System Builder Marathon, December 2010: $2000 PC

CPU And Memory

CPU: Intel Core i7-950

Intel’s Core i7-950 was priced only $10 higher than its i7-930, yet it carries a rated speed of 3.06 GHz compared to the cheaper processor’s 2.80 GHz. That sounds like a high-value upgrade to us!

Read Customer Reviews of Intel's Core i7-950


The base multiplier for the i7-950 jumps up to 23x (compared to the i7-930’s 21x multiplier), opening up a few more options when it comes to overclocking. And speaking of overclocking, the process of speed-binning—where a manufacturer determines which CPU runs best at higher speeds—means that we’re more likely to get a “good” overclock from this higher-rated part.

DRAM: Mushkin Essentials 998586

The best overclocking-value memory we’ve tested over the past two years have all used Micron’s D9KPT chips, but we’ve also found that these particular chips work slightly better without heat spreaders. That lead us to use Crucial’s bare modules (at least until the company raised its prices to the point where competing brands were far cheaper). So, imagine our surprise when we found this at Newegg:

Yes, Newegg was carrying the same Micron D9KPT chips, on the same Micron circuit boards, under a different brand, at a 40% lower price. Epic win, right? We placed our order pronto, and a few days later this is what we received:

Read Customer Reviews of Mushkin's 6 GB DDR3-1333 Kit


The part number on the chips corresponds to Hynix commodity-grade memory, parts that are so ordinary that the manufacturer didn’t even bother to put its brand on them. This is certain to put a crimp in our overclocking plans.

Not only are these far lower-grade than the parts we expected from Mushkin, but they’re organized completely differently, with twice the density. That means a module from the current part number 998586 set can’t even be mixed in multichannel mode with a module from the previous 998586 set, even though both carry the same part number. We realize that both versions of this model number are only guaranteed to be stable at the same 1.50 V, DDR3-1333 and lowly 9-9-9-24 timings, but shouldn’t cross-compatibility for modules of the same part number also be guaranteed? For shame Mushkin, for shame…

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131 comments
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  • amk09
    The link to enter the giveaway doesn't work!

    I would love to be first to enter :)
    0
  • micr0be
    i think im gona get a revo 2 drive ssd to upgrade my current build.... all thanks to santa !!
    2
  • Tamz_msc
    Its good to know that choosing the wrong memory can affect performance in such a way.
    7
  • fstrthnu
    I'm pretty surprised we didn't see Geforce GTX 570s in this build, I guess they got released too late to make it here.
    7
  • fstrthnu
    >> First time in recent memory
    "Cough Cough" Lame Pun
    2
  • jerreece
    Wow that Mushkin memory really jacked up this benchmark.
    2
  • kkiddu
    Most perfect build ever ? Just read the configs yet, and I think that's a possibility.

    Now don't skin me if the config proves to be a flop in the coming pages. Just read the first page and couldn't resist a comment.
    -1
  • hemburger
    Why not replace the two ssd's with a single intel 120gb... same price and now on 35nm
    -5
  • kkiddu
    I think this one can be trimmed to a very good $1500 build as well. Change the CPU to i5 760, remove one of the cards, one of the SSDs, and you'll need lower capacity PSU for that, let's slash $30-$50 there, you get a very good PC for $1500.
    -1
  • kkiddu
    And oh, cheapen the case as well. There's no free lunch. You gotta sacrifice some silence to gains some frame rates.
    -1
  • duk3
    Get rid of MW2 in benchmarks for Battlefield Bad Company 2 and add in Starcraft 2 in my opinion. Nice computer, that's too bad about the memory.
    6
  • gti88
    Having $2000, I would take i5 760 + 2 x gtx580
    7
  • barmaley
    I agree with the people above who mentioned i5 760 and GTX 570. I was thinking the same thing when I saw the config. IMO, $2000 would give you far better performance in games, especially with high resolution and quality:

    GIGABYTE GA-P55A-UD3 LGA 1156 - $125
    Intel i5 760 - $205
    Scythe Mugen 2 - 47
    Cooler Master HAF 932 - $140
    GTX 570 2x SLI $700
    Samsung F3 1TB - $70
    Crucial 128GB C300 - $275
    CORSAIR XMS 8GB (2 x 4GB) DDR3 1600 - $125
    Antec TruePower Quattro TPQ-1000 1000W - $170
    Lite-On iHBS112 Blu-ray Drive: 12x BD-R, 16x DVD±R - $120
    Total: $1977

    All prices without rebates included. The $23 left over can be used to pay for the shipping where applicable. Also, an SSD can be replaced for a cheaper one to save a little money, if that's your thing.
    1
  • styrkes
    But isn't this worse than the previous $2000 PC?
    1
  • Tamz_msc
    @barmaley
    Everything is fine except the motherboard and here's why:
    http://www.hardware-revolution.com/p55-motherboards-crossfire-sli-performance-problem/
    -1
  • nyrychvantel
    why is single intel 120GB better than 2x 64GB RAID 0? I thought the later twice the speed than a single SSD?
    1
  • gti88
    $2000 config with TWO gtx 580:
    ASUS Maximus III Formula LGA 1156 - $179
    Core i5-760 - $205
    Noctua NH-U12P - $75
    Kingston DDR3 4gb - $56
    ENERMAX REVOLUTION85+ 920W - $200
    SAMSUNG Spinpoint F4 2Tb - $100
    COOLER MASTER CM690 II Advanced Black Steel - $80
    GTX580 x2 (SLI) - $1100

    Total price: $2005
    2
  • barmaley
    This build with 2 GTX 580 is nice. The only thing is that a lot people would have a problem paying $2000 and not getting blue ray and SSD. Not that it affects gaming in a big way as much as a good graphics card does, but it still counts.
    -1
  • nevertell
    gti88$2000 config with TWO gtx 580:ASUS Maximus III Formula LGA 1156 - $179Core i5-760 - $205Noctua NH-U12P - $75Kingston DDR3 4gb - $56ENERMAX REVOLUTION85+ 920W - $200SAMSUNG Spinpoint F4 2Tb - $100COOLER MASTER CM690 II Advanced Black Steel - $80GTX580 x2 (SLI) - $1100Total price: $2005

    Good for gaming and nothing else.
    1
  • SpadeM
    Probably one of the most balanced (and i mean that in a good way) build i've seen in a while. (though i do miss the exotic 4x4850 from Don a while back, and i do hope u bring that back some day)
    Tamz_mscIts good to know that choosing the wrong memory can affect performance in such a way.

    And yes +1 for that and for Thomas, i'm looking forward to a follow-up article on that specific issue.
    3