Build Guides

Published on January 8th, 2013 | by Dan


PC Build Guide – January 2013


Welcome to the January version of our PC build guides. As with before, we have implemented hard price limits ($500, $800, $1300, $1800) on ourselves and have had to make tough decisions with each build. Your personal budget will likely be flexible, but we hope this article will give you a baseline. You can of course spend more or spend less, but you run into a case of diminishing returns at either end. Please keep in mind that pricing information is immediate and may not necessarily reflect real prices by the time you have read this article.

January seems to be a volatile month for prices, as we’ve had to change our builds multiple times in the past few days to maximize each price point. But overall, we see some very positive movement as each build maintains or improves its strength relative to last month.

The first item to note is that we have removed the optical drive from each build. At this point, the optical drive is no longer the essential component it used to be, especially since it’s pretty easy to install Windows from a thumb drive. You can of course add in an optical drive if you still need one, but for the purposes of this guide, we want to squeeze in every bit of essential gaming value we can out of each price point.

The Starter build gets a couple of welcome upgrades, including another 4GB stick of memory (for a total of 8GB) and the newer Ivy Bridge counterpart to the i3-2100 we were using before. The Sweet Spot build is simply out of control at this point, as it now includes a stock-overclocked GTX 660 Ti from MSI to complement the 3570K. The top two builds stay largely the same compared to before.


The Starter ($500 maximum)

Part list permalink:

  • CPU: Intel Core i3-3220 ($109.99 @ NCIX US)
  • Motherboard: MSI Z77A-G41 ATX LGA1155 ($79.98 @ SuperBiiz)
  • Memory: Mushkin Blackline 8GB (2x4GB) DDR3-1600 ($35.57 @ NCIX US)
  • Storage: Seagate Barracuda 1TB 3.5″ 7200RPM ($69.99 @ NCIX US)
  • Video Card: MSI GeForce GTX 650 Ti 1GB ($129.99 @ Newegg)
  • Case: Cooler Master Elite 430 ATX Mid Tower Case ($39.99 @ Amazon)
  • Power Supply: Corsair Builder 500W ($29.99 @ Newegg)

Total: $495.50


The Sweet Spot ($800 maximum)

Part list permalink:

  • CPU: Intel Core i5-3570K ($219.99 @ Amazon)
  • CPU Cooler: Cooler Master Hyper 212 Plus ($19.99 @ Newegg)
  • Motherboard: MSI Z77A-G45 ATX LGA1155 ($102.55 @ Newegg)
  • Memory: Mushkin Blackline 8GB (2x4GB) DDR3-1600 ($35.57 @ NCIX US)
  • Storage: Seagate Barracuda 1TB 3.5″ 7200RPM ($69.99 @ NCIX US)
  • Video Card: MSI GeForce GTX 660 Ti 2GB ($269.99 @ Newegg)
  • Case: Cooler Master HAF 912 ATX Mid Tower Case ($51.52 @ NCIX US)
  • Power Supply: Corsair Builder 500W ($29.99 @ Newegg)

Total: $799.59


The Enthusiast ($1300 maximum)

Part list permalink:

  • CPU: Intel Core i7-3770K ($329.99 @ Newegg)
  • CPU Cooler: Cooler Master Hyper 212 Plus ($19.99 @ Newegg)
  • Motherboard: ASRock Z77 Extreme4 ATX LGA1155 ($127.99 @ Amazon)
  • Memory: G.Skill Ripjaws X 8GB (2x4GB) DDR3-1866 ($51.99 @ Newegg)
  • Storage: Crucial M4 128GB 2.5″ SSD ($99.49 @ Amazon)
  • Storage: Seagate Barracuda 1TB 3.5″ 7200RPM ($69.99 @ NCIX US)
  • Video Card: EVGA GeForce GTX 670 2GB ($389.99 @ Newegg)
  • Case: Fractal Design Define R4 ATX Mid Tower Case ($95.68 @ NCIX US)
  • Power Supply: Corsair Professional 650W ($109.98 @ NCIX US)

Total: $1282.09


The Professional ($1800 maximum)

Part list permalink:

  • CPU: Intel Core i7-3770K ($329.99 @ Newegg)
  • CPU Cooler: Cooler Master Hyper 212 Plus ($19.99 @ Newegg)
  • Motherboard: ASRock Z77 Extreme4 ATX LGA1155 ($127.99 @ Amazon)
  • Memory: G.Skill Ripjaws X 16GB (2x8GB) DDR3-1866 ($91.99 @ Newegg)
  • Storage: Crucial M4 256GB 2.5″ SSD ($189.99 @ Amazon)
  • Storage: Seagate Barracuda 1TB 3.5″ 7200RPM ($64.99 @ NCIX US)
  • Video Card: MSI GeForce GTX 670 2GB – 2-Way SLI ($378.99 @ SuperBiiz)
  • Video Card: MSI GeForce GTX 670 2GB – 2-Way SLI ($378.99 @ SuperBiiz)
  • Case: Antec Eleven Hundred ATX Full Tower Case ($99.43 @ NCIX US)
  • Power Supply: Corsair Professional 750W ($129.99 @ Newegg)

Total: $1798.34


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I put the OO in Swagoo. One of the founders of KBMOD. I stream on Twitch as well as writing and editing for the website.

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  • Thompaam

    Nice addition of the R4 in The Enthusiast, very good case, super pleased with mine!

  • SwiftFX

    May I ask, why not an AMD build for the The Starter? such as the FX-6300 rather than the i3. Was it just for the purpose of sticking to socket 1155 for upgrades?

    • Dan

      We prefer giving that build a direct z77 upgrade path to a better chip at a later time. The AMD systems are definitely competitive at that level though. This way you can just get a new CPU later on that definitely outclasses AMD.

    • Thompaam

      Easier to upgrade to the high end stuff since you don’t have to get a new motherboard.

  • Metal Angel

    In the benchmarks I’ve seen, AMD’s quad core CPUs still don’t keep up with intel’s dual core CPUs. At least for gaming.

  • Wheelzz

    May I ask why you chose an EVGA reference card in the $1300 build when a PE is cheaper? A R4 is definitely good enough for an axial design cooler. It also, sticks with the quiet theme.

    • Dan

      That is a 670 FTW edition. So it is reference, but FTW is factory OC and backed by the wonderful EVGA warranty. The MSI PE OC isn’t a bad choice at all though :)

      • Wheelzz

        Oh I know, I actually own a 670 FTW. It is a great card and backed by an awesome warranty (even if I only get 3 yrs since I forgot to register right away due to mobo/CPU issues). The only complaint I have is that the stock fan curve is a bit weak and the card gets a tad loud at loud with a slightly increased curve.

        • Wheelzz

          Hence me mentioning the PE sticking to the quiet theme.

  • chrome

    the antec 1100 is a mid tower btw. You gotta put at least an epic full tower in the “Professional”.

    • Well, the 1100 is practically a full tower case, given its size. We decided to change it up a little this month, but you could certainly stick with the NZXT Phantom, which we’ve used for this build in previous months.

  • Hammer Shaun

    which is better for the professorial build the ASRock Z77 Extreme4 ATX LGA1155 or the Gigabyte GA-Z77X-UD3H ATX LGA1155

    • I don’t think you can go wrong with either one, but I’d recommend looking at the individual features for both boards and seeing which fits your needs better.

  • RuFaLiN

    Another great build guide! Although I feel you should do a “Bob Post” build, revolving around this case:

  • Another fine build guild post guys, but i still think you should have a RAW POWER build; i mean i just built my friend a desktop with a 3570K and EVGA 670 FTW in it for just shy of $750… Lastly why no ASUS boards, you can get an Asus board for just about 130 like the ASRock, with way more features?

    • Each build represents the PC we would actually put together for ourselves if we had only the money at each respective price point. If you’re building a rig with a 3570K and a GTX 670 for under $750 today, you are undoubtedly skimping pretty hard on all your other parts. There’s nothing wrong with maximizing CPU/GPU above all else if that’s what you really want, but doing so doesn’t represent a build I would personally recommend.

      As for your second question, motherboards are very much subject to personal preference. As I alluded to above, we typically try to combine price and customer ratings with our own personal experience to find boards that we would ultimately use for our own builds. That being said, there is no one-size-fits-all answer to which motherboard is best, so I’d certainly encourage people to use our build guides as a starting point and then research further to make sure they are buying parts that they will be happy with.

  • Again, I feel the need to mention that if you do in fact live near a Microcenter the i7 3770k is sold for $229.99 (only $100 cheaper. nbd.) and the i5 3570k goes for $169.99 ($50 cheaper. again, nbd.) and if you are planning on getting a ASRock Z77 Extreme4 AND an i5 3570k they have a ridiculous deal that takes the mobo down to $94.99!!! In summary, purchasing the Extreme4 and 3570k at Microcenter comes down to $264.98 (+ tax) compared to the $347.98 it would cost to purchase those two products else where. Hope it helps :)

    • Wheelzz

      You can also get the MSI Z77A-G45 for like $70 with a 3570K. It supports SLI too!

  • munkyadrian

    I recently, as in two days ago, built my first computer with he help of you guides
    right now ive got a 3570k at 4.6 GHz with a Hyper 212 EVO, a GA-Z77x-UD5H mobo, 16GB of corsair vengeance, a 2TB hard drive, an HX650 PSU, and a GTX 670 Power Edition GPU, and to shove it all into I picked up a Bitfenix Shinobi XL Window
    upgraded from a gt 220, an amd 2.6 GHz processor, and 6GB or ram on an unbranded generic board in a pos case
    I cried a little when I ran BF and FarCry 3 on ultra for the first time

    • munkyadrian

      And since Micro Center is right next to Villanova where my sister goes i got my 3570, UD5H, RAM, and Cooler for like $350
      the mobo was the best, went down to $140 from like $200
      oh and the 670 came with ac3 for free, but the stupid fucking ubisoft downloader has been running for two whole days and its only at like 70%
      it would be easier to pirate it and just not apply the crack and fill in the activation code but whatever

      • Thats beautiful *wipes tear*

    • Mohamm2706

      Did the Hyper 212 EVO block your corsair vengeance? Thinking of the same mobo and ram for my next build

  • grafixcrazy

    hey guys.
    im soon going to build my verry first build i was going to go for the 800 bucks build but i am going to buy my parts in my home country so it was over 800 which i do not have i did come up with this build that is (miraculously) less then 800 when i order the parts from here what do you think what could i improve ?

  • Rick Adair

    Im just new into computers. I know a guy who builds em. Ill give you the specs and you guys tell me the price for it please?

    quad core phenom 2 chip at 3.2 GHZ x 4
    600 watt p.s.u.
    gigabyte AM3+ motherboard
    8 SATA (6 GB/s)
    2 E-SATA ports
    10 USB 2 ports
    2 USB 3 ports
    Alien design custom tower case
    500 Gig 7200 rpm SATA Drive
    Optical Drive with RW/Lightscribe Dual layer DVD burner
    Zotac GTS 450 with 2x DVI, HDMI, D-out, i have optional other higher end cards as well, gtx 460 and asus 560 t1 and various AMD equivalent cards including eyefinity.
    8 GB RIPJAW DDR3 1333 MhZ RAM with thermal cooling plates
    Neon Lit system. Motherboard is SLI compatible as it has 2 2.0 pci express slots

    • wasp_senne

      plz look it up for yourself. I mean it’s not that hard. and besides. you already know the specs of it. So what’s the point? save the guys who make this guide some time and do some research for yourself.

  • munkyadrian

    how come there wasnt a guide for February?

    • Brandon

      Everyone got busy, and we didn’t get it out in time for it to be worthwhile. March build guide will be out soon.

  • Chris Cooper

    Isn’t there some sort of USB problem with The Sweet Spot or something?
    Sorry, huge tech noob and that’s what pcpartpicker is saying.

    • Brandon

      Don’t worry, that warning is harmless–it’s just letting you know that the front panel ports on the case we chose are only USB 2.0. So if you want to utilize USB 3.0, you’ll have to use the ports on the motherboard (which are on the back of your case, rather than on the front).

      • Chris Cooper

        Ah, I see.Thanks for clearing that up!

  • logan d

    Could I upgrade the starter’s processor to an Intel i5 processor would it still work and would i need to buy the cooler with it or can i just use the processor its self

    • Brandon

      Yes, you can definitely choose a better processor. Just make sure the CPU you choose matches up correctly with your motherboard socket. The CPU comes with a basic cooler that is adequate if you’re not overclocking. That said, we always recommend getting an aftermarket cooler like the Hyper 212+ if you can afford it.

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