Sign in with
Sign up | Sign in
Your question

WEIGH IN: Jan.09 System Builder Marathon ~$1250 system components

Last response: in Systems
Share
January 6, 2009 2:37:40 PM

Hey fellows,

Here are the proposed components for the January ~1250 system. Keep in mind we're not only looking to build a great system, but to compare the Core 2 Quad against similarly priced E8500 and i7 920 systems from the past two months.

We chose the Q9550 CPU because of high clocks and lots of cache... it's actually more expensive than the i7 920 CPU, but the platform is still quite a bit cheaper because we can use a P45 motherboard instead of the expensive X58 that the i7 demands.

The biggest tradeoff we made to keep the system below $1250 was probably the case; to save cash we went with the Rosewill Wind Ryder RZLS142A-P YE Dual 120mm Cooling Fans. We chose it because pretty much all of the users have positive comments about it and say it's large, it has two 120mm fans, and it's cheap.

Here are the components, let me know if you see any issues or oversights:

CPU: Intel Core 2 Quad Q9550 - $320
CPU Cooler : Xigmatek HDT-S1283 - $37
XIGMATEK ACK-I7751 Retention Bracket - $9
Motherboard : Gigabyte GA-EP45-UD3LR - $105
RAM: G.SKILL HK 4GB (2 x 2GB) 2x2GB - $45
Graphics: Sapphire Radeon 4870 X2 - $490
Hard Drives: Western Digital Caviar Black WD6401AALS 640GB 7200 RPM 32MB Cache - $80
Sound: Integrated 0
Network: Integrated Gigabit Networking 0
Case: Rosewill Wind Ryder RZLS142A-P YE Dual 120mm Cooling Fans - $40
Power: Corsair 650TX - $100
Optical: LITE-ON 20X DVD±R SATA Model iHAS120-04 - $24

Total price: $1250


[EDIT] changed mobo to GA-EP45-UD3LR for ICH10R Chipset w/raid controller, and extra copper on mobo that *supposedly* helps cooling)
[EDIT] changed drive from Seagate Barracuda 7200.11 ST3750330AS 750GB 32 MB cache to Western Digital Caviar Black WD6401AALS 640GB 7200 RPM 32MB Cache for speed increase at forum request

January 6, 2009 3:08:30 PM

you might end up a bit short on the power supply if you overclock. Possibly a 750 or 850watts might be better but you'll most likely have to shell out an extra 50$.
January 6, 2009 3:14:54 PM

The build looks pretty good. Since you have an extra $5 to play with, you might want to check out the new GA-EP45-UD3LR board.

GIGABYTE GA-EP45-UD3LR LGA 775 Intel P45 ATX Intel Motherboard - Retail
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168... $104.99

For the same price I'd pick up a black edition 640GB drive.

Western Digital Caviar Black WD6401AALS 640GB 7200 RPM 32MB Cache SATA 3.0Gb/s Hard Drive - OEM
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168... $79.99
Related resources
January 6, 2009 3:28:30 PM

That looks great, but someone will still complain. I think it's a great selection of components. I would like to get a Q9550 and maybe this will be my excuse to do so.
January 6, 2009 3:28:35 PM

The build looks solid, but I'm amazed that you'd need to upgrade much from the config in your signature.
January 6, 2009 3:31:32 PM

huron said:
The build looks solid, but I'm amazed that you'd need to upgrade much from the config in your signature.


It's not an upgrade, bro. I'm a writer for Tom's, this is the proposed component spec for this month's 'system builder marathon' build. :) 
January 6, 2009 3:35:15 PM

shortstuff_mt said:
The build looks pretty good. Since you have an extra $5 to play with, you might want to check out the new GA-EP45-UD3LR board.

For the same price I'd pick up a black edition 640GB drive.


Hmmm. nice options!

I think I will go with the UD3LR for the RAID controller and extra copper on the mobo. Good call!

But... on the HD, do you think the Caviar Black Edition is fast enough to make it worth the 100GB loss? Both drives are 7200 RPM with a 32GB cache...

January 6, 2009 3:37:26 PM

The build looks good. Why not the WD 640 GB HDD?

Antec 300 as the case?

Other than that, good.
January 6, 2009 3:46:03 PM

I also agree with shortstuff. 640GB is plenty of space for essentially a gamer build. If the person is a video hound rather than a gamer, swapping the 4870X2 for a 4670 will provide cash for multi TB of storage, plus a TV card; weighing options like that seems like the kind of thing a reader of the SBM articles should be able to figure out by himself.

January 6, 2009 3:46:19 PM

huron said:
The build looks good. Why not the WD 640 GB HDD?

Antec 300 as the case?


Once again, not sure the Caviar has such amazing performance that I'd want it over the extra 100 GB. Do you think you'd see enough real-world performance diffrence to justify the 100GB loss?

As for the Antec, like I said - trying to keep the budget under or at $1250. The Rosewill isn't a premium brand but the two 120mm fans are a nice touch, and it's well reviewed. I'd like to give it a shot unless someone's tried it and knows otherwise, or can find a different case for $40 that's comperable.
January 6, 2009 3:46:38 PM

The extra data density of the 640GB drive would make it faster. If you're going for speed in a 7200RPM drive, you can't beat the WD6401AALS. If storage is more important than speed, stick with the 750GB drive.
January 6, 2009 3:52:56 PM

Personally, I think the real-world diffrence in performance would be undetectable by a human being, and I find my drives fill up fast with games and work data - no movies. I would definitely choose the 750 if it was for my own use.

But the readers have spoken, I'll go with the Caviar. You buggers back me up if I get any slack for it! :p 
January 6, 2009 3:53:54 PM

I've used a few of the cheap Rosewill cases (the sub-$30 ones). Those only come with one 120mm fan, but will take another one up front. They've been roomy enough. The only sharp edges seem to be around the mobo backplate. I will likely continue buying these cases for budget systems.

January 6, 2009 3:55:38 PM

"Any slack?" Did you mean "any FLAK?"

...and yeah, we will.

...or hey, for grins, benchmark both drives.
January 6, 2009 3:57:26 PM

cleeve said:
But the readers have spoken, I'll go with the Caviar. You buggers back me up if I get any slack for it! :p 

I don't think you'll find many people giving you any crap about using a Caviar Black 640GB drive. It's by far the most popular drive on these forums.
January 6, 2009 4:04:25 PM

Heheh. Yeah, I can see that. :) 

Thanks for the input everybody, I truly appreciate it.

P.S. jtt283, thanks for the Rosewill info, good to know. And I did mean 'slack'. But maybe that's a local slang modification of 'flak'. I googled it tho, and other folks have used (perhaps abused) the term in that way.

[EDIT] On further investigation, I have completely abused the slang as it's used internationally. But I swear to god, it's local use means the opposite of what it seems to mean everywhere else in the world.

January 6, 2009 4:17:43 PM

cleeve said:
You buggers back me up if I get any slack for it! :p 

I'll fall in line with everyone else. And I got your back on the WDC Black selection.
BTW, just got a 1600AAJS back from RMA from WD, the old one was a 1 platter, 2 head average 62 MB/sec in HD Tach, the new one is a 1 platter, 1 head good for 92 MB/sec average and peaks near 110. Good to know the density has trickled down through WDs whole line.
January 6, 2009 4:23:34 PM

Arrg!
Quote:
You are not allowed to edit this message!

Anyway, I like the Rosewill better because of the depth (especially since you will stuff an X2 into it). Either way I think you'll be limited in the number of HDD slots you can use (for the end-user in the long run), judging from the ATX standoff locations.
January 6, 2009 4:25:41 PM

I prefer a more muted look myself (e.g. no side window), so I'd have to say no, I'd get the Rosewill. I'm not sure any case with a funnel will fit a Xigmatek; the Rosewills are not unusually thin, so I'd think it would fit without the funnel.
January 6, 2009 4:34:31 PM

Yeah, I think the Rosewill's extra inch and a quarter of length compared to the Raidmax will come in handy with the 4870 X2. It's even got a quarter inch on the Antec Three Hundred.

Scary part is, it's 0.65 inches shorter than the Cooler Master Centurion, and we had to remove the hard drive cage to squeeze the 4850 X2 in that box. However, the 4870 X2 is an inch shorter then the 4850 X2...

But we squeezed the 4870 X2 in the Three Hundred, so we should be able to squeeze it into the Rosewill.
January 6, 2009 4:38:01 PM

I haven't used either, so short of heading down to Fry's and fondling various cases, I'll bow to jtt.
January 6, 2009 4:39:51 PM

Just add a Dremel to the build cost:

Dremel - $40
Problem solved! Pick any case you want!
January 6, 2009 4:42:19 PM

As mentioned it is a solid build. Many people on the forums, myself included, avoid anything Rosewill like the plague.

My reasoning is because a lot of the equipment they manufacture has a terrible reputation for poor quality. I understand that poor quality on fans and such doesn't make too much of a difference, but their poorly manufactured PSUs and controllers are scary. On the other hand, Antec has a reputation of great quality along most of their product lines. Because of this, even when talking about sheet metal cheap cases, many of the 'enthusiasts' here prefer to spend a few extra dollars for the Antec 300.

Now I know there is a budget here and you cannot go over it and you guys never count rebates towards the cost of the system and that is why you do not have the Antec 300 in this build. I also see that Newegg isn't offering free shipping on this case at the moment, another bummer as they frequently ship it free, sometimes even bundled with a good Antec PSU for under $90.

Looking at the build I really cannot justify taking money from any other components to add $40 for the case. Its a shame too because it would really round out the build and probably provide better airflow for O/Cing.
January 6, 2009 4:42:24 PM

Steel snips might be cheaper. We can't go over $1250! :p 
January 6, 2009 4:44:35 PM

Cleeve,

Do you use rebates in your selection of parts? Because PC&Powercooling is considered to be one of the best PSU brands out there.

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

It's a PC&Powercooling 750W for $80. Not only will it save you $20 over the $100 corsair, but it's roomier for OCing power.

All the rest of the parts look solid.

I would give some consideration to X2 GTX260 core 216s in SLI for the people who don't like ATI. They can be found for $235 each. $470 total.

Just a thought.
January 6, 2009 4:47:13 PM

I hear you Deuce. Having said that, we all know the Three Hundred is a great case, so I don't thyink it hurts to try something new once in a while. It might turn out it's great during the review, or it might turn out it sucks crap; either way, the readers win because they get exposed to more information about one more piece of hardware.

Sometimes there's a gem or two in the cheap stuff. And if it junk, I'll just recommend people stay away from the Rosewill and pay the extra $20 for the three-hundred. Everybody wins!
January 6, 2009 4:52:23 PM

wickedsnow said:
Cleeve,

Do you use rebates in your selection of parts? Because PC&Powercooling is considered to be one of the best PSU brands out there.

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

It's a PC&Powercooling 750W for $80. Not only will it save you $20 over the $100 corsair, but it's roomier for OCing power.

All the rest of the parts look solid.

I would give some consideration to X2 GTX260 core 216s in SLI for the people who don't like ATI. They can be found for $235 each. $470 total.

Just a thought.


Hey Wicked,

Good ideas. But unfortunately you're right, we don't include rebates as a matter of principle. Just a guideline we have because we detest having to wait for rebates to come back. :) 

As for the video card, if I could have gotten a sample I would have put the new GTX 295 in there. Unfortunately it's a bit early for that.

However, two 260s would require an SLI motherboard, and for a good SLI motherboard you're going to add a lot of cash to the price methinks, unless you're happy with 8x + 8x PCIe on the 750i, which honestly should perform just as well. But I'd prefer the P45 chipset for overclocking, and since we'll be comparing this system to Novembers E8500/4870 X2 system the 4870 X2 might be a better choice.
January 6, 2009 4:59:32 PM

The 295 would be nice.

And darn it all on the rebates!! :) 

So i'm curious, the builds toms does every month, is it best bang-for-buck at the $1250 price range? or is it what a person could go out and get?

I only ask because if I had $1250 to send on a machine, I would figure it as cost + rebates+in-store deals+ tax, vs just buying $1250 flat out.

I'm just a bit confused.

lastly, how was your holidays? And your doing a great job talking to the forum junkies and getting user/gamer input. We need to feel like Tom's takes our opinions seriously. Good job man! :) 
January 6, 2009 4:59:36 PM

Interesting thought on the GPU, Wickedsnow, but wouldn't they run in X8,X8, whereas the 4870 X2 would be X16? How much difference would that make?
January 6, 2009 5:10:09 PM

Honestly, as long as it's PCIe 2.0, 8x+8x bandwidth should be fine... I don't think you'd see a diffrence based on our testing. Of course, you could go 790i chipset for 16x16, but that'd be wayy overbudget. But I think I'd recommend a single 4870 X2 over two 260's just for the convenience.

As for pricing, the way we figure it out is to add the prices of the components, plain and sinple. Taxes, rebates, shipping - that's all out of the scope of our calculations.

January 6, 2009 5:20:25 PM

Ok, thanks for clearing that up Cleeve.

On the motherboard side of this conversation. I currently run X2 GTX260 216s in SLI on my ASUS p5N-D mobo. I only paid $99 for it at central computers.

It's a 750i non-reference design with both slots at 16x each. While in SLI mode.

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

$99 was a good find at the time :) 

And I do agree that the 4870x2 is better in terms of convince.
January 6, 2009 5:24:06 PM

if you plan on doing sli you mise as just go with a x58 board. the nforce chipsets i think have seen their glory days and have moved on. So for this build I think you've got the best bang for your buck setup.

I can back short up on that carvier drive. It's worth the 100gb loss, at least from a gamers point of view. However i'd stick with the 750gb if it was for movies, work ect... kinda of things.

I do question the roswill case but I understand the budget crunch. I still think i'd stick with the antec 300. Its more of a gaming case.
January 6, 2009 5:36:18 PM

I am curious on why toms picked $1250 as a midstream build. I don't think i have met a gamer yet that spent that little.

I watch each month on the $1250 build, and i'm always interested in seeing people's suggestions for, (if we only had 5 dollars more) or (if you upped the budget to $1300 you could get this....)

Honestly $1500 is a solid and realistic build amount. Including taxes and shipping. In many cases, a few extra dollars here or there could mean the difference in OCing, or reliability of your machine.

Why $1250? It would honestly give you great headroom if you made the build $1500 as max. (shipping and taxes inc.)

Also, putting a build for $1250 and not including taxes or shipping makes some readers think, hey, i could go out and spend $1250 and get what he got. When in reality, even if a person did find all the same deals found here at toms, they would have to add another $103.50 for tax.


I'm only giving my 2 cents, I love toms and i do welcome the information provided by the builds!
January 6, 2009 6:03:42 PM

Next month you should do builds at the following price brackets;

500
700
850
1000
1250
1500
2000
2500
3000
4000

That way everyone will be happy about the bracketing and we'll have more to argue about. :p 
January 6, 2009 6:08:21 PM

Anyone have any idea how many people actually take the builder marathon pc at each of the price brackets and just orders as is? I suppose if its enough people then maybe it'd be worth it.
January 6, 2009 6:22:18 PM

wickedsnow said:
I am curious on why toms picked $1250 as a midstream build. I don't think i have met a gamer yet that spent that little...

...I'm only giving my 2 cents, I love toms and i do welcome the information provided by the builds!


Well, we don't include Tax, shipping, the OS, or the monitor - so a real-life system would cost more of course. We like to concentrate on the hardware that makes a diffrence; the OS will be up to the end user if they have a copy or need to buy new, and the monitor doesn't affect performance.
January 6, 2009 6:31:38 PM

Monitors may not affect performance, but I do think they are closely related. A 30" monitor running at 25x16 is going to push the exact same manchine a ton times harder than a 19" running at 12x10. Ontop of that the look of a 30" monitor vs the 19" is going to be quite a bit different as well. So yes the monitor isn't part of the guts of the PC but it is what the PC pushes and should be considerd in all builds imo.
January 6, 2009 6:42:54 PM

kubes said:
Monitors may not affect performance, but I do think they are closely related. A 30" monitor running at 25x16 is going to push the exact same manchine a ton times harder than a 19" running at 12x10. Ontop of that the look of a 30" monitor vs the 19" is going to be quite a bit different as well. So yes the monitor isn't part of the guts of the PC but it is what the PC pushes and should be considerd in all builds imo.



They run benchmarks for the most common resolutions so you are covered for what monitor you are using. They just don't 'buy' a monitor for the build.
February 8, 2009 4:23:45 PM

What ever happened to this build, was interested in seeing the results.
February 10, 2009 1:59:59 AM

Me too. I wanted to know how this turned out.
!