Raja's Midrange Overclocking Systems

What about building a bang-for-the-buck overclocking experience, you ask? As our resident overclocking guru and motherboard reviewer, Raja has more experience with this area than the rest of us so we turned this section over to him. In order to keep things simple, we kept nearly all of the components in Vivek's midrange build but switched out the motherboard, processor, RAM and PSU. We also added an aftermarket cooler to allow the CPUs to reach their full potential. Here's what Raja put together. [Ed: Text by Jarred, most of the picks by Raja.]

Raja's Midrange AMD Overclocking System
Hardware Component Price
Processor AMD Phenom II X6 1055T
(Thuban 45nm, 2.8 to 3.3 GHz, 6x512KB L2, 6MB L3, 125W
$179
Motherboard ASUS M4A89GTD Pro (AMD 890GX AM3) $135
CPU Cooler Noctua NH-U12P SE2 120mm SSO $60
Video ASUS Radeon HD 6850 1GB (EAH6850) $200
Memory G.Skill 2x2GB DDR3-1600 (F3-12800CL9D-4GBNQ) $65
Hard Drive WD Caviar Blue 1TB (WD10EALS) $70
Optical Drive ASUS 24x DVDRW (DRW-24B1ST) $20
Power Supply Seasonic S12II 620W Bronze (80 Plus Bronze) $75
Case Antec Nine Hundred Two $89
Total System Price $893

For AMD overclocking, I chose one of the hex-core Thuban CPUs, just so you can get every last ounce of performance out of AMD's architecture. The ASUS motherboard ended up being our top AM3 overclocking selection--at least when keeping prices in check--and is good for up to a 50% overclock by raising the base clock. Thuban will generally top out in the 4.0-4.2GHz range, making this board a perfect fit. The Noctua cooler will help keep things cool without making a ton of noise, and the Seasonic S12II 620W power supply should deliver clean, stable current to the system.

Alternately, if you want to spin the wheel, you can also try your hand at core unlocking and save some money. $100 will buy you the Phenom II X2 560 Black Edition, which has two disabled cores. The ASUS board allows core unlocking, provided your CPU can handle it. Many users have had success with core unlocking, but there's no guarantee, and you'll never get the six cores that Thuban processors offer.

Our memory kit may not look like much, with its DDR3-1600 speed and CAS 9 timings. In reality, it shouldn't limit you but it's getting tricky to determine which memory to buy for overclocking. Vendors are now covering up their IC choices so much it's difficult to know what's inside; what we're looking for is an Elpida BBSE type variant or a similar IC from PSC. The G.Skill kit should work, but YMMV.

Raja's Midrange Intel Overclocking System
Hardware Component Price
Processor Intel Core i5-760 Lynnfield 45nm
(4x2.8GHz to 3.33GHz Turbo, 8MB L3, 95W)
$200
Motherboard ASUS Maximus III GENE (Intel P55 1156) ($20 MIR) $127
CPU Cooler Noctua NH-U12P SE2 120mm SSO $60
Video ASUS Radeon HD 6850 1GB (EAH6850) $200
Memory G.Skill 2x2GB DDR3-1600 (F3-12800CL9D-4GBNQ) $65
Hard Drive WD Caviar Blue 1TB (WD10EALS) $70
Optical Drive ASUS 24x DVDRW (DRW-24B1ST) $20
Power Supply Seasonic S12II 620W Bronze (80 Plus Bronze) $75
Case Antec Nine Hundred Two $89
Total System Price $906

Okay, first let's get this out of the way: Sandy Bridge is right around the corner. Think your hopped up i5-760 overclock is impressive? Imagine an unlocked Sandy Bridge chip running at 4.3-4.5GHz on air cooling. If you're into Intel overclocking, we'd really consider just waiting a bit longer right now. But, if you must buy a P55 system right now and you want a good overclock....

For the CPU, the i5-760 remains the most sensible choice. Priced at $200, you still get four cores with great overclocking potential--hitting 4.0-4.2GHz is generally common with an appropriate motherboard and cooling. The jump to i7-870 is $80 and all you really get is Hyper-Threading, since maximum overclocking means you'll want to disable the Turbo Boost feature and most of the Lynnfield CPUs are going to top out around the same 4.2GHz. We might be swayed to make an investment in Core i7 if it weren't for Sandy Bridge; then again, there's an upside: motherboards that used to push nearly $200 have come down quite a bit and there are plenty of rebates going around right now.

The motherboard is always a critical component for overclocking, and even though there are plenty of options that can do well, we wanted something more than just a decent overclock. The ASUS Maximus III GENE can easily hit BLCKs far beyond what you'll need for an i5-760, but even better is the excellent voltage regulation that will allow you to push 4GHz and higher without pumping a ton of current through your CPU. ASUS also makes overclocking very easy on the less experienced, with only minor tweaks necessary to get your system running at top speed.

Cooling for both systems comes courtesy of the Noctua NH-U12P SE2, a high quality push-pull cooler capable of keeping your CPU temperatures down without raising noise levels. While there are decent coolers for a bit less money, we've never been disappointed by the Noctua; it works well even with hex-core processors if you move to X58, so the Lynnfield CPUs aren't going to be a problem.

You'll notice that the power supply isn't the OCZ model Vivek used; instead the PSU is a higher quality Seasonic S12II capable of delivering the clean, stable power you'd want in an overclocked system. If you want to move to dual graphics cards and a heavily overclocked CPU, the 620W power supply should still keep up with everything short of the fastest GPUs. If that's what you'd like, I suggest looking at Ryan's X58 high-end SLI build.

Vivek's Midrange Intel System Anand's Ready for Bulldozer/Sandy SSD System
POST A COMMENT

112 Comments

View All Comments

  • Aikouka - Friday, November 19, 2010 - link

    First, a few oddities on Balraj's build...

    Why sacrifice dual-channel support for the possibility of upgrading to 8GB in a budget system?

    Also, the blu-ray drive that was included is OEM and doesn't include blu-ray playback software, which just adds an extra cost (that can be significant depending on the route chosen to attain such software).

    Those Lian-Li cases... really make me wish I would've stayed with Lian-Li on my current build. I would've probably kept my PC-V1100+ (I think that's the right model number), but I noticed the case has an issue where the slide mechanism that holds the side panel on eventually succumbs to reverberation (which is rather annoying). My PC-V2000+ is still going strong though and no reverberation!

    I'm using a Cooler Master case right now, and the only problem is that the side panels are so darned flimsy unlike the Lian-Li cases where the side panels double as lethal weapons. Not to mention how it scratches like crazy!
    Reply
  • JarredWalton - Friday, November 19, 2010 - link

    I had to switch the Blu-ray drive because I couldn't find Balraj's original choice in stock. Without doing more research, I figured 8X BD-ROM was better than 4X, and then there's a jump of $15-$25 to get to the better quality drives. I'll look around to see if I can find something else though.... Reply
  • Aikouka - Friday, November 19, 2010 - link

    Well, I guess my thought was, "why not just stick with a normal DVD burner?" It is a budget build after all :).

    It might just be better to pick up a retail blu-ray drive, since they'll have OEM software (usually isn't as good as the fancier ~$90 software though).
    Reply
  • JarredWalton - Friday, November 19, 2010 - link

    Okay, I found a decent price on a 10X LG... it's $85 at Newegg, but Microcenter currently has it for $70. As for leaving out the Blu-ray entirely, we mention that option. Think of this more as "Balraj's Budget Intel System" as opposed to "Balraj's Budget Intel System" and you'll get the picture. He personally thinks BD is great, and really his system is almost a budget HTPC more than a strictly budget PC. Cheers! Reply
  • 7Enigma - Friday, November 19, 2010 - link

    Had a very bad experience like many others with the Intel mid-range Gigabyte mobos. They've had MANY issues and the customer support has been non-existent for some of us. You can read my story on Newegg, but there are many with the same complaints about bad hardware and no recourse from the company. I've purchased video cards and mobo's from them in the past but they are off my list for the foreseeable future.

    Ended up having to shell out for a new mobo (Asus) and it has been rocksolid from day 1 with no issues.
    Reply
  • GeorgeH - Friday, November 19, 2010 - link

    Laptop Guide = :-)
    Desktop Guide = :-)
    Smartphone Guide = :-(
    Reply
  • JarredWalton - Friday, November 19, 2010 - link

    That's coming... patience, grasshopper. :-)

    You can harass Anand, Brian, and Vivek if you'd like, though... but Anand is probably going to let others do that as he's got plenty keeping him up late at night.
    Reply
  • therealnickdanger - Friday, November 19, 2010 - link

    The LG Optimus S is going to be $1.00 at Best Buy on Black Friday! Reply
  • GeorgeH - Friday, November 19, 2010 - link

    There is no patience - there is only read... or read not. :-) Reply
  • strikeback03 - Tuesday, November 23, 2010 - link

    Except that patience was pretty much Yoda's biggest problem with Luke... Reply

Log in

Don't have an account? Sign up now