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System Builder Marathon: $2,500 Enthusiast PC

Overclocking

Our $2,500 PC used the same Intel Core i7 920 processor that the $1,250 PC did, but with a much larger CPU cooler. Extensive testing allowed us to find a maximum CPU clock speed of 4.42 GHz at 1.45 V core, but that was in a cold room.

When the room temperature warmed up, we found that even our monster-sized Vigor Monsoon III LT wasn’t adequate for cooling Intel’s latest CPU architecture at such a high voltage. Cooling the lab was not an option since we wanted our settings to reflect real-world results that our readers could—with some luck—copy. Hours of additional full-load testing revealed that no more than 1.3875 V could be used at a room temperature of 75 degrees Fahrenheit (23.9 degrees Celsius). At that voltage, we were still able to reach 4.00 GHz at 200 MHz reference clock.

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Raised CPU VTT, QPI, and IOH voltages kept our CPU stable at the higher reference clock, while a DIMM voltage of 1.65 V allowed our memory to run at tested speeds up to a 1,720 MHz data rate. After settling for a 200 MHz reference clock, our Super Talent DDR3-1333 responded favorably to CAS 9-8-8-16 timings at DDR3-1600. One problem we encountered with the EVGA X58 3X SLI motherboard was that tRFC had to be manually increased to allow any significant overclocking—this type of adjustment is normally done automatically by the BIOS of competing motherboard brands.

We tried overclocking our graphics cards, but one was already at its maximum stable speed. The likelihood of receiving a non-overclockable card increases with the number of cards used.

  • tipmen
    First
    LG GGC-H20LK 6X Blu-Ray/HD DVD-ROM, 16X DVD±RW for $23??? you mean 223?
    Reply
  • douglesso
    Thanks for the fantastic information and detailed analysis. I just ordered the same motherboard and video card last week for my new build. Glad to see that holding out for the i7 was a worthwhile wait.
    Reply
  • tipmen
    Sorry couldn't read my comment but nice blbuild by the way nice to see this. Hlaf the price and more performance.
    Reply
  • Ph0X
    This is... really.. Wow.
    I'm not big in hardware, but this is just, WOW...

    There's 3SLI GTX260, 3 x 1TB, Bluray WRITER!, but it doesn't even have 6gb ram!!?

    That's just lame. Imo maybe get raptors / SSD instead? Also, Instead of 3SLI, just get a 4870x2. You will maybe get 2-3FPS less, but instead get 6gb ram and i7 940, and I'm pretty sure that will also boost your fps.

    Again, I'm not a hardware pro, but I'm pretty sure my thing would be way better.
    Reply
  • Total price is off. Should be something like 2,447 and not 2,247
    Reply
  • kelfen
    Ph0XThis is... really.. Wow.I'm not big in hardware, but this is just, WOW...There's 3SLI GTX260, 3 x 1TB, Bluray WRITER!, but it doesn't even have 6gb ram!!?That's just lame. Imo maybe get raptors / SSD instead? Also, Instead of 3SLI, just get a 4870x2. You will maybe get 2-3FPS less, but instead get 6gb ram and i7 940, and I'm pretty sure that will also boost your fps.Again, I'm not a hardware pro, but I'm pretty sure my thing would be way better.+1
    Reply
  • kelfen
    except the cpu is fine because of oc
    Reply
  • kelfen
    antec twelve hundred
    Reply
  • dieseldre2k
    appreciate the article but i would drop the third HD (keep the other 2 in RAID) and use the extra money to get 6 gigs of ram instead. i'd also be wary of the scaling on 3 video cards but i dont know enough about that, plus i'm sure u guys were trying to use up all $2,500.
    Reply
  • thomasxstewart
    Lastly, GTX 295 in 3 way sli should hit 38,000 in 3D Vantage. Thats ALL Folks.


    Signed:PHYSICIAN THOMAS STEWART von DRASHEK M.D.
    Reply