Enthusiast Overclocker August 2010

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?

 Enthusiast Overclocker
 ProductUK Price (inc VAT)US Price (ex tax)
CPU2.66GHz Intel Core i5-750£150$195
MotherboardGigabyte GA-P55M-UD2£85$105
Memory4GB 1,600MHz DDR3£80$85
Graphics CardNvidia GeForce GTX 460 1GB£180$230
PSUOCZ ModXStream Pro 500W£60$60
CPU CoolerGelid Tranquillo£25$40
CaseXigmatek Utgard£65$100
Optical driveSATA DVD-RW£15$20
Storage1TB Samsung SpinPoint F3£50$75
 Overall Price:£710$910

New This Month

Err... more price cuts? The Core i5-750 has slipped back to its launch price of £150 and the memory of our system has got £10 cheaper too. The other big news is that the Xigmatek Utgard case is now available in the States - North Americans can now marvel at how much case you get for your cash.

PC Hardware Buyer's Guide August 2010 Enthusiast Overclocker August  2010

And The Rest

We've chosen the GTX 460 1GB, as the extra cash for the extra memory and memory bandwidth over the 768MB version is probably going to be worth it in a year or two's time.

If your budget is a little tighter and you want to get the system down to under £700, the GTX 460 768MB is a reasonable choice for around £150. If cash is even tighter, consider opting for a Core i3 CPU if gaming is important, or a HD 5770 if CPU power is more of a priority.

If you want to spend more than £185 on your new graphics card, the GeForce GTX 465 isn't the way to do it - it may sound faster than the GTX 460, and cost more (£200) but it's actually slower. The GTX 460 1GB even has the measure of the £240 HD 5850, so your next graphics card option is the £330 Radeon HD 5870.

PC Hardware Buyer's Guide August 2010 Enthusiast Overclocker August  2010

As we’ve got a bit more to spend on this system, we can look at some of the really powerful CPUs on the market. Our target price of less than £750 means that LGA1336 is out of the question, so we looked toward LGA1156 and Socket AM3 instead. The AMD Phenom II X6 1090T Black Edition isn't worth considering for this PC, so we'll stick with our Core i5-750.

PC Hardware Buyer's Guide August 2010 Enthusiast Overclocker August  2010

Our confidence comes from the fact that the 3.2GHz X6 1090T BE managed an overall score of 1,367 at stock speed in our Media Benchmarks (boosted to 1,638 when overclocked to 3.87GHz). It's over £200 though, and the £160 the Intel Core i5-750 scored 1,474 overall at stock speed and 1,953 when overclocked from 2.66GHz to 4.2GHz.

With the CPU decided on, the motherboard choice was obvious – we’re yet to find a P55 board that offers better value for money than the Gigabyte GA-P55M-UD2, which has a clean layout and is very overclockable despite costing only £90.

As previously stated, we like having 4GB of memory in our PCs, and we’ve chosen 1,600MHz DDR3 to give us a bit of headroom for overclocking the CPU. For example, if we wanted to aim for a 3.6GHz overclock, we’d use a Base Clock of 180MHz (as 180 x 20 = 3,600). If we’d opted for 1,333MHz memory, we’d have to use the 6x memory strap with this Base Clock, which would give us a memory frequency of 1,080MHz, which is a touch slow. With the 1,600MHz memory, we can safely use the 8x memory strap and have our memory run at a more healthy 1,440MHz. We wouldn’t recommend overclocking 1,333MHz memory to 1,440MHz for everyday use unless you really know your DRAM.

PC Hardware Buyer's Guide August 2010 Enthusiast Overclocker August  2010As we’re planning a fairly heavy overclock, we needed to add a great cooler to the build, and we chose the Gelid Tranquillo for its cooling ability and its quietness. If you wanted to chill your CPU even lower, the slightly more expensive Titan Fenrir would serve, as it’s also very quiet when the resistor cable is used to throttle the fan.

To aid the cooling we’ve updated our case choice from the Fractal Design R2 to the Xigmatek Utgard, which we reviewed a few weeks ago. The Utgard is cheaper than the R2, cools a PC very well, and has bonus additions such as the fan controller. However, if you really want your PC to be very quiet, the R2 is still worth considering.

To the case, we’ve added the 500W OCZ ModXStream PSU, a cheap SATA DVD drive and a 1TB Samsung SpinPoint F3 hard disk. 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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