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Motherboard, Cooler, And Memory

Tom's SBM: The $1,500 Mainstream PC
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Motherboard : DFI LANPARTY DK X38-T2RB

DFI has a great reputation for overclocking-friendly motherboards, and the Intel X38 chipset has a good reputation as a solid foundation for a high-performance PC that won’t break the budget.

One of the main features of the X38 is full-speed PCI Express dual-slot x16 support, which is a real plus when planning to run dual video cards. The high bus speed options are a real bonus for those who upgrade their systems on a regular basis. Finally, at $175, the price is attractive for this level of performance and quality, compared to other solutions.

Cooler : Swiftech H20-220 APEX-GT

Our previous mid-range build sported Swiftech’s H20-120, but with our eyes set on higher overclocking heights, we splurged on Swiftech’s H20-220 kit. Compared to the H20-120, the radiator in the H20-220 is twice as large, the pump is much more powerful and is separate from the CPU cooling block, and there is a convenient see-through reservoir. For $140, the H20-220 is an excellent value for those wishing to lower CPU temperatures.

Unfortunately, due to a slight mix-up, we ordered the superior Swiftech H20-220 APEX-GT kit. It offers an upgrade over the base model H20-220 by utilizing a better water block and pump, and including a reservoir. At a $60 premium over the regular H20-220 model, the APEX-GT kit is a great solution for those looking for even lower temperatures.

With the base H20-220 offering very good cooling performance, we’re recommending that model to shave a few dollars from our mid-range machine. The APEX-GT is certainly an attractive option, though, for those looking for a little more out of their CPU cooler.

Memory : 4 GB of Patriot Viper DDR2-800 Model PVS24G6400LLK

Patriot memory has a good price/performance ratio, and the dual-channel 4 GB Viper DDR2-800 kit stood out as an attractive choice for the price. For only $88 we got 4 GB of memory with a CAS latency of—just the kind of value we look for when putting together our System Builder Marathon machines (Ed.—and the sort of choice that could give Don an advantage over Thomas when it comes to weighing value against performance in the last story in this series.

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