System Builder Marathon, March 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!
Everyone hates the idea of putting a bunch of money into a system, only to find its components are middle-rung six months later. But that’s the harsh reality of the high-end market. Offended by that loss in value, many builders toss around terms like “future proof” when they're looking for components that will support the latest hardware trends perpetually. And yet, the harshest reality might be that most IHVs can only look forward to a single generation. The best we can hope for is a system that can be upgraded using near-term technologies over the course of several years, so that’s where we’ve started today.
Followers of our System Builder Marathon (and those who help us make these decisions with their participation in the comments section) will notice several additions and subtractions from this month’s build. First up was a long-overdue increase in budget from $2,500 to $3,000 that finally addresses last summer’s component price escalation.
No longer must we choose between solid-state drives (SSDs) or liquid cooling, as this month’s budget allows us to use both. Redundant storage, on the other hand, was nixed due to reader disagreement over various backup methods, though we intentionally left enough money in the budget to add a second storage drive, if that's the direction you choose to take with your own build.
|$3,000 Performance PC Component Prices|
Chipset: Intel X58 Express
|Processor||Intel Core i7-920 2.66 GHz|
4 Cores, 8MB L3 Cache
|Memory||Crucial 6GB DDR3-1333 Triple-Channel Kit|
3 x 2GB (6GB Total), CAS 9-9-9-28
|Graphics||PowerColor LCS AX5970|
Radeon HD 5970 Dual GPUs at 750 MHz
|2 x Crucial CT64M225 SSD (RAID 0)|
64GB x2 (128GB Total), SATA 3.0 Gb/s
2x 2.5" Mobile Rack
|Western Digital Caviar Black WD1001FALS|
1TB, 7,200 RPM, 32MB Cache, SATA 3.0 Gb/s
|Optical||Lite-On DH-4B1S-08 SATA Blu-ray Burner|
4X BD-R, 2X BD-RE, 12X DVD±R, 4X BD-ROM
|Case||Cooler Master Cosmos-S RC-1100-KKN1-GP||$170|
|Power||SilverStone ST1000-P 1,000W Modular|
ATX12V 2.2, EPS12V 2.91, 80-Plus Silver
|CPU Cooler||Swiftech H20-220 Ultima XT Liquid Kit|
2x 120mm Radiator
|Total Current Cost||$2,926|
Because we treated the $3,000 budget as an absolute limit rather than a target, our highest-priced system remains under-budget, despite minor increases that occurred after placing our order.
Now that we’ve introduced the system, let’s consider how each of these components fits into our plans for a forward-looking, high-performance PC.
- Finally, A Forward-Looking Build
- Motherboard And CPU
- Graphics And RAM
- Cooling And Case
- Hard Drives And Accessories
- Optical Drive And Power Supply
- Hardware Installation
- Test Settings
- Benchmark Results: CoD:MW2 And Crysis
- Benchmark Results: DiRT 2 And Call Of Pripyat
- Benchmark Results: Audio And Video Encoding
- Benchmark Results: Productivity
- Benchmark Results: Synthetics
- Power, Heat, And Efficiency