System Builder Marathon, December 2010: $2000 PC

CPU Cooling and Case

CPU Cooler: Prolimatech Megahalems with Delta 3400 RPM Fan

Our previous build ran far too hot to support a high overclock, even though we’d used the same case with far greater success in June. This month we decided to go overkill on cooling, first by using June’s superb CPU heat sink.

Read Customer Reviews of Prolimatech's Megahalems


Next, we kicked up the cooler’s capabilities with a high-flow PWM fan from Delta.


Read Customer Reviews of Delta's AFC1212D Fan


Sold as part number AFC1212D-PWM, we’ll rely on the motherboard’s fan controller to reduce noise at moderate to low thermal loads.

Case: SilverStone Fortress 2 FT02B

The other half of our previous build’s heat problem was two graphics cards that ventilated into the case, as opposed to the June build that vented externally. We already added the same graphics card type as used in the June build, so we could have used its high-value case, right?

Read Customer Reviews of SilverStone's FT02B


We could have used a high-value case, but our cooling “upgrade” increased the noise ceiling. In order to reach our highest possible CPU overclock without completely compromising usability, we instead decided to shoot for the best combination of high performance and low noise in our case selection.


Three 180 mm intake fans draw air from the sides of the Fortress 2’s base, keeping the noise far away from a user’s ears. Silverstone also lines this case with acoustic foam to dampen internal component noise, making this the only high-airflow case we’ve tested to also be given the silent treatment.

Overkill? Why yes, it probably is. Our second choice, the Lian-Li PC-8FIB, surely would have operated at low-enough temperatures in combination with our externally-venting graphics cards. Yet, while that case would have saved us $120, it would have also forced further consideration of the CPU fan’s peak noise level.

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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