Enthusiast Overclocker August 2012

Tweaking and tinkering is the name of the game with our Enthusiast Overclocker, but it's not just a geeky, time and money-rinsing scenario we're talking about here. By carefully selecting your motherboard, CPU and graphics card, you'll be well on the way to making a PC that's as fast as something that costs a a lot more.

If you need a helping hand when it comes to overclocking then you can check out our How to overclock the Intel Core i5-2500K and Intel Core i7-3770K articles.

 Enthusiast Overclocker
 ProductUK Price (inc VAT)US Price (ex tax)
CPU3.4GHz Intel Core i5-3570K£165$230
MotherboardAsus Maximus V Gene£140$200
Memory8GB 1,600MHz DDR3£30$45
Graphics CardAMD Radeon HD 7870 GHz Edition 2 GB£185$250
PSUCorsair Professional Series HX650£90$120
CPU Cooler (UK)Arctic Freezer i30£29$44
CaseFractal Design Arc Midi£65$99
Optical driveSATA DVD-RW£15$20
Storage1TB Samsung SpinPoint F3£65$90
 Overall Price:£784$1098

New This Month

As our Enthusiast Overclocker is more geared towards hardware releases, it's slim pickings as far as significant changes go this month. Our CPU, motherboard and CPU cooler remain the same, however with prices having shifted considerably since our last buyer's guide, we've made one big change - the graphics card.

We'd initially thought the GeForce GTX 660 Ti 2GB would slot in nicely here, but at around £240, it's not only pricey for a mid-range system, but also the GeForce GTX 670 2GB is only a little more, making Nvidia's latest GPU a bit of tricky recommendation. However, we've opted for AMD's HD 7870 2GB. It now costs around £50-60 less than the GTX 660 Ti 2GB, but also beats the venerable GeForce GTX 560 Ti 448 core while costing a little more. Make sure you opt for a 1GHz edition model, but if you find an older model going for a lot less, you can easily flash the BIOS and end up with the same result.

PC Hardware Buyer's Guide August 2012 Enthusiast Overclocker August 2012
Click to enlarge

And The Rest

We've held on to much of our previous recommendations for the simple fact they're still the best options for a system focussed on overclocking. The Arctic i30 CPU cooler still punches well above its price tag and remains our favourite for a value-conscious, high-performing cooler.

Our choice of case is still a solid one - the Fractal Design Arc Midi is still a great case with plenty of features and good cooling, however you have several other options here. Corsair's Carbide 500R is more modern, with USB 3 ports and has fantastic looks but it will set you back £20 more. We were also very taken with the Fractal Design Define R4. Again it's more expensive than our choice this month, and it doesn't offer amazing cooling - this is the main reason it didn't pip the Arc Midi. We are talking about an overclocking system after all. However, if you're more concerned with features and refinement, it could be worth a look.

PC Hardware Buyer's Guide August 2012 Enthusiast Overclocker August 2012 PC Hardware Buyer's Guide August 2012 Enthusiast Overclocker August 2012
Click to enlarge - if you're after a more modern, refined case, the Fractal Design Define R4 might be worth a look

Our choice of CPU is not likely to change for some time. The Core i5-3570K is super-fast and cool running at stock speed, but is massively overclockable too. It's the cheapest 'K' series CPU from Intel, which sports an unlocked multiplier. Combined with Asus' Maximus V Gene, it's a potent mix for a super-fast system that costs less than £800.

Adding an SSD to the build will add around £85 for a 120GB model - you could maybe opt for a cheaper motherboard or case from our Affordable All-Rounder build to make up the difference (don't forget, we can only recommend hardware we've tested), but we try to keep this build under £800 so without a huge sacrifice in one area, by adding an SSD, this isn't going to happen.

Another option would be to opt for the Thermaltake PSU from our Affordable All-rounder system. At 530W it will be enough to cope with even hefty overclocks of this hardware, however, just be aware you'll be cutting it very fine if you add another graphics card - we prefer to have plenty of room to spare so we've kept the Corsair PSU as our general recommendation. If you do have the spare cash, then the 120GB Crucial M4 should get your money.

The Corsair Professional Series HX650 is still our sub-700W PSU of choice, and with Ivy Bridge CPUs and the latest generation of graphics cards consuming less power than their predecessors, there's little point opting for anything beefier for a system similar to our Enthusiast Overclocker. It's modular too, which means cable tidying should be a doddle.

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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