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System Builder Marathon, August 2012: Alternative $2000 Gaming PC

Economizers: CPU, CPU Cooler, And RAM

CPU: Intel Core i5-3570K

We knew that the combination of a six-core Intel processor and three-way SLI wouldn’t leave room in our budget for things like a motherboard or power supply. However, we also knew that Intel's Ivy Bridge architecture helps enable exceptional gaming performance.

Because overclocking would be required to reach our performance goals with any CPU, we bought the cheapest unlocked Ivy Bridge-based processor we could find.

Read Customer Reviews of Intel's Core i5-3570K (opens in new tab)

Intel’s Core i5-3570K offers most of the features found on Core i7-3770K, minus a peak Turbo Boost speed that's 100 MHz slower, 2 MB of shared L3 cache, and Hyper-Threading technology. We're counting on that list to have a negligible effect on gaming performance and a minimal impact on our application suite, particularly once we're able to overclock the Core i5-3570K to its limit.

CPU Cooler: Cooler Master Hyper 212 Evo

The latest iteration of Cooler Master’s Hyper 212, the Evo, topped the value chart of last winter’s LGA 2011 air cooling round-up.

It didn't win an award because it only topped the chart based on a low price. Mediocre performance undercut its utility with heavily overclocked six-core Sandy Bridge-E-based chips. But when you drop the thermal load, it starts looking more like a winner.

Read Customer Reviews of Cooler Master's Hyper 212 Evo (opens in new tab)

The retail package is different from the sample we reviewed in that it includes all of the hardware needed to fit smaller socket interfaces, such as LGA 1155.

RAM: G.Skill Ares F3-1600C8D-8GAB Memory Kit

G.Skill’s Ares continues to get our attention by yielding the same performance and overclocking results as its identically-rated Ripjaws siblings, but without the huge heat spreaders.

Read Customer Reviews of G.Skill's Ares F3-1600C8D-8GAB Memory Kit (opens in new tab)

The mid-sized CPU cooler in today’s build didn’t actually need low-profile memory to fit this motherboard, but using it allows greater upgrade opportunities moving forward.

Thomas Soderstrom is a Senior Staff Editor at Tom's Hardware US. He tests and reviews cases, cooling, memory and motherboards.
  • idroid
    now THAT'S a real 2000$ PC, not the other 2000$
    Reply
  • zander1983
    Now this is a $2000 machine. The 3930k is a nice-to-have, but not a need-to-have. If you need more horse power, swap the 3570k for a 3770k.
    Reply
  • Crashman
    idroidnow THAT'S a real 2000$ PC, not the other 2000$Actually, this one is the fake, as in the experimental PC designed specifically for gaming. The other one was picked by reader recommendations, and that's why it made it into the "main event".

    That is to say, as much as this one costs, it's still pretty much worthless to the majority of high-end users. Basically it's a $1000 PC with a bunch of extras.

    To put it another way, money "wasted" on the other one went towards making it more flexible and practical. Money "wasted" on this one went towards supporting future upgrades to its SLI array. It's nothing more than an expensive toy.
    Reply
  • brucek2
    I enjoyed the article and am glad Tom's ran it. I agree with Crashman though about this being an experimental system: while I may rarely have call to exercise six cores, it is something that would come in handy from time to time. Meanwhile, I will never be gaming at 5760x1080. I'd get more value out of the original system.
    Reply
  • hmp_goose
    Why aren't they in portrait mode?
    Reply
  • dudewitbow
    orz, using blue ares ram and an antec eleven hundred together makes me think back to my wishlist changes I wish I could have gotten instead.(albeit im still deficient on other parts)
    Reply
  • Crashman
    hmp_gooseWhy aren't they in portrait mode?Too narrow. The wide bezels are a major distraction when they're that close together. I think manufacturers should make some 5x4 or at least some 4x3 mid-sized displays specifically for this purpose.dudewitboworz, using blue ares ram and an antec eleven hundred together makes me think back to my wishlist changes I wish I could have gotten instead.(albeit im still deficient on other parts)Ares is cool because it lets you run pretty much any CPU cooler you want, without sacrificing memory frequency or timings.
    Reply
  • EzioAs
    9536498 said:
    Actually, this one is the fake, as in the experimental PC designed specifically for gaming. The other one was picked by reader recommendations, and that's why it made it into the "main event".

    That is to say, as much as this one costs, it's still pretty much worthless to the majority of high-end users. Basically it's a $1000 PC with a bunch of extras.

    To put it another way, money "wasted" on the other one went towards making it more flexible and practical. Money "wasted" on this one went towards supporting future upgrades to its SLI array. It's nothing more than an expensive toy.

    Really? If it were me, I'd pick this one over the original $2000 PC. There are a lot more people gaming at 5760x1080 and 2560x1600 than they used to be so having more GPU performance is much more beneficial. Although that's primarily for the gamers, for other 3D purposes, video editing, etc the 6-cores 3930K and single GPU might be the best choice
    Reply
  • bawchicawawa
    Would have went with crossfire 7970 for that res.
    Reply
  • killabanks
    they are both great machines!! i personally think the sweet spot is somewhere around 1500 if you can get acceptable 5760x1080 performance
    Reply