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Video Cards, Power Supply, And Case

System Builder Marathon, March 2010: $1,500 Enthusiast PC

Video Cards: 2 x Radeon HD 5850 in CrossFire

In the previous SBM, the Radeon HD 5800-series was brand new and suffered from widespread shortages. Fortunately, the availability issues are largely a thing of the past, and the entire Radeon HD 5000-series can be found plentifully in retail channels (although, ironically, the model we've used here is out of stock on Newegg as of this writing).

Of course, there has to be something for us to complain about: the price of the Radeon HD 5850 seems to be going up, not down. For a card that was supposed to cost $260 at release, you probably won't find any for under $310. What you will find at $260 is the vastly inferior Radeon HD 5830. This is why having one company locking down an entire segment is a bad idea, no matter which vendor you prefer. It's in everyone's best interest to have more than one viable option at any given price point. It's hard to blame AMD for making a solid profit when its market position allows it to, but we'd sure like to see some competition to drive prices down and provide a solid alternative.

Read Customer Reviews of PowerColor's Radeon HD 5850

Resist as we might against the rising prices, there is still nothing that comes close to the gaming value that two Radeon HD 5850 cards provide in a CrossFire configuration. One of these cards is fantastic, but two of them working together are a devastating force.

Power Supply: Corsair CMPSU-750TX

Read Customer Reviews of Corsair's CMPSU-750TX

We've been big fans of Corsair's 750TX for a while now, and it's not hard to figure out why. At $110, there is little else that compares when it comes to stability and efficiency from a 750W PSU. The single 60 amp rail won't disappoint as it drives a pair of Radeon HD 5850s, and the 80 PLUS efficiency rating means it won't waste a lot of power while doing it.

Case: Cooler Master CM 690

Read Customer Reviews of Cooler Master's CM 690

The NZXT M59 we chose the last time around did a fantastic job for the price, but this time we thought we'd spend a few extra dollars for something with a little more airflow out of the box. Cooler Master's CM 690 comes with three 120mm fans from the factory and is an attractive, well-built enclosure with a lot of space. For $80, it's hard to find a solid alternative.

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