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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 (opens in new tab)

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 (opens in new tab)

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 (opens in new tab)

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.