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System Builder Marathon, March 2011: $2000 Bonus Build

Value Conclusion

Though today’s system did not provide the advanced performance we sought in the majority of tests, it did very well where it was expected to. That is, its high-resolution gaming capabilities were noticeably improved. Small losses in a few other benchmarks offset its lower cost, ending in a value match between systems.

Yet, high-resolution gaming was the only place we really wanted the extra performance. Comparing price only to 2560x1600 gaming performance gives us a different value perspective.

Choosing a cheaper motherboard and more expensive graphics cards allowed us to find targeted gains in high-end gaming, but there were some sacrifices. For example, the previous motherboard supported four-way CrossFire (three-way with our case limitations), while the new board would be limited to two-way CrossFire. The new motherboard’s memory overclocking capability was also slightly inferior, leading to small performance losses in various other tests.

While we were completely satisfied with our original $2000 PC and only mildly disappointed with the Hand-Picked Build, we still would like to recommend the latter, especially for our gaming audience. Though it might have been a tough choice in light of today’s test results, the fact that some components of our original build are popular, and hard to keep stocked, made this one an easy pick.

Thomas Soderstrom
Thomas Soderstrom is a Senior Staff Editor at Tom's Hardware US. He tests and reviews cases, cooling, memory and motherboards.