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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.

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
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.

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.