System Builder Marathon, June 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!
We are always trying to squeeze more value out of our systems. But in some cases, we’ve allowed the budgetary targets of our system builder marathons (SBMs) to rise a little over time and in response to your very valuable feedback. With an eye toward bringing things back down to a reasonable level, we’re lowering the midrange enthusiast system’s budget down to $1,000 (from the previous marathon's $1,500).
There are a few routes we can choose when it comes to putting together an enthusiast-class system at this lower price point, but our main choice inevitably becomes: CPU or graphics muscle? While the previous $1,500 system sported dual Radeon HD 5850 cards in CrossFire and a Core i7 CPU, there’s no way we can squeeze that much power into our lower budget.
We’d like to see what happens when we invest the lion’s share of the budget in either the CPU or graphics subsystem. This time, we plan to do most of our spending on the graphics cards. Next time around, however, we'll switch our budgetary focus to the platform and CPU so that we can measure the difference in results.
With a $500 deficit compared to our last SBM, equal performance is simply not in the cards. But we do hope that overclocking the $1,000 machine will bring us within spitting distance of the $1,500 system’s stock numbers. We’ll have to wait until the benchmarks to see if this is an attainable goal. And it's certainly reasonable to expect the performance per dollar to land in-line with last quarter.
Here are the components we chose at our lowered budgetary target:
|$1,000 Enthusiast System Components|
|Motherboard||MSI 790X-G45 AM3|
Chipset: AMD 790X
|Processor||Phenom II X3 720 Black Edition 2.8 GHz|
3Cores, 6MB L3 Cache (OEM)
|CPU Cooler||Cooler Master HyperTX 3||$20|
|Memory||Crucial 4GB (2x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3-1333|
Dual-Channel Desktop Memory Kit
|Graphics||2 x Radeon HD 5830 (CrossFireX)|
1GB GDDR5-4000 Per Card
|Hard Drives||WD Caviar Blue 320GB|
320GB, 7,200 RPM, 8MB Cache SATA 3.0 Gb/s
24x DVD+R, 8x DVD+RW, 48x CD ROM
|Case||Antec Three Hundred||$60|
|Power||Corsair CMPSU-650TX 650W|
ATX12V, EPS12V , 80-Plus Certified
|Total Current Cost||$1,023|
Yes, we went $23 over. When we placed our order, there was a combo deal that saved us some money in buying the case and the hard drive together. Unfortunately, that deal is no longer in effect. Nevertheless, we'll stand by these choices in the interest of our little experiment...
- System Builder Marathon: $1,000 Enthusiast System
- CPU, Motherboard, And Cooler
- Video Cards, Power Supply, And Case
- Memory, Hard Drive, And Optical Drive
- Assembly, Overclocking, And Core Unlocking
- Test System And Benchmarks
- Benchmark Results: Synthetics
- Benchmark Results: Media Encoding
- Benchmark Results: 2D And 3D Graphics
- Benchmark Results: Productivity
- Benchmark Results: Crysis And CoD: Modern Warfare 2
- Benchmark Results: DiRT 2 And S.T.A.K.L.E.R.: Call Of Pripyat
- Power And Temperature Benchmarks