Build your own super fast 'Hexacore' barebones PC

Build your own super fast 'Hexacore' barebones PC

Summary: Want to put together a super fast desktop system using the latest components? Here are the plans for a system that will give you the top-dog bragging rights ... for a while at any rate! Oh, and you'll get the cutting edge performance at the best price possible.


Want to put together a super fast desktop system using the latest components? Here are the plans for a system that will give you the top-dog bragging rights ... for a while at any rate! Oh, and you'll get the cutting edge performance at the best price possible.

This system will be built around Intel's latest CPU - the six-core Core i7 980x Extreme Edition.

Note: At the time of writing, these CPUs aren't generally available for retail sale, but review pieces are making the rounds. These CPUs should be hitting the shelves shortly.


As I've already mentioned, the CPU that I'll be using here is Intel's first six-core (or hexacore) Core i7 980x Extreme Edition. This is a 3.33GHz part that can be Turbo Boosted up to a whopping 3.6GHz. It has six cores, which when combined with Hyper-Threading makes a whopping 12 threads available. Add to this 12MB of L3 cache, triple-channel DDR3-1066 memory interface, 130W TDP, and a brand-new stock cooler.

Six cores/12 threads offers an insane amount of power, more than the average user can hope to utilize. But having more power than you can use has never put off hardcore enthusiasts in the past!

Price: $999


Technically, the 980x "should" work with any Socket LGA1366 motherboard that's had a BIOS upgrade to make it "Gulftown" compatible (if you've not updated the BIOS in the last few weeks, go look for an update). That said, if you're putting down $1,000 on a CPU, you should look for a motherboard that offers you the best possible performance.

The motherboard I've chosen for this build in Gigabyte's GA-X58A-UD3R, which is not only robust and reliable, has a tweakable BIOS, and complements the 980x well, but also has advanced features such as USB 3.0 support.

An excellent board to go with your 980x!

Price: $210

Next -->

Graphics Card

This build needs a serious GPU, and they don't get any more serious that the ATI Radeon HD 5970. These cards are the ultimate, offering DirectX 11 support, and the ability to spread your game across three screens using Eyefinity.

The HD 5970 is basically two HD 5870 cards crammed onto a single circuit board. Performance is defendant on driver support for a particular game, but in my testing the HD 5970 seems to be consistently faster than the 5870 ... and it should be for the price!

Price: Around $700


When dealing with a CPU like the 980x, if you're going to get into a bit of overclocking you want to make sure that the RAM doesn't become the limiting factor. So here I've gone for 6GB (3 x 2GB) of Corsair Dominator GT RAM.

These modules are super fast, ultra-low latency and hand-picked to make sure they working right up to the tolerances.

Price: $480

Hard Drive

This system screams out to have a solid-state drive (SSD) fitted!

One of the best SSDs on the market now is the 120GB OCZ Vertex drive. It's not the fastest about (OCZ have a Vertex EX which uses faster SLC or Single-Level Cell flash memory, but the performance does not justify the price jump), but this MLC (Multi-Level Cell) flash drive will offer plenty of performance and will be able to easily keep up with the rest of your hardware.

Price: $330

Power Supply Unit (PSU)

The final component of this build that I'm going to give you is the PSU. You don't need a fusion reactor for this kind of build, but you do need a pretty hefty PSU in the region of 600 to 800 Watts.

For this build I've chosen a Zalman ZM750-HP 750W, which is a fully-featured PSU that offers you everything you'd need for a system like the one we're building here.

Price: $180

Barebones price: $2899

You do need to add a few bits (a chassis, optical drive, OS, monitor, peripherals ...), but this super-powerful Core i7 "hexacore" system will leave other systems eating its dust.

... and before you ask, yes, this system will play Crysis ... really well!

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Topics: Software, Hardware, Processors

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  • Dude when you are going to build this?

    DTS, Linux Advocate
  • I will build it when the cost of the components

    are about 1/3rd of that or less.

    Edit: So that will be in about 6-8 months.
  • Absurd pricing and for what to get 10FPS more?

    Those prices are out of control. Here when the
    trend for
    the last few years has been commoditization, and
    hardware costs... Intel goes ahead and decides
    to charge
    even more of a premium for their products.

    Of course you could trim much of your price to
    be sub
    $2k, with no SSD, a cheaper pwr supply, and more
    realistic vid card, etc... It's still a $1000+
    when only talking the MB, CPU, and RAM!
    • Law of diminishing returns

      I'm just a little surprised at the reaction about cost. Always keep in mind that with computers, as is the case pretty much with most, if not all technologically based things, there is the law of diminishing returns in regard to comparing the amounts of money spent to the increase in performance gained. Simply put; if you want to go ultra on anything, your going to pay ultra on price but you can almost always save ultra by just lowering the performance margin a couple notches.

      Whats the use in complaining about costs when you start looking at anything in the "ultra" category? Its like anything, you shouldn't be at all surprised if ultra cost more then its worth to you. Ultra in many products is often reserved for those with more money then they know what to do with, or reserved for those who simply want ultra bad enough that they do whatever it takes to get the funds together. But complaining that ultra seems overpriced is pointless.

      Of course ultra is overpriced as compared to the performance increase you get from moving up from sub ultra. Thats why they call it ultra, its where the law of diminishing returns hits home.
      • You don't complain about the price of a Bugatti Veyron. (nt)

        • bugatti

          Hey where I live this is $5583.00. If you can ,buy. If I could I would but for now the ol 6600 p5k and 8800gt will keep me in the game

      • Bleeding Edge

        This is more a bleeding edge phenomenon than the law of diminishing returns. The first PC I bought was a 486 33 Mhz with a 15" EGA monitor, a 80 Mb HDD, a 1.4 floppy, and a keyboard. Oh, and MSDOS 5.0. Cost me $2,500 (probably around $5000 in today's money) and I considered it a bargain.
        • See you 1st PC and raise you one

          OK, my first PC was EGA too, 4.77 Mhz CPU, no hard drive and two 5 1/4 floppy drives, no math co-processor, DOS 2.?? and a 9 pin dot matrix printer. Damage = C$3,000. Oh yah, on board memory was the max..640 k.
    • Latest and greatest

      The six-core i9 is their current "extreme edition." Unlocked, ready to overclock, etc, etc, etc. Intel knows there's an enthusiast market out there willing to pay these sorts of prices to get it first and push it, and their "extreme edition" CPUs have been $999 for a while.

      No, I don't pay those prices either. I wait for them to come down to more realistic levels. (TBH, the current system is my first Intel system since my Pentium 90. It's been AMD for a long time - better match of performance and price for me most of the time.)
  • @Jason

    Jason, if you were to speculate on Apple's use of this i7
    980x Extreme Edition CPU for its Mac Pro line, what would
    you estimate Apple's price for a single CPU setup? Assume
    same amount of Ram used in your system.

    Would you think the Apple system would appear "faster" or
    "slower" than a Win 7 64 bit system with this blog's
    hardware specs. (I assume you would use that version of
    Windows in this project)

    Interesting speculation because if "your" rumors are true,
    Apple will debut an updated Mac Pro shortly.

    BTW ... very nice article.
    • Apple will use the Xeon version of this processor.

      Why? Because pros with workstations prefer the stability that ECC
      memory brings them. Xeon supports it, Core doesn't. Having said that,
      the Xeon versions of this processor are even more expensive than the
      Core versions, as pointed out here -
  • $999 for the processor alone?

    Geez! :O
    The one and only, Cylon Centurion
    • I'd seriously count yourself lucky...

      .. I'd be happy with $999 US, it's pricing at over ?850 ($1290) here in the UK
      • In Fact....

        ...picking part for part described in this article, against my usual supplier who I find to be most reliable/competative, we come out to ?2356.65, or $3,581.17...nearly $600 over

        ..but then again, I'd do it
    • Intel lists this processor for $1150,

      so $1000 is a decent price for a launch 980x.
  • RE: Build your own super fast 'Hexacore' barebones PC

    Just get a dual opteron system and get 8 cores for cheaper.
  • RE: Build your own super fast 'Hexacore' barebones PC

    OK. I'm stupid. I thought the six-cores were going to be i9s?
  • When I need a new system

    I'll come and ask your advice on what to buy. I usually build systems to last 3 - 5 years (and this one is 4). Then I was struggling to figure what to buy since it was all new tech, and being a transition time for computer tech.

    Now next year if I need a new system, I'll have to go to school it sounds :). However, sans lightning strikes or another catastrophic destruction of the system. I think it'll be viable until at least 2015. (Thanks to linux)

    Can you imagine what we'll have in 2015?

    - Kc
  • Better Faster More Cores Yours = Pathetic

    Ya nuf said. I can't give away all my secrets but for
    around the same price or more I could have many many more
  • RE: Build your own super fast 'Hexacore' barebones PC

    Do another article like this one but for a comparable system less than $1,000!