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Conclusion

SBM 2: Mid Cost System
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These builds are designed around the idea that most users already have peripherals and a Windows XP license that they can transfer from their current system to a new one. Taking just the hardware into consideration, we compiled the following price list:

Current Mid-Priced PC Component Cost
CPU Intel Core 2 Quad Q6600 280
CPU Cooler Thermalright Ultra-120 Extreme 65
CPU Fan Scythe S-Flex SFF21F 15
Motherboard MSI P6N SLI Platinum 140
RAM PDP Patriot PC2-6400 PDC22G6400LLK 110
Graphics EVGA GeForce 8800GTX PN: 768-P2-N831-AR 520
Hard Drive Western Digital Caviar RE2 WD5000YS 155
Case SILVERSTONE TEMJIN SST-TJ02SW 100
Power AeroCool ZERODBA-S620 125
DVD-RW Sony NEC Optiarc 7170 SATA 35
Total Price $1,545

The total cost of $1545 doesn't even come close to our planned $2000 budget limit, in fact it's only around 20% more than our previous mid-priced build. Let's consider what the older system would cost at today's component prices:

Former Mid-Priced PC Component Cost (Prices Updated)
CPU Core 2 Duo E6600 230
CPU Cooler Cooler Master Hyper TX 30
Motherboard MSI P965 Platinum 125
RAM Patriot eXtreme Performance PDC22G6400LLK 110
Graphics EVGA GeForce 8800GTS PN: 320-P2-N811-AR 290
Hard Drive Western Digital Caviar RE2 WD5000YS 155
Case SILVERSTONE TEMJIN SST-TJ02SW 100
Power AeroCool ZERODBA-S620 125
DVD-RW Sony NEC Optiarc Black AD-7170S-0B 18X SATA 35
Total Price $1,200

After price correction, the new system is 28.8% costlier than the former configuration. Will it provide the 29% performance increase needed to maintain proper value?

A huge increase in graphics card price netted us a comparatively small 14% average gain in games. Surely the four-core processor will prove more beneficial in applications.

The abnormally high DivX encoding time gains of the four-core Intel Core 2 Quad are tamed a bit by the fact that four out of six applications gained nothing. Still, we see an overall application performance gain of around 49%.

Synthetics gauge a wider range of performance than a few sample programs, so let's see what differences these show.

Though Sandra 2005 showed a substantial overall gain of 74%, the average score increase across all synthetics is only 24%.

What happens when we average everything together?

For 29% more money, we got a 29% performance increase. Bang-for-the-buck appears to be a tie between our former and later mid-priced systems, but we have yet to try our hand at overclocking. Also stay tuned for a comparison of all three systems from this week's System Builder Marathon.

Author's Opinion

Don Woligroski's low-cost system may once again take the eventual bang-for-the-buck win, as its 8800GTS is much cheaper than the 8800GTX we used today and not that much slower. We still haven't considered overclocking, either, where every Core 2 Duo E6750 we've seen uses the latest stepping while our recently-purchased Q6600 did not.

It seems that our greatest hope for this mid-priced build is that Shelton Romhanyi is a better overclocker than Don!

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