low as $90-$100, that would even balance the budget...
    1
  • cangelini
    Anonymous said:
    So, ways I think this is dumb:
    * DDR3-1866. Save $20 and get -1600.
    * WD Black as a storage drive. I'd consider it overpriced as a boot drive. Save $35.
    * Geven the 770 and 680 are basically the same card (in fact the 770 may be slightly better), save $30 and get the 770.
    * More than $1 per GB on an SSD. For $10 more you can get a 120GB 840.
    * 750W PSU. You're trolling me. That could run two of them.

    And yeah, title on page 3 refers to a non-existent Sapphire 680.


    GTX 770 wasn't an option when Don placed his order--says so right on the same page three where you found the Sapphire typo ;-)

    Don will have to defend his other component choices (against you guys *and* Paul/Thomas).
    3
  • agnickolov
    A question on the Visual Studio benchmark - is it run from the SSD for this build? That would explain the significant performance delta at stock clocks...
    0
  • CaptainTom
    This build is a total joke. So much could be done better. A 680 really? That card has been a joke since the 670 and 7970 GHz, but now the 770 has made it completely irrelevant...
    0
  • Crashman
    Anonymous said:
    Did you know that a 250gb Samsung 840 has been holding at ~$180 for months and that a 750w PSU in a mITX system makes you look unintelligent? Or that 2133 ram costs the same as 1866?
    Did you know that the $180 SSD would have blown his system even farther out of budget, that readers have spoken out against both DDR3-1866 AND DDR3-2133 as unimportant to real-world performance, or that power supply size is dictated by components and not case size? What were you saying about intelligence?
    Anonymous said:
    This build is a total joke. So much could be done better. A 680 really? That card has been a joke since the 670 and 7970 GHz, but now the 770 has made it completely irrelevant...
    While I probably would have gone with a 7970 or 670 to save money, the 680 isn't really that bad by comparison. And the 770? I'm surprised you didn't read any of the previous comments. These systems were ordered in April. As an experienced commenter you knew these articles take weeks to prepare, but you opened up about parts that weren't available weeks ago anyway? For shame Captain, I expected so much more from you...

    To the both of you: I'm a little rough on Don for not pushing his RAM even though it doesn't make much performance difference, but only because he's a competitor. And his power supply might be over-rated, but he's probably just trying to dodge the complaints of other readers who demand excessive capacity. All in all he's only wasted what, 10% of his budget? I'm sure most of you would find some other way to waste 10% of your budgets.

    BTW, if you hate his power supply for being ridiculously over-capacity and somewhat middle-quality, you're going to have a love/hate relationship with mine :)
    1
  • slomo4sho
    The extra $500 doesn't provide much performance boost. Not sure if the 62.5% price premium justifies the modest performance increases and the small form factor.


    Anonymous said:
    or that power supply size is dictated by components and not case size? What were you saying about intelligence?


    I am sure this is what he was implying...



    The PSU from the $650 build was more than enough for this build as well. The hardware choices made in this build are rather poor and wasteful.
    1
  • virtualban
    Why is this 1300 machine matched against last quarter's 800? If I recall correctly, last quarter had also a 1000$ machine.
    Yes you would not have comparisons for your 2600$ beast. Last quarter's 1000$ machine could be a comparison token to the 1300 and 2600.
    0
  • Crashman
    Anonymous said:

    I am sure this is what he was implying...



    The PSU from the $650 build was more than enough for this build as well. The hardware choices made in this build are rather poor and wasteful.
    But that has nothing to do with the motherboard form factor. The guy specifically said that high capacity power is idiotic for ITX, and I pointed out that ITX has no bearing on the selection. The intelligent builder picks his capacity based on the parts he's powering.

    Don's over-capacious choice would have been similar over-capacious in a full-sized build, if he'd used the same CPU, GPU, DRAM and drives.
    -1
  • Someone Somewhere
    It could be said though that an ATX build has the option for a second GPU, which would make the 750W a reasonable choice. In ITX, that option is completely removed.

    Still way overkill though.
    4
  • ojas
    Interesting, if i had to do a mini-ITX build, i'd probably build something similar...probably use a different PSU, SSD and HDD (RAM too, maybe), but otherwise it's a fairly balanced build, i think.

    I would have probably given up overclocking and gone with a lower wattage CPU...i was sort of expecting someone to do that.

    That brings me to a suggestion, could next quarter's SBM have "low power" as a theme? Like, lowest power, temps and noise, but highest performance. Maybe restrict that to mATX or mini-ITX as well.

    Or have an SBM that tries to beat console performance for a similar price (this could be Q4 2013 or Q1 2014). Thomas would have to match them in power, noise and thermals while posting 60 fps at 1080p maxed out, Paul and Don could battle at $400 and $500 respectively.
    3
  • nvidiamd
    Intel Core i5-3570K = 220$
    GIGABYTE GA-Z77N-WIFI = 120$
    CORSAIR Hydro Series H60 = 66$
    G.SKILL Sniper 8GB (2 x 4GB) ddr 1600 = 68$
    MSI Gaming N770 TF 2GD5/OC GeForce GTX 770 = 400$
    Intel 335 Series Jay Crest SSDSC2CT180A4K5 2.5" 180GB SATA = 175$
    Western Digital WD Blue WD10EZEX 1TB 7200 RPM = 70$
    ASUS DRW-24B1ST/BLK/B/AS = 19$
    BitFenix Prodigy Red = 80$
    SILVERSTONE ST60F-P 600W = 85$

    total = 1303$
    0
  • de5_Roy
    Anonymous said:
    Intel Core i5-3570K = 220$
    GIGABYTE GA-Z77N-WIFI = 120$
    CORSAIR Hydro Series H60 = 66$
    G.SKILL Sniper 8GB (2 x 4GB) ddr 1600 = 68$
    MSI Gaming N770 TF 2GD5/OC GeForce GTX 770 = 400$
    Intel 335 Series Jay Crest SSDSC2CT180A4K5 2.5" 180GB SATA = 175$
    Western Digital WD Blue WD10EZEX 1TB 7200 RPM = 70$
    ASUS DRW-24B1ST/BLK/B/AS = 19$
    BitFenix Prodigy Red = 80$
    SILVERSTONE ST60F-P 600W = 85$

    total = 1303$

    shoulda added the cost of the time machine needed to deliver the gtx770 back in april. ;) the extra cost easily goes over the $1300 limit.

    an evga gtx 670 on the other hand....

    edit:
    imo, it goes for all the people using current prices and parts. please calculate the cost of a time travelling device into the final tally. :ange: shipping should be a nightmare...
    2
  • iknowhowtofixit
    I Win:

    PCPartPicker part list / Price breakdown by merchant / Benchmarks

    CPU: Intel Core i5-3570K 3.4GHz Quad-Core Processor ($189.99 @ Microcenter)
    CPU Cooler: Corsair H60 54.0 CFM Liquid CPU Cooler ($59.99 @ TigerDirect)
    Motherboard: Gigabyte GA-Z77N-WIFI Mini ITX LGA1155 Motherboard ($117.97 @ Outlet PC)
    Memory: G.Skill Ripjaws X Series 8GB (2 x 4GB) DDR3-1600 Memory ($65.70 @ Newegg)
    Storage: Samsung 840 Series 250GB 2.5" Solid State Disk ($163.99 @ NCIX US)
    Storage: Western Digital Caviar Blue 1TB 3.5" 7200RPM Internal Hard Drive ($65.98 @ Outlet PC)
    Video Card: Gigabyte Radeon HD 7970 3GB Video Card ($389.99 @ NCIX US)
    Case: Lian-Li PC-Q08B Mini ITX Tower Case ($99.99 @ Newegg)
    Power Supply: SeaSonic G 550W 80 PLUS Gold Certified ATX12V / EPS12V Power Supply ($79.99 @ Amazon)
    Optical Drive: LG GH24NS95 DVD/CD Writer ($14.99 @ Newegg)
    Total: $1248.58 <-- $1301.17 = Everything from Newegg (including shipping)


    Notes:
    -Just for fun, I chose low latency DDR3 1600 memory despite the diminishing returns on an Intel platfrom.
    -Slightly cheaper motherboard
    -HD7970 - Cheaper, more OC headroom, better performance than the GTX 680, higher power consumption
    -250GB Samsung 840 SSD, its not MLC but its big enough to not matter for a gaming computer
    -No need for a WDBlack for storage.... Cheaper 1TB WD Blue
    -Kept the same case
    -Right sized, modular, quality 80plus Gold Seasonsic PSU
    -Corsair H60 (new version) - better warranty, better performance

    With the wiggle room I have on the case, RAM, and jumping down to a 120/128GB SSD, this build will work within the parameters of last months prices.
    0
  • iknowhowtofixit
    Anonymous said:
    Or get the GTX 770, 10% faster and save 30$

    Anonymous said:
    Well, I now realize this could have been built before the 770.


    Yes, this SBM predates the GTX 770. However, the HD7970 made more sense than a GTX 680.
    0
  • aebome
    What with the component choices? First, a 64GB SSD when one double that capacity is only $20 more? Here's your $20: Drop the ridiculous 750W PSU and get a Seasonic G Series 550W GOLD power supply for $80 and get a well reviewed 1600 ram kit, like a Mushkin Blackline or similar for $65. That's $28 dollars that will buy a good 120/128 GB SSD. That's not even counting the extra spent on a WD Black drive for use as storage drive (um why?). Case choice is subjective, but that interior is cramped, even for Mini-ITX, why not use a Bitfenix prodigy, with a superior layout for less money?

    I'm in the market for a micro atx or mini-itx build, and while I love this SBM format, the choices here are just poor. I think one of the non-builder writers needs to start reducing scores for bad choices, or something to clean up these builds.
    1