The hardware in this month’s System Builder Marathon is, in many ways, far more advanced than anything before it, but two places where we couldn’t find a significant improvement were the hard drives and graphics cards. New graphics technology begged us to wait for availability, yet we won’t get a chance to try it until our next SBM.
Even though the new processor is ready to astonish us in our SBM Day 4 overclocking comparison, we can’t possibly overstress the value of a high-end case and cooling configuration for turning a run-of-the-mill performance system into a dream machine. To be quite honest, the liquid-cooled case of our previous high-end machine would have been more valuable as scrap metal - it is in no way comparable to the quality of Silverstone’s Temjin TJ09, and the functionality of our custom-selected Swiftech liquid cooling kit.
The Temjin TJ09 is one of the quietest cases we’ve used, with Silverstone going so far as to use thicker plastic for the side window and a noise baffle for the intake fan. Swiftech’s liquid cooling kit fits it perfectly, requiring no drilling or other modifications, and everything tucks neatly inside the case for easy transport and a clean appearance. And while this editor doesn’t normally consider placement of the power supply at the bottom of a case a good idea for air-cooled processors, this step was a completely necessary part of the design process in order to ensure that large radiators like ours would fit into the top panel.
Another point worth considering is chipset cooling. The method required to bleed the air from our liquid cooling system would have made the use of a chipset water block difficult, but add-in fans from Asus simply haven’t satisfied us. The Antec SpotCool does the job nicely, and sets an example that Asus might be smart to consider in future products.
Tomorrow we’ll see how our three System Builder Marathon configurations compare on a performance basis, while Thursday will bring our overclocking shootout, and on Friday we’ll compare the value that each system has to offer. We might even have a few surprises along the way, so we hope you’ll look forward to these articles...
Here’s a list of the System Builder Marathon (SBM) articles in this five day series.
- Day 1 : The Low-Cost PC
- Day 2 : The Mid-Cost PC
- Day 3 : The High-Cost PC
- Day 4 : All Three SBM PCs Overclocked
- Day 5 : Summary - The Price/Performance Winner
- Getting Ahead Of The Curve
- Processor: Intel Core 2 Extreme QX9650
- Graphics Cards: Two Gigabyte GeForce 8800GTX In SLI
- Hard Drives: Two Western Digital Caviar WD7500AAKS
- Case: Silverstone Temjin TJ09-BW
- CPU Cooling: Swiftech Liquid Cooling Components
- Power Supply: Cooler Master RS-850-EMBA
- Component Installation
- Component Installation, Continued
- Test System Configuration
- Benchmark Results