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 to 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.