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System Builder Marathon, December 2010: $1000 PC

CPU, Motherboard, And Cooler

CPU: Intel Core i3-550

Our Core i3-550 experiment saves us about $75 on what we would have spent on a Core i5-760. For that lower price, we’re giving up two physical CPU cores in exchange for two logical cores enabled by Hyper-Threading, and getting half the L3 cache--that is, 4 MB instead of 8 MB.

On the other hand, the Core i3-550 has a 3.2 GHz clock rate, while the Core i5-760 only hits that under optimal conditions in Turbo mode, usually running at a 2.8 GHz clock in threaded applications.

Read Customer Reviews of Intel's Core i3-550

Common sense tells us the $75 upgrade to the Core i5-760 is money well spent in the scheme of things, but we keep an open mind until we see the benchmarks and overclocking performance.

Motherboard: Asus Sabertooth 55i

Read Customer Reviews of Asus' Sabertooth 55i

Asus’ Sabertooth 55i is arguably one of the most robust LGA 1156 overclocking boards available, and the $150 sale price is too good for us to pass up. This board is designed to deliver an improved overclocking experience for LGA 1156-based CPUs using ceramic-coated heat sinks on the PCH and MOSFETS, binned capacitors and MOSFETS, and automatic phase switching.

CPU Cooler: Cooler Master Hyper 212 Plus

Read Customer Reviews of Cooler Master's Hyper 212 Plus

Since Cooler Master’s Hyper TX3 costs more at retail, the Hyper 212 takes its place as our recommended cooler. At the same $30 price tag, the Hyper 212 has larger, more capable cooling hardware. And it’s quieter, to boot.

  • AMW1011
    I can't say I'm impressed this time. You should never have went with a clarksdale, they are simply bad. Getting a more reasonably priced motherboard, cutting another $20 from the HDD and PSU, and an i5 750, would have been much better.

    Still, we have more information than before so I can't complain.
  • Poisoner
    That PSU only has 2 PCI-E hook ups. So you'll have to use adapters in this build. Pathetic.
  • ivan_chess
    The CPU choice was a little disappointing this time around. A Core i5 or even a comparably priced AMD processor would have done much better (especially in productivity because four cores are typically better than two).
  • adbat
    I think it would be good to include previous build in the test system page it would make comparison easier.
  • duk3
    1 tb 7200.12 hard drive?
    GTX 570? (debatable)
    Cheaper motherboard, maybe not supporting SLI if gtx 570 is taken over 460 sli?
    $50 corsair ddr3 1600?
    i5 760 with these savings?
  • Core2uu
    I think we're missing the point of including the Core i3 in this month's build. The purpose was to explore the CPU bottle-necking that can be observed on today's common applications because threading implementation has managed to find itself actually put into effect. Throwing in an i5 760 would have been too predictable and too boring. This puts perspective on the fact that dual-cores matched with high clock speeds are no longer the performance kings as was true more than a year ago.
  • scrumworks
    Tom's nvidia -line continues. No surprises there.
  • amirp
    like they said in the previous article even the 6000 series radeons weren't out when they made these articles,
    reading comprehensions noobs
  • amirp
  • sudeshc
    Not impressed, could have been better.