System Builder Marathon: Sub-$1000 PC

Cheap and Easy

With so many of today’s high-value parts being directly derived from high-priced siblings, finding great components within our $1,000 budget was easier than ever before. Today’s component list even gives us some hope of taking a run for the performance level of the upper-mainstream system we tested yesterday, at least when we finally get to tomorrow’s overclocking competition. But before we get ahead of ourselves, let’s take a look at that component list.

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CPUIntel Core 2 Duo E7200130
CPU CoolerCooler Master HyperTX 226
MotherboardMSI P7N SLI Platinum150
RAMCrucial Ballistix 2x 1GB PC2-6400 Kit55
Graphics2x Gigabyte 8800 GT GV-NX88T512HPV1 (SLI)376
Hard DriveSeagate Barracuda 7200.10 500GB ST3500630AS80
SoundOnboard 8-Channel HD Audio Codec00
CaseCooler Master Centurion 590 RC-590-KKN1-GP70
PowerSilverstone ST400 400W47
DVD-RWSony NEC Optiarc 7170 Serial ATA25
Auxiliary Fan2x OKGEAR D12SL-12 (120mm/1350RPM)9
Row 11 - Cell 0 Total Price$968

If you’re not as impressed as us about these component prices, consider the fact that these are the up-front costs. Buyers of the same configuration can expect around $100 to come back to them in the form of rebates, which we’ll define later.

Just to put an emphasis on how radically improved the current $1000 system market is compared to the one we built just three months ago, here’s what similar dollars could buy back in March.

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CPUAMD Quad Core Phenom 9500200
CPU CoolerCooler master HyperTX 226
MotherboardGigabyte GA-MA78GM-S2H90
RAMWintec Ampo DDR2 PC2-6400 - 2 GB39
GraphicsHIS Radeon 3870 ICEQ Turbo180
Hard DriveWestern Digital Caviar 500 GB80
SoundIntegrated high Definition Audio0
CaseNZXT Apollo70
PowerNZXT PP600W75
DVD-RWSony Optiarc DVD-RW25
Total Price$785

The current price listed above represents a savings of nearly $200 from when we built the system in March, but even after the savings we expect the performance levels to be incomparable in many regards. Today’s real questions then regard the level of improvement for our current $1000 build, and what its weaknesses are compared to the earlier quad-core effort.

Thomas Soderstrom
Thomas Soderstrom is a Senior Staff Editor at Tom's Hardware US. He tests and reviews cases, cooling, memory and motherboards.
  • Haiku214
    I'm glad to know that you don't really need a huge amount of wattage to run the 8800 gt sli. How about for the ati 4850 crossfireX? Is 460 watts with a combined 42 amps for the 12V rail be enough?
  • hellwig
    Seeing the new prices for components, couldn't you have stayed with the AMD theme, just to satisfy reader curiosity. I.e. 2x3870 in crossfire (or 3870x2) = $300, AMD 790X/FX MB = $125, Phenom 9850 Black Ed = $235 (or 6400+ X2 Black Ed = $160, making room for 2x4850), Plus all cheaper components from current build. You would have still been under the $1000 mark, and the dual 3870/4850 would have given much closer results in the games category, and the unlocked multiplier would have given AMD a little more benefit in the overclocking category compared to the locked 9500 used previously. This would have been more interesting especially since your $2000 PC was really a $1400 PC (the only difference between $1000 and $2000 now being GTS vs. GT and quad vs. dual).
  • randomizer
    The first Crysis graph looks more like Very High, not High. I get around 32FPS with a single 9600GT on high at 1440x900.
  • cjl
    Considering that those GT's ran you $188 each, even counting a $30 rebate, that should have left 4850's well within your grasp, and they would have significantly outperformed the GT's. In fact, they probably would have outperformed your
  • cjl
    Hmm. Looks like it took my less than sign as HTML tagging. That should have said "outperformed your less than $2000 system"
  • yonef
    Same problem in here (like in $2000 system build)!
    Tom's realy starts to annoying me:
    First of all: Why the hell you need crapy 8800GT??! while for the same prize you can buy HD4850s -> 2xHD4850=$330 < 2x8800GT=$386 !!!
    Second of all: 2xHD4850 will easy outperform 2x8800GT even in crysis :D(wich is exclusively for nvidia)
    Third, but not least: How the hell whole system with 2X8800GT will run on 400W PS ?!!? I'm so convinced;
  • str8ballistik
    This is really dumb. I love how they add up only a tower. you have to add in the monitor, speakers, mouse/keyboard, etc.. That is what a computer is, not a tower. You get peoples hopes up to buy a computer, then they realize, oh yeah, I have to buy this other stuff to actually be able to use the tower. Come on, be more realistic. I would love to see a mid-rang computer, while seeing what size monitor you can get with it.
  • randomizer
    yonefWhy the hell you need crapy 8800GT??!It's funny how a suddenly card becomes worse when another card is released better than it, even funnier when a few weeks ago this was THE card to buy. Did you stop to consider when this article was written? Perhaps the card wasn't available when they wrote this, and in order to get the article out on time they had to go with "crappy" cards.
  • mf_fm
    AMD + ATi FTW $1000 system
  • giovanni86
    If u don't already own a monitor/keyboard/mouse/speakers n your reading this thread you are a retard. Like seriously why would you not own those things already. Personally i like these articles they make, it puts together a PC built tower for you already kind of knowing what u could get at such a great price point. And 2ndly in my opinion ATI has nothing on NVIDIA, although ppl claim it to be better and cheaper then NVIDIA's line up i beg the differ. And 3rdly i can't believe that a sli system as well could run off a 400watt PSU.