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Motherboard, Cooler, And Memory

System Builder Marathon: $1,250 Enthusiast PC

Motherboard : DFI LANPARTY DK X38-T2R

While it was tempting to grab a bargain-bin motherboard in the interest of saving some money, we decided it wasn’t worth the risk. The System Builder Marathon has a large overclocking component and we didn’t want to take the chance of messing around with something that might disappoint us in the final analysis. Besides, a $1,250 machine deserves a board with a solid reputation.

We chose DFI’s offering once again because of its established overclocking ability paired with the great X38 chipset, as well as a reasonable price. At $175, this might not be the cheapest board, but considering that it offers solid features coupled with well-known overclocking prowess, it’s certainly not a bad deal. You can definitely spend a lot more for the same strengths that the X38-T2R offers.

Cooler : Xigmatek HDT-S1283 and ACK-I7751 Retention Bracket

With all of the critical feedback about our decision to water cool the $1,500 System Builder Marathon machine last month, we looked for the best-performing CPU air cooler we could find that didn’t break the bank. We ended up choosing Xigmatek’s reasonably-priced HDT-S1283.

The HDT-S1283’s name might not roll off the tongue, but it offers the thermal and acoustic performance of much more expensive CPU coolers for a mere $35—including the 120 mm fan ! We opted to pay the extra $7 more for the ACK-I7751 retention bracket, yielding a bit more peace of mind. Now we don’t have to worry about the large HDT-S1283 over-stressing the motherboard with its considerable weight.

Memory : 4 GB PNY XLR8 PC2-6400

For only $60, PNY offers 4 GB of its XLR8 memory. With low 4-4-4-12 timings, this is great stuff for the price. In fact, it’s the cheapest CAS 4 memory we could find.

Our choice of 4 GB should be ample for this system and two sticks of the stuff will let us run the board in dual-channel mode to increase memory bandwidth.

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