System Builder Marathon, Q1 2013: $800 Enthusiast PC

CPU, Motherboard, And Cooler

CPU: Intel Core i5-3570K

This is the staple component of our $800 system, and we'd frankly need a lot more money in our budget to even consider a pricier Core i7. Fortunately, this K-series SKU is multiplier-unlocked, giving me a significant differentiator that Paul's $600 box does not enjoy.

Read Customer Reviews of Intel's Core i5-3570K

Selling for $230, the Core i5-3570K might be challenged by AMD's $200 FX-8350 at it stock clock rates in threaded applications (albeit at much higher power consumption. When overclocking is an option, however, this Intel chip is in a league of its own.

Motherboard: ASRock Z77 Pro3

Read Customer Reviews of ASRock's Z77 Pro3

Our smaller budget means we have less flexibility when it comes to platform selection. Thankfully, ASRock sells a number of value-oriented options designed for enthusiasts. The Z77 Pro3 has all of the BIOS settings needed for serious overclocking attempts, but at a reasonable $90 price tag.

It's pure coincidence that this platform is so similar to the Z75-based board Paul chose in yesterday's story; we don't compare notes before making our selections.

CPU Cooler: Rosewill RCX-ZAIO 92

Read Customer Reviews of Rosewill's RCX-ZAIO-92

We reviewed Rosewill's inexpensive RCX-ZAIO-92 back in 2010 (Roundup: Six Sub-$40 Performance CPU Coolers Compared). It performed well in that story, particularly at its low price point. 

Given a lower budget today, we thought it'd be a perfect time to try this third-party solution once again. The RCX-ZAIO-92 only adds $15 to our total cost.

  • DragonClaw
    The table outlining the components of the build. It should read 800$ and not 1000$, I think?
  • abbadon_34
    guessed they reused the previous template, sure it'll be fixed soon and people will wonder what we're talking about
  • mayankleoboy1
    Although we're going to miss the snappy boot-up times and almost-instant application launches the solid-state drive enabled, we probably won't be penalized too much in the benchmark results.

    And therein lies the problem with benchmarks.
    An enthusiast PC, without a SSD boot drive?
  • manitoublack
    That's a great value PC there. Would be hard pressed to think of a more compelling combination for the money. Well done.

  • qTrueno
    The heat sink breaks easily but it is a good cheap solution, as long it doesn't break.
  • ipwn3r456
    If this machine were at $1000 budget, might as well add a 128GB SSD, and replace the HD 7870 to a HD 7950.
  • butremor

    Overclocking the Core i5-3550K is"
  • ARICH5
    i think you couldve found a cheaper z77 solution and squieezed in a 64mb cache hdd
  • dudewitbow
    ipwn3r456If this machine were at $1000 budget, might as well add a 128GB SSD, and replace the HD 7870 to a HD 7950.

    there would be marginal performance boost from switching from a 7870 LE(nerfed 7950, heck can call it a 7930 and it would be partially correct in a way) to an actual 7950. Though its likely the outcome for the 1k budget coming up next.
  • abhijitkalyane
    I really wasn't expecting the AMD chip to be so close to the i5. I'm a bit surprised. The power consumption figures look bad for the FX though.