How to build a premium PC

For our premium PC, we allowed ourselves a budget of £1,000 – and we got pretty close!

How to build a premium PC

As the foundation of our high-end system, we chose the Core i5-2500K processor. We considered the top-of-the-range Core i7-2600K, but that costs almost £80 more and the performance benefit isn’t that great. Since the 2500K is unlocked, it can be overclocked to achieve excellent performance – so long as you have a suitable motherboard.

We chose our A-List favourite, the feature-packed MSI P67A-GD53, and partnered it with a Corsair A70 cooler to keep temperatures as low as possible. This let us push up the processor from its stock frequency of 3.3GHz to 4.6GHz, for a remarkable benchmark score of 1.1.


CPU: Intel Core i5-2500K £172.99
Cooler: Corsair A70 £32.99
Motherboard: MSI P67A-GD53 £107.99
RAM: Graphics Card: MSI Nvidia GeForce GTX 570 £259.99
SSD: OCZ Agility 3 60GB £82.99
Hard disk: Samsung Spinpoint F4 2TB £57.99
Optical drive: LiteOn iHBS112-37 £79.99
Case: Cooler Master CM-690 II Advanced £84.98
Power supply: Antec TruePower New Modular 650W £71.99
Total Cost: £1,005.99

We decided to equip our premium PC with 8GB of RAM, to ensure our system could accommodate even the most demanding tasks. We also chose a SSD as the system drive. We opted for an OCZ Agility 3 drive, costing only £83 for the 60GB model.

This is plenty of room for Windows, but we also wanted somewhere to store our personal data: for this we chose a Samsung Spinpoint F4, costing £58 for the 2TB model. For archival and media duties, we picked the LiteOn iHBS112-37 Blu-ray writer. It’s twice the price of a regular Blu-ray reader, but we decided to treat ourselves.

The final key to performance was the graphics card. Here we pushed the boat out and opted for Nvidia’s super-powerful GeForce GTX 570.

At £260 for an MSI-branded card this was easily the most expensive single component in our PC, but it drove 3D performance through the roof – with medium detail at 1,366 x 768, Crysis averaged 130fps.

Even when we pushed the settings right up to High Detail at 1,920 x 1,080, the game remained playable at an average of 83fps.

To wrap it all up, we chose a Cooler Master CM 690 II Advanced case: this tower offers a capacious motherboard tray and tool-free drive bays with handy, side-facing caddies (some of which can be removed).

Our power supply was the Antec TruePower New Modular 650W, providing enough juice for our high-power components, and a modular design that let us detach unused cables and keep our case tidy.

We were left with a system capable of truly excellent 2D and 3D performance. It isn’t quite the fastest we’ve seen: in last month’s Ultimate PCs Labs (see issue 204, p130), we saw systems achieving even higher benchmark scores, with larger SSDs, multiple graphics cards and twice the RAM – not to mention extravagant water-cooling systems and luxuries such as wireless networking adapters and discrete audio cards.

Such systems, however, cost £2,000 and up. The system that we’ve assembled here (in this case, sourcing our parts from Overclockers barely nudges over £1,000, yet it will tear through desktop applications and 3D games at lightning speed.

How to build your own PC

Choosing your parts and building your PC
Move Windows to your new PC
How to build a value PC
How to build an all-rounder
How to build a premium machine

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