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Here are links to each of the four articles in this month’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!
Although prices are up on just about everything (except memory), the real reason we increased the budget this quarter was that we grew weary of making sacrifices. Surely the most expensive PC had the most room for compromise, but in reality, nobody is going to give up big performance potential on a $2000 machine when an extra couple hundred bucks could help even more. For $300, we were able to fix some of the problems that plagued past builds.
The other $100 covered the recent hard drive price increase attributable to the horrible flooding in Thailand.
But what were those problems, specifically? And why did they cost so much to fix? Why the heck would we worry about hard drive prices in a machine powered by SSDs?
|December 2011 $2400 PC Components|
|Motherboard||MSI Z68A-GD55 (G3): LGA 1155, Intel Z68 Express||$170|
|Graphics||PNY XLR8 VCGGTX580XPB-LC-CPU GeForce GTX 580|
PNY XLR8 VCGGTX580XPB-LC GeForce GTX 580 (for SLI)
|Processor||Intel Core i7-2600K: 3.4-3.8 GHz, 8 MB Shared L3 Cache||$320|
|Memory||Corsair CMZ8GX3M2A1600C8R: DDR3-1600 C8, 4 GB x2 (8 GB)||$75|
|System Drive||Crucial M4 CT128M4SSD2: 128 GB, SATA 6Gb/s SSD||$210|
|Storage Drive||WD Caviar Green WD15EARS: 1.5 TB, 7200 RPM Hard Drive||$180|
|Optical||LG WH12LS38 BD-RE: 12x BD-R, 16x DVD±R||$70|
|Case||Fractal Design Arc Midi FD-CA-ARC-BL||$110|
|Power||Mushkin Joule MKNPSJL1000: 1000 W, ATX12V v2.31, 80 PLUS Gold||$160|
|Heat Sink||PNY XLR8 / Asetek Integrated Liquid Cooling|
The first problem suffered by our previous build, an overheated voltage regulator that severely limited overclocking, gets addressed by swapping out the motherboard. The second problem, a pair of graphics cards with built-in overclocking limits, get exchanged for a pair known to overclock more readily. And the third issue (one we didn’t worry all that much about), a lack of TRIM support in our RAID 0 SSD array, is eliminated by picking a single drive with the combined capacity of the previous pair. A real-world user still needs more space for movies, music, and other user files, but hard drive shortages force us to pay $100 more for 500 GB less compared to the last time around. It's a bad time to have to buy a hard drive, for sure.