James’s Rig (High End) : 4 July 2011 – 8 September 2011 (latest build here)


Yes thats’s right I have a ‘High End Rig’ also and yes it’s identical to Eric’s).  The reason for this is that allows for some great back to back testing.  Also I demand a high performing rig, my motto is ‘if you can’t turn all the settings on, it’s time to upgrade, simple!”.

I mainly play FPS games and some of my favorites are (Stalker, Metro 2033 and CoD), I also seem to be unusual (Eric, Terry!) in that I dont just play these games I finish almost all of them!  This has obviously seen me sat in front of my PC for many a year and in that time I have learnt a great deal of what makes up a great gaming rig…

All of James’s testing/gaming will be carried out on a Dell Ultrasharp U2311H 23″ Widescreen LCD (1920×1080) Monitor.

  • Current Rig Settings/Benchmark Results:
  • CPU Speed – 4.3GHz CPU Voltage – Auto (1.272v) CPU Base Clock – 100MHz CPU Multiplyer – 43
    Memory Speed – 1600MHz Memory Voltage – Auto (1.5v) Memory Timings – 6-8-6-24 2T
    GPU Speed – 783MHz GPU Memory Speed – 2010MHz


    3DMark 11 – 10471 Unigine Heaven – 1405 Metro 2033 – 49.33 FPS


  • The 8 components of the gaming rig:
  • Case Silverstone Fortress FT02b
    Silverstone FT02b
    The case is a more difficult component to describe here and will be analysed further in a later article. The case was chosen for its ingenious design (the motherboard has been rotated 90 degrees and the expansion slots are now at the top (heat rises yes!)) and the fact that it is touted as being one of the coolest cases (if not the coolest) on the market. I can confirm that the components within the case do indeed seem to remain nice and cool with my CPU running at close to 4.9GHz the temps never rise above 80 degrees. There is one major flaw (among other minor) in the design of this case and that can be seen here (what were they thinking!)…
    Power Supply Corsair Professional Series™ Gold AX1200 High Performance 1200W
    Corsair AX1200
    The power supply for a high end gaming rig such as this needs to do a little more than just work. Most importantly it needs to remain stable and deliver constant voltages to all of the components of the rig all while the rig is heavily overclocked. The Corsair AX1200 seems to do this without breaking a sweat, although the 1200W version of the AX range is a little overkill for this rig it ensures that the PSU is never under excess load and also remains relatively cool. To date the PSU has performed faultlessly and I would buy another, but quality does come at cost…
    Motherboard Asus P8P67 Pro Intel P67 DDR3 (Sandy Bridge Socket LGA1155)

    Asus P8P67 Pro
    The Asus P8P67 Pro motherboard (currently running BIOS 1204) is great and has provided all that I could want from a Sandy Bridge motherboard. But I must also say that it has provided something odd also, the ‘multi boot bug’, more details on that can be seen here. Although not right I consider it to be a nuisance rather than a problem. The greatest assets of the MB can be seen via it’s one click EFI BIOS update that overclocks the CPU to 4.3GHz and it’s ability to run my Core-i5 2500K at close to 4.9GHz all with rock solid stability…
    CPU Intel Core i5-2500K 3.30GHz (Sandybridge Socket LGA1155)

    Intel Core i5-2500K
    The CPU really is a stunner due to it’s stock (3.3GHz) performance being stunning and its overclocked performance (up to 4.9GHz) being out of this world. Paying an additional £100 for the Core-i7 2600K will also net you no real benefit for gaming. We have proven in this article that really you don’t even need to run the CPU at much more than 4.3GHz. My rig is now running at 4.327GHz (using a 103 Base Clock) by utilizing the ‘Asus optimal’ setting in the ASUS P8P67 BIOS. What more can I say other than awesome, maybe I should buy a spare…
    CPU Cooler Corsair A50

    Corsair A50
    The cooler seems rather well ‘cool’, sorry couldn’t resist! It’s actually quite a compact cooler with only 3 heat pipes (although they seem quite thick) yet its cooling efficiency is extremely good. Also its compact size also means that there’s less chance of it fouling on motherboard heatsinks and RAM. The cooler managed to keep my Core-i5 2500K at 80C or less while overclocked to 4.85GHz while running Prime95, not bad for a £30 cooler…
    Memory (RAM) G.Skill RipJawsX 4GB (2x2GB) DDR3 PC3-12800C6 1600MHz 6-8-6-24 Dual Channel Kit

    G.Skill RipJawsX
    This memory was chosen due to its flexibility and it’s relatively low voltage (1.55-1.65V) as Sandy Bridge is not keen on high voltage memory. The RAM is capable of running at either 2133MHz at 9-10-9-28 or 1600MHz at 6-8-6-24. I am running this RAM at the 1600MHz setting with the tight timings, although having done some testing with RAM speeds and timing there really is not much in it…
    Graphics 2x Palit nVIDIA GeForce GTX 580 1536MB GDDR5 PCI-Express in SLI configuration

    Palit GeForce GTX 580
    Now we come to the most important part of the Gaming Rig, the graphics card or in this case cards. If there’s a component to spend your money on then this is it, as you can see I did spend a lot! At the time of purchase the NVIDIA GTX 580 was the fastest single card on the planet, so that made the choice easy as I was building a high end rig. After researching into NVIDIA’s SLI technology and seeing some games scaling by almost 100% it was decided to buy two. As overclocking cards in SLI setup seems to produce a great deal of heat (mainly due to the proximity of the cards) it was decided to go for the stock cards that can be seen opposite. As you can gather the performance of these cards is awesome…
    Storage (HDD/SSD) Crucial RealSSD C300 128GB 2.5″ SATA 6Gb/s Solid State Drive

    Crucial RealSSD C300 128GB
    I took a fair bit of convincing before buying this Solid State Drive (SSD) as I had always had 2 separate Hard Disks Drives (HDD) in the past for my Gaming Rig.  Mainly I had two concerns one was cost, although this IS a high end rig £200 for 128GB of storage is a lot of cash.  The other was performance; I was concerned that as both the OS and my games would reside of the same drive (for the first time!)  that maybe if/when the OS access the drive at the same time as a game then I would see some stuttering.  After seeing (and chatting with Eric) that the access speed of the SSD was so high I decided to go for it.  Well I think we made the right decision as the performance of the drive is best described as hysterical (yes it’s that fast, check it out here).  Also if you are on a tighter budget it’s worth checking out Terry’s article here

  • Peripherals:
  • Monitor Dell Ultrasharp U2311H 23″ Widescreen LCD

    Dell Ultrasharp U2311H
    I have upgraded my monitor from a Samsung 22” (1680×1050) to this Dell as I thought that as I now had so much graphics horsepower I might as well have an HD screen as a minimum. I always would advise caution when going for large resolutions screens as you need the horsepower to shift them (note that Metro 2003 avg FPS is only 49 on this rig, a higher resolution would bring that down even further!). It’s worth noting that this screen is an IPS based panel and only 23” so I haven’t gained that much real estate. On the whole I’m very pleased with the monitor as it has no dead pixels and the picture quality is very good. But it’s worth saying that the screen has not blown me away, but hey I only paid £200 for it…
    Keyboard Steelseries Merc Stealth

    Steelseries Merc Stealth
    I have been using one of these keyboards for around 4 years and I think it’s great. So great in fact that I have just bought another one in case it packs up. Before this I had a Zboard but got bored with buying/swapping keysets. I love the butterfly WASD setup and could never go back to a normal keyboard again, but bear in mind that it takes a little getting used to at first (Eric!). The main keyboard has a full UK QWERTY setup and supports audio, USB and more importantly is illuminated (blue, red or purple) for those late night gaming sessions…
    Mouse ROCCAT Kone[+]
    ROCCAT Kone[+] One thing that I never thought I would do was to move away from a Razer DeathAdder, but one day I got to review the ROCCAT Kone[+]. As you can see from the review I was so impressed, I kept it (lucky me!).
    Headset ROCCAT Kave

    ROCCAT Kaves
    After my old Razer Barracuda eventually gave up the ghost after about 4 years of service it was time to buy a new headset. Even though I had recently reviewed the Razer Carcharias and the Corsair HS1 headsets, I ended up buying a pair of ROCCAT Kaves. Within days of trialling this headset (Eric lent me his) I was convinced the the feeling of spacial awareness in game was definitely better than any headset that I had used in the past. More here

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