System Builder Marathon: Day 4

Bonus: We Build And Test A Budget Gamer's Special

Though not strictly one of our test systems, we thought it would be very, very interesting to see what happens when we put a top-of-the-line Geforce 8800 GTX in our low cost system. Here's why:

One of the hotly debated topics on our forums is whether or not the 8800 GTX is meaningfully bottlenecked by a low-end CPU. The System Builder Marathon offered us the perfect opportunity to put this argument to the test.

So we pitted the mid-range system - a well balanced machine with solid components and an 8800 GTS - against our low-cost system in gaming-only benchmarks. The difference is we'll be trading out the 7600 GT in our low-cost system for a Geforce 8800 GTX! We'll also be using the midrange system's power supply, as the low-cost PC's power supply doesn't have enough PCIe power cables to support the 8800.

We've called the resulting low-cost system with a better PSU and 8800 GTX the 'Budget Gamer's Special'. Here's a list of components and costs vs. the mid-range system:

Budget Gamer's Special Component Costs
CPU Athlon X2 3800+ AM2 $82
CPU Cooler AMD Boxed Cooler 0
Motherboard MSI K9N4 Ultra-F $59
RAM Wintec AMPO PC2-6400 1 GB $70
Graphics GeForce 8800 GTX $540
Hard Drive Samsung HD160JJ - P80SD $51
Sound Onboard Audio 0
Case Coolermaster Centurion 5 $50
Power AeroCool ZERODBA-S620 $125
DVD-RW Sony NEC Optiarc Black AD-7170S-0B 18X SATA $35
Total Price $1012
Mid-Priced PC Component Costs
CPU Core 2 Duo E6600 $230
CPU Cooler Cooler Master Hyper TX $30
Motherboard MSI P965 Platinum $135
RAM Patriot eXtreme Performance PDC22G6400LLK $160
Graphics EVGA GeForce 8800GTS PN: 320-P2-N811-AR $280
Hard Drive Western Digital Caviar RE2 WD5000YS $160
Sound Onboard Audio 0
Power AeroCool ZERODBA-S620 $125
DVD-RW Sony NEC Optiarc Black AD-7170S-0B 18X SATA $35
Total Price $1,255

At this point, it's hard not to notice that the 8800 GTX's price has nearly doubled the low-cost PC's price, bringing it much, much closer to the cost of the mid-range system. This lessens the impact of the results, but it'll still be interesting to see what happens.

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