System Builder Marathon, September 2009: The Articles
Here are links to each of the four articles in this month’s System Builder Marathon (we’ll update them as each story is published). And remember, these systems are all being given away at the end of the marathon. After some delay (sorry folks), the contest is ready to be entered. Please visit the entry page, here.
As you may recall, the previous System Builder Marathon (SBM) from May 2009 entailed assembling PCs around a portable theme. The $600 Gaming PC was built within a $90 cube-style case, leaving roughly $500 for the remaining system components. Sporting an Intel Pentium E5200 and BFG GeForce GTX 260 Core 216 graphics card, this system was impressive once overclocked, but the processor’s stock performance still left much to be desired. Having the size limitations now lifted, the goal for this September 2009 system was to kick things up a notch and build the best budget gaming machine our SBM series has seen to date.
We overclock our SBM PCs to squeeze more performance from each budget, but also realize not all of our readers put the same value into overclocked performance. Our two higher-budget systems still usually deliver solid performance before overclocking, but typically the cheapest system has been built from the ground up for its overclocking potential. This time, we not only aim to increase the gaming performance from our overclocked system, but also want a far more capable stock-clocked machine. To accomplish our goal, we’ll increase our CPU budget and turn towards AMD’s Phenom II line of processors.
We also desired more graphics muscle, so in another first for our budget PC, we managed to squeeze a pair of AMD Radeon HD 4850 graphics cards into the mix. Rounding out this Dragon platform is an AMD 790X/SB750 motherboard with CrossFire support.
Once again we needed to make some sacrifices while increasing our typical $625 budget just a bit, but the end result should be well worth the effort. Before we highlight each choice, let’s take a look at the complete component list for this month’s $650 Gaming PC.
$650 Gaming PC System Components
|CPU||AMD Phenom II X2 550 Black Edition||$103|
|CPU Cooler||AMD Boxed Heatsink/Fan||0|
| RAM||OCZ 4GB (2 x 2GB) DDR2 1066 (PC2 8500) Model OCZ2G10664GK||$50|
|Graphics||2 x Sapphire 100245HDMI Radeon HD 4850 512MB||$190|
|Hard Drive||Western Digital Caviar Blue WD5000AAKS 500GB||$57|
|Case||Rosewill Wind Ryder RZLS142A-P BK ||$30|
|Power||Antec EarthWatts EA650 650W||$80|
|Optical Drive||Samsung Black 22X DVD Burner SATA Model SH-S223B||$27|
- Enter The Dragon
- CPU And Cooler
- Motherboard And Memory
- Graphics Cards And Hard Drive
- Case, Power Supply, And Optical Drive
- System Assembly
- Test System Configuration And Benchmarks
- 3D Games: Crysis And Far Cry 2
- 3D Games: World in Conflict, Fallout 3, And Tom Clancy’s H.A.W.X.
- Benchmark Results: Audio/Video Encoding
- Benchmark Results: Productivity
- Benchmark Results: Synthetics
- Power Consumption