System Builder Marathon, March 2011: $500 Gaming PC

Graphics Card And Hard Drive

Graphics Card: Sapphire 100315L Radeon HD 6850 1 GB

It didn’t take long scouring Newegg’s graphics selection before a lone $170 Radeon HD 6850 jumped out as the card I wanted to use in this build. The reference-clocked Sapphire 100315L is a step above Nvidia's GeForce GTX 460 768 MB used in December for (at the time) a relatively minimal increase in cost.

Read Customer Reviews of Sapphire's Radeon HD 6850 1 GB


You can get the full scoop on AMD's Radeon HD 6850 1 GB in our Barts launch review.

Hard Drive: Samsung Spinpoint F4 HD322GJ 320 GB

Read Customer Reviews of Samsung's Spinpoint F4 320 GB


We chose the same Samsung Spinpoint F4 HD322GJ/U 320 GB SATA drive as before for its 16 MB data cache, and its ability to serve up 320 GB of capacity at the lowest price on Newegg.

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98 comments
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  • tacoslave
    i think orange looks spiffy
    3
  • abswindows7
    worst case in the world.
    -5
  • LuckyDucky7
    "I’ll certainly entertain the possibility of Intel’s newly-available Core i3-2100 for the next SBM."

    Have fun overclocking that rig!

    I'd choose my O/C'd i3-530 @ 3.75 GHz (stock, air-cooled) over any of the new Sandy Bridge offerings any day.
    The 2100 just cannot compete with that- it's marginally better than a first-gen i3, and it cannot be pushed harder.

    *Hopes Bulldozer will be ready by that time*
    1
  • wolfram23
    Pretty darn good for $500!
    4
  • Judguh
    Good Build!
    2
  • hmp_goose
    Need the optical drive?
    4
  • haplo602
    now finaly a low SBM build I like.

    ++ on the PSU (finaly not a 500W+ waste)
    + on the case (looks decent)
    3
  • lunyone
    Pretty good build for the $. I would've gone with the Athlon x4 or x3 to keep things under budget, but that is just me. There are plenty of GPU options in the ~$170 price range. I think you might've got one of "those" GPU's that you read about. This is why "expecting" OC'ing abilities with whatever part you buy, shouldn't be taken for granted. Buy what you can afford and if you get a good OC on your parts, feel blessed:)
    2
  • lunyone
    I would've taken the savings on the CPU and bought better RAM or maybe even a different case, but that is just nit picking a bit :)
    1
  • one-shot
    Would someone please explain the point of comparing the old SBM to the new one if there isn't a list of the parts from the SBM done in the past? These have always been annoying when the reader is forced to look back to December for a detailed list of parts. This has been practiced for years here. It makes no sense comparing to something the reader has no idea as to the parts being used in the past. Seriously....

    Edit: Why Did I get a Minus one the second after my post was submitted?
    -10
  • Marcus52
    Very nice build for the price. However, I simply can't help but think for another hundred or so dollars a Sandy Bridge build would be worth saving up another couple of months for by the person who had a very tight budget. It's what I'd recommend to a friend, unless he/she had an immediate need that couldn't wait.

    ;)
    1
  • cangelini
    one-shotWould someone please explain the point of comparing the old SBM to the new one if there isn't a list of the parts from the SBM done in the past? These have always been annoying when the reader is forced to look back to December for a detailed list of parts. This has been practiced for years here. It makes no sense comparing to something the reader has no idea as to the parts being used in the past. Seriously....Edit: Why Did I get a Minus one the second after my post was submitted?


    There is a list, but it requires reading the story through page eight, at least =)
    7
  • mraltoid19
    Nice system! I don't know if a SB cpu will be much better. Bear in mind that the SB would have to be the i3 due to price. And as a Dual-Core with no ability to overclock what-so-ever, it may have a heck of a time going up against a true quad-core. On this config, I would have dropped down from the X4 925 to the X4 640. Then used the saved $25 towards a 6870 ( http://www.newegg.com/Product/ProductList.aspx?Description=Radeon+6870&Submit=ENE&DEPA=0&Order=BESTMATCH&sourceid=mozilla-search) Cheapest at Newegg is $190 (not to mention a $20 rebate, that brings it down to $170).
    1
  • SpadeM
    Actually there is a new review .. sort of ... for the 2100 in which it shows some pretty interesting numbers, and it's available here:
    http://www.phoronix.com/scan.php?page=article&item=intel_corei3_2100&num=1

    Numbers aside, looking forward to the next SBM.
    1
  • Marcus52
    one-shotWould someone please explain the point of comparing the old SBM to the new one if there isn't a list of the parts from the SBM done in the past? These have always been annoying when the reader is forced to look back to December for a detailed list of parts. This has been practiced for years here. It makes no sense comparing to something the reader has no idea as to the parts being used in the past. Seriously....Edit: Why Did I get a Minus one the second after my post was submitted?


    I hope Tomshardware editors never stoop to writing reviews geared to people that won't make the effort to look up past articles.
    0
  • dco
    Quote:
    I hope Tomshardware editors never stoop to writing reviews geared to people that won't make the effort to look up past articles.


    yeah because who would want to live in a world that's convenient......
    4
  • one-shot
    delete please!
    -2
  • one-shot
    cangeliniThere is a list, but it requires reading the story through page eight, at least =)


    Sorry, can't read with my foot in my mouth. :)
    5
  • Marcus52
    mraltoid19Nice system! I don't know if a SB cpu will be much better. Bear in mind that the SB would have to be the i3 due to price. And as a Dual-Core with no ability to overclock what-so-ever, it may have a heck of a time going up against a true quad-core. On this config, I would have dropped down from the X4 925 to the X4 640. Then used the saved $25 towards a 6870 ( http://www.newegg.com/Product/Prod [...] la-search) Cheapest at Newegg is $190 (not to mention a $20 rebate, that brings it down to $170).


    I was thinking it would be more in my first post, but a quad-core SB can be had for $60 more, a mainboard can be had for $5 more, so now that I've actually looked it up, you can get into an i5 Sandy Bridge with a decent Asrock mainboard for a total of another $65. Overclocking on the stock cooler? My guess is results would be similar.

    That would be a 13% increase in price, and I'd be willing to bet the overall performance difference would be more than that.

    The better you know your software needs, the better you can tailor your system. I think a lot of gamers would shift as you would for the better graphics card, but that would actually hurt some games that need the stronger CPU. World of Warcraft is an example - while Cataclysm brought changes that make the video card much more important, the CPU is still a major player and when player populations get high the most critical element. It's something I think FPS multiplayer gamers might think about as well.

    ;)
    2
  • cangelini
    one-shotI have lots of respect for the editors at Toms, don't get me wrong. I'm sure many other readers would also prefer a list of the previous SMB, as well. Searching through an article for components to compare the two is very inconvenient.Please take this into consideration on the next SBM.-Thanks!


    Thanks one-shot, but I'm not sure how else I can help you here. The complete list of comparison hardware is right there on the page called Test System Configuration And Benchmarks. You have this quarter's hardware and last quarter's hardware in successive tables. I'm not sure how much more convenient we can make it. If you have any suggestions, please suggest away!
    Best,
    Chris
    4