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.
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
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
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.