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Assembling Our $2000 Performance PC

System Builder Marathon, August 2012: $2000 Performance PC
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Scythe made minor changes to the installation kit of its Mugen 3 Rev. B compared to what we've seen from previous models. Brackets that appear similar to those used on the Mugen 2 now use their outer holes to mate to the base. The design allows support pieces to be mounted on either side, specifically benefiting AMD motherboards. Intel's square bolt pattern makes the change unnecessary.

Though Scythe’s installation kit still screws on from the rear when it's used with most processor interfaces, anyone with an LGA 2011-based gets special screws that attach from above. We credit Intel for making the job easier for Scythe, since LGA 2011 has its own support plate with integrated threads.

The NZXT Phantom 410’s hard drive trays use rubber-covered pins to secure 3.5” drives and screws to secure 2.5” drives. We don’t mind that 2.5” drives lack noise dampening grommets, since the 2.5” drives preferred by most enthusiasts are flash-based and not mechanical. Yet, it looks like NZXT’s designers got a little confused:

The SATA connectors face in opposite directions for 2.5” and 3.5” drives. Spinning the 3.5” disk around prevents it from aligning properly with the holes, while spinning the 2.5” SSD around causes its ports to be blocked by a cross brace. Oops!

The NZXT Phantom 410 has enough space behind its motherboard tray to store all of the spare cables from our power supply, which isn't modular. The result is an extraordinarily well-organized system, apart from the SSD cables being on the wrong side.

In a recent round-up of 15 mid-range gaming enclosures, the Phantom 410 demonstrated the lowest average CPU temperature, even though its stock cooling system actually favors graphics. In an effort to shift that balance back towards the CPU without breaking our budget, we moved its intake fan from the bottom to the middle of the front panel.

Nobody wants their expensive machine to look cheap. A gunmetal grey finish contributes to the high-end appearance of our $2000 PC.

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Top Comments
  • 21 Hide
    Crashman , August 22, 2012 6:16 AM
    sarinaidei5-3570k/i7-3770kGigabyte G1 Assassin Z77120GB SSD500GB HDD2xGTX 6702x4GB DDR3 1866And still probably cheaper with obviously better performance.
    Probably not, unless you're only testing games. But we should probably test that anyway. Does anyone else want to see it?
  • 20 Hide
    Crashman , August 22, 2012 7:54 AM
    namelesstedI am sorry. This is one of the dumbest builds I have seen in a long time...
    No, it's just you (the noob thing). These gaming resolutions are too low to take advantage of SLI, and this one DESTROYS yours in this benchmark set.

    Your config would only be better if there were significant changes to the benchmark set.
  • 13 Hide
    Crashman , August 22, 2012 9:22 AM
    namelesstedThe whole build just feels like Soderstrom picked a CPU...
    Soderstrom didn't pick any of the major components. Back in the Q2 SBM, readers complained that they wanted an SB-E and LGA-2011 in the $2000 machine. Readers also complained about the price of its GTX 680, since the GTX 670 performed almost as well for much less money (the GTX 670 wasn't available when the order was placed). Readers also complained that the SSD should not have been shrunken from the Q1 system's 240GB. So you're complaining about reader picks in the 3930K, single GTX 670 (not enough money left for two), and 240 GB SSD.

    So your real beef is with your fellow readers, not the builder of this machine.
Other Comments
  • 12 Hide
    Darkerson , August 22, 2012 4:45 AM
    Interesting setup. I would have favored a way beefier single GPU or a nice dual GPU setup, but I mainly only game, and dont do a lot of encoding or whatnot.
  • 4 Hide
    jupiter optimus maximus , August 22, 2012 4:59 AM
    Quote:
    The contest opens on August 20, 2012 9:00 PM PDT and closes on September 3, 2012 9:00 PM PDT.

    So... i notice now that it opens at August 20, not August 19 when the $500 SBM appeared. I submitted my entry at August 19 10:30 PM. So that means that i haven't entered into the sweepstakes, or did i? I am confused, cause only one entry can be accepted.
  • 5 Hide
    Anonymous , August 22, 2012 5:14 AM
    Nice quality build! Enough said!
  • 6 Hide
    trumpeter1994 , August 22, 2012 5:47 AM
    That has got to be one of the luckiest GTX 670s I've ever seen.
  • 21 Hide
    Crashman , August 22, 2012 6:16 AM
    sarinaidei5-3570k/i7-3770kGigabyte G1 Assassin Z77120GB SSD500GB HDD2xGTX 6702x4GB DDR3 1866And still probably cheaper with obviously better performance.
    Probably not, unless you're only testing games. But we should probably test that anyway. Does anyone else want to see it?
  • -4 Hide
    zander1983 , August 22, 2012 6:30 AM
    Ditch the BR Writer, get a BR combo drive and save yourself $60
  • 13 Hide
    Crashman , August 22, 2012 6:40 AM
    zander1983Ditch the BR Writer, get a BR combo drive and save yourself $60
    Sorry, I don't see any combo drives for $30 so the savings would be much less than $60. Plus, you'd lose BD-RE backup capability, which can be handy.
  • 2 Hide
    sarinaide , August 22, 2012 7:02 AM
    CrashmanProbably not, unless you're only testing games. But we should probably test that anyway. Does anyone else want to see it?


    It would be very interesting, the IvyBridge chips in productivity numbers hold quite well with the SB-E chips that is the only area which should be a contest.
  • -1 Hide
    crisan_tiberiu , August 22, 2012 7:06 AM
    16GB ram pointless imo. 2 TB 5400rpm hdd? ...i rather get a 1 TB 7200 rpm hdd. i7 3970k ... i rather get the i7 3770k. From theese i would squeeze in a gtx 680.
  • 3 Hide
    mayankleoboy1 , August 22, 2012 7:28 AM
    CrashmanProbably not, unless you're only testing games. But we should probably test that anyway. Does anyone else want to see it?


    2x670 is overkill for 1920x1080.
    But a 2000$ build is already overkill. So this SLI setup is OK
  • 20 Hide
    Crashman , August 22, 2012 7:54 AM
    namelesstedI am sorry. This is one of the dumbest builds I have seen in a long time...
    No, it's just you (the noob thing). These gaming resolutions are too low to take advantage of SLI, and this one DESTROYS yours in this benchmark set.

    Your config would only be better if there were significant changes to the benchmark set.
  • 3 Hide
    Mac_McMan , August 22, 2012 7:57 AM
    CrashmanNo, it's just you (the noob thing). These gaming resolutions are too low to take advantage of SLI, and this one DESTROYS yours in this benchmark set.Your config would only be better if there were significant changes to the benchmark set.
    You were right the first time, you can tell by the language he's trolling
  • 12 Hide
    Crashman , August 22, 2012 8:04 AM
    Mac_McManYou were right the first time, you can tell by the language he's trolling
    OK then, ignoring the hate and going back to rational response, Sarinaide recommended a PAIR of GTX 670's, a 3570K, a Gigabyte Z77 board and 8GB RAM. But this still needs to be a $2000 PC or else it becomes an "enhancement" of yesterday's $1000 build.

    I'm going to take a long shot and say, blow the leftover money on quad SLI support. That could lead to even more tests down the road, no?

    Of course an Ivy Bridge SLI build would still lose under this benchmark set, so it would need to be tested at higher gaming resolutions. Is everyone OK with 5760x1080?
  • -3 Hide
    namelessted , August 22, 2012 8:14 AM
    CrashmanOK then, ignoring the hate and going back to rational response, Sarinaide recommended a PAIR of GTX 670's, a 3570K, a Gigabyte Z77 board and 8GB RAM. But this still needs to be a $2000 PC or else it becomes an "enhancement" of yesterday's $1000 build.I'm going to take a long shot and say, blow the leftover money on quad SLI support. That could lead to even more tests down the road, no?Of course an Ivy Bridge SLI build would still lose under this benchmark set, so it would need to be tested at higher gaming resolutions. Is everyone OK with 5760x1080?


    Have you looked at the test results? The old build with a GTX680 beats the current build when you look at maximum settings at 2560x1600. Let me say this again, at the highest settings and full resolution the old build with the GTX680 beats the current build on every single game tested in this article. Every single game.

    A 670 SLI setup would only further the performance gap.
  • 8 Hide
    Crashman , August 22, 2012 8:36 AM
    namelesstedHave you looked at the test results? The old build with a GTX680 beats the current build when you look at maximum settings at 2560x1600. Let me say this again, at the highest settings and full resolution the old build with the GTX680 beats the current build on every single game tested in this article. Every single game.A 670 SLI setup would only further the performance gap.
    Games make up 30% of the benchmark set. 2560x1600 makes up 25% of gaming scores. Therefore, 2560x1600 performance makes up 7.5% of the overall value score.

    On the other hand, heavily-threaded programs make up 50% of the encoding and 75% of the productivity benchmarks. That's 37.5% (15%+22.5%) of the benchmark totals. 37.5% is a much larger portion than 7.5%, so 3930K+GTX 670 beats 3570+SLI. It's simple math, and the only way to change that math is to change the benchmarks.

    Really, dropping the 3930K only furthers the performance gap.
  • -1 Hide
    namelessted , August 22, 2012 9:07 AM
    CrashmanGames make up 30% of the benchmark set. 2560x1600 makes up 25% of gaming scores. Therefore, 2560x1600 performance makes up 7.5% of the overall value score.On the other hand, heavily-threaded programs make up 50% of the encoding and 75% of the productivity benchmarks. That's 37.5% (15%+22.5%) of the benchmark totals. 37.5% is a much larger portion than 7.5%, so 3930K+GTX 670 beats 3570+SLI. It's simple math, and the only way to change that math is to change the benchmarks.Really, dropping the 3930K only furthers the performance gap.


    First, I would argue that when it comes to a $2k build, the only thing that matters in terms of gaming benchmarks are the max settings and resolution. When you are spending that much, it literally doesn't matter how well it can do on mid settings and 1080p. Completely irrelevant.

    Secondly, I might have to argue that the benchmarks should be changed to better reflect real-world scenarios instead of reporting Sandra numbers.

    It is just extremely frustrating to see a build like this. With $2k there is so much potential to put together a truly great and balanced machine. This build is far from that. Soderstrom had all that money, and it just feels like he picked out a crazy CPU and then just went down the line and picked random other hardware. I also realize some of the choices are personal preference. I personally think the Phantom 410 just looks awful. When I see a case that looks like that, it makes me think of a 14 year old kid building a "cool" PC.

    There is also that fact that every single component in this build all come from different companies. For budget builds that absolutely makes sense. You have to find deals where they are and that pretty much always means buying different brands. But, he had $2000. It is just something that makes no sense to me, to open up a PC and see that every single component not matching up in any way.

    The whole build just feels like Soderstrom picked a CPU, and then just added the rest of the parts to the cart and he just didn't save the proper budget for a GPU and decided to downgrade it instead of figuring out where money was just being wasted.
  • 13 Hide
    Crashman , August 22, 2012 9:22 AM
    namelesstedThe whole build just feels like Soderstrom picked a CPU...
    Soderstrom didn't pick any of the major components. Back in the Q2 SBM, readers complained that they wanted an SB-E and LGA-2011 in the $2000 machine. Readers also complained about the price of its GTX 680, since the GTX 670 performed almost as well for much less money (the GTX 670 wasn't available when the order was placed). Readers also complained that the SSD should not have been shrunken from the Q1 system's 240GB. So you're complaining about reader picks in the 3930K, single GTX 670 (not enough money left for two), and 240 GB SSD.

    So your real beef is with your fellow readers, not the builder of this machine.
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