System Builder Marathon, December 2010: $1000 PC

Let's Give Core i3 A Chance

System Builder Marathon, December 2010: The Articles

Here are links to each of the four articles in this month’s System Builder Marathon (we’ll update them as each story is published). And remember, these systems are all being given away at the end of the marathon.

To enter the giveaway, please check out this Google form, and be sure to read the complete rules before entering!

Day 1: The $2,000 Performance PC
Day 2: The $1,000 Enthusiast PC
Day 3: The $500 Gaming PC
Day 4: Performance And Value, Dissected


Our mid-range enthusiast systems have been a little predictable over the past year. The Core i5-750 and Core i7-920 proved themselves to be ideal starting points in the $1000-$1500 price range. And while we’ve been able to demonstrate some specific areas of success with Phenom II X3 and X4 alternatives, the quad-core Intel lineup continues to shine as the sweet-spot.

But what about Intel’s Core i3 lineup? Can a dual-core Hyper-Threaded processor deliver Core i5- 750-class performance with higher clock speeds? Is there superior overclocking potential to be exploited? Is the Core i3 a viable alternative for someone who wants to save a few dollars on the CPU now and upgrade to a Core i5 or i7 later? Can the money saved be better spent on other components?

Those are questions we try to answer in this month’s $1000 enthusiast system, and here are the components we are using to do that:

Swipe to scroll horizontally
$1,000 Enthusiast System Components
MotherboardAsus Sabertooth 55i LGA 1156, Intel P55 chipset$150
ProcessorIntel Core i3-5503.2 GHz, Dual-Core, 4 MB L3 Cache$130
CPU CoolerCooler Master Hyper 212 Plus$30
MemoryGeIL Black Dragon 4 GB (2 x 2 GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3-1333 Dual-Channel Desktop Memory Kit$80
Graphics2 x ECS NBGTX460 GeForce GTX 460 SLI configuration, 1 GB GDDR5 per card$380
Hard DrivesWD Caviar Black 750 GB 750 GB, 7200 RPM, 32 MB Cache SATA 3Gb/s$70
OpticalLG 22x DVD – GH22LS50 OEM22x DVD+R, 8x DVD+RW, 48x CD ROM$18
CaseNZXT Gamma$40
Fans2 x APEVIA CF12S-BK 120 mm$8
PowerCorsair CMPSU-650TX 650 W ATX12V, EPS12V, 80 PLUS Certified$90
Row 10 - Cell 0 Total Cost$991
  • 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.