System Builder Marathon, Q4 2013: $1600 Enthusiast PC

Video Cards, Power Supply, And Case

Graphics Cards: 2 x MSI Gaming N770 in SLI

Graphics performance represents the one major differentiator between today's gaming-focused build and my previous mid-range System Builder Marathon effort. I simply doubled the number of GeForce GTX 770 cards from one to two, which should yield a massive increase in performance by virtue of Nvidia's SLI technology.

Read Customer Reviews of MSI's Gaming N770


Unlike AMD's Radeon boards, which are currently very much overpriced due to the rabid attention of Litecoin miners, the prices on GeForce cards remained relatively stable this holiday season. MSI's Gaming N770 is currently discounted to $320 each, or $640 for the pair I'm testing today.

Power Supply: Corsair TX750 750 W PSU

Read Customer Reviews of Corsair's TX750


With two GeForce GTX 770s sitting side by side in this quarter's entry, I needed a beefier power supply to back them up. Typically, I'd go with Corsair's 650TX, but I was concerned it wouldn't cut it. So, I went with the company's TX750 instead, selling for $110 on Newegg.

Case: NZXT Gamma

Read Customer Reviews of NZXT's Gamma


Back in December of 2010, I used NZXT's Gamma case in my $1000 System Builder Marathon Enthusiast build. At the time, I called it one of the nicest budget rigs I had ever worked with.

I'm looking forward to judging how this enclosure stood the test of time in my latest build. Selling for $35, I certainly can't complain about the price.

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  • I just wanted to let you guys know before the $2400 PC pops up, that this renewed focus on gaming is a Don and Paul effort. With $2400 on the line, it's easy to improve the entire machine and try to make a clean sweep of every benchmark :)
    4
  • This was a good build, if only for the single data point that was the power usage. At stock, you could get away with a good 650W PSU, but overclocked it's probably not a good idea. There weren't really any surprises anywhere else. The one pic was dark; how was cable management in that case? I used one a while back and reviewed it, and I though that was probably its weakest point.
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  • If you would like comments and assistance on a personal build, please start your own thread in the New Builds forum. This thread is for discussions about the System Builder Marathon machines. Thanks.
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  • I have to say I'm really surprised for the crappy scaling of the GTX770s. Was it a CPU bound issue or maybe a PCIe bottleneck? Driver issue? Profile issue? haha

    I'm really surprised to say the least.

    Cheers!
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  • !!!IMPORTANT!!!!

    Before commenting about benches, read:

    "Keep this parting thought in mind: we're fully aware that the SBM test suite is showing its age, and we have new benchmark results with more modern games. You're going to see this surface in our Day 4 analysis from Thomas."

    Last page, last paragraph.

    Nice build, hilariously good performance in BF3, In the more modern games, will there be any GPU memory bottlenecks with triple monitor setups? We shall see!
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  • It seems these sbm have no strict budget limit. Every time these sbm articles, the budget gets higher and higher. A $1,000 enthusiast pc would be more of a real world build, since that is the maximum amount, most people spend these days on their new build.
    What will the budget be for next times enthusiast pc?
    Now it is at $1,600. So next time it will be $2,500 cause getting them 2x GTX 880 in sli is consider as a budget enthusiast pc?!
    3
  • Who plays Skyrim on PC and not have a membership at Nexus so the most basic improvements can be made? Leading to: why has this site used the game for 2 years and not done that? Maybe FO4 will be more promising.
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  • If go go with an optical drive in this price range, it should be a dvd burner. It's not that much more expensive, media prices are coming down(better cost per GB and speed than dvd in some cases) and lets you play blu tay movies without using bandwitdh to download or stream hd video. My 2 cents.
    -2
  • Edit: I meant blu ray burner. Also, I don't care for that case(personal preference).
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  • @Yuka
    It depends on which resolution you look at. I advise you to go back and look at the higher resolutions where the 770's in SLI can actually show a huge difference over one 770. It almost doubles in FPS over last quarter's build if you look at some 5760x1080 res. graphs.
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  • Kudos for using an Enermax cooling solution, though I am sure that hordes will be wondering why a Cooler Master product wasn't used in its place. :\
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  • @yuka

    just because SLi works a lot better then xfire does not mean it's flawless. SLi has had serious scaling issues for a long time, and just like xfire simply doesn't work in a number of titles and screen settups.

    people have forgotten the issues with SLi since xfire is so obviously broken, but they're still there.
    -4
  • So overclocked the GPUs were cranking 90ºc plus temps (70ºc+room ambients). It would have been curious to see the dbs of the twins 770s fans screaming away to compare with a 290 with a non-reference cooler.
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  • Nice build and general similar parts I would choose if I ever spent $1600 on a PC.
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  • Oh wow, two card are faster than one...

    Seriously, multi-gpu is there to stay. My two 6850 in CF are still rendering anything I give them at 1080p. I honestly didn't see the difference from passing of single gpu to multi-gpu... but it's true that 6XXX series was working really well in CF.
    -1
  • 251426 said:
    Oh wow, two card are faster than one... Seriously, multi-gpu is there to stay. My two 6850 in CF are still rendering anything I give them at 1080p. I honestly didn't see the difference from passing of single gpu to multi-gpu... but it's true that 6XXX series was working really well in CF.


    i would beg to differ, i had 6850's in crossfire, they worked well in a few games, more recent games were running out of vram causing major stuttering, unless your happy running medium details and minimal AA to reduce vram usage. Some games stuttered anyway unless you dropped details to get fps up high so the stuttering goes unnoticed. but then your only really getting a second card to get higher fps, without being able to turn up detail settings, which is not what i wanted. For me a single gtx660 was much smoother in all games than crossfire 6850's, despite producing lower average fps.
    -1
  • Dual GTX 770 - faster than the Titan for less money. Awesome.
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  • The case is FUGLY.

    Perhaps slide the HD back to a WD 1 TB rather than a POS Seagate... :)

    And $7 fans?
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  • 128gig SSD @ 150 when just a couple dollars more you can get a 240/256 class drive thats just as fast? FAIL
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  • In fact on newegg right now just looking @ 240, 250 and 256 gig SSD's there are 4 drives CHEAPER than yours (although only 3 pertain to this type of use) and a samsung 840 evo 250gig for only 162.99. To waste half the space to save a few dollars is sooooo fail. A 128 gig drive wont hold much in the way of games. Just BF4/CoD Ghost and WoW takes up over 100 gig (including 1 older game on steam) and I have no saved offline games or anything. Factor in an OS install and you are already dead in the water, nevermind saving xx% of your SSD to maintain speed.
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