Enthusiast Overclocker February 2011

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, then this PC offers 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)
CPU3.3GHz Intel Core i5-2500K£180$230
MotherboardAsus P8P67£120$190
Memory4GB 1,600MHz DDR3£45$45
Graphics CardSapphire ATI Radeon HD 6850£150$190
PSUOCZ ModXStream Pro 500W£45$65
CPU CoolerGelid Tranquillo£25$40
CaseCooler Master HAF 912 Plus£60$60
Optical driveSATA DVD-RW£15$20
Storage1TB Samsung SpinPoint F3£45$70
 Overall Price:£685$910

New This Month

We were left in something of a pickle when, the day before writing this buyer's guide, Intel put out a statement saying there was a hardware problem with its LGA1155 chipsets. This has thrown everything in the motherboard and CPU market up in the air and makes making definite recommendations rather tricky.

As you can see, though, we’ve decided to recommend an Intel Core i5-2500K and a Asus P8P67 motherboard for our enthusiast overclocker this month. This, of course, comes with the massive caveat that you look into what the returns policy of your chosen retailer. Some retailers have stopped selling LGA1155 motherboards altogether while some, such as Scan, have stated that any motherboards bought now will still be eligible for return when replacement boards arrive in the country in a couple of months.

That said, we highly recommend holding off with your purchases until the picture becomes a little clearer. If you do go ahead with a purchase, though, we certainly recommend running regular backups to ensure your data is safe.

PC Hardware Buyer's Guide February 2011 Enthusiast Overclocker February 2011

The other major change to the build is the case. The Xigmatek Utgard has been a part of the enthusiast overclocker build for a long time, and it’s still a good case, but we thought it was time for a change. As a result, we’ve added the Cooler Master HAF 912 Plus to the build. This dinky case offers excellent cooling and top notch build quality, and we think it looks good too. If the rugged styling of the HAF 912 doesn't appeal to you, however, both the Utgard and the Fractal Design Define R3 would make excellent alternatives.

And The Rest

Graphics horsepower is provided by an ATI Radeon HD 6850 1GB. In truth, though, there is very little to choose between this and the Nvdia GTX 460 1GB. The two cards perform very similarly, cost almost the same and are relatively quiet.

As a result, it comes down to which of the extra features that each card offers is of more value to you personally. Here, in the mighty bit-tech towers, we value Eyefinity support over PhysX or 3D Vision support, so we’ve plumped for the HD 6850. If, however, you’d prefer PhysX support and can’t see yourself using Eyefinity any time soon, then you’ve got our blessing to sub out the HD 6850 for a GTX 460 1GB.

As 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 quietness. If you wanted to chill your CPU to an even lower temperature, the slightly more expensive Thermaltake Frio would serve as it provides excellent cooling, although it's a little louder than the Tranquilo.

PC Hardware Buyer's Guide February 2011 Enthusiast Overclocker February 2011

As previously stated, we like having 4GB of memory in our PCs, and we’ve chosen 1,600MHz DDR3 for this PC. This is currently the sweet spot in the memory market as these kits are particularly affordable at the moment. Fortunately, you don’t have to worry about memory straps and Base Clock ratios if you’re buying an LGA1155 based system as nearly all overclocking is carried out via the CPU multiplier.

This means that all you need to do to make sure your RAM is running at its full rated speed is to drop into the EFI and select the 16x memory strap in the relevant menu. If you’re unsure of where to find this menu in the EFI, you can check out our i5-2500K overclocking guide.

We’ve also packed in 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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