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System Builder Marathon, Sept. 2010: $1000 Enthusiast PC

System Builder Marathon, Sept. 2010: $1000 Enthusiast PC

System Builder Marathon, September 2010: 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.

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

Day 1: The $2,000 Performance PC
Day 2: The $1,000 Enthusiast PC
Day 3: The $400 Gaming PC
Day 4: Performance And Value, Dissected


In the previous System Builder Marathon (SBM), we lowered our mid-range budget from $1500 to $1000. In order to compete with the preceding $1500 build on the graphics front, we opted for a Radeon HD 5830 CrossFire configuration. The $1000 limit forced us to make some compromises in the rest of the system, and we gambled on an OEM Phenom II X3 720—the risk paid off, and the CPU successfully unlocked with four fully-functioning processor cores. The end result performed admirably against the preceding quarter's $1500 PC, especially considering the $500-lower buy-in.

This time around, we put together what we consider a more balanced system. We considered a Phenom II X6, but since Thomas Soderstromchose that platform for his high-end machine, we thought it'd be more interesting to go with an Intel Core i5-750 to compare results.

With that said, here are the components we chose for the new midrange $1000 enthusiast system:

$1,000 Enthusiast System Components
MotherboardAsus P7P55D-E LX
LGA 1156, Intel P55 chipset
ProcessorIntel Core i5-750
 2.66 GHz, Four Cores, 8 MB L3 Cache
CPU Cooler
Cooler Master HyperTX 3
MemoryCrucial 4 GB (2 x 2 GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3-1333
Dual-Channel Desktop Memory Kit
GraphicsMSI GeForce GTX 470
1280 MB GDDR5-3348
Hard DrivesWD Caviar Black 640 GB
640 GB, 7200 RPM, 32 MB Cache SATA 3Gb/s
OpticalLite-On iHAS124 OEM
24x DVD+R, 8x DVD+RW, 48x CD ROM
CaseAntec Three Hundred
PowerCorsair CMPSU-650TX 650 W
ATX12V, EPS12V , 80 PLUS Certified
 Total Cost$985

With current pricing, this system is actually $15 below our $1000 target, yet we make no significant compromises in any particular area. Let’s examine our hardware choices.

Display 73 Comments.
  • -8 Hide
    Anonymous , September 7, 2010 6:37 AM
    Wonder why the i5 vs the 1055t? I mean, the 1055t is pretty close to the i7 in multithreaded apps, and enthusiasts tend to run multithreaded programs.
  • 8 Hide
    cleeve , September 7, 2010 7:33 AM
    E_manWonder why the i5 vs the 1055t?

    This isn't really an i5 vs. 1055T article, there aren't even any 1055T performance numbers here. It's focused on the current $1000 PC vs the previous $1000 PC.

    Having said that, performance between all the builds will be compared in the upcoming conclusion article, and the ~$200 price of both the i5-750 and 1055T more than justifies a comparison. I'm certainly interested in seeing how they stack up against one another.

    E_man I mean, the 1055t is pretty close to the i7 in multithreaded apps, and enthusiasts tend to run multithreaded programs.

    Enthusiasts run a lot of stuff, heavily threaded and sometimes only using a processor. Enthusiasts play games, too, and those rarely take advantage of more than two or three cores...
  • -4 Hide
    SpadeM , September 7, 2010 11:18 AM
    Quick question: what's the setting for the gpu acceleration in adobe photoshop?
  • 6 Hide
    Tamz_msc , September 7, 2010 11:22 AM
    Prices have dropped these days.You can add GTX 460 768 MB SLI if you look for combos and MIRs.A great build nonetheless.Why didn't you get the Antec three hundred Illusion?It comes with the front fans pre-installed for 10 bucks more.
  • 6 Hide
    dauthus , September 7, 2010 11:24 AM
    I was hoping to see a pair of of gtx 460's in SLI, but I suppose that would have put the build slightly over budget. While I generally prefer single graphic solutions, the gf100 architecture makes me sad.
  • 3 Hide
    elel , September 7, 2010 11:43 AM
    dauthusI was hoping to see a pair of of gtx 460's in SLI, but I suppose that would have put the build slightly over budget. While I generally prefer single graphic solutions, the gf100 architecture makes me sad.

    I'm guessing that these cards weren't out at the time.
  • 3 Hide
    Anonymous , September 7, 2010 12:14 PM
    Its really impressive on how intel i5 can perform and power up that gtx 470, makin it better choise than 2 ati at same money!

    Intel really makes difference , that´s why it been always a little more pricey i guess...
  • 0 Hide
    willgart , September 7, 2010 12:31 PM
    good point... what is the today price of the june 1000$ system? could you include the June 2000$ system in the comparison too?
    so will have a june 850$(?) vs august 1000$ vs june 1700$(?) comparison.
  • -4 Hide
    burnley14 , September 7, 2010 12:40 PM
    If you knew you were going in $15 under budget, why not spend it on a couple extra case fans or something similar to squeeze out a little more performance from the system?
  • 3 Hide
    jgv115 , September 7, 2010 1:00 PM
    I'm glad the GTX470 is being more competitive, it even stands up to a HD5830 Crossfire and the price is dropping! This is great for nvidia.

    Good article! I love reading these :) 

    Keep up the good work Tom's!
  • 7 Hide
    Marcus52 , September 7, 2010 1:37 PM
    iamtheking123I think the question you guys are missing is: do you really need to spend $1000? As it stands you could build the June $1000 PC today for about $850 or so. And I have no doubt that a system like that would have no problem gaming a few years into the future. In terms of sheer performance, this build is better, but the June build is far more bang for the buck.

    Why spend more than $400? You can buy a computer for that. Why even buy a computer at all, you don't need one. In fact, imagine all the money you could save without having to pay for internet access and upgrading and all.

    Get rid of the cell phone too - a land line is all you need. And, why do you need more than the TV you can get that's broadcast through the air for free? Forget cable and all that nonsense.

    /end sarcasm
  • 2 Hide
    Moores Law , September 7, 2010 1:40 PM
    that's a nice build for that price. the i5 and 470 is a perfect match for bang for bux performance.

    keep it up guys.
  • -2 Hide
    doron , September 7, 2010 1:48 PM
    I never understand you reporters at toms, you barely show game benchmarks with the highest graphical details possible (with the exception of Mr. Soderstorm's review here). I can't think of any reason not to crank up graphics performance as much as I can in games, especially when I buy a 1000$ + system, unless I want to demonstrate my cpu prowess, but that's why all the other benchmarks are for aren't they?
  • 2 Hide
    Ubrales , September 7, 2010 1:52 PM
    Good informative article! Good benchmark info particularly about Adobe PS, Autodesk, and Gaming.
  • -5 Hide
    hemelskonijn , September 7, 2010 2:06 PM

    Though you where being sarcastic for the lot of us your right, i just bought a brand new prebuild system including a phenom II x6 (1055t) 4 gigs of ram a raid 0 disk setup (2x 1tb 7200rpm 32meg WD10EADS) and and a sad radeon 5450 and though the graphics card is out of style and needs replacement already i don't think i have much to complain about considering this build cost me little under 600 euro including shipping and handling.

    I use a land line combined with voip (yes i use it on my mobile to) so i really only pay for my mobile internet and my DSL. And i get my TV from a combination of Free To Air DVB-S and DVB-T wich works well and gets me over 30 channels in full HD at the cost of a setop box two dishes 3 LNB and a DiSEq switch. No cable provider will give me that much HD content specially not for free!

    The conclusion could be that i am an enthusiast on a budget and i don't need 2k or even 1k rigs. That is not to say i don't like reading up on them or would not accept one if it was send my way ... just that a lot of us can do with a lot less on a less extreme budget.

  • 0 Hide
    nerrawg , September 7, 2010 2:25 PM
    Great build article - was informative to see what extent a stronger CPU platform can counterbalance a stronger GPU setup even in gaming performance. Everybody seems to be talking about the Phenom II X6, but it seems to me that everything AMD phenom II series with at least 4 cores; from an unlocked B50/55 to 965 and the X6 offer pre
  • 4 Hide
    nerrawg , September 7, 2010 2:30 PM
    ... all overclock similarly (3.6-3.8 Ghz reliably) and offer the same tier of gaming performance when overclocked. Likewise the Intel quad core I5 and I7's appear to be one tier above at least - especially when overclocked. Then you just have to sit back and ask yourself what you budget is. In this regard the article appears to me to support the notion that if you are going to spend more than $1000 you should spend some extra cash on getting intel - even when going for a gaming build
  • 0 Hide
    jestersage , September 7, 2010 2:35 PM
    Very nice! Straightforward, simple to assemble and rock-solid value.

    Too bad I can only afford the poor-man's (or -enthusiast's) system build which I am looking forward to reading tomorrow.

    It seems to me this build will win out over yesterday's $2000 machine later this week when all 3 are compared. I hope the $400 build could actually squeak in an upset.

    Thanks, Tom's Hardware! Nice evening reading tonight. I'm very patiently waiting for tomorrow's article... Barely...
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