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My $2,000 Build with 3 Monitors!

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September 4, 2011 7:46:41 PM

The "Steelbeast"!
This rig will tear apart Battlefield 3 WITH EYEFINITY on 3x 25in. monitors! For those that don't know, you can see WAY MORE stuff happening on the battlefield with 3 screens instead of one. The rig is also Ivy Bridge / PCI 3.0 ready so it's future proof too! This actually includes all the required accessories to run Eyefinity on Displayport (the future standard, sorry HDMI) for the lowest possible price. The GPU must be strictly chosen. The build also includes full-size tower with 3x 230mm fans for superior cooling and flexibility.


MUST-READ Articles / Information:

HowTo: Arctic Silver's "Thermal Compound Application Guide"
http://www.arcticsilver.com/methods.html

ZALMAN CNPS9900MAX Installation Video
http://www.zalman.com/eng/product/Product_Setup.asp?Idx...

HowTo: OCZ's SSD Firmware Update Information
http://www.ocztechnology.com/ssd_tools/OCZ_Vertex_3,_Ve...

ASRock Z68 Extreme4 Gen3 Driver List
http://www.asrock.com/mb/download.asp?Model=Z68%20Extre...

HowTo: Overclock.net's "6950 shader unlock with voltage control"
http://www.overclock.net/amd-ati/915716-6950-shader-unl...

HowTo: Tom's Hardware "Alternate Sandy Bridge K Series OCing Guide"
http://www.tomshardware.com/forum/266189-29-alternate-s...


"SteelBeast" Components:

Display: 3x ASUS 25in DisplayPort Monitors (Eyefinity) $230 ea/$689 (Newegg)
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

GPU: (Crossfire) 2x XFX HD-695X-CNFC Radeon HD 6950 $480 (TigerDirect- Allows 2x rebates!)
http://www.tigerdirect.com/applications/SearchTools/ite...

CPU: Intel i5 2500k $220 (newegg)
You can OC this to 4.5Ghz easily. Going above 1.4v NOT RECOMMENDED!
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

MB: ASRock Z68 EXTREME4 GEN3 $180/AR (Newegg)
This MoBo is Ivy Bridge / PCI 3.0 ready = future-proof! ENABLE AHCI!
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

SSD: OCZ Vertex 3 120GB $120 (My Discount) (Newegg) Install latest firmware BEFORE installing OS! MoBo has a spare SATA cable included.
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

HDD: Seagate Barracuda XT 3 TB 7200RPM SATA 6 Gb/s 64MB Cache $155 ($25 off w/mobo combo discount)
Mind as well get a huge HDD since my mobo supports 3+TB, plus it's got 7200rpm, 64mb cache AND 5yr warranty! MoBo has a spare SATA cable included.
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

RAM: CORSAIR Vengeance 8GB DDR3 1600 $38 (Newegg $15 off with CPU Combo)
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

PSU: 1000W COOLER MASTER Silent Pro $130/AR (Newegg) 80A on a single 12V rail. Do NOT skimp on this! Remember, PSU's run most efficient at 80% or less, Buying one with "enough" watts will stress it too much.
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

DVD: LITE-ON 24X DVD Writer (Newegg free w/HDD) MoBo has a spare SATA cable included.
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

CASE: Cooler Master HAF 932 Advanced Full Tower Case with SuperSpeed USB 3.0 $142 (Prime Eligible- 30lbs. LoL!)
http://www.amazon.com/Cooler-Master-Advanced-Tower-Supe...

HSF: ZALMAN CNPS9900MAX-R 135mm Red LED $58/AR (Newegg) Comes with high-grade thermal paste for free.
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
This is also the QUIETEST HSF with low temps, only next to the Noctua NH-D14 which is $85.
http://www.frostytech.com/articleview.cfm?articleid=256...

3x 10ft. Mini DisplayPort to DisplayPort Cables $36 (Amazon) You can get 6ft., but I wouldn't.
http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B003TSTDHQ


Total: $2,248/AR with monitors
Total: $1,559/AR w/o monitors

Gaming peripherals: (currently own and love)

Cyborg R.A.T. 7 Mouse $80 (for FPS games and everyday) Hands down the most comfortable mouse ever made, looks are deceiving.
http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B003CP0BHM

Razer Naga $65 (for MMO games) It's a classic, 'nuff said.
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Logitech G110 Gaming Keyboard $50 (good cheap backlit keyboard with macros and media controls)
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Logitech G35 7.1 Surround Headphones $90 You can take all my peripherals away except this! Truly a game changer.
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

(2) Razer Goliathus Alpha L - Control (Fragged) $20 ea.Yes, 2 of them, because its alot softer than a tabletop for marathon gaming, along with ample room for the mouse. Your forearms will love you for this.
http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B002R0DX0U


More about : 000 build monitors

September 4, 2011 8:02:43 PM

So you guys like my crazy OC/CrossFire/Eyefinity build for barely $2K?
September 4, 2011 8:18:10 PM

This should be able to run BF3 w/ EyeFinity just fine eh? :D 
Related resources
September 4, 2011 9:34:10 PM

BTW, if you OC these 6950's to max stable, they equal to a single HD 6990 which retails for ~$800. How about that for Price/Performance ratio! Stick that in your pipe and smoke it :D 
September 4, 2011 9:48:02 PM

Nice build, looks good all around. Should do everything you could need for a long long time... Enjoy
September 4, 2011 9:51:10 PM

Looks pretty good except for the case. The GPUs may fit, but that case is pretty small and the Cooler Master Hyper 212 might be too tall. For the performance of this system, getting a better case is worth it. You don't want to have all your components cramped in a tight space with restricted airflow for no reason. Check out the Cooler Master HAF 922

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
September 4, 2011 9:59:03 PM

mortonww said:
Looks pretty good except for the case. The GPUs may fit, but that case is pretty small and the Cooler Master Hyper 212 might be too tall. For the performance of this system, getting a better case is worth it. You don't want to have all your components cramped in a tight space with restricted airflow for no reason. Check out the Cooler Master HAF 922

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

This case is pretty much a HAF 922 knock off for less $$$ and with more fans!

Here's a link that has some great info about the case from benchmarkreviews.com

http://benchmarkreviews.com/index.php?option=com_conten...

This owns the HAF 922 in all aspects, ESPECIALLY AIRFLOW, except for looks.
September 4, 2011 10:03:38 PM

cgleckman said:
Nice build, looks good all around. Should do everything you could need for a long long time... Enjoy

Awesome, thanks :D  I just wanted to share this with everyone that may be in the same price range and expectations that i want out of a rig. She may not be pretty, but it'll kick some serious butt!
September 4, 2011 10:11:02 PM

Theres no real reason to suggest this but what about this case:

Rosewill CHALLENGER-U3 Black Gaming ATX Mid Tower Computer Case ,comes with Three Fans-1x Front Blue LED 120mm Fan, 1x Top 140mm Fan, 1x Rear 120mm Fan, front mounted dual USB 3.0 $59.99

and then you could go with this mobo:

GIGABYTE GA-Z68XP-UD3 LGA 1155 Intel Z68 HDMI SATA 6Gb/s USB 3.0 ATX Intel Motherboard $149.99
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

which has the usb 3.0 support (and the case has usb 3.0)

Totoal cost would only be $50 more and youd have the usb 3.0 for the future.. just a suggestion
September 4, 2011 10:17:38 PM

cgleckman said:
Theres no real reason to suggest this but what about this case:

Rosewill CHALLENGER-U3 Black Gaming ATX Mid Tower Computer Case ,comes with Three Fans-1x Front Blue LED 120mm Fan, 1x Top 140mm Fan, 1x Rear 120mm Fan, front mounted dual USB 3.0 $59.99

and then you could go with this mobo:

GIGABYTE GA-Z68XP-UD3 LGA 1155 Intel Z68 HDMI SATA 6Gb/s USB 3.0 ATX Intel Motherboard $149.99
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

which has the usb 3.0 support (and the case has usb 3.0)

Totoal cost would only be $50 more and youd have the usb 3.0 for the future.. just a suggestion

I thought about the USB 3.0 issue. If I really need more than 2 USB 3.0 ports (ALREADY INCLUDED IN MoBo), then I will just get a hub. Which will be like $20 by the time USB 3.0 is that prevalent. Spending $50 for a front panel USB 3.0 isn't worth it IMO.
September 4, 2011 10:21:40 PM

Did I mention this rig is Ivy Bridge / PCI 3.0 ready? Now that's futureproof!
September 4, 2011 11:02:58 PM

steelbeast said:
I thought about the USB 3.0 issue. If I really need more than 2 USB 3.0 ports (ALREADY INCLUDED IN MoBo), then I will just get a hub. Which will be like $20 by the time USB 3.0 is that prevalent. Spending $50 for a front panel USB 3.0 isn't worth it IMO.


Like I said it was just a few suggestions.

I still dont know if I like that case but you are buying alot of fans to fix the heating issue so that should be fine.
September 4, 2011 11:06:30 PM

I know, the case is hard to believe, but it's THAT good! Kinda like the i5 2500k :p 
September 4, 2011 11:18:28 PM

haha i feel like your spending more money on the fans then it would be to just buy a case with them but i saved that case for future reference because I do like it if you guy the fans to increase the cooling..

I hope you dont mind :D 
September 4, 2011 11:33:47 PM

cgleckman said:
haha i feel like your spending more money on the fans then it would be to just buy a case with them but i saved that case for future reference because I do like it if you guy the fans to increase the cooling..

I hope you dont mind :D 


Yes it is funny! But if you compare apples to apples with the total cost, its still cheaper than the HAF 922 and it has like 2-3 more fans :D 

$35 for the case
$18 for 2 x 140mm fans
$21 for 3x 120mm fans
= $74

The case comes with 1x 120mm fan
Total 6 FANS!!!

HAF 922 only has 3 fans, but 2 of them are 200mm, but it still costs $100

Just my 2c

There's no way the HAF 922 can come close to the airflow the GAMMA case can push. I'd rather have a MUCH more cool case than eye candy any day. Plus, you get $25 to spend on a better GPU...that's the name of the game after all :D 
September 4, 2011 11:47:10 PM

Check out the antec 900 just for shits and grins, but I understand what your saying. there are other cases that arent $99 and have great airflow such as the antec 300 illusion.. Good flow and is less then $74.. you also have the u3 challenger for around 60. Just saying its possible.

However your setup will work great and is still really good case and airflow wise.
September 4, 2011 11:56:28 PM

cgleckman said:
Check out the antec 900 just for shits and grins, but I understand what your saying. there are other cases that arent $99 and have great airflow such as the antec 300 illusion.. Good flow and is less then $74.. you also have the u3 challenger for around 60. Just saying its possible.

However your setup will work great and is still really good case and airflow wise.

Those cases look like they have decent airflow, but there's one GLARING ISSUE....the GPU's will NOT fit in that case ;) 
A mid-tower basically NEEDS to have the HDD bays turned 90 degrees in order to make it happen. The HD 6950'S are 10.2 in. in length.
September 4, 2011 11:59:39 PM

I am pretty sure the GPU would fit in the Antec 900 I didnt really put much thought into it since they were just price examples form the top of my head.
September 5, 2011 12:05:11 AM

Infact it looks like it would even fit into the 300 it would just be very tight ( i dont really think its worth the risk to find out lol)
September 5, 2011 12:09:05 AM

steelbeast said:
This case is pretty much a HAF 922 knock off for less $$$ and with more fans!

Here's a link that has some great info about the case from benchmarkreviews.com

http://benchmarkreviews.com/index.php?option=com_conten...

This owns the HAF 922 in all aspects, ESPECIALLY AIRFLOW, except for looks.


Yeah, I love NZXT. In my opinion they're one of the most underestimated brands in the computer industry as a whole. I nabbed the Rosewill Challenger for one build just because it was the tom's recommended buy, and an NZXT M59 for another build that was almost exactly the same. Not only was the M59 easier to work with, but it was easier on the eyes and ended up providing better results. The challenger also has a beast of an HDD LED on the front. If you get in the direct line of fire from that thing, it can blind. xD

Edit: The M59 is basically just a gamma with a side window, 1 less fan slot, and some nifty front panel lighting. Here's a link: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
September 5, 2011 12:15:56 AM

steelbeast said:
Point taken. However, I think the NZXT GAMMA is superior in not only airflow, but space too.


Well for the price I agree, its a great case and a great find. Enjoy :D 
September 5, 2011 12:17:33 AM

Also, I just noticed one glaring hole in your plan. You're not going to have to room to add 2 side fans -and- have the hyper 212. My M59 BARELY fits the 212 as is, and the gamma's top side fan slot is right over the CPU.

Edit: Well, not a glaring hole... but a hiccup at least.
September 5, 2011 12:19:29 AM

bearracuda said:
Also, I just noticed one glaring hole in your plan. You're not going to have to room add 2 side fans -and- have the hyper 212. My M59 BARELY fits the 212 as is, and the gamma's top side fan slot is right over the CPU.


hmm this would be something only someone with the case would know lol.. Thank you for that :D 
September 5, 2011 12:27:57 AM

bearracuda said:
Also, I just noticed one glaring hole in your plan. You're not going to have to room to add 2 side fans -and- have the hyper 212. My M59 BARELY fits the 212 as is, and the gamma's top side fan slot is right over the CPU.

Edit: Well, not a glaring hole... but a hiccup at least.

HMM.... I'll see how it goes when it arrives, but I do believe you're right. However, since I don't care about looks and I don't NEED it to be pretty, I can just zip-tie the fans on the outside, or next to the GPU's lol!

I may not even need to be that extreme and be able to save `$20 instead if the case doesn't overheat.
September 5, 2011 12:32:35 AM

steelbeast said:
I don't NEED it to be pretty, I can just zip-tie the fans on the outside, or next to the GPU's lol!


Rofl. I like your style.

I think I might copy/pasta your build with a new mobo/CPU when bulldozer comes out. I've been wanting an eyefinity setup for a while now.
September 5, 2011 12:47:31 AM

bearracuda said:
Rofl. I like your style.

I think I might copy/pasta your build with a new mobo/CPU when bulldozer comes out. I've been wanting an eyefinity setup for a while now.


Go right ahead. Just give me props :D 
September 5, 2011 3:15:16 PM

Updated the list for 1 less fan (even cheaper!) and added some useful info next to the components. :D 
September 5, 2011 4:11:59 PM

steelbeast said:
Updated the list for 1 less fan (even cheaper!) and added some useful info next to the components. :D 



I really like the build in general but that info is pretty good to know. I kinda figured youd have an issue with 1 or 2 fans but thats not a huge deal.

Anyway I am saving your build for the future (since realistically most newbies tend to leave after a week). I also saved it undedr Steelbeast's rig and will give u credit with any of the parts I use from it. Is this ok with u?
September 5, 2011 4:16:09 PM

cgleckman said:
I really like the build in general but that info is pretty good to know. I kinda figured youd have an issue with 1 or 2 fans but thats not a huge deal.

Anyway I am saving your build for the future (since realistically most newbies tend to leave after a week). I also saved it undedr Steelbeast's rig and will give u credit with any of the parts I use from it. Is this ok with u?


Sounds great man! Thanks for the props :) 

I'll "try" to keep updated on how the OC and installation goes with this build, but I make no guarantees on that lol. I think I have found "The Perfect Storm" of components that rock a gamers world! This system is "Champagne" on a Beer budget lol :D 
September 5, 2011 4:32:02 PM

steelbeast said:
Sounds great man! Thanks for the props :) 

I'll "try" to keep updated on how the OC and installation goes with this build, but I make no guarantees on that lol. I think I have found "The Perfect Storm" of components that rock a gamers world! This system is "Champagne" on a Beer budget lol :D 



Lol just cause i want to poke someones bubble.. Grats you made a build that will be outdated in like 2 months LOL gotta love technology..


Anyway i got the mean out of me now for the day so im good to go :D  haha

DOnt that that the wrong way im trying to be a little humorous about it :D 

Anyway please do id be interested to see how all the OC and heat and what not is handled when fully setup.
September 5, 2011 4:35:27 PM

cgleckman said:
Lol just cause i want to poke someones bubble.. Grats you made a build that will be outdated in like 2 months LOL gotta love technology..


Anyway i got the mean out of me now for the day so im good to go :D  haha

DOnt that that the wrong way im trying to be a little humorous about it :D 


Yeah...that's with ANY build though. Atleast the MoBo is next-gen ready, not alot of peeps can say that theirs is. Plus, the monitors are DisplayPort, most poor saps still have HDMI :p 
September 5, 2011 4:49:17 PM

I honestly do not understand the difference between the two but i also havent even looked into it 1 bit so if i did im sure id understand in about 5 minutes haha...

September 5, 2011 5:06:02 PM

cgleckman said:
I honestly do not understand the difference between the two but i also havent even looked into it 1 bit so if i did im sure id understand in about 5 minutes haha...


DisplayPort can handle WAY MORE bandwidth (resolution/multiple monitors) than HDMI can shake a stick at. Also, AMD is making it their current standard. NVIDIA is too, but has more catching up to do. If you buy HDMI monitor right now, you're buying yourself a dead end, just an FYI. Unfortunately, most people just "don't know" and still buy HDMI monitors.

REMEMBER, you heard it first from Steelbeast :D 
September 5, 2011 7:00:20 PM

My build is worthy of the poll "high-end intel gaming rig" and i'll bet it would be just as good performance-wise, but mine has 3 25 in. MONITORS INCLUDED!!!

Plus it's future-proof thanks to the MoBo and monitors are DisplayPort too.
September 5, 2011 7:35:14 PM

steelbeast said:
Yes it is funny! But if you compare apples to apples with the total cost, its still cheaper than the HAF 922 and it has like 2-3 more fans :D 

$35 for the case
$18 for 2 x 140mm fans
$21 for 3x 120mm fans
= $74

The case comes with 1x 120mm fan
Total 6 FANS!!!

HAF 922 only has 3 fans, but 2 of them are 200mm, but it still costs $100

Just my 2c

There's no way the HAF 922 can come close to the airflow the GAMMA case can push. I'd rather have a MUCH more cool case than eye candy any day. Plus, you get $25 to spend on a better GPU...that's the name of the game after all :D 


two 200mm fans can move more air then your 140mm and 120mm fans. those four fans have less area to flow air and depending the the fans just dont move as much air.
September 5, 2011 7:55:37 PM

cbrunnem said:
two 200mm fans can move more air then your 140mm and 120mm fans. those four fans have less area to flow air and depending the the fans just dont move as much air.

Hmm... well how about the;

Antec Nine Hundred Two V3
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Which you can get for $100 after instant rebate, and another $20 off for a rebate;
= $80

Advanced cooling system:
- 1 rear 120 x 25 mm TriCool™ blue LED exhaust fan
- 1 top 200 x 30 mm "Big Boy" TriCool™ blue LED exhaust fan
- 2 front 120 x 25 mm special black blue LED intake fans with front speed control
- 1 side 120 x 25 mm fan mount (Optional)
- 1 middle 120 mm fan mount (Optional)

I still think the my current case with the fan config will provide no problems at all.....but i could be wrong, doubt it though :p 
September 5, 2011 8:11:14 PM

Sratch that idea. Since some of you have doubts about the case, I'll go with a HAF 922, but ONLY because i found it for $90!

Cooler Master HAF922 $90 (Amazon)
http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0026FCI2U

and got ADDITIONAL 200mm fan!

Cooler Master 200mm fan $14.61 (Amazon)
http://www.amazon.com/Cooler-Master-Computer-Cooling-R4...

Total $103

That 3x 200mm fans in an excellent case for $25 more than my original case with no 200mm fans.

Front: 200 mm fan x 1 Red LED on / off fan x 1 / 700 RPM / 19 dBA
Top: 200 mm fan x 1 / 700 RPM / 19 dBA
Rear: 120 mm fan x 1 / 1200 RPM / 17 dBA
Bottom: 120 / 140 mm fan x 1 (optional)
Side: 200 mm fan x 1 (optional)

Thanks for the advice :D 

I don't wanna hear anymore about AIRFLOW now LOL :) 
Amazon reviews also confirm that the Hyper 212+ fits in the case with 200mm side fan just fine. Note the lid curvature.



Here it is with HD 6950's in CrossFire



Oohh...I can't wait lol.
September 5, 2011 10:33:33 PM

Good choice on the HAF 922
September 5, 2011 11:13:53 PM

mortonww said:
Good choice on the HAF 922

Thanks for the help as well, just tell me next time that 200mm fans really push some serious air :D 
September 5, 2011 11:24:56 PM

I thought we did lol
September 5, 2011 11:33:37 PM

cgleckman said:
I thought we did lol

I guess it took a few people to voice their opinion to change my mind heh.
September 6, 2011 12:45:59 AM

newegg review:
"Pros: This card ran well in single mode. Was fast but still hot

Cons: When the card is in crossfire it has no room to ventilate heat causing lock ups. When under load it hovers around 90 degrees. The 6950 chips run hot anyway, but not that hot on other board manufacturers

Other Thoughts: There are many posts out there how the XFX ATI cards run extremely hot. I was pretty excited to get the crossfire on and now I'm stuck with 2 6950s that won't work together"
September 6, 2011 12:50:22 AM

flyordie said:
newegg review:
"Pros: This card ran well in single mode. Was fast but still hot

Cons: When the card is in crossfire it has no room to ventilate heat causing lock ups. When under load it hovers around 90 degrees. The 6950 chips run hot anyway, but not that hot on other board manufacturers

Other Thoughts: There are many posts out there how the XFX ATI cards run extremely hot. I was pretty excited to get the crossfire on and now I'm stuck with 2 6950s that won't work together"


There's stuff like that with every PC component...sucks for him. I can't fix his problems. There's hundreds more that have the exact same CFX setup that is working just fine.

Also, I can just about GUARANTEE he isn't running a 200mm case fan directly on top of them either, like I am.
September 6, 2011 1:57:16 AM

1.wouldn't be better to go with a single GPU now (like 580) and add one later when needed?
2. Why is OCZ Vertex 3 better than Crucial M4?
September 6, 2011 2:29:17 AM

Just had to make a MAJOR update. I had to switch the GPU's! Upon MUCH closer inspection, the previous XFX cards do NOT have the dual BIOS option. Apparently, many of these cards are being phased out because AMD wants to make more $$ on their newer cards (go figure). These things are COMPLETELY SOLD OUT at newegg. There's like 2 other models as well that are left, one is made by sapphire (no dual displayport) and another by MSI, but it's $299. Hurry and buy yours before AMD wipes out the dual BIOS option! All in all, the extra $73 i had to tack on is much worth it, plus the $25 for a much better airflow case, totaling $100 extra.

What a mess of orders i have to deal with now lol!

P.S. You don't have a dual BIOS card unless you have one like this
September 6, 2011 2:33:07 AM

flyordie said:
1.wouldn't be better to go with a single GPU now (like 580) and add one later when needed?
2. Why is OCZ Vertex 3 better than Crucial M4?


1. Although I am buying the 6950 card, they are "unlockable" to be 6970's. Please see the link from anandtech's benchmark comparing the 6970CF vs. 580 SLI

http://www.anandtech.com/bench/Product/298?vs=308

You can pay ~$550 going with AMD, or $1,000 with NVIDIA for the same performance, or a HD 6990 (cant Crossfire) for ~$750...your choice :sol: 

That's why these "dual BIOS" cards are flying off the shelf.

2. For the SSD...Well, there's nothing wrong either way, the differences are negligible in real life, but the Vertex 3 is faster. I just got a "discount" on mine that I can't disclose.
!