The Editor's Choice
What TR's editors would get—if they had time to upgrade
The name of this build says it all. If we were buying a PC for ourselves right now, we'd splurge on nicer components than those found in the Sweet Spot and Econobox. However, we still wouldn't want to waste hard-earned cash on needlessly expensive parts.
|Processor||Intel Core i5-3570K 3.4GHz||$229.99|
|Motherboard||Asus P8Z77-V LK||$139.99|
|Memory||Corsair Vengeance 8GB (2 x 4GB) DDR3-1600||$52.99|
|Graphics||MSI GeForce GTX 660 Ti||$279.99|
|Storage||Intel 335 Series 240GB||$194.99|
|Western Digital Red 2TB||$109.99|
|LG WH14NS40 Blu-ray burner||$69.99|
|Audio||Asus Xonar DSX||$59.99|
|Enclosure||Corsair Obsidian Series 650D||$179.99|
|Power supply||Corsair HX650W||$119.99|
There's no sense being stingy here. Intel's Core i5-3570K is the right pick for this build, thanks to its unlocked upper multiplier and excellent performance per dollar.
Oh, sure, we could nab a state-of-the-art motherboard with ridiculous heatsinks and a self-aware AI inside the UEFI. However, the Asus P8Z77-V LK from the Sweet Spot already does everything we want. Why pay more? The Editor's Choice is all about building a balanced system, not burning cash on pointless extras.
We're making allowances for overclocking here, which is why we've upgraded from our Corsair ValueSelect bundle to a Corsair Vengeance kit with fancy heatsinks. The price difference between the two kits adds up to all of seven dollars right now, so we don't feel bad for splurging (if we can call it that). Just keep in mind those spiky heatsinks may interfere with some of the chunkier CPU coolers out there.
We could have upgraded to the GeForce GTX 670 for this build, but the truth is, the GeForce GTX 660 Ti is more than fast enough for gaming on a 2560x1440 display. The GTX 670 doesn't offer a very substantial performance boost for the money, and the next step up, the GeForce GTX 680, is well outside our price range.
No, we're perfectly happy with the MSI GeForce GTX 660 Ti Power Edition. It's just as good a pick for the Editor's Choice as it is for the Sweet Spot.
What we didn't spend on an extravagant motherboard or an overpriced graphics card, we now can allocate to a higher-capacity solid state drive—something that will make day-to-day gaming and productivity palpably quicker, since you'll have more room to store more applications and games.
We already know the drive we want: the Intel 335 Series 240GB from the Sweet Spot alternatives, and here, it fits our budget.
Of course, we still want a decent mechanical hard drive to provide additional capacity, which is where the 2TB WD Red comes in. If you plan to run performance-intensive applications off this thing, then check our alternatives section one page ahead—you way want a small SSD cache to speed things up.
Oh, and we might as well throw in that Blu-ray burner from the Sweet Spot alternatives.
If we thought a sound card was worth including in the Sweet Spot, we're certainly not going to fall back to integrated audio here. But we're not going to splurge on a higher-end discrete card, either. Asus' Xonar DSX offers better value than Asus' more expensive Xonar DX, which costs more and adds little besides Dolby Headphone support. In our blind listening tests, those two cards sounded very close. You might as well save your money.
Corsair's Obsidian Series 650D is probably our favorite enclosure right now. We like its good looks and generous cooling capabilities, and we love how effortless it is to work in. Everything from the huge amount of space around the motherboard tray (and the almost excessive number of cable-routing holes) to the built-in drive dock and recessed front-panel ports helps make installation as smooth and painless as possible. There's hardly a better option for the Editor's Choice right now... well, except perhaps for Corsair's own Graphite Series 600T, which we've included as an alternative on the next page.
We have room in our budget for a nicer, higher-efficiency PSU than the one in the Sweet Spot. This time, our nod goes to the Corsair HX650W, a modular unit with 80 Plus Gold certification and connectors galore. We wouldn't dream of getting a non-modular unit. Our enclosure is designed to make cable management as elegant as possible, so having a big clump of cords and connectors at the bottom just wouldn't do.