System Builder Marathon: TH's $2000 Hand-Picked Build

Value Conclusion

A lower overclock that we couldn't overcome really hurt the new build in a few applications, while newer graphics cards helped it in others. Will value be decided based on a tiny 4% reduction in price?

Indeed, the new system wins both at stock speed and when overclocked. The configuration deserves a bigger value win, but the replacement Core i7-950 wasn’t nearly as O/C-friendly as the original. Though we intended to use this build to show the benefits of better RAM, several pages of test results make it clear that much of the credit for this win goes to AMD’s Radeon HD 6870 CrossFire configuration.

Now that we’ve had a chance to correct any mistakes of the past, it’s time to think about what changes we might want to make for our next build.

That’s tough to do when we’re 100% satisfied with the performance of every component, yet there was one noticeable inadequacy that didn’t hurt performance: the Graphite 600T case is flimsier than even Antec's Three Hundred used way back in June. But it’s 200 mm fans and hole-free side panels made this a cool and quiet PC. Until we find a higher-quality mid-priced case that offers similar acoustic and thermal performance, we have no problem recommending this entire build as-is.

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  • Can't Wait untill Bulldozer and Sandy Brodge Editions come out. I know it sounds cliche but...
    0
  • This is probably the best way of spending 2000$ for a PC.
    2
  • Performance / watt of this build is really impressive.
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  • A price table for the new build would be nice too, so i can see how much would it cost when i remove the BD and Case.
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  • Tamz_mscThis is probably the best way of spending 2000$ for a PC.

    I don't think so, considering that cheaper and less power-hungry Sandy Bridge is coming.
    -6
  • gti88I don't think so, considering that cheaper and less power-hungry Sandy Bridge is coming.

    You forgot weaker ;)
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  • Decent review but it seems that in nvidia setups, even the same CPUs can somehow overclock better. And the speed of RAM has negligible or no effect on overall system performance so no point tuning that component.
    -3
  • "Familiarity in overclocking and a third PCIe x16 graphics card slot that operates in x8 mode when occupied are two reasons why we chose the X58A-UD3R over the similarly-priced Asus Sabertooth X58."

    Ok, fine. Wouldn't hurt to familiarize anew with a better board and that 3rd slot wasn't used anyways. Megahalems over Noctua? Seasonic over Corsair AX? :(

    Or was it last minute budget cuts to make it less than $2000?
    -2
  • scrumworksDecent review but it seems that in nvidia setups, even the same CPUs can somehow overclock better. And the speed of RAM has negligible or no effect on overall system performance so no point tuning that component.


    What do you mean, this was the same model processor but not the same one. They got a new one for this build - so how does that show that the graphics have anything to do with the overclock? If anything it says exactly what is stated in the article, that the overclockability of the i7 950 varies between each sample quite a margin.

    NVidia or for that matter AMD graphics have no effect on the CPU overclock.
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  • How does a Core i5 @~4.3Ghz or a Phenom II X6 @~4Ghz stack up against the Core i7? Well, that's using the same other components, 'cept RAM and MoBo :P

    I'd like to know that.

    Cheers!
    1
  • I would like to see an E5620 $2000 build. I suggest cutting 2 SSD to get this beast under $2000. Should win the gaming and CPU tests with no problem.
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16819117234

    The ASUS Rampage III I understand works well with this server CPU.
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16813131666

    Due to the low multiplier on the E5620 we will need some highly OCing RAM. Would like have used the 2000 patriot but it breaks the budget.
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16820104118

    Three AMD 6950's and it would be great to have a small scaling test. I would like to see what benefit the third card adds. I choose this GPU because many reviews say its the best FPS for the dollar.
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16814102914

    Western Digital Caviar Black WD6401AALS 640GB.
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16822136319

    ASUS black DVD burner.
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16827135204

    An Antec Three Hundred Illusion case.
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16811129066

    Antec CP-850 850W. The PSU has only 4 PCI-E but the Sapphire's come with a 6 PIN to 4 PIN Power Cable and
    a 8-PIN to 4 PIN x2 Power Cable.
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16817371024

    H&S Prolimatech Megahalems Rev.B.
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16835242001&Tpk=Prolimatech%20Megahalems%20Rev.B

    Build total $2000


    If you want to try for 4.8GHz change the CPU to an E5630, 2 X 6970's, and get the patriot 2000 RAM for a $2000 build.
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16820220500
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  • @ Luay: "Ok, fine. Wouldn't hurt to familiarize anew with a better board and that 3rd slot wasn't used anyways. Megahalems over Noctua? Seasonic over Corsair AX? :("

    "better board"--clearly your opinion. That Gigabyte board is an excellent board.
    Megahalems: They liked the cooling performance of it with the 4.35MHz i7-950 and saw no reason to change. And it is to laugh at your "Seasonic over Corsair AX"--guess who builds the Corsair AX?
    3
  • nerrawgWhat do you mean, this was the same model processor but not the same one. They got a new one for this build - so how does that show that the graphics have anything to do with the overclock? If anything it says exactly what is stated in the article, that the overclockability of the i7 950 varies between each sample quite a margin.NVidia or for that matter AMD graphics have no effect on the CPU overclock.


    This debate is easily enough resolved; pop the processor out of the original build and swap it into this build. See if it will overclock to the same degree in this configuration as it did the 1st. I'd like to know!
    0
  • YukaHow does a Core i5 @~4.3Ghz or a Phenom II X6 @~4Ghz stack up against the Core i7? Well, that's using the same other components, 'cept RAM and MoBo I'd like to know that.Cheers!


    Look at the june builds. The $2000PC there used a Phenom II X6 1055 and sorely disappointed.
    0
  • I've never been a CF {Crossfire} fan, and this build is just another illustration of SLI vs CF. As far as Delta - they offer excellent CFM BUT are EXTREMELY loud @ 46.5 dBA / 3400 RPM - therefore they MUST be run on a fan controller. Anything above >30 dBA is loud and annoying.
    CM R4-BMBS-20PK-R0 -> {76.8 CFM} 32 dBA / 2000 RPM
    Delta AFC1212D-PWM -> {113.11 CFM} 46.5 dBA / 3400 RPM

    Next, I also not a big fan of transverse mounted cases; thermal dynamically 'I get it' but the design pulls the more dusty ground air and the space is often cramped which defeats any advantages.

    I absolutely loath the GA-X58A-UD3R MOBO, and instead would have opted for either EVGA or ASUS. Example ASUS P6X58D-E.
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  • articleSoft blue lighting accents both the front and the top fan, appearing bright only in contrast to the case’s black finish.


    The lighting of the case fans is white as stated on corsair's web site
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  • gti88I don't think so, considering that cheaper and less power-hungry Sandy Bridge is coming.


    sandy bridge is a mainstream processor. Intel made it clear that their flagship will remain to be the i7 900 series. This makes sense as AMD still couldn't beat intel in raw performance.
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  • nice build, i actually agree with using a new processor and hsowing how it can overclock to. it shows real world performance and how you shouldn't bank on your parts being able to do much mroe beyond stock. overclocking is a bonus, i myself do it, but if i buy a part and it operates at stock speeds fine well... to be fair that is really what i paid for so while it may impact me buying that companies products down the road i can't rma or complain much
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  • SB is a mainstream processor? Lol! Again, the i7 2600K will beat all the i7 900 CPUs except the $1000 6 core ones. So the i7 2600K will be faster than the i7 950 and below CPUs. Remember that it has 3.4 GHz quad core HT and the i7 950 only has 3.0 GHz stock clock. That in itself will make SB faster plus it should be around %10 faster clock per clock against nehalem.
    -2
  • Any reason why Tom's Hardware doesn't make a public wishlist on newegg.com with each build and link it off the story? It'd benefit your sponsor as well as your readers interested in duplicating your efforts.
    3