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System Builder Marathon, Q4 2013: $1600 Enthusiast PC

System Builder Marathon, Q4 2013: $1600 Enthusiast PC

System Builder Marathon, Q4 2013: The Articles

Here are links to each of the four articles in this quarter’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 fill out this SurveyGizmo form, and be sure to read the complete rules before entering!

Day 1: The $800 Gaming PC
Day 2: The $1600 Enthusiast PC
Day 3: The $2400 Performance PC
Day 4: Performance And Value, Dissected


With $300 tacked on to my budget for the last System Builder Marathon of the year, my goal was to go out with a bang by targeting hardcore gaming. And when it comes to stacking the performance deck, gaming means graphics processing, so you shouldn't have any trouble guessing where the extra money is going.

With that said, I did make some other interesting changes. For example, I'm using a faster SSD and a larger hard drive for user data. 

Functionally, the compromises I made to save money don't have any negative impact. I went with a cheaper (but still-effective) heat sink instead of a closed-loop liquid cooler. You can also see the inexpensive (but good-quality) enclosure in the picture above. And I bought a mid-range (but overclockable) motherboard for tuning performance.

This is the complete list of parts purchased from Newegg for today's $1600 Enthusiast build.

$1600 Enthusiast System Components
MotherboardAsus Z87-PLUS, LGA 1150, Intel Z87 Express
ProcessorIntel Core i5-4670K: 3.4 GHz Base Clock Rate, 3.8 GHz Maximum Turbo Boost, 6 MB Shared L3 Cache
Heat Sink
Enermax ETS-T40-TB Air Cooler
Memory8 GB Patriot Viper 3 (2 x 4 GB) DDR3-1866 Model PV38G186C9K$95
Graphics2 x MSI Gaming N770 TF, GeForce GTX 770 2 GB 256-bit GDDR5
System Drive
Samsung 840 Pro MZ-7PD128PW 2.5" 128 GB SATA 6Gb/s (SSD)
Storage Drive
Seagate Barracuda 2 TB, 7200 RPM, 64 MB Cache, SATA 6Gb/s
OpticalLite-On iHAS124-04 DVD Burner
CaseNZXT Gamma Black ATX Mid Tower Computer Case
Apevia 140 mm, Rosewill 120 mm ($7 each)
PowerCorsair TX750 V2 750 W ATX12V v2.3 80 PLUS Bronze PSU
 Total Cost

You can't get any closer to a budget ceiling of $1600 than this. Of course, since I bought the parts, some prices have changed. Today, the same shopping list will run you $20 more. That's fairly insignificant in the grand scheme of things, particularly with both Paul and Thomas getting throttled by price increases on AMD's cards.

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  • 4 Hide
    Crashman , December 27, 2013 4:15 AM
    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 :) 
  • 1 Hide
    Onus , December 27, 2013 4:45 AM
    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.
  • 1 Hide
    Onus , December 27, 2013 6:33 AM
    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.
  • 0 Hide
    Yuka , December 27, 2013 6:36 AM
    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.

  • 1 Hide
    blubbey , December 27, 2013 6:43 AM

    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!
  • 3 Hide
    lp231 , December 27, 2013 7:08 AM
    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?!
  • 1 Hide
    Steve Pound , December 27, 2013 7:19 AM
    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.
  • -2 Hide
    jtenorj , December 27, 2013 8:23 AM
    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.
  • 0 Hide
    jtenorj , December 27, 2013 8:24 AM
    Edit: I meant blu ray burner. Also, I don't care for that case(personal preference).
  • 0 Hide
    mjmjpfaff , December 27, 2013 8:50 AM
    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.
  • 0 Hide
    Calculatron , December 27, 2013 9:04 AM
    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. :\
  • -4 Hide
    ingtar33 , December 27, 2013 9:05 AM

    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.
  • 1 Hide
    Gurg , December 27, 2013 9:24 AM
    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.
  • 0 Hide
    rolli59 , December 27, 2013 10:34 AM
    Nice build and general similar parts I would choose if I ever spent $1600 on a PC.
  • -1 Hide
    redgarl , December 27, 2013 11:32 AM
    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 Hide
    iam2thecrowe , December 27, 2013 5:07 PM
    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.
  • 0 Hide
    g-unit1111 , December 27, 2013 5:31 PM
    Dual GTX 770 - faster than the Titan for less money. Awesome.
  • 0 Hide
    JohnMD1022 , December 27, 2013 5:55 PM
    The case is FUGLY.

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

    And $7 fans?

  • 3 Hide
    HideOut , December 27, 2013 9:19 PM
    128gig SSD @ 150 when just a couple dollars more you can get a 240/256 class drive thats just as fast? FAIL
  • 0 Hide
    HideOut , December 27, 2013 9:25 PM
    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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