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Video Card, Power Supply, And Case

System Builder Marathon, Q2 2013: $1300 Enthusiast PC

Video Card: Sparkle GeForce GTX 680

I knew I'd need to fit the fastest possible graphics card into our budget if I hoped to compete with Paul's ambition and Thomas' bankroll. And because there isn't room for a dual-card solution in my chassis of choice, I needed to go with a single dual-slot card.

Unfortunately, the GeForce GTX 770 wasn't available when the orders for this quarter's Marathon had to go in. But a 770 might not have worked anyway. Most of the third-party cards employ axial fans that recycle heat into the enclosure. That's not a great idea when it comes to a compact case.

The GeForce GTX 690, Titan, 780, and Radeon HD 7990 all suffer some combination of the same problem or prohibitive pricing. So, I was really only left with the GeForce GTX 680 and Radeon HD 7970 GHz Edition.

Read Customer Reviews of Sparkle's GeForce GTX 680

At the end of the day, the GeForce card uses less power, its stock cooling system is quieter, and it effectively exhausts waste heat away from all of the other components we're trying to overclock. That's important stuff. Price is also a big consideration. When we made our purchase, Sparkle's card was selling for $420.

Power Supply: Corsair CX750M 750 W PSU

Read Customer Reviews of Corsair's CX750M

I consider a modular power supply necessary in a mini-ITX build, where space is already at a premium. Corsair's CX750M is admittedly overkill for this PC. But it offers all of the features we need at a reasonable $95 price. With that said, you could spend less on a lower-output PSU if you wanted to save some cash on your own build.

Case: Lian-Li PC-Q08B

Read Customer Reviews of Lian-Li's PC-Q08B

Lian-Li is known for its well-built, classically-styled enclosures. The PC-Q08B fits that description in a mini-ITX form factor, all while accommodating a full-sized graphics card.

Priced at an even $100, it's more expensive than many full ATX enclosures, so, once again, we're paying a premium for this system's diminutive dimensions.

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