Motherboard And Memory
Motherboard: ASRock Z75 Pro3
Based on the relatively unknown Z75 Express chipset, ASRock's Z75 Pro3 introduces some enthusiast-class functionality at a price point that fits within our budget. In essence, this platform is identical to the company's Z77 Pro3, minus support for Intel's Smart Response Technology. And of course there's that more affordable price tag.
Most important to us is that, armed with the Z75 Express PCH, it should let us ratchet up our processor's clock rate and memory data rate.
Both this Pro3-series board and the one based on Z77 Express include a single 16-lane PCIe 3.0-capable slot, one PCI Express x16 slot limited to x4 transfers at second-gen signaling rates, a PCI Express x1 slot, and two PCI slots.
Four DIMM slots support up to 32 GB of DDR3 memory in a dual-channel configuration, with overclocking as high as 2,800 MT/s. Other on-board features include a pair of SATA 6Gb/s connectors, four SATA 3Gb/s connectors, and internal headers for two USB 3.0 and six USB 2.0 ports. Rear I/O connectivity includes two more USB 3.0 ports, four USB 2.0 ports, a PS/2 port, Ethernet, display outputs, and audio jacks.
Memory: 8 GB Team Vulcan DDR3-1600 TLBD38G1600HC9DC01
Our plan to better the $650 Gaming PC involved dumping extra funds into its processor and graphics hardware, without sacrificing memory or storage. Getting the job done required 8 GB of affordable memory, and this dual-channel kit from Team Vulcan was one of the least-expensive options. Its XMP settings are set to DDR3-1600 with CL9-9-9-24 timings at 1.5 V.