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Part 3: Building A Balanced Gaming PC

Memory, Hard Drive, Power Supply, Coolers

The following components are outside the scope of comparison here, but still very important to the results we're generating. We don’t want to limit our system with too little memory, a slow hard drive, a flaky power supply, or high temperatures. So, we’ve gathered an assortment of complementary hardware to help address our needs throughout this series.

Special thanks to Corsair, Western Digital, and Xigmatek for arranging the hardware needed to make this entire series possible.

Memory:

Corsair Dominator TR3X6G1600C8D

This 6GB triple-channel kit of Corsair Dominator memory is rated DDR3-1600 and CL 8-8-8-24 timings at 1.65V. Corsair backs these modules with a lifetime warranty and uses DHX (Dual-path Heat Xchange) technology to keep them cool.

We’ll be utilizing either two or three sticks of this high-performance memory in each DDR3 platform tested, depending on whether the setup in question employs a dual- or triple-channel controller.

Corsair Dominator TWIN2X4096-8500C5DFG

For our DDR2 platforms, we’ll use a 4GB dual-channel kit of Corsair Dominator, rated DDR2-1066 and CL 5-5-5-15 2T timings at 2.1V. This kit is also cooled by DHX technology and backed by Corsair’s lifetime warranty.

Hard Drive:

Western Digital Caviar Black WD6401AALS

The Western Digital Caviar Black 640GB hard drive offers gamers a good blend of capacity, performance, and affordability.

This 7,200 RPM, SATA 3Gb/s drive has dual processors, 32MB cache, and is backed by a five year warranty. Bear in mind that using an SSD instead of a mechanical drive like this one will almost certainly improve level load times, but it's less likely to affect your actual in-game performance.

Power Supply:

Corsair CMPSU-850HX 850W

The right combination of motherboard, processor, memory, and graphics cards means little without a quality power supply unit capable of providing reliable, clean voltage to our components.

Considering the overclocking desires and multi-GPU configurations that you'll see later in the series, we chose an 850W unit from Corsair. The modular Corsair CMPSU-850HX has a single 70A, +12V rail, six 6+2 pin PCIe power connectors, a seven year warranty, 80 PLUS efficiency certification, and a 140 mm temperature-controlled fan.

Coolers:

Xigmatek HDT-S1283 & Dark Knight-S1283V

We're utilizing Xigmatek’s HDT-S1283 to cool our Socket AM3 and 775 processors, and the LGA 1366-compatible Dark Knight-S1283V to keep the Core i7-920 running cool.

On both heatsinks, Xigmatek uses its HDT (Heatpipe Direct Touch) system for thermal transfer and a PWM-controlled 120 mm fan, with rubber mounts, for quiet operation.

Cooler Master Hyper 212 Plus

We didn’t have a LGA 1156 bracket kit on hand for the Dark Knight, so we switched over to the Cooler Master Hyper 212 Plus when testing the Intel Core i5-750.

The Hyper 212 Plus features a similar design to the Xigmatek coolers above, having four direct-contact copper heat pipes, aluminum fins, and a 120 mm PWM-controlled fan.

  • fatkid35
    first!
    Reply
  • ColMirage
    fatkid35first!Facepalm...

    Glad to see the last part of the series. Very useful!
    Reply
  • liquidsnake718
    I love how on the first page picture of all the games on this article show the games that truly take a toll on GPU's and CPU's. You are however missing Metro 2033 and Dirt 2 in DX11 which obliterates some GPUs in DX11!
    Reply
  • IzzyCraft
    A metro 2033 graph wouldn't be interesting it would start at 0 and end at 5 for most set ups :D
    Reply
  • The choice of Corsair Dominator for the RAM is surprising, given that there are equally fast and stable choices at a much lower price point. OCZ, G Skill, Crucial, etc. I still love their power supplies though.
    Reply
  • duk3
    ColMirageGlad to see the last part of the series. Very useful!
    They mentioned a part 4 in the article, with overclocking AMD processors.
    Reply
  • kaintfm
    The choice of Corsair Dominator for the RAM is surprising, given that there are equally fast and stable choices at a much lower price point. OCZ, G Skill, Crucial, etc. I still love their power supplies though.
    Reply
  • agnickolov
    And where is the Core i3 530? This is the real gaming gem of a CPU, but I hardly see it in any reviews @ Tom's...
    Reply
  • manitoublack
    Bought 2 GTX295's on release and run them on my i7-920, in SLi at 640MHz. Still over a year on and there still almost top dog.

    Great review Toms, and makes it easier to sleep at night knowing that 14months on little can touch what I've got regardless of the $1600AUD buyin.
    Reply
  • FUtomNOreg
    Very enlightening though, given my current rig's specs, thoroughly depressing. Curse you for breaking my delusion that my PC was adequate! I feel an overwhelming urge to upgrade coming on.....
    Reply