Sign in with
Sign up | Sign in

Graphics, Motherboard, And Power

System Builder Marathon, June 2012: $2000 Performance PC
By

Graphics: Asus GTX 680 DirectCU II Top Edition

Just as the CPU dictated our cooling and RAM choices, graphics dictated our motherboard layout and power needs. We knew from the beginning that this would be Nvidia’s turn, since its GTX 680 bested the similarly-priced Radeon HD 7970 used in our previous $2600 build.

Read Customer Reviews of Asus' GTX 680 DirectCU II Top Edition


Asus’ GTX680-DC2T-2GD5 offers enhanced cooling and power optimization to help us top its already phenomenal 1201 MHz / GDDR5-6008 factory-configured overclock. However, we didn't pick this card for today's story; rather, Newegg helped us track it down, given significant supply issues on GeForce GTX 680s.

Done over, we'd be inclined to go with one (or even two) GeForce GTX 670s, which weren't yet available when we started buying hardware, but sell for as little as $140 less than this model.

Motherboard: ASRock Z77 Extreme6

Our recent round-up revealed two top-value choices for Ivy Bridge-based overclocking, and we suggested that on-board features and slot layout would be the best criteria for a buyer to select between them. The competing board supported three-way graphics at x8-x4-x4 mode and PCIe 3.0 transfers, while ASRock’s sample supported x8-x8x-4 with the third slot in PCIe 2.0 mode. Either board would force all sixteen lanes to a single card if the other slots were unpopulated.

Read Customer Reviews of ASRock's Z77 Extreme6


We want to leave the option for SLI open as an available upgrade, but don't really care about three-way configurations here. Eight-lane transfers for two-way SLI are surely adequate, thanks to the bandwidth-doubling ability of PCIe 3.0 (compared to PCIe 2.0).

Scratching three-way SLI off our list forced us to consider what other devices a user might want to put in that third slot, and the borrowing of CPU-based lanes for that slot on MSI’s board nudged us towards ASRock’s design.

Power: Seasonic X750 Gold

A high-quality power supply is probably the most important part in a high-end system, lest it be saddled with instability and the potential of a fiery death. Thanks to Seasonic, we were able to match the needed stability and capacity with a high-efficiency 80 PLUS Gold rating for only $160.

Read Customer Reviews of Seasonic's X750 Gold


Efficiency improved on the Ivy Bridge and Kepler architectures put the X750 Gold's output capability at roughly twice what we thought we’d actually need. But this build was designed for upgrades. Advanced planning should allow the winner of this system to eventually add SLI and several drives without worrying about overburdening the unit.

In addition to fulfilling all of our power desires, the X750 Gold’s full modular cabling will allow ours to be a relatively clutter-free build.

Ask a Category Expert

Create a new thread in the Reviews comments forum about this subject

Example: Notebook, Android, SSD hard drive

Display all 116 comments.
This thread is closed for comments
Top Comments
  • 30 Hide
    mayankleoboy1 , June 4, 2012 5:45 AM
    i would never buy a green 5400 RPM over a 7200 RPM drive, no matter the cost.
  • 14 Hide
    Anonymous , June 4, 2012 5:50 AM
    Now imagine if two GTX 670 were available!!
  • 12 Hide
    Crashman , June 4, 2012 6:41 AM
    strandiamSo many great cases to choose from with so many great features....
    Perhaps the award-winning NZXT Phantom 410 next time?
    http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/mana-136-midgard-ii-phantom-410,3203-5.html
Other Comments
  • 4 Hide
    Trialsking , June 4, 2012 5:18 AM
    Very nice build, if only I had $1800 to spare
  • 5 Hide
    rohitbaran , June 4, 2012 5:24 AM
    Well, is GTX 680 availability good enough now?
  • 30 Hide
    mayankleoboy1 , June 4, 2012 5:45 AM
    i would never buy a green 5400 RPM over a 7200 RPM drive, no matter the cost.
  • 14 Hide
    Anonymous , June 4, 2012 5:50 AM
    Now imagine if two GTX 670 were available!!
  • 10 Hide
    vakuma5000 , June 4, 2012 5:55 AM
    Awesome Build!!

    I have the exact same GTX 680 from ASUS, and I love it. Managed to get 1337Mhz out of the core and 6800 out of the memory. I achieved that with only 115% power limit. If I raise the power limit any higher, i start to loose performance and stability. That is a truly awesome memory oveerclock you got out of it! Congrats!

    Very much looking foreward to the value comparison.
    Would LOVE to see the 1800$ build win the value comparo!
    GO GTX 680!!

    My vote goes towards keeping a gaming focus as opposed to a more "all-in-one" type build.
    Love the System Builder Articles, love Toms!
  • 8 Hide
    strandiam , June 4, 2012 5:56 AM
    So many great cases to choose from with so many great features....
  • 5 Hide
    vakuma5000 , June 4, 2012 5:59 AM
    Unfortunately GTX 680 availability is still pretty spotty.
    Had to spend 2 days on newegg, refreshing the page every few mins to get the model i wanted.
    However, it IS looking better. They are listing them more often on newegg, and they don't sell-out as quickly as they were a few weeks ago.
    Check newegg daily from 5:30pm to 6:30 pm CST, and you should be able to catch one.
    The GTX 670's are in stock right now.
    Good luck rohitbaran!
  • 5 Hide
    slicedtoad , June 4, 2012 6:26 AM
    Quote:
    should we keep the gaming focus or move back towards higher-cost do-it-all machines?
    Personally, I'm happy with the gaming focus. Don't know how others feel but gaming performance is more important than productivity benchmarks for me. I compile a lot of code and do some video encoding but I find gaining fps in games is more important than shaving seconds off my work. Besides, productivity follows gaming performance close enough.

    On another note, I dislike value comparisons when things like SSD size and optical drives have made an impact in price. A larger SSD does nothing for a benchmark but is awesome in practice. I'd prefer only comparing the combined price of the gpu, cpu, cooler(s) and mobo in the value chart. That's not a perfect solution but it annoys me that things like high quality PSUs, nice cases, blu-ray burners and large SSDs throw things off so much.
  • 12 Hide
    Crashman , June 4, 2012 6:41 AM
    strandiamSo many great cases to choose from with so many great features....
    Perhaps the award-winning NZXT Phantom 410 next time?
    http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/mana-136-midgard-ii-phantom-410,3203-5.html
  • 3 Hide
    sam_fisher , June 4, 2012 7:00 AM
    CrashmanPerhaps the award-winning NZXT Phantom 410 next time?http://www.tomshardware.com/review [...] 203-5.html


    My only dislike about this build is the case, for a $2000 PC I would prefer a case that was tidier and larger than the Antec Nine Hundred (especially with the layout of the HDD bays). The NZXT Phantom 410 would be much better for that budget.
  • 11 Hide
    ojas , June 4, 2012 7:00 AM
    Quote:
    should we keep the gaming focus or move back towards higher-cost do-it-all machines?

    do-it-all if it's greater than $2000, otherwise gaming.

    CrashmanPerhaps the award-winning NZXT Phantom 410 next time?http://www.tomshardware.com/review [...] 203-5.html

    Or maybe the original Phantom? Even the Corsair Graphite 600T is good...
  • 2 Hide
    strandiam , June 4, 2012 7:01 AM
    CrashmanPerhaps the award-winning NZXT Phantom 410 next time?http://www.tomshardware.com/review [...] 203-5.html

    One of many great choices. If I had a $2000 budget instead of the $900 I'm currently working on, I would go with something a bit nicer like Thermaltake Chaser MK-I, Corsair Obsidian 650, Rosewill THOR V2, or one of many other feature rich cases.
  • 8 Hide
    cmcghee358 , June 4, 2012 7:02 AM
    mayankleoboy1i would never buy a green 5400 RPM over a 7200 RPM drive, no matter the cost.


    It's a data drive.. why wouldn't you?
  • 3 Hide
    DookieDraws , June 4, 2012 7:03 AM
    Great read! I too enjoy these type of articles. Been a reader at Tom's for many years. Keep it up!!!

    Well, I'd be willing to go out on a limb and say most members around here are gamers. I am, but I also do photo/video editing as a hobby on an older, and very sad build. By the way, I expect to be having a funeral for that poor fellow any day, now. :) 

    Now, about the reviews - I like seeing how much performance you guys get out of those lower-end builds. I'm sure those lower-end configs have helped a lot of folks around here with their build decisions. Especially those of us who can't afford the higher-end stuff. Today, those higher-cost do-it-all machines would/should run games fine, too. Honestly, the way technology has advanced and keeps rapidly advancing, you can build a pretty sweet do-all-machine for less than a grand these days. And one to last a few years at that! So, I like seeing those "budget" builds.

    Also, I'd love to see video reviews on these builds. It'd be nice to see some performance video of the set-up and also be able to hear how loud/quite the machine is. You guys think this would be a possibility for future reviews?

    Well, it's very late and I'm going my behind to bed! Too tired to proof read! Sue me if ya find any errors! :p  Good night fellows!
  • 2 Hide
    Crashman , June 4, 2012 7:04 AM
    sam_fisherMy only dislike about this build is the case, for a $2000 PC I would prefer a case that was tidier and larger than the Antec Nine Hundred (especially with the layout of the HDD bays). The NZXT Phantom 410 would be much better for that budget.
    Same price for the case, similar quality so this is really just a matter of preference. I like cases that are small enough to look good on my desk :)  I don't like drive doors :(  But I'd still pick the 410 for someone else :) 
  • 1 Hide
    killerofall , June 4, 2012 7:36 AM
    Personally if I had that much money to spend on a system I would put a bit more money towards the case, like in the $150-$200 range. I would either want to do a themed case, where everything looks the same, a quiet case (maybe water-cooled), or a clean and elegant look (I think that the later would be best but that's just me).

    I do think that it should be more towards gaming as that is what most people here do. However it might not be a bad idea to include a workstation build as well that was business first and gaming second for those people who work at home/small business and don't want to spend extra on a separate gaming machine, or maybe just make it business only, it depends on how you want to take it and what your business is. I don't do this so I don't know what the requirements for the build would be but I am sure that there are plenty of people out there who can provide quality input.
  • 4 Hide
    yyk71200 , June 4, 2012 7:37 AM
    If you remove 680 and put 2 x 670 $400 each, you'll be at $2001, just at budget.
  • 1 Hide
    csf60 , June 4, 2012 7:53 AM
    "ASRock Z77 Extreme6:
    LGA 2011, Intel X79 Express
    Stock 100 MHz BCLK"

    (Typo in test hardware configurations)
  • 2 Hide
    simonmodule , June 4, 2012 9:00 AM
    Toms Hardware, you have writen i7-3770k(sandy bridge), where it actually is ivy bridge
  • 2 Hide
    Crashman , June 4, 2012 9:14 AM
    csf60"ASRock Z77 Extreme6:LGA 2011, Intel X79 ExpressStock 100 MHz BCLK"(Typo in test hardware configurations)
    Fixed, thanks! (table copy/edit error, my greatest downfall)
    simonmoduleToms Hardware, you have writen i7-3770k(sandy bridge), where it actually is ivy bridge
    I don't know what happened there, (sleep editing Chris?) but it's now fixed!
Display more comments