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System Builder Marathon, Sept. 2010: $2000 Performance PC

System Builder Marathon, Sept. 2010: $2000 Performance PC
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System Builder Marathon, September 2010: The Articles

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 check out this Google form, and be sure to read the complete rules before entering!

Day 1: The $2,000 Performance PC
Day 2: The $1,000 Enthusiast PC
Day 3: The $400 Gaming PC
Day 4: Performance And Value, Dissected

Introduction

SSD drives and six-core processors are the two most frequently-requested items missing from our typical high-end builds. Up until now, we've made that an intentional decision. This is a competition between builders, after all, and most of our benchmarks gain little from either of these components.

At the same time, we aren’t completely inflexible, and careful deliberation led us to choose the six-core CPU as perhaps the more beneficial (benchmark-wise) of those two technologies. Of course, we're keenly aware of the experiential gains attributed to SSDs as well, and we might have been able to include solid state storage as well with a larger budget. But high prices without corresponding testable improvements would have lead to some loss in our System Builder Marathon Day 4 value comparison.

Another thing missing from our June 2010 $2000 build was a pretty case. The case we picked for today’s build was chosen for its superior ventilation (with little thought for aesthetics), sporting three enormous 180 mm intake fans. A quick look at our configuration reveals why so much ventilation was needed.

$2000 Performance PC Component Prices
MotherboardMSI NF980-G65, Socket AM3
Chipset: Nvidia nForce 980a SLI
$160
ProcessorAMD Phenom II X6 1055T 2.8GHz
Six Cores, 6 MB L3 Cache, Socket AM3
$200
MemoryG.Skill Ripjaws Series F3-10666CL9D-8GBRL
2 x 4 GB (8 GB Total), DDR3-1333 CAS 9-9-9-24
$200
Graphics2 x MSI N480GTX-M2D15-B in SLI
2x 1.5 GB GDDR5-3696
2 x GeForce GTX 480 GPU at 700 MHz
$920
                     
Hard DriveSamsung Spinpoint F3 HD103SJ
1 TB, 7200 RPM, 32 MB Cache, SATA 3Gb/s 
$75
OpticalLite-On DVD±R/W iHAS124-04
24X DVD±R, 8X DVD+RW, 12X DVD-RAM
$19
CaseSilverStone Raven RV02-BW$160
PowerCooler Master Silent Pro RSA00-AMBAJ3-US
1000 W, ATX12V 2.3, EPS12V 2.92, 80 PLUS Bronze
$165
CPU CoolerScythe Mugen 2 Rev. B (SCMG-2100)$35
 Total Cost    $1934


Packing two GeForce GTX 480 graphics cards into a $2000 build required a few sacrifices, but we hoped that our planned overclock would address many of its inadequacies. The following pages explain how each component was selected, followed by an overview of component installation, overclocking, and evaluation.

Could this monster be the one that usurps our lower-cost value builds during our week-long competition?

Display 130 Comments.
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Top Comments
  • 26 Hide
    cangelini , September 6, 2010 10:31 AM
    Folks,
    Please bear in mind that the choices for these System Builder Marathon systems are often the product of reader feedback. We do three or four Intel-based builds in a row and everyone starts asking why we're not giving AMD a chance to shine. This quarter, Thomas wanted to address those comments.
    The next two builds will come over the next two days--that's why we call it a marathon ;) 
    Thanks all!
    Chris
  • 25 Hide
    proofhitter , September 6, 2010 6:43 AM
    Big CPU fail. I love your honesty, good one Tom's! Nice try nevertheless. Keep it up!
  • 22 Hide
    IzzyCraft , September 6, 2010 6:20 AM
    Love the case choice everything else is pretty much can't really hate it or love it, but i mean you can't really hate any of the parts when they cost that much as they are all good but some just not right for some jobs.
    I do not care for AMD and SLI just because you'll be using an nvidia chipset and my past experiences with them have been poor.
    I also do not care for 6 cores for games although i mostly use my computer for other things which may like those 6 cores, but i don't find too many uses for 2 480's outside of gaming.

    Hopefully the next one will be one i can't help but agree with, A i5-750/760 with 2 460's in sli :D 
Other Comments
  • 22 Hide
    IzzyCraft , September 6, 2010 6:20 AM
    Love the case choice everything else is pretty much can't really hate it or love it, but i mean you can't really hate any of the parts when they cost that much as they are all good but some just not right for some jobs.
    I do not care for AMD and SLI just because you'll be using an nvidia chipset and my past experiences with them have been poor.
    I also do not care for 6 cores for games although i mostly use my computer for other things which may like those 6 cores, but i don't find too many uses for 2 480's outside of gaming.

    Hopefully the next one will be one i can't help but agree with, A i5-750/760 with 2 460's in sli :D 
  • 15 Hide
    Tamz_msc , September 6, 2010 6:23 AM
    This month's SBM is forgettable.It confirms that AMD+SLI = BIG fail.
  • 8 Hide
    Tamz_msc , September 6, 2010 6:35 AM
    A better option( without sacrificing GTX 480 SLI) in my opinion is:
    Core i7 950 (add 100$)
    GIGABYTE GA-X58A-UD3R (add 50$)
    GSkill 6GB RAM(subtract 70$)
  • 25 Hide
    proofhitter , September 6, 2010 6:43 AM
    Big CPU fail. I love your honesty, good one Tom's! Nice try nevertheless. Keep it up!
  • 14 Hide
    jrharbort , September 6, 2010 6:44 AM
    The lesson here? AMD hexacores are still the best value on the market, but is still unable to keep up with the i7 in overall performance clock for clock. It's sadly not the best choice in high end systems, but it still wont stop me from recomending it to friends interested in sub-$1000 systems.
  • 3 Hide
    Crashman , September 6, 2010 7:12 AM
    jj463rdWith Sandybridge and Bulldozer just right around the corner I don't think that it makes any sense to build right now with current (especially CPU + motherboard)components.

    Maybe not...this system was built a couple months ago.
  • 21 Hide
    makwy2 , September 6, 2010 7:13 AM
    Love the honesty. I think this is just shows that a MUCH cheaper AMD chip ($700 less) is close but not quite in true competition with the top of the line Intel chip. I'll stick to my AMD chips because I am not made of money.

    Again, I love the honesty and straight talk TH brings with these bi-monthly features that give system builders a real idea about performance and cost-effective parts.
  • 2 Hide
    aaron92 , September 6, 2010 7:21 AM
    I really do value the AMD Hex vs Intel, 6 cores is already cutting edge and 12 threads is going beyond a desktop computer for this year atleast.
  • 22 Hide
    dirtmountain , September 6, 2010 7:23 AM
    Good article, you never know how some things will work out until you try them. Kudos to Mr. Soderstrom for putting a different build together and not sticking to the same old pattern.
  • 9 Hide
    rutoojinn , September 6, 2010 7:42 AM
    If you looked at Tom's best CPU for the money every month. The tier list at the end of the articles shows what tier the AMD x6 is at. Basically an i5 750 or 760 cpu is ranked higher than the Phoenom II x6 cpu. They are basically the same price around $200. So around that price range it just depends which brand you would go for. I prefer the i5 and this months set up I appreciate what Tom tried to do.
  • -1 Hide
    enzo matrix , September 6, 2010 7:57 AM
    sassan_88I dont like systems Based on AMD's chipset

    As opposed to Nvidia's chipset of which many in the past few years are well known for their overheating and failing? I've had an 8200m fail on me completely. My friend had his 6150 in his notebook overheat so badly his battery was at less than max capacity within a year (from heat exposure).
    The only good ones have been the 6100 and the 7xxx series.
  • -4 Hide
    Stardude82 , September 6, 2010 8:15 AM
    8 GB of RAM is still excessive...
  • 2 Hide
    ScoobyJooby-Jew , September 6, 2010 8:16 AM
    well, all the adds i see for the amd six cores read "our six or their four?". I think a 1055 should be tested against a Hyperthreaded quad, and a non hyperthreaded quad. that would be an interesting test
  • -9 Hide
    Christopher1 , September 6, 2010 8:28 AM
    What is with the AMD chip in this machine? I would have thought that a CoreI7 chip would have been a better choice!
  • 15 Hide
    Judguh , September 6, 2010 8:55 AM
    Stardude828 GB of RAM is still excessive...

    I would actually like to see a small article on RAM usage on a PC during various uses and scenarios and to show where more RAM or faster RAM would be more beneficial.
  • 26 Hide
    cangelini , September 6, 2010 10:31 AM
    Folks,
    Please bear in mind that the choices for these System Builder Marathon systems are often the product of reader feedback. We do three or four Intel-based builds in a row and everyone starts asking why we're not giving AMD a chance to shine. This quarter, Thomas wanted to address those comments.
    The next two builds will come over the next two days--that's why we call it a marathon ;) 
    Thanks all!
    Chris
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