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Case, Cooling, And Power

System Builder Marathon, Sept. 2011: $2000 Performance PC

Case: Antec Three Hundred Illusion

Enthusiasts often chide us for using cheap cases in our most expensive build, but there are a few things that set Antec’s Three Hundred Illusion apart from a typical budget-minded enclosure. Chief among them are solid quality and cooling.

Read Customer Reviews of Antec's Three Hundred Illusion

Antec’s Three Hundred is one of the least expensive cases we know of to use heavy gauge steel, increasing its ability to withstand years of hard use and hardware changes, while simultaneously reducing noise. The Illusion version also includes two 120 mm intake fans, making it the most affordable chassis able to support the cooling needs of a system with two GeForce GTX 580 externally-vented graphics cards and an overclocked Core i7 processor.

CPU Cooling: Cooler Master Hyper 212 Plus

One of the easiest ways we’ve found to increase the cooling performance of a case is to fill most of the void between its graphics card, side panel, and top panel with the largest heat sink we can find. It makes sense that bigger is better when it comes to heat sinks, but we’ve also found that larger cases that fit more loosely around the CPU cooler often perform worse. The Antec Three Hundred and nearly any 120 mm tower cooler are a perfect match.

Read Customer Reviews of Cooler Master's Hyper 212 Plus

It’s good that these are such a great pair because, quite frankly, Cooler Master’s Hyper 212 Plus is mediocre at best compared to similar designs from other manufacturers. Its performance should be adequate for our specific overclock needs however, and we didn’t have room in our budget for the more often used Scythe Mugen 2 Revision B.

Power: Seasonic SS-850HT

Seasonic’s basic 850 W power supply has proven to be an exceptional value through several of our $2000 builds, connecting the four PCIe power connectors required for our dual GeForce GTX 580 graphics cards to two 40 A, 12 V rails.

Read Customer Reviews of Seasonic's SS-850HT

Even more value comes from the units 80 PLUS Silver rating, and the only sacrifice we had to make was the exclusion of removable cables. All excess cables must instead be stashed away within the case.

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