Best Ivy Bridge Gaming PC Build Under $1,200 or $1,300 [July 2012]

Posted June 21, 2012 by Sam Chen in Computer Builds

As most of you may expect, I typically get a couple requests a month asking about computer builds. Whether it be if a certain one is good, a certain one isn’t, or simply a request for a PC to fit within a certain budget, I get them. So, today I’ll be sharing the best gaming PC build that I think falls under probably one of the most requested computer builds out there – the gaming PC/computer build around or under $1,200-$1,300.

 

Budget: $1,200 – $1,300

 

CPU – Intel Core i5 3570k

For our Ivy Bridge gaming computer, we’re going with Intel’s Core i5 3570K. Equipped with excellent performance, great overclocking capability, and more than enough processing power to run today and tomorrow’ games, the i5 3570K is literally a no brainer. Those thinking about the Intel Core i7 3770K, don’t. Unless you’re doing activities that can take advantage of the extra threads offered by hyper threading (video editing, rendering, 3d modeling, etc.) there’s no reason to overspend for the i7 3770K. For gaming, i5 3570K and the i7 3770K will perform nearly identical. Don’t get sucked into the marketing hype, people.

 

Motherboard – Gigabyte Z77X-UD3H

Prior to the introduction of Intel’s Z77 chipset, Gigabyte’s boards simply weren’t that competitive when compared to boards from other manufacturers such as ASUS, ASRock and MSI. While many board manufacturers moved over to a superior all digital power delivery system, Gigabyte didn’t. When many manufacturers moved to a true UEFI BIOS, Gigabyte didn’t. So, throughout the P67 and Z68 generation, Gigabyte motherboards weren’t exactly the hottest boards on the block. Don’t get me wrong, Gigabyte boards were still great motherboards, but with what the competition had, they just weren’t that appealing.

Well, after the introduction of Z77, Gigabyte really stepped up their game and have once again shown us what a top tier motherboard manufacturer is capable of. Ultra Durable 4 technology? Check. All digital power delivery system? Check. Full UEFI BIOS? Check. Yup. In a single generation, Gigabyte was able to catch up with every other motherboard manufacturer and, in some instances,surpass them.

As for the Z77X-UD3H we’re looking at here? Well, with what’s been mentioned above, it’s also got USB 3.0, SATA 3 6Gb/s, PCIe 3.0, full support for both Sandy Bridge and Ivy Bridge processors, and a whole lot more. Not to mention it’s the board that powered the record setting 7GHz i7 3770K overclock. Those interested in pushing their new i5 3570K for a modest ~20%-35% performance boost, may check out our overclocking tutorial/UEFI demo video below. Also, don’t forget to check out our full review of the Z77X-UD3H here.

 

Memory – Corsair Vengeance Low Profile 8GB

As usual, the Corsair Vengeance Low Profile 8GB kit is our go to kit for memory. Stable, high quality memory running at the optimal Sandy Bridge / Ivy Bridge voltage of 1.5v. Those opting to purchase other brands of memory, be sure to invest in some memory with low profile heatsinks. Unless dangerous amounts of voltage is pumped into the memory, memory simply doesn’t overheat and high profile “flashy” memory ends up serving as interfere to larger CPU coolers more than anything else.

 

Video Card: EVGA GeForce GTX 670 FTW

For a gaming build, we’ve got to go with a serious graphics card and Nvidia’s GeForce GTX 670 is just that – a serious graphics card. Built on Nvidia’s new 28nm Kepler graphics technology, the EVGA GeForce GTX 670 FTW is capable of running pretty much every game on the market at ultra settings even with AA turned on. Additionally, we’re also going with the FTW edition this time, which will include the heftier cooling solution of the GTX 680 allowing the GTX 670 FTW to run cooler and more silently. Finally, don’t forget that EVGA has probably the best warranty and customer service in the industry.

Oh, look! $10 rebate too! Niiiice!

Those on a budget who don’t require such a nice graphics card will do well with the Sapphire Radeon HD 7850. Excellent mid range card for the price.

 

Case – Antec One Computer Case

Out of every awesome piece of hardware being featured today, the one that really inspired me to do this gaming build (more than a week before July) is because of this case. Currently being sold at only a mere $39.99, the Antec One is undoubtedly an insane value especially considering the case is coming from a company as well known as Antec.

With tool-less design, front panel USB 3.0, painted interiors and more, it’s a top notch case from a top notch manufacturer for a price that’s practically unbeatable.

 

Boot Drive: OCZ Vertex 4 128GB SSD

While we usually end up going with the Crucial m4 for our top pick since it’s been such a great top tier SSD going for dirt cheap prices, it looks like OCZ has finally also dropped prices of their top end Vertex 4 SSD to match as well. Featuring high end 25nm IMFT synchronous MLC NAND, their own custom Indilinx firmware atop proven Marvell controller hardware also seen on the Crucial m4, excellent performance, and a industry leading 5 year warranty, the OCZ Vertex 4 is clearly a top pick. Read our full review here.

 

Optical Drive – OEM DVD Drive or OEM Blu Ray Drive (Any Manufacturer)

 

PSU – Corsair TX650 V2

Once again, we’ll be falling back on our trusty Corsair TX650. High quality Seasonic made power supply for a great price to boot. Those interested in going SLI with the GTX 670, don’t even worry about it. The TX650 will handle that just fine too!

Those interested in grabbing a modular power supply, check out the Corsair HX650.

 

Cooler – Cooler Master Hyper 212 Plus

$25 cooler that will work magic. Seriously though, at this price, there’s no cooler out there can that beat this thing.

 

OS – Windows 7 Home Premium 64 bit

 

Total price on Amazon (No tax and free shipping for most residents of the USA) for this build is $1,251.26, so we’re actually right in the middle of our $1,200 to $1,300 budget. If you don’t need an operating system, you can save an extra $100 on that as well, pushing the price to under $1,200. Not too shabby for a gaming PC that’ll do it all.

 

Remember, if you have any questions, need some help, or need to fit the build into your budget feel free to visit the forums at http://forums.custompcreview.com. Myself, or the community here will be more than happy to help you out with your own custom build or answer any computer questions you may have. If this build doesn’t fit your needs, feel free to drop by our Computer Builds section to find more computer builds.

Also, be sure to join us on FacebookTwitterGoogle Plus, or YouTube. Be updated on the latest news, reviews, tutorials, custom computer builds, and more!

 

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About the Author

Sam Chen

Editor-in-Chief

  • Zuan

    Hey Sam, I’ve read the motherboard has pretty poor USB 3.0 implementation, is this true?

    • http://www.custompcreview.com/ Sam Chen

      Nope. USB 3.0 implementation is fine. Anything specific you’re referring to?

  • Mike

    Can this be expanded to 16GB of RAM?

    • http://www.custompcreview.com/ Sam Chen

      Yup! Just buy another 8GB of memory (2x4GB sticks) and you’re good to go. Or even simpler, just buy two sets of the memory that’s recommended in the article.

      • Mike

        Thanks, I’m going to build this. It will be my first build. One more question. How would I be able to set this up to include wifi?

        • http://www.custompcreview.com/ Sam Chen

          You can either buy a USB wireless card or a PCIe wireless card… or the way I’d do it is to just grab the Z77X-UD5H Wifi Edition for a couple bucks more. That way you get both Bluetooth, Wifi and the extra features from the UD5H.

          http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B007R21JJA/ref=as_li_ss_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=390957&creativeASIN=B007R21JJA&linkCode=as2&tag=cupcre06-20

      • Mike

        Are you sure this is the correct motherboard and video card combination? http://tinyurl.com/d5exo27

        • http://www.custompcreview.com/ Sam Chen

          Shouldn’t be a problem as long as you’ve got an Ivy Bridge processor in there so that i5 3570K is what you want.

  • Ryan

    The 2.5 SSD drive will you need a bracket for it?

    • http://www.custompcreview.com/ Sam Chen

      Nope. The Antec One comes with support for up to two 2.5″ drives. Additionally, the OCZ Vertex 4 will come with a 2.5″ to 3.5″ adapter.

  • Ryan

    Instead of the gigabyte mother board would a Asus Sabertooth Z77 be better/same also would i have to buy a diffrent case/ cooler if i was to go for that motherboard

    • http://www.custompcreview.com/ Sam Chen

      The Sabertooth Z77 would be compatible with the rest of the system. It’s slightly more expensive, just depends on if you’re interested in that specific featureset/design. ASUS boards are good.

    • panther063

      I know you posted 2 years ago about this already, and probably would have swapped out the Gigabyte board twice by now too if you had gone that way.
      I would have recommended the Asrock Z77 board, it’s cheaper and seems to just keep going.
      I’ve read too many forums where certain brands have issues, Asrock isn’t one of them.
      The Asus Sabretooth range is designed for stability and long life too, they are a good choice.

  • Belal

    Can I replace the mentioned graphics card with the

    EVGA GeForce GTX 670 SuperClocked 4096MB GDDR5
    or even the Sapphire Radeon HD 7970 3GB DDR5?
    and i would like also to know which is better in the performance.
    Thanks in advance!

    • http://www.custompcreview.com/ Sam Chen

      Yup you can. They’ll have similar performance but it’ll depend on the game you play. Some games run faster on Nvidia cards and some run faster on AMD cards. Also, unless you’re running a triple monitor gaming system, you won’t need a graphics card with 4GB of memory. 2GB of video memory give you the same performance at resolutions under 1920×1200.

  • jon

    Hi i was just wondering if i go for this built and want to use nvidia surround what would i need to purchase in order to do that?

    • http://www.custompcreview.com/ Sam Chen

      You’ll need 3 monitors. Otherwise, the GTX 670 is ready for it. That said, if you have a couple more bucks to spend, you’ll want to get a beefier graphics card with more video memory.

      • jon

        What if i put in another GTX 670 ftw? will i be able to play on high or ultra settings?

        • http://www.custompcreview.com/ Sam Chen

          Yes, a second one should do the trick. I would recommend upgrading to something with a bit more video memory as I mentioned earlier though.

          Maybe a GTX 680 with 4GB video memory
          http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/B0083YF55U/cupcre06-20

          or a HD 7970 with 3GB video memory
          http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/B007JGARVU/cupcre06-20

          • jon

            i already have the GTX 670 FTW can i sli it with a gtx 680? or should i just stick to another gtx 670

          • http://www.custompcreview.com/ Sam Chen

            The best way to go is to stick in another identical GTX 670 FTW and put it in SLI.

          • jon

            oh alright thanks for the advice!

  • Luke

    What direction should we direct the fan on the motherboard? to the rear or to the top? It’s my first build.
    I bought this exact rig, thanks for this guide!

    • http://www.custompcreview.com/ Sam Chen

      I’d test out both configurations to see what works best, but generally the rear is where most people direct the fan from the CPU cooler.

  • Nemesis_Crab

    What storage drive would you recommend?

    • http://www.custompcreview.com/ Sam Chen

      Depends on how much storage you’ll need. The 1TB and 2TB Seagate Barracuda 7200RPM drives are priced very well at the moment.

      http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B005T3GRNW/ref=as_li_ss_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=390957&creativeASIN=B005T3GRNW&linkCode=as2&tag=cupcre06-20

      • Nemesis_Crab

        Thanks!!

  • Luke

    For the PSU, are you recommending the 650, 750, or 850 watt version and what style? I’m pretty sure that if you pick something other than the default on the amazon page and copy and paste a link, it doesn’t save your changes, and reverts back to the default. So you could have been recommending the 750 watt version all this time while everybody is buying the 650 watt one.

    • http://www.custompcreview.com/ Sam Chen

      I’m recommending the 650watt one. The TX650 is the 650watt one. The TX750 is the 750watt one.

  • Justin

    Hey Sam, I was wondering would a
    Seagate Barracuda ST1000DM003 1TB 7200 RPM 64MB Cache SATA 6.0Gb/s 3.5″ Internal Hard Drive -Bare Drive
    work with this build? I am new to computers and this is my first build.

    • http://www.custompcreview.com/ Sam Chen

      Hey Justin, yes it will work.

  • Alex

    I am sad that if I follow your build, when I add HDD and optical price, I am way over my budget for such a good graphic card with my local prices.

  • Noah

    Is there anything else i’ll need to buy for this build?

    • http://www.custompcreview.com/ Sam Chen

      Well, you’ll need a monitor, keyboard, mouse, speakers, headset, etc. If you need more storage space, a traditional hard drive or a larger SSD. Feel free to drop by the forums if you need some help.

      http://www.forums.custompcreview.com/forum.php

  • Dylan

    Just wanted to say thanks for all the PC builds Sam. Your info has really helped me to get started picking out my first build.

  • Isaac

    I’m planing on making this my first build and going with the 7850 video card to keep the price down, I found this 7850 on amazon, http://www.amazon.com/VisionTek-Radeon-Express-Graphics-900505/dp/B007KJ1URG/ref=cm_cr_pr_product_top, is there a difference between this one and the one you recommended besides saving $30. Thanks

    • http://www.custompcreview.com/ Sam Chen

      Nope. No difference, but I would recommend you go with the MSI Radeon 7850 Twin Frozr. It has way better cooling and right now there’s a $30 rebate making it only $189.99 AR.

      http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B007MLSGHE/ref=as_li_ss_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=390957&creativeASIN=B007MLSGHE&linkCode=as2&tag=cupcre06-20

  • Rufus

    Hey Sam I want to run all my games on the highest graphics(including crysis 1&2) do you think I should get this build or the best price/performance Gameing build under $1500? And I need a sound card with 7.1 surround sound at about $50-100, do you Have any suggestions?

  • Jared

    Im doing this build as my first. Ive read alot of the comments and questions below but still have a couple. Would the ASUS SABERTOOTH Z77 LGA 1155 (http://www.amazon.com/ASUS-SABERTOOTH-Z77-Intel-Motherboard/dp/B007RIFKUS/ref=lh_ni_t)
    be compatible with everything else in the build including the i5 3570k. I see alot of people using the i7 2600k with this board, should i use the i7? Mainly used for gaming and some CAD. Thank You.

    • http://www.custompcreview.com/ Sam Chen

      Yup. The ASUS Sabertooth Z77 is an excellent choice. It’ll work perfectly fine with the i5 3570K. In fact, it’s better suited since the Z77 board along with an Ivy Bridge processor will allow you to take advantage of some Ivy Bridge only features such as Intel powered USB 3.0 ports.

      If you want an i7 and you’re getting a Z77 motherboard, I’d recommend grabbing an i7 3770K instead of the i7 2600K.

      http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B007SZ0EOW/ref=as_li_ss_tl?ie=UTF8&tag=cupcre06-20&linkCode=as2&camp=1789&creative=390957&creativeASIN=B007SZ0EOW

  • Luke

    Hello everyone, I bought this EXACT pc setup all new parts with a 128GB ssd only no HDD. (the one listed above). I’m 99.9% sure everything is hooked up correctly because everything is working like a dream (it’s super fast) EXCEPT USB transfer speeds. USB transfers work but for some reason I can’t explain the speeds are even 2x slower than on my 2 year old cheapo laptop from wal-mart. The progress bar when sending files to a flash drive or external HDD are way off – it will say that it’s transferring at like 200mb/s or something ridiculous and actually take up to 9-13 minutes for a file that is under a gigabyte.

    I have reinstalled all drivers several times, making sure to get the right ones, and I’ve tried every USB port there is on the mobo and still the same results.

    Has anyone any idea what could be wrong?

    • http://www.custompcreview.com/ Sam Chen

      What kind of USB flash drive is it?

  • EB

    could i just not get an ssd just a 1 tb hard drive

  • DOZER

    i am planning on getting nearly identical to this build except for i am getting gtx 660 and also, will cooler master storm trooper case work good for this? and also, i was going to get a 256GB one and saw that crucial m4 is cheaper than ocz vertex 4 and was wondering if the crucial m4 was just as good for 30 dollars less or just pay the extra 30 for the vertex 4. thank you

  • Joe Perez

    I’m new to this scene, but eager to start. Is this still a good current build? I noticed it’s from July of last year.. How often do you guys come up with new builds?

  • Daniel Becher

    Uh i noticed that it was lagging a bit

  • Brian Blair

    I built one much cheaper than that. You don’t need a K model chip, Any non K i5 is just as good as any i7 in gaming, And better than anything AMD can offer. the 3470 is around $180 and a TZ77A mobo is $63, You can find a nice tower for $25 a CX600 for $59 a R9 270 that is better than the 7850 and almost as good as the GTX 670 And much cheaper at $169. You can do this on your own people I promise, You don’t have to listen to someone just because they say so.