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Economizers: CPU, CPU Cooler, And RAM

System Builder Marathon, August 2012: Alternative $2000 Gaming PC

CPU: Intel Core i5-3570K

We knew that the combination of a six-core Intel processor and three-way SLI wouldn’t leave room in our budget for things like a motherboard or power supply. However, we also knew that Intel's Ivy Bridge architecture helps enable exceptional gaming performance.

Because overclocking would be required to reach our performance goals with any CPU, we bought the cheapest unlocked Ivy Bridge-based processor we could find.

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

Intel’s Core i5-3570K offers most of the features found on Core i7-3770K, minus a peak Turbo Boost speed that's 100 MHz slower, 2 MB of shared L3 cache, and Hyper-Threading technology. We're counting on that list to have a negligible effect on gaming performance and a minimal impact on our application suite, particularly once we're able to overclock the Core i5-3570K to its limit.

CPU Cooler: Cooler Master Hyper 212 Evo

The latest iteration of Cooler Master’s Hyper 212, the Evo, topped the value chart of last winter’s LGA 2011 air cooling round-up.

It didn't win an award because it only topped the chart based on a low price. Mediocre performance undercut its utility with heavily overclocked six-core Sandy Bridge-E-based chips. But when you drop the thermal load, it starts looking more like a winner.

Read Customer Reviews of Cooler Master's Hyper 212 Evo

The retail package is different from the sample we reviewed in that it includes all of the hardware needed to fit smaller socket interfaces, such as LGA 1155.

RAM: G.Skill Ares F3-1600C8D-8GAB Memory Kit

G.Skill’s Ares continues to get our attention by yielding the same performance and overclocking results as its identically-rated Ripjaws siblings, but without the huge heat spreaders.

Read Customer Reviews of G.Skill's Ares F3-1600C8D-8GAB Memory Kit

The mid-sized CPU cooler in today’s build didn’t actually need low-profile memory to fit this motherboard, but using it allows greater upgrade opportunities moving forward.

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