Building a PC for Diablo III – Intel i7 Core Sandy Bridge CPU

Deciding which CPU to purchase for your new gaming rig to play Diablo III is no easy feat. There are so many options and variety of CPUs with odd names and lots of numbers that it goes to the point it reads as a incomprehensible foreign language or plain Klingon.

That’s not a cool thing, because people who don’t know the differences between each CPU might end up buying a mobile CPU for their Desktop computer by mistake, or an older version of the Desktop CPU.

Following up on the previous article titled Building a PC for Diablo III – EVGA Z68 SLI Motherboard, the EVGA Intel Z68 SLI Mobo supports the Intel i5 Core (mid-end CPU) and the Intel i7 Core (high-end CPU). However, gamers that play intensive video games like StarCraft II, Diablo III, Crysis 2, and other video games should definitely look out for the high-end CPUs: Intel i7 Core for maximum processing power.

Another factor to clock in on when deciding which Intel i7 Core CPU to buy is its code-name.

The Intel i7 Core (codename: Bloomfield, Lynnfield, Clarksfield, Arrandale, and Gulftown) were the first-generation released late 2008 and mid-2010.

Don’t even look at those when building a new gaming rig. Those are outdated in comparison with what’s available today for the same price.

The latest CPUs are codenamed Sandy Bridge, known also as the Intel i7 Core (Second Generation).

The Build-it-Yourself beginners are going to ask — what gives? What’s the difference? The first generation Intel i7 Core CPUs uses the LGA 1366 socket and LGA 1156.

The second generation Intel i7 Core Sandy Bridge CPUs use the LGA 1155 socket. It also features Intel® HD Graphics 3000.

Imagine trying to fit a circle box into a square hole. The CPU pins just don’t fit into the motherboard CPU socket. You would have a paperweight so to speak if you buy a Z68 motherboard which only supports the LGA 1155 CPUs and mistakenly you choose a first generation Intel i7 Core CPU.

There is another factor to look at when looking at the name of a CPU. The Intel i7 Core (Sandy Bridge) comes in three flavors: Core i7-2600, 2600K and 2600S. Some might have a 26XX variable. So, err, which should I get?

The suffix after the 2600 model number designates the function of each particular CPU. For example, the 2600K has an unlocked multiplier, and the 2600S is designed for low-power consumption. What would happen to a gamer who goes with 2600S? No-brainer.

The Intel i7-2600 (3.4GHz) and the i7-2600S (2.8GHz) cost the same: $ 295.99. The Intel i7 2600K (3.4GHz) costs $314.99 — merely $19 bucks more for a unlocked CPU. In short:

1. don’t get the “17-2600S” version for gaming – (low-power is teh sux)
2. you can overclock the i7-2600K (3.4GHz) up to (zomg!) 4.5GHz (unlocked CPU).
3. Get the 2600 (3.4GHz) — with no suffix — if you don’t care about overclocking.

Building your own gaming rig can be expensive in comparison to what DELL, HP, Acer, Gateway and other companies ship. Or what you might find in Best Buy and other national retailers.

The key is that you are in full control of every aspect and quality of your computer parts when you build it yourself — including the RAM, CPU, Motherboard, and Graphic Card.

Some of them provide options to build your rig, but you have a narrow choice window limited to what they offer versus what you wish as a gamer.

Thus, be prepared to see eye-popping prices when it comes to buying a CPU fit for Gamers.

The Intel i7 Core is a high-end CPU, and gaming fits the bill. I hand-picked two of the three available CPU flavors. You can read the full specs at the bottom of this page. Choose your poison of Intel i7 Core Sandy Bridge (Second Generation) CPUs:

As commentcava suggested, in the comments section, gamers have another CPU option: the Intel Core i5. It’s a mid-range CPU for video and app performance. It’s nigh a $100 cheaper than the Intel Core i7. There are several Intel Core i5 flavors with a variety of suffixes, but I’d rather recommend the suffix “K” which means an unlocked CPU for overclockers. The unlocked version costs merely $4 more than the non-suffix version, no biggie in recommending it. CPU specs at the bottom of the page.

Technology keeps evolving and enhancing computing processes. It’s up to you to upgrade into the EVGA Z68 SLI motherboard and the Intel i7 Core (Sandy Bridge quad-core) now, or wait until the next wave of upgrades.

CPU Cooler

Many gamers buy cookie-cutter computers and forget to replace the stock CPU fan and to use a thermal paste.

I learned this the hard way a couple years ago when I built my rig. The motherboard would auto-shutdown at boot. EVGA motherboards have a built-in temperature LCD display, so it wasn’t hard to figure out what the problem was. Once the CPU reaches 86F degrees, the motherboard auto-shutdown to protect the mobo and CPU. When booting, the CPU works hard to load up the operating system and its processes spiking temperature up to 86F.

Now that you have your favorite flavor of the second generation Sandy Bridge Intel i7 Core, there are two important things to add to your gaming rig wishlist.

First rule when building your own gaming rig: Get a thermal grease and replace the stock CPU fan.

There are many options to look up out there when it comes to CPU fans. If you prefer air CPU coolers, EVGA recently released their own version. Considering EVGA builds motherboards and graphic cards for overclockers — I lean to think EVGA engineers know what to look for in a CPU fan.

The EVGA Superclock CPU Cooler is compatible with the Socket 775, 1156, 1366 and what we care about here: the 1155 (Sandy Bridge second-generation). It costs $49.99.

The EVGA Superclock CPU Cooler has Aluminum fins to absorb and distribute cool air. Just looking at the design tells you this fan is unique compared to other stock fans and professional fans.

The blades are thinner, longer and narrower than anything you see out there in the market. It has seven blades. Airflow speeds can be controlled through BIOS settings. It does 750-2500RPM / 26-84CFM to keep your Intel i7 Core CPU cool. EVGA guarantees this cooler keeps your computer 20 degrees lower than any stock fan cooler.

The second most important thing for a CPU is the thermal grease you must place on the CPU itself before you place the EVGA Superclock CPU cooler or other choice of fan.

Model: EVGA Superclock CPU Cooler
Part No.: M020-00-000234
Dimensions (HxWxD): 6.0×5.3×3.6 inches (152x135x91mm)
Weight: 1.14lbs (0.51kg)
Socket Support:
Intel: LGA 775/1155/1156/1366
AMD: 754/939/F/AM2/AM3
Fin Material: Aluminum
Heatpipes: 8mm Copper
Fan:

  • Size: 120x120x25mm
  • Control: via motherboard PWM
  • Voltage: 12v Max
  • Current: 0.32A
  • Noise Range: 13.2-41.5dBA
  • Speed Range: 750-2500 RPM
  • Airflow Range: 26-84 CFM
  • Life: 30,000 Hours
  • Warranty: 1 year parts and labor

The EVGA Superclock CPU Cooler costs $49.99, but take in mind the fan comes conveniently with a thermal grease paste compound in its packaging box. It usually costs an extra $ 8.00 to $19.00 when you buy the thermal paste separately.

The EVGA Superclock CPU Cooler performs as good as other professional fan coolers which cost $20 – $70 more, making its $49.99 price tag valuable. Under load on a 3.5GHz computer you get approximately 60.50 degrees Celsius, and 32.25 degrees Celsius while idle.

In the liquid cooling department, the Antec Kühler H20 920 Liquid CPU Cooling System costs twice what you would pay for the EVGA Superclock CPU cooler and cools your CPU one degree lower according to LegitReviews.

Intel i7 Core Sandy-Bridge Specs Comparison

Highlight rows with differences Intel® Core™ i7-2600 Processor (8M Cache, 3.40 GHz)

2nd Generation Intel® Core™ i7 Processor Logo
Intel® Core™ i7-2600K Processor (8M Cache, 3.40 GHz)

2nd Generation Intel® Core™ i7 Processor Logo
Code Name Sandy Bridge Sandy Bridge

Essentials

Status Launched Launched
Launch Date Q1’11 Q1’11
Processor Number i7-2600 i7-2600K
# of Cores 4 4
# of Threads 8 8
Clock Speed 3.4 GHz 3.4 GHz
Max Turbo Frequency 3.8 GHz 3.8 GHz
Cache 8 MB Intel® Smart Cache 8 MB Intel® Smart Cache
Bus/Core Ratio 34 34
Bus Type DMI DMI
System Bus 5 GT/s 5 GT/s
Instruction Set 64-bit 64-bit
Instruction Set Extensions SSE4.1/4.2, AVX SSE4.1/4.2, AVX
Embedded Options Available Yes No
Lithography 32 nm 32 nm
Max TDP 95 W 95 W
Recommended Channel Price $294.00 $317.00

Memory Specifications

Max Memory Size (dependent on memory type) 32 GB 32 GB
Memory Types DDR3-1066/1333 DDR3-1066/1333
# of Memory Channels 2 2
Max Memory Bandwidth 21 GB/s 21 GB/s
ECC Memory Supported No No

Graphics Specifications

Processor Graphics Yes Yes
Graphics Model Intel® HD Graphics 2000 Intel® HD Graphics 3000
Graphics Base Frequency 850 MHz 850 MHz
Graphics Max Dynamic Frequency 1.35 GHz 1.35 GHz
Intel® Quick Sync Video Yes Yes
Intel® InTru™ 3D Technology Yes Yes
Intel® Insider™ Yes Yes
Intel® Wireless Display No No
Intel® Flexible Display Interface (Intel® FDI) Yes Yes
Intel® Clear Video HD Technology Yes Yes
Dual Display Capable Yes Yes

Expansion Options

PCI Express Revision 2.0 2.0
# of PCI Express Ports 1 1

Package Specifications

Max CPU Configuration 1 1
TCASE 72.6°C 72.6°C
Package Size 37.5mm x 37.5mm 37.5mm x 37.5mm
Sockets Supported LGA1155 LGA1155
Low Halogen Options Available Yes Yes

Advanced Technologies

Intel® Turbo Boost Technology 2.0 2.0
Intel® vPro Technology Yes No
Intel® Hyper-Threading Technology Yes Yes
Intel® Virtualization Technology (VT-x) Yes Yes
Intel® Virtualization Technology for Directed I/O (VT-d) Yes No
Intel® Trusted Execution Technology Yes No
AES New Instructions Yes Yes
Intel® 64 Yes Yes
Idle States Yes Yes
Enhanced Intel SpeedStep® Technology Yes Yes
Thermal Monitoring Technologies Yes Yes
Intel® Fast Memory Access Yes Yes
Intel® Flex Memory Access Yes Yes
Execute Disable Bit Yes Yes

Intel Core i5 (Sandy Bridge) Specs

Essentials

Status Launched
Launch Date Q1’11
Processor Number i5-2500K
# of Cores 4
# of Threads 4
Clock Speed 3.3 GHz
Max Turbo Frequency 3.7 GHz
Intel® Smart Cache 6 MB
Bus/Core Ratio 33
DMI 5 GT/s
Instruction Set 64-bit
Instruction Set Extensions SSE4.1/4.2, AVX
Embedded Options Available No
Lithography 32 nm
Max TDP 95 W
Recommended Channel Price $216.00

Memory Specifications

Max Memory Size (dependent on memory type) 32 GB
Memory Types DDR3-1066/1333
# of Memory Channels 2
Max Memory Bandwidth 21 GB/s
ECC Memory Supported No

Graphics Specifications

Processor Graphics Intel® HD Graphics 3000
Graphics Base Frequency 850 MHz
Graphics Max Dynamic Frequency 1.1 GHz
Intel® Quick Sync Video Yes
Intel® InTru™ 3D Technology Yes
Intel® Insider™ Yes
Intel® Wireless Display No
Intel® Flexible Display Interface (Intel® FDI) Yes
Intel® Clear Video HD Technology Yes
Dual Display Capable Yes

Expansion Options

PCI Express Revision 2.0
# of PCI Express Ports 1

Package Specifications

Max CPU Configuration 1
TCASE 72.6°C
Package Size 37.5mm x 37.5mm
Sockets Supported LGA1155
Low Halogen Options Available Yes

Advanced Technologies

Intel® Turbo Boost Technology 2.0
Intel® vPro Technology No
Intel® Hyper-Threading Technology No
Intel® Virtualization Technology (VT-x) Yes
Intel® Virtualization Technology for Directed I/O (VT-d) No
Intel® Trusted Execution Technology No
AES New Instructions Yes
Intel® 64 Yes
Idle States Yes
Enhanced Intel SpeedStep® Technology Yes
Thermal Monitoring Technologies Yes
Intel® Fast Memory Access Yes
Intel® Flex Memory Access Yes
Execute Disable Bit Yes

Building a PC for Diablo III

 

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medievaldragon

Tomas Hernandez is owner of Blizzplanet.com since 2003. I post news about World of Warcraft, StarCraft II, Diablo III, Hearthstone, Overwatch, Heroes of the Storm, Blizzard Careers, and the Warcraft film.

Blizzplanet is a leading fansite covering news about upcoming Blizzard Entertainment licensed products. I also post previews and reviews. I have interviewed book writers and Blizzard game developers.

I was previously an employee of the OGaming Network (2003), and IncGamers (2008-2010). I was a guest newsposter for GosuGamers (World of Warcraft) a few years ago and for Diablofans.com (formerly Diablo3.com)

***Fans who would love to watch Blizzard-related panels and appreciate our efforts can support Blizzplanet’s patreon in a monthly-basis, or a one-time basis. Our staff are volunteer fans like you. Your donatives will help us travel to all the Blizzard events we attend year-round.

  • Savage

    Wasn’t sure how to directly message you, but the top link (to motherboard topic) actually links back to this page.

  • Thanks a bunch. You can contact me at the “Contact Us or Submit News” link located at the right-menu, below the square ad banner.

  • commentcava

    Simple precisions, the i5 is midrange, the i3 is the low-end, also the i5 is a i7 without HyperThreading which won’t benefit 99% of the games out there anyway. I haven’t read the complete thing, I just hope you don’t tell your readers to go for SLI/XFire on top of that, those aren’t good recommendations. A i5-2500 and one 560GTX run SC2 at max settings in 1080P easily over 60FPS, and the same will be true of Diablo 3.

    • I thought i3 was mobile-only, so discarded it as a Desktop CPU. After your comment, I went to the intel site, and it’s indeed a Desktop low-end CPU. i5 the mid-range. Thanks for the correction.

      I suggested the i7 as a hardcore gaming CPU, not only for Blizzard games, but also for intensive games like Crysis 2 at max settings, and others.

      On other topic, for these article series, I don’t think I will go into SLI configurations. I know each person, including IT technicians, have their own opinion on which company, and motherboard to pick.

      I shared my own personal choice: EVGA. Only problem for those not interested in SLI, is that EVGA doesn’t seem to have non-SLI motherboards. Thus, why I mentioned the Z68 SLI Micro — which is as close in price range as other companies’ mobos.

      If someone wishes to venture into SLI later, they already have the expansion choice onboard.

      I have an X58 SLI since early 2009, and I haven’t gone SLI. I was attracted to it merely because it was EVGA, and if the mobo dies, I knew I was protected by the warranty, good tech support, several driver updates year-round, etc. I had an ASUS K8N-E Socket 754 mobo, and it would be a miracle if I got two BIOS updates in the five or so years I had it before it died. So I saw going EVGA SLI more as an investment than anything else.

      I will listen to feedback and recommendations though. I.e. the i5 model and graphic card suggested. Thanks.