Enthusiast Overclocker September 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)
CPU2.80GHz Intel Core i5-760£145$210
MotherboardGigabyte GA-P55M-UD2£85$105
Memory4GB 1,600MHz DDR3£65$75
Graphics CardSapphire ATI Radeon HD 6850£155$180
PSUOCZ ModXStream Pro 500W£55$60
CPU CoolerGelid Tranquillo£25$40
CaseXigmatek Utgard£65$60
Optical driveSATA DVD-RW£15$20
Storage1TB Samsung SpinPoint F3£45$70
 Overall Price:£655$820

New This Month

As with our Affordable All-rounder build, the main change this month is the addition of the ATI Radeon HD 6850 1GB. This replaces the Nvidia GTX 460 1GB card that featured in this build last month. In truth though there is very little to choose between the two cards as they both perform very similarly, cost the same and are very quiet.

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

As a result we’ll say the same as we did on the last page; it comes down to which of the extra features that each card offers is of more value to you personally. We value Eyefinity support over PhysX or 3D Vision, so we’ve plumped for the HD 6850 1GB. If you’d prefer PhysX support and can’t see yourself using Eyefinity anytime soon then just sub out the HD 6850 1GB for a GTX 460 1GB.

And The Rest

The CPU we’ve chosen for this build is the imperious Intel Core i5-760. The chip is rapid at stock speeds and even quicker when overclocked and what’s more it manages all this without consuming ridiculous amounts of power. All this allowed it to walk away with a coveted excellence award which is as high an accolade as we can give.

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 £85. Having said this we’ve seen the price of the board start to creep up over the last few months and we’ve been told by Gigabyte that it’ll be going end of life soon. This’ll likely push prices up in the short term as demand will stay high for this excellent board. Essentially if you’re looking to pick up one of these boards, you’d better do it sooner rather than later.

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

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 November 2010 Enthusiast Overclocker November 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 Thermaltake Frio would serve as it provides excellent cooling, though it is a little louder than the Tranquilo.

The case we’re recommending for the build is the Xigmatek Utgard which offers excellent cooling and a built in dual channel fan controller. As a bonus the case has also seen a fair old price drop in the US this month which has reduced the cost of the build considerably. We should mention that the Cooler Master HAF 912 is worth a honorable mention here too. It’s a more distinctive case and is arguably better looking and its compact dimensions make it easy to lug around too. Given how evenly matched the two cases are we decided to leave the Utgard in place on the list though (it gets a defense bonus of +1 WS) but the HAF 912 is definitely worth considering if you’re looking at this build.

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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