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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. After some delay (sorry folks), the contest is ready to be entered. Please visit the entry page, here.
One thing sorely lacking from our System Builder Marathon (SBM) articles has been AMD, and that's not because we don’t like the green team. Putting most of our focus into overall system performance caused us to overlook some of the excellent value AMD offers almost exclusively in the gaming market. Thus, we’ve added a couple of titles for our game benchmark tests where AMD really shines.
But AMD’s competitive prices don’t extend only to gaming processors and graphics, as the company also has a thriving chipset business. You certainly won’t find a northbridge with 42 PCI Express (PCIe) lanes from Intel, and otherwise similarly-equipped X58 motherboards come with an approximate $100 price premium.
|$2,500 Portable Performance PC Component Prices|
|Motherboard||MSI 790FX-GD70 Socket AM3|
Chipset: AMD 790FX/SB750
|Processor||AMD Phenom II X4 955|
Four Cores, 3.2 GHz, 8MB Cache
|Graphics||3 x MSI R4890-T2D1G OC (CrossFireX)|
1GB GDDR5-3996 Per Card
Radeon HD 4890 GPU at 880 MHz
|DRAM||8GB Crucial DDR3-1333 CAS 9|
2 x P/N CT2KIT25664BA1339 Kit
|OS/Program Drives||2 x Intel X25-M SSDSA2MH080G1 (RAID 0)|
80GB per drive, MLC, 160GB total
|Storage Hard Drives|| 2 x WD Caviar Black WD1001FALS (RAID 1)|
1TB, 7,200 RPM, 32MB Cache SATA 3.0 Gb/s
|Optical||LG GGW-H20L BD-RE / HD-DVD ROM|
6x BD-R, 2x BD-RE, 16x DVD±R
|Case||NZXT Panzerbox ATX Mid-Tower||$120|
|Power||Corsair CMPSU-1000HX Modular 1,000W|
ATX12V 2.2, EPS12V 2.91, 80-Plus Certified
|CPU Cooler||Swiftech H20-220 2 x 120mm Liquid-Cooling Kit||$140|
|Component Cooling||Antec 0761345-75018-9 "SpotCool" LED Fan||$15|
|SSD Tray||SNT SNT-SATA2221B Hot-Swappable Backplane||$22|
|Bay Adapter||Vantec MRK-250FD 3.5" to 5.25" adapter||$13|
We were even able to put the money saved on the motherboard (as well as a few other areas) into storage, adding two 80GB Intel X25-M solid-state disk (SSD) drives for super-fast load times and upgrading the optical unit from a Blu-ray reader to a BD-RE writer, all in an effort to satisfy a multitude of reader requests. Let’s take a closer look at how it all went together.