Gaming Upgrade Kit stub

$962 Ivy Bridge Hardcore PC Gaming Build - May, 2012

Posted on May 6, 2012

It's time to showcase Intel's new 3rd Generation "Ivy Bridge" processors. In order to properly commemorate their release, we've decided to incorporate an Ivy Bridge CPU into this less-than-$1000 PC build. The Sandy Bridge line is still one of the most powerful CPU sets to-date, but Ivy Bridge's additions are perfect for those who skipped Sandy Bridge or are enthusiast builders. This system won't have any trouble playing games on max or near-max settings. Period.

Looking for something more affordable? Try out our $487 budget build from last month!


Here's the parts list --


Budget Parts ListNamePriceRebates/etc.Total
Video CardEVGA GTX 570 1280MB$300-$10$290
CPUIntel i5-3570k CPU (COMBO 1)$250-$15, $20 gift card
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Memory8GB 1600MHz Vengeance (COMBO 2)$50Free Shipping$50
MotherboardASRock Z77 Pro4 (COMBO 1)$120-$120
Power Supply650W Corsair PSU (COMBO 2)$90-$15, -$10 MIR
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Hard Drive1TB WD 7200RPM 32MB Cache HDD$90Free Shipping$90
Optical DriveSony Optical Drive$20-$3, Free Shipping$17
CaseCorsair Carbide 500R$140-$25, -$20MIR
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Optional Add-ons (pick and choose as budget allows)

Add-on Parts ListNamePriceRebates/etc.Combined Total
Operating System
Windows 7 64-bit Home Premium$100Free Shipping$1062



Video Card:

The GTX 570 was one of the top cards of its generation, and despite being "old," it's still a formidable card in the gaming market. This card packs 1280MB of GDDR5 RAM, making it a bit more resilient and allowing it to run all the newer games at high resolutions and ultra or high settings. With the recent release of nVidia's GTX 600-series cards and general age of the market, the price of the GTX 570 has dropped down significantly, making it a great card for a mid-high priced build like this one.


Well, it's finally here: The Ivy Bridge line of CPUs from Intel. We picked out the i5-3570k, priced similarly to the Sandy Bridge 2500k, putting it in the perfect balance between power and price. As we mentioned in our previously-linked Ivy Bridge overview, the 3570k is not hyper-threaded, means it operates at 4 physical cores and 4 logical threads (compared to the i7's 4 cores/8 threads), but this doesn't impact gaming since most games are limited both in core utilization and lack hyperthreading support. The i5 k-series is also great for overclockers, since the "K" means it comes unlocked and ready to overclock.

The i5-3570k ships at 3.4GHz (3.8GHz turbo) and will go nicely with our Z77 motherboard. It's fitted with 6MB of L3 Cache and uses the newest 22nm manufacturing tech. Keep in mind that the Ivy Bridge is a 'tick' in the tick-tock cadence, so the next iteration of CPUs (Haswell) should be significantly more powerful.


The Corsair Vengeance series RAM sticks have a killer look, and not only that, these come clocked in at 1600MHz -- more than enough for gaming -- and 8 GB should suffice for most gaming needs. If you're using professional applications or run multiple web browsers and never close tabs, you may want to look into 16GB instead.

The only downside to this RAM is that the heat sink is quite big, so getting four sticks in close proximity to a massive, aftermarket heatsink may cause problems. Look into low-profile RAM to skirt this issue.


ASRock's PRO4 Z77 motherboard comes equipped to handle all the new perks of Intel's CPUs, supporting a wide variety of memory types (1600 and 1333 natively and OC speeds up to 2800MHz+), PCI-e 3.0, and Intel Rapid Start, Lucid, Smart Connect, and UEFI. This board is excellent for gaming, and unless you plan on going with a multi-GPU configuration (grab a different board for that), it's ready for any gaming endeavors may be undertaken.

Power Supply:

This 650W Corsair PSU combos with our Vengeance Memory, giving a clean $15 instant discount. 650W is perfect for the components we've opted for in this build and also gives growing room for future additions; if you are considering CrossFire or SLI, ask us in the comments to help determine the power requirements of your multi-card array.


HDD prices have finally returned to some level of acceptance for larger capacity drives, and right now NCIX has a great deal on WD's 1TB hard drive at 7200RPM and with 32MB of cache. It's an admirable start to any gaming system. We'd recommend partitioning the drive into a Windows partition and gaming/documents partition to make future changes easier.

Use this code at checkout to get $10 off: 58881-1018.

Optical Drive:

This drive is just like any other optical drive: it reads discs. This particular one has a decent-ish discount on it and includes free shipping, so saving a few bucks on obsolete hardware is always nice.

Use this code at checkout for $3 off: SHRUN55B.


The Corsair 500R is a cool-looking, somewhat flashy mid-tower with its well-placed white LEDs and ample cable management. The Carbide 500R also comes with support for a great cooling system, whether that's liquid or mechanical. Supporting a total of ten fans, and shipping with a 200mm, 2x120mm front, and 1x120mm rear white LED fans, there's tons of room for growth. It comes with front panel USB 3.0 support (which will be nice with the USB3.0-native Z77 board), as well as enough room for the biggest video cards currently out there, and if you decide to glue several cards together to look more powerful, you can remove one of the HDD cages to make more room for your improvised bat mobile.

If you are looking for a more "professional" or discrete feel to your case, check out Corsair's 550D case. It also Combo's nicely with the processor.

Use this code at checkout for $25 off: EMCNENJ39.


That's it for our first Ivy Bridge build! If you want more information on Ivy Bridge, be sure to check out our features exploration of this gen and price comparison articles. If you have any questions at all, please let us know! That's what we're here for. Comment below or hit our forums for more in-depth support; be sure to post pictures or send them to our facebook account when you're done! We'll share 'em with the community!

~FJ "Trymutos" Ybarra.