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System Builder Marathon, Q1 2013: $1,600 Alternative PC

CPU, CPU Cooler, And Memory

It’s makin’ me late…

CPU: Intel Core i5-3570K

Today’s machine is an upgrade to my previous $1,000 build. The one thing I didn't really feel compelled to upgrade, though, was its Core i5-3570K. At least, I didn’t think it needed an upgrade until I read Don's recent Crysis 3 coverage (Crysis 3 Performance, Benchmarked On 16 Graphics Cards). Moving on...

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

A mere 100 MHz slower than the Core i7-3770K, Intel's Core i5-3570K falls only slightly behind in most benchmarks. A few metrics that would have exploited Hyper-Threading also reflect slightly larger losses. However, overall value favors this less-expensive part.

CPU Cooler: Noctua NH-D14

Noctua’s NH-D14 received last year’s highest award after maintaining its top performance standing for two years in a row. We didn’t really need a cooler this big for a CPU this small, but its reduced noise will improve the experience of this system’s eventual winner.

Read Customer Reviews of Noctua's NH-D14

Excessive cooling can’t be a bad thing, right? We can always hope that this cooler gives our processor the extra few MHz we previously needed to cross the 4.5 GHz barrier.

Memory: Crucial Ballistix Tactical 8 GB (2 x 4 GB) DDR3-1600

Also found in my original build, Crucial’s BLT2K4G3D1608ET3LX0 memory kit is a fallback part. It wasn’t our first choice because, on the day we placed our order, I wasn’t certain of its overclockability. Only after building that $1,000 machine did this memory’s superiority become clear.

Read Customer Reviews of Crucial's BLT2K4G3D1608ET3LXO 8 GB Kit

But superiority wasn’t the reason we altered our original order. Instead, we were forced to give up on higher-voltage parts after suffering memory controller degradation on two E1-stepping Core i5s in a row. Component damage occurred over the period of days, and that delay was a big reason for this article’s late publication. I’ll provide more details throughout today’s build.

  • Azn Cracker
    Aren't the 7870 myst only $240 a piece?
    Reply
  • Crashman
    Azn CrackerAren't the 7870 myst only $240 a piece?See This?
    Article TextThe prices in that table were what we paid when the parts were ordered, and a lot of them changed over the last six weeks. For example, the PowerColor card is $20 less, per board. Other prices are up. All told, then, the total cost of buying our machine and replicating the build is within $20 of our original invoice.
    Reply
  • mikenygmail
    Please call the graphics cards 7870 LE from the start, like this:
    "Video Cards: 2 x 7870 LE - PowerColor PCS+ AX7870 Myst Edition"
    After all, it is much more than a standard 7870.
    I had no idea it was the LE until I got to the third page.
    Reply
  • Crashman
    mikenygmailPlease call the graphics cards 7870 LE from the start, like this:"Video Cards: 2 x 7870 LE - PowerColor PCS+ AX7870 Myst Edition"After all, it is much more than a standard 7870.I had no idea it was the LE until I got to the third page.In AMD/ATI model lingo, LE stands for a cut-down part. So a Tahiti-LE wouldn't be a 7870 LE, it would be a 7950 LE. The fact that it carries the 7870 model number is unfortunate, but the article attempts to make it clear that this is indeed a Tahiti-LE
    Reply
  • stickmansam
    Why not the 7870XT like Sapphire calls it?
    Reply
  • Crashman
    StickmansamWhy not the 7870XT like Sapphire calls it?That's fine, please tell AMD to do the re-brand!
    Reply
  • pyro226
    "a board damaged a processor that in turn damaged every board it touched, which in turn would damage every processor it touched" and ram damaging a CPU?

    I think I'm a bit afraid to build computers now. If either of those situations would have happened to my $600 build, I would have cried and given up...
    Reply
  • I like that build better.. :D
    Reply
  • Fulgurant
    pyro226"a board damaged a processor that in turn damaged every board it touched, which in turn would damage every processor it touched" and ram damaging a CPU?I think I'm a bit afraid to build computers now. If either of those situations would have happened to my $600 build, I would have cried and given up...
    That sort of thing happens once in a blue moon. Don't let it bother you.

    I guess Tom's tale of woe summarizes why Intel recommends against higher than 1.575 volts on the memory controller of Ivy/Sandy:

    http://www.intel.com/support/processors/sb/CS-029913.htm#4
    IntelWhat are the Intel® Core™ i7 desktop processor DDR3 memory voltage limitations?Intel® recommends using memory that adheres to the Jedec memory specification for DDR3 memory which is 1.5 volts, plus or minus 5%. Anything more than this voltage can damage the processor or significantly reduce the processor life span.
    In any case, the performance benefits of overclocking memory on a Sandy/Ivy platform seem so miniscule that it's scarcely even worth considering. Buy memory capable of an appropriate speed @ 1.5V, and leave it be.

    (I know Tom mentions Intel's position on memory voltage on the last page of the article, but I wanted to re-emphasize it because I've seen literally hundreds of people dismiss Intel's statement on various hardware forums. When sites like Tom's Hardware push limits, even for questionable performance gains, we all benefit -- but when someone who's on a budget and might not know any better pushes limits on his own, hard-earned hardware, the results might be tragic. Tom's experiments with this stuff so we don't have to.)
    Reply
  • Crashman
    pyro226"a board damaged a processor that in turn damaged every board it touched, which in turn would damage every processor it touched" and ram damaging a CPU?I think I'm a bit afraid to build computers now. If either of those situations would have happened to my $600 build, I would have cried and given up...I told Chris the system was cursed, but he refused to let the project go after the seventh day. Three more days rescued the content, if not the hardware...
    FulgurantThat sort of thing happens once in a blue moon. Don't let it bother you.Once every 12 years is twice in 13 years too often...
    Reply