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System Builder Marathon, Q3 2013: $2550 Performance PC

System Builder Marathon, Q3 2013: $2550 Performance PC
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System Builder Marathon, Q3 2013: The Articles

Here are links to each of the five articles in this quarter’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.

To enter the giveaway, please fill out this SurveyGizmo form, and be sure to read the complete rules before entering!

Day 1: The $650 Gaming PC
Day 2: The $1300 Enthusiast PC
Day 3: The $2550 Performance PC
Day 4: Performance And Value, Dissected
Day 5: The $350 Bonus Entry-Level PC

Introduction

Last quarter I was given a huge $2600 budget, from which I was allowed to pack the greatest amount of performance into the least amount of space. I didn’t find the mini-ITX theme we all sang to particularly confining though, because I picked one of the largest two-slot cases on the market. As a result of my enclosure and some carefully-planned cooling, I was even able to push that compact system with a massive overclock.

This month we’re back to full ATX, which means I don't need to plan out the cooling system as carefully. Instead, the large increase in case size and available components forces me to calm down a bit in order to stay within budget. Truth be told, I had a hard time spending all of my funding last time around. But given my plan this time around, it's going to be equally difficult to not go way over the top. 

My plan? Oh, I want to one-up the previous build in as many ways as I can afford to. I still have as much as $2600 if I need it, but I'm going to try to stay as close to the previous machine's $2451 price as possible. Perturbed by the notion of paying more to get fewer features on a smaller mini-ITX motherboard, I'm going big on the platform, its interface, the memory subsystem, and even the graphics configuration fed by those devices.

Q3 2013 $2550 Performance PC Components
ProcessorIntel Core i7-3930K: 3.2-3.8 GHz, Six-Core, 12 MB Shared L3 Cache$570
Graphics3 x EVGA 04G-P4-2766-KR GeForce GTX 760 4 GB in SLI$900
MotherboardASRock X79 Extreme6: LGA 2011, Intel X79 Express$220
MemoryMushkin Enhanced 993988S: DDR3-1600 C9, 16 GB (4 x 4 GB) $125
System DriveMushkin MKNSSDCR240GB-DX: 240 GB, SATA 6Gb/s SSD$175
Storage DriveWD WD30EZRX: 3 TB, SATA 6Gb/s HDD$129
OpticalPioneer BDR-2208: 15x BD-R, 16x DVD±R$81
CaseLian Li PC-9NA Aluminum ATX Mid-Tower$109
PowerCorsair HX850: 850 W Modular, ATX12V v2.3, 80 PLUS Gold$150
CPU CoolerNoctua NH-D14 SE2011 $85
Total Price
$2544

Though the original build sheet totaled just under $2500, that order was delayed by a few weeks. Some temporary discounts went away, and while others took their place, the overall price remains higher than I preferred. I still stayed within the $2600 limit however, so I'm the only one among the builder team who's disappointed by the extra expense. I was, after all, trying to get this build to match its predecessor's price.

Display 88 Comments.
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Top Comments
  • 12 Hide
    Crashman , September 25, 2013 3:32 AM
    Quote:
    at 2k and above, there should not be any hhd's, just ssd, evo 750gb maybe, hdd is sad.
    That my friend is an opinion. And one in fact that many of us would consider wrong. If you had the money for a 750GB SSD and a bunch of storage, you could buy three 2 TB HDD's for RAID 5 and have enough money left for an expensive dinner.

Other Comments
  • 7 Hide
    rolli59 , September 24, 2013 9:20 PM
    Nice one I got surprised, Tri SLI! I can see why editors wanted to try it knowing that the GTX770 is just an power efficient and overclocked GTX680.
  • 7 Hide
    CaptainTom , September 24, 2013 9:27 PM
    3x7970's would decimate this build for the same amount of money...
  • 9 Hide
    slomo4sho , September 24, 2013 9:27 PM
    The gaming benchmarks are surprisingly disappointing. Maybe going with a 3770K/4770k with three 7970 or 770 may have provides better results.
  • 8 Hide
    Crashman , September 24, 2013 9:36 PM
    Quote:
    3x7970's would decimate this build for the same amount of money...
    Not sure about decimating, but it would have cost a little more and not filled Paul's curiosity. IIRC, the 760 4GB's were around $20 cheaper on order day.

    On the other hand, Paul's single GPU was OK with 2GB. I figured we'd need a jump to 4GB with 3-way on his GPU, but 3GB on the 7970 probably would have been enough. Also, a total difference of $60 still would have fit within the budget limit, so, maybe Ivy-Bridge E and Radeons for the next build?

    Quote:
    This build proves that spending the most money does not equal to best performance.
    In order to prove what you're saying, I would have needed to search for worse-performing overpriced parts. You'll see on Day 4 that this build has the best performance of the three. So this build actually doesn't prove anything, except maybe that six core processors boost six-core benchmarks and that more graphics power gives you better frame rates at 5760x1080 (etc). But we didn't actually need any proof for those things, did we?
  • 9 Hide
    lp231 , September 24, 2013 9:42 PM
    This build proves that spending the most money does not equal to best performance. It's all about balance and most of the time, it's getting 2 or more graphic cards that drives these systems pass the $2K mark. If I had $2550 to spend on a build, I know that half of the $2550 won't be going towards 3 graphic cards.
  • 4 Hide
    slomo4sho , September 24, 2013 9:45 PM
    Quote:
    Maybe Ivy-Bridge E and Radeons for the next build?


    Tom, the future builds need to have better budget tiers. The doubling of the funds in each tier is fine in certain cases but it doesn't provide real insight into hardware choices. Having the tiers with a fixed figure increase such as a $250-400 increase in budget per tier would make more sense. Also, I would love to see the comeback of the $500 budget builds.

    Lastly, what happen to the idea of themes each quarter?
  • 7 Hide
    CaptainTom , September 24, 2013 9:47 PM
    ^ Check the prices. A 7970 is the same price as the 4GB 760's. A 7970 is 20% faster than the a 760 and that lead grows at higher resolutions. Just look at how 3x7970's gain on 3xTitans...
  • 5 Hide
    Yargnit , September 24, 2013 10:30 PM
    I'm assuming going with Nvida as opposed to AMD video cards had to do with AMD not fully supporting frame-pacing across multiple monitors and all settings. Thus with 3-way video cards they wanted to go with what would provide the smoothest experience.
  • 0 Hide
    persuse , September 25, 2013 12:55 AM
    not overclockable ram ?
  • 6 Hide
    piklar , September 25, 2013 1:15 AM
    SLI GTX 780s with 4770K combo would smash this build out of the park for the same cost. Also a case with decent airflow might have been better..
  • 5 Hide
    slomo4sho , September 25, 2013 1:29 AM
    Quote:
    SLI GTX 780s with 4770K combo would smash this build out of the park for the same cost. Also a case with decent airflow might have been better..


    Not quite... the three cards, CPU, and motherboard total $1690.
    2x 780 = $1300
    This would leave $390 for the CPU and board... The 4770K is currently $340 so you end up with $50 for the board. Although the extra $75-100 may have resulted in better performance than what is observed in this article, going with 3 7970s with a 4770K may have provided better performance at a lower cost.
  • 1 Hide
    ojas , September 25, 2013 2:36 AM
    Agree with Yargnit, CrossFire performance isn't something to write home about.

    @Article: I guess this build is more balanced as it does everything well, though a part of me is a bit dissappointed with the gaming benchies.

    SB-E's showing it's age, i guess.

    Thomas: Time to upgrade your gaming benchmarks, maybe? Games like Crysis 3 should be included IMO. FC3 is a good thing to keep. BF3, maybe not.

    Other suggestions:
    Arma 3, TW: Rome II.
  • -2 Hide
    Plusthinking Iq , September 25, 2013 2:42 AM
    at 2k and above, there should not be any hhd's, just ssd, evo 750gb maybe, hdd is sad. and one 780, sli is not worth it, i do not agree with cheap all in one closed watercooling, to noisy, expensive and noisy is bad, and in a few years its slow and noisy pc.
  • 7 Hide
    Traciatim , September 25, 2013 3:27 AM
    These crazy over priced special purpose machines are kind of silly. We already know tri-sli doesn't scale well unless you a pushing a huge amount of pixels. Thr huge budgets make it so it's easy to go overboard on something in almost every tier. I think you should keep it at 500-1000-1500. At least that way the budget causes the machines to have some better constraints.
  • 12 Hide
    Crashman , September 25, 2013 3:32 AM
    Quote:
    at 2k and above, there should not be any hhd's, just ssd, evo 750gb maybe, hdd is sad.
    That my friend is an opinion. And one in fact that many of us would consider wrong. If you had the money for a 750GB SSD and a bunch of storage, you could buy three 2 TB HDD's for RAID 5 and have enough money left for an expensive dinner.

  • 0 Hide
    piklar , September 25, 2013 3:48 AM
    Id have gone for the $2600 to see how far I could push it performance wise. A 4770K with SLI GTX 780s, $340 for the 4770K , $1300 for the cards, MSI Z87-G45 for $145 , Ripjaws X Series (2 x 4GB) DDR3 2133 for $80 totals $1865 leaving $735 towards the case Raven RV03 for airflow, decent 900-1000W PSU, Cooling (hyper 212 Evo would be fine in push/pull) SSD - Samsung 840 EVO 250gb with 2TB of storage is fine and any cheapo diskdrive dvd burner. This build would destroy the build in the article..
  • 4 Hide
    iam2thecrowe , September 25, 2013 4:03 AM
    Quote:
    3x7970's would decimate this build for the same amount of money...


    yes it might produce more FPS as recorded by FRAPS...............but would not produce smoother game play
  • 0 Hide
    iam2thecrowe , September 25, 2013 4:06 AM
    Quote:
    Id have gone for the $2600 to see how far I could push it performance wise. A 4770K with SLI GTX 780s, $340 for the 4770K , $1300 for the cards, MSI Z87-G45 for $145 , Ripjaws X Series (2 x 4GB) DDR3 2133 for $80 totals $1865 leaving $735 towards the case Raven RV03 for airflow, decent 900-1000W PSU, Cooling (hyper 212 Evo would be fine in push/pull) SSD - Samsung 840 EVO 250gb with 2TB of storage is fine and any cheapo diskdrive dvd burner. This build would destroy the build in the article..


    i totally agree with this, but i would figure out how to fit a corsair h100 liquid cooler in there. Even just a pair of 770's overclocked would have been a good choice.
  • 3 Hide
    Onus , September 25, 2013 4:27 AM
    Who would build and use this PC, other than a tech-site hardware editor? I really believe the actual [type of] user needs to be identified for the high-tier "professional" PC. As a result, once again I'm disappointed in what looks like clear lack of value in this build. I usually stew over my responses to these builds, and I'll have more to say about this one, but I really didn't care for it. Hopefully my contemplations over the next few hours will answer the "Why?" question a little better. As it is, I'm really looking forward to seeing the value that one of you guys squeezes out of the $350 build.
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