Overclocking your system has long been the most common modifications to perform. Who doesn't want extra performance for no cash outlay? Exactly.
However we know that not everyone necessarily has the confidence to give it a go. Partially because the old method of overclocking, common to every format prior to Socket 1155, was fairly complex and partially because the kind of people who can only afford the lower-end products haven't got the financial freedom to take the risks with their hardware.
Even though the Intel Socket 1155 is delightfully easy to overclock, it's understandable than with the silicon lottery and the time needed to make sure everything is working as it should, many people turn to a pre-overclocked system to get the extra performance without busting the bank.
Usually though a pre-overclocked system comes with an undesirable hefty price-bump. Today we're taking a look at a bundle that is based around the phenomenal Core i5-2500K and is delivered to you with a 4.4 GHz overclock and ready to roll, yet its CHEAPER than buying the bits separately and doing it yourself! Enter the Aria Gladiator P67 B3 4.4GHz bundle.
So what do you get for a penny shy of £330? Quite a bit actually. Obviously the processor is the star attraction. 4.4 GHz of Quad-Core goodness, backed up with a good value MSI motherboard. The RAM is slightly slower than we'd like to see, but for the money we can have no complaints at all. After all, this is about great value, and it's very easy to let performance desires creep up (i.e for an extra £10 I could have.. and for an extra £20 I could.. and before you know it you've spent 3 grand).
• Intel® Core™ i5-2500K (Sandybridge) Socket LGA1155 Processor overclocked to 4.4 GHz
• 4GB Mushkin Silverline #996768 (2x2GB) DDR3 1333MHz 9-9-9-24
• MSI P67A-G45 Intel P67 (REV B3) Socket 1155 DDR3 PCI-Express Motherboard
• Arctic Cooling Freezer 13 High Performance CPU Cooler
• Arctic Silver 5 Thermal Compound
• 1 Years RTB Warranty
• 4.40GHz Overclocked Quad Core CPU
• Intel® P67 Chipset
• 4GB 1333MHz Dual Channel DDR3
• 2x USB 3.0 Ports
• 8x USB 2.0 Ports
• 2x SATA III Ports
• 4x SATA II Ports
• 1x IEEE 1394a Port
• Gigabit LAN
• High Definition 8 Channel Audio CODEC
• Expansion slots: 2x PCIe 2.0 x16 Slots (dual x8/x8), 3x PCIe x1 Slots & 2x PCI Slots
So as you can see all of the bases are covered for a great underpinning to a system. Let's see how well it's built.
Obviously as the system is pre-built and pre-overclocked, then packaging is vitally important. The last thing you need is the postman wobbling the cooler free from its mount. Thankfully Aria provide a very sturdy box and more bubble packaging than you could ever hope to see to ensure that the bundle arrives in mint condition.
Even further, the anti-static bag is adapted to keep everything covered so you don't have any fears when taking the Gladiator out of the box.
Another great touch is the inclusion of the motherboard box and all the relative periphery items that you would have should you have purchased the items separately.
Finally here is the bundle as it arrives. Everything in place ready to plug in and go.
The board used is the MSI P67A-G45, in B3 revision so you know that the SATA issue that plagued early P67 released wont be an issue. Two PCI-E slots cover your graphics requirements and, as you can see, the connectivity is well covered with everything from SPDIF to USB 3.0.
RAM is handled by 4GB of Mushkin Silverline, rated at 1333MHz, 9-9-9-24. An Arctic Cooling Freezer 13 is used to keep the CPU cool.
Storage options are plentiful. It's a slight shame to see the G45 only use vertical sockets. We can't imagine that the cost difference between vertical and the more normal horizontal sockets is that bad. It's something to be aware of if you plan on using two very long GPUs.
Just a little touch that demonstrates the care with which the system has been built, look at the cable routing for the CPU fan.
Naturally the Gladiator only provides the underpinnings of a system. For the rest we're using our standard bench rig which gives a Test Setup of the following :
Aria Gladiator B3 comprising
Core i5 2500K @ 4.4 GHz
4GB Mushkin Silverline 1333MHz
MSI P67A-G45 and
Arctic Cooling Freezer 13 Cooler.
EVGA GTX570 with ForceWare 270.61 Drivers
Be Quiet Dark Power Pro
Samsung Spinpoint F1
Windows 7 x64
As this is a pre-overclocked bundle we'll keep to the system as it arrives.
Here you can see Aria have pushed the Core i5 2500K to a decent 4.4 GHz @ 1.312v. This is a good figure as its a speed that pretty much every 2500K on the planet will happily obtain and yet doesn't push it so far that there is potential for a CPU to not reach that speed, nor that you need so much voltage than you'd have to change the cooler out for a higher performing model.
It's very much the sweet spot.
The Mushkin Silverline RAM is as advertised, although this particular kit is running at 25 tRAS rather than the 24 tRAS it advertises. You wont notice the difference in usage so it's nothing of consequence.
Our testing is normally at both stock, and the highest attainable overclock. As this is a pre-overclocked bundle we're testing at the 4.4 GHz CPU speed it comes with. So there will understandably be a difference between the Gladiator and our other results as we normally hit around 5 GHz. So bear this in mind.
Utilising the latest version of the always updated AIDA64 the Gladiator performs very well in all the tests. PhotoWorxx is a little behind but that's largely due to the RAM being slower than we normally test with. Otherwise there is a clear performance benefit to be had from the overclock when compared to the stock system.
Memory performance is a fair bit behind the other systems we tested but, as mentioned above, you need to remember that most of the other tests were performed with very expensive 2000 MHz+ RAM.
The SiSoft Processor Arithmetic test shows what good value the Aria Gladiator is. The MSI motherboard that underpins it all might be one of their low-end models, but it isn't disgraced in any way whatsoever.
The Sandra Processor Multi-Media test further emphasises how much performance you're getting for what is a very small outlay.
The ever reliable CineBench from Maxon shows how much performance you can get from the Core i5-2500K. Just shy of 7 CPU pts is impressive stuff.
PC Mark Vantage
Used to test a plethora of applications to replicate daily usage, PC Mark Vantage shows how much power is available even from this humble set of components. The Memory once again is a tiny bit of a weak link, but when compared to the outstanding Core i5-2500K and GTX570, almost anything would be left in the shade.
3D Mark 11
Proving how well even the MSI G45 can perform, the results of 3D Mark 11 are right on a par with what we're used to seeing from our GTX570.
3D Mark Vantage
Here is a turn-up for the books. We're not sure if this is a benefit from the latest nVidia drivers but, regardless of why, this is the highest 3D Mark Vantage results we've seen.
Alien vs Predator
Finally we look at our usual couple of games. AvP is similar to 3D Mark in that, barring some aberration, you should see the same scores from the same GPU. As we do here.
Crysis has always been a little more varied in its results and so it proves. Still very close to 60 FPS though, so the GTX570 used definitely has enough grunt behind it to keep it pumping the eye-candy out.
So what can we say? Wow springs to mind.
A bundle where its actually cheaper than buying the bits separately and overclocking it yourself, you get a seriously powerful system. It's not only that though, after all anyone could just slap an overclock together and push it out the door.
With the Aria Gladiator you're getting a sorted system, and that's what really struck us. From the moment we opened the sturdy box and saw how brilliantly and carefully the Gladiator bundle had been packaged you knew this was something different to the rest.
The decision to include all the manuals and accessories along with the bundle is a nice touch and really allows you to use this as a stepping off point to learn how to overclock. Once you can see what Aria themselves have done you can then use this new found knowledge to start your own overclocking adventure. It's lovely to see them not just bumping the volts up to an arbitrary amount for a guaranteed overclock, but instead with a mere 1.3v on the 2500K you are getting the best of both worlds without compromising the cool and quiet Arctic Cooling Freezer 13.
Not that this is purely for the neophyte overclocker. The price difference between buying the bits and building it yourself, and buying this pre-built system is so tiny that if you're in the market for an upgrade, you'd be foolish to not look long and hard at this Gladiator bundle.
You also, of course, remove so many potential things by buying it pre-built. You know that all the parts work. You know you haven't been (extremely) unlucky enough to get a Core i5-2500K that wont overclock past 4GHz. Perhaps even more importantly in these days with so many things that are making demands upon our time, you can just plug and play, rather than have to build it.
If we can find one small fault, and it is a tiny one, the difference between a fast kit of RAM and the slower one provided here is not unreasonable. But of course better is more expensive, and there are far greater benefits to be had by spending the difference on a good GPU than you'd get from fast RAM and an average GPU.
All in all it's a phenomenal amount of performance for a very small sum of money. The Core i5-2500K is our favourite of the LGA1155 processors and this only emphasises why. Aria have done an amazing job in providing top performance and yet still managing to get the whole bundle in cheaper than the separate components. Gold.
Thanks to Aria for providing the Gladiator for review. Discuss in our forums.