System Builder Marathon, Q1 2013: $1,000 Performance PC

DRAM, Storage, And Optical Drive

Memory: Crucial Ballistix Tactical 8 GB (2 x 4 GB) DDR3-1600 Memory Kit

Over the past couple of years, several readers have shot over suggestions to try out 1.35 V DIMMs for overclocking, citing their scalability. Our own experiences often contradicted those recommendations, though. Many older modules simply couldn’t tolerate the extra voltage needed to put them over the performance curve of mid-range parts running at standard voltages. Like any other step forward in technology, however, the low-voltage stuff is significantly improved today.

Read Customer Reviews of Crucial's BLT2K4G3D1608ET3LXO 8 GB Kit


Crucial’s Ballistix Tactical LP modules are among the recent generation of low-voltage RAM that survives the 1.5-1.6 V needed to overtake similarly-priced 1.65 V champions. Furthermore, the slightly lower overclocked voltage is also a little easier on our CPU's memory controller.

Speaking of its CPU-oriented advantages, the reduced height of these low-profile modules makes extra room for oversized heat sinks, too.

SSD: Mushkin Chronos Deluxe MKNSSDCR240GB-DX

We like the performance and price-per-gigabyte of Mushkin’s 240 GB DX-series SSD, but dropping to 120 GB would have been necessary to make room for a conventional disk. After considering all of my somewhat-limited hard drive options, I gave in and kept the big SSD.

Read Customer Reviews of Mushkin's 240 GB MKNSSDCR240GB-DX


The 240 GB DX remains storage editor Andrew Ku’s top performance-value pick thanks to its SandForce controller, Toggle-mode NAND, and competitive price.

Optical Drive: Lite-On iHAS124

Dependability and price drove our optical drive selection, with the iHAS124’s 24x burn performance considered nothing more than an added feature. We might have even picked a read-only drive to load our software, if not for the fact that read-only drives cost nearly as much.

Read Customer Reviews of Lite-On's iHAS124


At this price, the question of whether people still burn DVDs is little more than a diversion. Even though I can occasionally find 8 GB thumb drives for only a few dollars, I’m still more likely to pass around the cheaper DVD media to friends and family.

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    Top Comments
  • samuelohagan
    Isn't this basically the same thing as the $800 pc but with an ssd?
    26
  • samuelohagan
    I think they should have compared the benchmarks with Q4 $1000 pc.
    20
  • Crashman
    stoogiepoor build, psu too crap, no storage. a expensive version of a 7870 for no reason at all < waste of money
    And my boss wonders why I hurl insults at people who comment without actually reading the article.

    Now instead of insults I can tell people "Don't be a stoogie". Thanks!
    19
  • Other Comments
  • samuelohagan
    Isn't this basically the same thing as the $800 pc but with an ssd?
    26
  • iknowhowtofixit
    Pretty much. Not really a fan of any of the parts other than the CPU and GPU...
    3
  • mayankleoboy1
    The only thing i could have tried to change in this build was to get a 64GB SSD , get a 500GB HDD , and if i have any money left, try to get a HD7950.
    Otherwise, not much wriggle room here. Nice build!
    2
  • Chairman Ray
    I'm not sure if having an SSD without an HDD is an attractive option for most people. 240GB goes by pretty fast.
    15
  • samuelohagan
    I think they should have compared the benchmarks with Q4 $1000 pc.
    20
  • lightofhonor
    It actually plays Skyrim WORSE than the $800 build...
    6
  • dscudella
    It's the same PC as the $800 build except they just swapped out the HDD for an SSD. Dissappointing.
    3
  • Anonymous
    where do you order your PC parts?
    -1
  • Crashman
    mayankleoboy1The only thing i could have tried to change in this build was to get a 64GB SSD , get a 500GB HDD , and if i have any money left, try to get a HD7950.Otherwise, not much wriggle room here. Nice build!
    No point, We Like Our Games To Load Fast!!!
    Chairman RayI'm not sure if having an SSD without an HDD is an attractive option for most people. 240GB goes by pretty fast.
    Programs can eat most of a 240GB drive up. In fact, I just shrunk a copy of the test suite, with OS and games, to 132 GB.

    Using the drive performance measurement to reflect program load times means loading all the programs on the SSD. And that explains why SSD capacity wasn't sacrificed to make more room in the budget for an HDD.
    lightofhonorIt actually plays Skyrim WORSE than the $800 build...
    Nobody knows why, but the $800 PC did use a newer GPU driver.
    dscudellaIt's the same PC as the $800 build except they just swapped out the HDD for an SSD. Dissappointing.
    So it's going to lose the Day 4 Value Roundup, right?
    13
  • mayankleoboy1
    dscudellaIt's the same PC as the $800 build except they just swapped out the HDD for an SSD. Dissappointing.


    Looking from another perspective, these two builds, with two different builders, with $200 difference, just show(again) how much better price/performance wise are Intel CPU's and AMD GPU's.
    7
  • mayankleoboy1
    CrashmanNo point, We Like Our Games To Load Fast!!!


    I see your point, but I'd rather see slower game loads and better FPS , than faster game loads and lower FPS. And, the OS is accelerated in both cases anyway.
    6
  • coonday
    You guys must really want me to buy that 7870 Myst Edition. I'm actually hoping to see 2 of those cards in a crossfire configuration on the $2000 build.
    3
  • Crashman
    mayankleoboy1Looking from another perspective, these two builds, with two different builders, with $200 difference, just show(again) how much better price/performance wise are Intel CPU's and AMD GPU's.
    Builder 2 copied Builder 1's power supply. Builder 1 copied builder 2's RAM. Both were stuck with the same video card due to availability issues :)
    mayankleoboy1I see your point, but I'd rather see slower game loads and better FPS , than faster game loads and lower FPS. And, the OS is accelerated in both cases anyway.
    Performance difference between Tahiti and Tahiti-LE is fairly small, right? But the price difference isn't small, is it? $1000 PC builder simply hoped for a better overclock, even though that didn't work out.
    coondayYou guys must really want me to buy that 7870 Myst Edition. I'm actually hoping to see 2 of those cards in a crossfire configuration on the $2000 build.
    Nobody wants you to buy the Myst Edition. Tahiti-LE is a good value, if you like that argument pick your favorite vender. Vender choice wasn't available on purchase day.

    But hey, I'm on board with the 7870 Myst Edition CrossFire suggestion...I'll see if we can make it happen!
    3
  • J_E_D_70
    Good call on the bigger SSD over a HDD. Not sure what folks are filling them up with. My other PC has 250GB drive with 400 or so CDs ripped to it, thousands of photos, lots of docs and the office suite and isn't full. Die mechanical drives. Just die.
    -3
  • roltzje
    Im going o defend their choice here, this isnt "Build the best gaming pc for the money" its to build the best performance PC for the money. And having a large capacity SSD along with mid-upper end CPU/GPU seems good to me. If they wanted to build a pure gaming PC the extra $200 would just be spent on the GPU.

    I think theres something to be said about the value at above $1000 though.. past this price range, people really start caring about having a nice case, nice cooler, etc that are more than just performance but aesthetics too.
    5
  • rahulkadukar
    Just do a $2000 build and name it something as "Imaginary build" or something stupid but just do it as a reference for those who may actually spend $2000 on a build.
    -9
  • ta152h
    I think these would be more interesting if they pitted AMD against Intel/NVIDIA at the same price target.

    Most likely they'd end up with a similar ugly case that no one would really want, possibly the same memory and hard disk, but the heart of the system would always be different.

    Besides, people love rivalries. Sure, AMD processors blow in absolute performance, but they're cheap, and maybe the video card can save the day against the evil Intel/NVIDIA empires. It's a lot more interesting than testing two essentially identical machines, except for the hard disk.

    Do it for different price ranges, and it might even be more competitive. $500, $750, and $1000 might not all have the same winner.
    0
  • dudewitbow
    Totally called that the gpu wasnt going to change. marginal benefits to fund the difference between the 7870 LE and 7950.
    2
  • Crashman
    ta152hI think these would be more interesting if they pitted AMD against Intel/NVIDIA at the same price target.
    Every time AMD CPU's lose, AMD fans scream that it was intentional. And why would anyone want to pair Intel with Nvidia when Intel with AMD has so much performance for the money?
    11
  • mayankleoboy1
    Lets do a "Worse of" builds, just for shites and giggles
    Pair a AMD CPU with a Nvidia GPU. So its expensive and may not perform as well.

    (I will be extremely happy if this build performs well)
    -2