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.
Corsair Dominator TR3X6G1600C8D
This 6 GB triple-channel kit of Corsair Dominator memory is rated for DDR3-1600 and CL 8-8-8-24 timings at 1.65 V. 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 TWIN2X4096-8500C5DF
For our DDR2 platforms, we’ll use a 4 GB dual-channel kit of Corsair Dominator, rated at DDR2-1066 and CL 5-5-5-15 2T timings at 2.1 V. This kit is also cooled by DHX technology and backed by Corsair’s lifetime warranty.
Western Digital Caviar Black WD6401AALS
The Western Digital Caviar Black 640 GB hard drive offers gamers a good blend of capacity, performance, and affordability.
This 7,200 RPM, SATA 3Gb/s drive has dual processors, 32 MB 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.
Corsair CMPSU-850HX 850 W
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 850 W unit from Corsair. The modular Corsair CMPSU-850HX has a single 70 A, +12 V rail, six 6+2 pin PCIe power connectors, a seven year warranty, 80 PLUS efficiency certification, and a 140 mm temperature-controlled fan.
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-compatible bracket kit on-hand for the Dark Knight, so we switched over to the Cooler Master Hyper 212 Plus for testing the Intel Core i5-750.
The Hyper 212 Plus features a similar design as the Xigmatek coolers above, featuring four direct-contact copper heat pipes, aluminum fins, and a 120 mm PWM controlled fan.