Enthusiast Overclocker

The Enthusiast Overclocker is a PC designed for those looking to build a fast PC without splashing out on pricey hardware. If you're not into speedy video encoding and heavy multi-tasking, but still love your high-resolution gaming, we've created a PC with the best balance of performance possible. However, you'll need to apply your overclocking skills to get the most from this system, but then, that's half the fun of a DIY build, isn't it?

With Intel dominant in the £100-200 CPU market, it's there we'll be looking for our processor for this system. When it comes to LGA1156, it's the quad-core Core i5-750 processor which hits the sweet spot when it comes to value, although prices are continuing to rise, with £160 being the minimum you'll find it for now, as most places have settled at about £170. If you bought one when it was first released at around £150, well, you got a good bargain!

*PC Hardware Buyer's Guide - April 2010 Enthusiast Overclocker

We've kept the same Core i5-750 and Gigabyte GA-P55M-UD2 combination as last month's recommendation, but if you think the £700 mark is a little too expensive you can always downgrade in favour of the Core i3-530 and Gigabyte GA-H55M-UD2 instead.

We prefer the Radeon HD 5770 1GB as it has DirectX 11 support and is quiet and power efficient while being roughly as fast as a Radeon HD 4890 or GeForce GTX 275. Prices for the HD 5770 have plateaued or even dropped slightly since last month, and some budget models can be found for around £120. If you're willing to push the boat out a little more there are Radeon HD 5830s for around £200, with the odd special offer like the XFX HD 5830 we recently reviewed.

Quite a few people have commented on the attraction of running two of these cards in CrossFire - claiming this provides "HD 5870 performance for around HD 5850 price." We're still skeptical given the fact any multi-GPU system is heavily reliant on stable, frequently updated drivers to realise its potential. If you are going down the CrossFire route, do not buy the UD2 motherboard recommended here as the second graphics slot has only four lanes of bandwidth. You'll instead have to upgrade to the considerably more expensive GA-P55M-UD4, Asus P7P55D Deluxe or MSI P55 GD65 boards. With a more expensive motherboard and second HD 5770, you'll be pushing into the Gaming Workhorse price range, which is a superior machine.

*PC Hardware Buyer's Guide - April 2010 Enthusiast Overclocker *PC Hardware Buyer's Guide - April 2010 Enthusiast Overclocker
The Powercolor Radeon HD 5770 PCS+ uses a shorter PCB than normal 5770s, and the Gelid Tranquillo is a perfect cooler for this budget, when it finally comes back in stock

Our favoured memory combination for LGA1156 is still 4GB of 1,600MHz CL9 of DDR3, but unfortunately prices have again risen for memory this month. Even a budget, yet branded, 1,600MHz kit will cost you the best part of £110, so shop around for a good deal.

The Fractal Design R2 is a new favourite among our readers, with a smarter look than the HAF cases we've previously recommended. Unfortunately our US friends can't buy an R2 easily yet, so we've opted for the very good Cooler Master CM 690 II Advanced as an alternative. It's not as brash as the popular HAF 922, but either is a great choice.

If you want something more mobile remember the Cooler Master Scout, or other alternatives include the popular Antec Nine Hundred Two and the Lian Li Lancool cases as well.

*PC Hardware Buyer's Guide - April 2010 Enthusiast Overclocker *PC Hardware Buyer's Guide - April 2010 Enthusiast Overclocker
Both the Fractal Design R2 and Cooler Master CM690 II make great case choices

Throw in the usual 500W OCZ ModXStream Pro and you've got enough power for this machine, plus a hefty overclock. However, if you intend to bolt on a lot more hardware in the future, you might want to upgrade the PSU to the excellent Antec TruePower New 650W.

On the heatsink front we want to recommend the Gelid Tranquillo again, but it seems distinctly missing from UK retailers and at the time of writing we're not quite sure why. Keep an eye out for this cooler, as it should retail around £25 and offer the best price:performance ratio in its range. If you want more cooling performance, don't be afraid to swap it for a Titan Fenrir as well.

Unfortunately, SSDs are still too expensive for this budget, so we've dropped in another one of our hard disk favourites - the Samsung Spinpoint F3 1TB. There's plenty of space and plenty of speed to be had from that. However, if you really don't like Samsung drives, check out the Seagate 7200.12s and Western Digital Blacks as well. If you haven't got a copy already, you might want to factor in a copy of Windows 7 - if you're confident that you won't be upgrading much, then an OEM copy should be fine, but serial upgraders need the pricier retail version.
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