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System Builder Marathon, March 2012: $1250 Enthusiast PC

Video Cards, Power Supply, And Case

Video Cards: PowerColor Radeon HD 7970

This card is the reason that we’re scaling back on everything else in today's build. If you're a gamer, though, the sacrifices are worthwhile.

PowerColor's Radeon HD 7970 is a very fast board with modest power requirements. It's well worth $550 if you're looking for playable frame rates at high resolutions. The company doesn't skimp on bundled adapters, including mini DisplayPort-to-DVI, a mini DisplayPort-to-DisplayPort, HDMI-to-DVI, and DVI-to-VGA adapters in its bundle. The card also comes with DiRT 3, which happens to be one of the games in our updated SBM benchmark suite.

Read Customer Reviews of PowerColor's Radeon HD 7970 3 GB


Power Supply: Corsair TX650 V2

Read Customer Reviews of Corsair's TX650 V2

We keep waiting for something better than Corsair’s TX650 to come along, but, for less than $100, it hasn't happened yet. As such, we're happy to use this popular $90 power supply once again.

PC Case: Apevia X-Trooper Junior

Read Customer Reviews of Apevia's X-Trooper Junior

Operating within a tight budget, I'll always favor go-fast hardware over a fancy chassis, and I do enjoy giving inexpensive enclosures a shot.

To that end I opted for Apevia’s X-Trooper Junior, a small mid-tower case that costs a mere $40. It is surprisingly roomy inside, with enough clearance for our beefy Radeon HD 7970. Two included 120 mm fans are particularly nice touches, particularly in this price range.

  • zanny
    Sad thing is dollar for dollar the 7970 is maddeningly inefficient. It only says good things for this summer, when hopefully AMD drops the prices on their cards in response to Kepler kicking their collective butts in performance per dollar.
    Reply
  • ojas
    typo in the table on the first page, a 6970 isn't for $560! :P
    Reply
  • sempifi99
    A 64GB ssd seems very restrictive, can you even load all of the games in the test suite on it? I would think that for any real gamer you would want a SSD at least large enough to load 6 games and considering most modern games take ~10GB there is no room left for windows on it.

    For the price, the lack of a larger SSD seems like an oversight. I would think anyone really considering this build would have done better to get a larger SSD and a 7950 or 7870. Or perhaps a single large hybrid HD would be a better option.
    Reply
  • 7970 guess you wrote this before the GTX 680 review. No way you'd make that recommendation after.
    Reply
  • sempifi99
    9529252 said:
    7970 guess you wrote this before the GTX 680 review. No way you'd make that recommendation after.

    When you compare their overclocking potentials, they have about the same performance. And then there is the availability of the GTX 680, which is not. So it makes since why the 7970 was chosen.

    The 7970 has better compute potential too. But I don't think that is relevant for a gaming box.
    Reply
  • killabanks
    i would say wait for the price to come down
    Reply
  • ksampanna
    stm11857970 guess you wrote this before the GTX 680 review. No way you'd make that recommendation after.
    My thoughts exactly. This story was probably done before Kepler, but now with the 680 launched, the editor sure must be feeling a bit shortchanged.
    Of course, the fact that the 680 has disappeared off the shelves is a different story entirely. In any case, within the next few weeks, we should see significant price cuts on the 7970, potentially making this build relevant once again.
    Reply
  • ringzero
    This article has so many typos and data errors that I can't make any sense of it.
    Reply
  • pharoahhalfdead
    Mushkin, Mushkin, Mushkin... How about trying something along the lines of Corsair XMS3 or another brand? We've seen Mushkin so much, and you sometimes say you want to build different configs, but I never see Corsair in the builds.
    Reply
  • ringzero
    "Whoa. The Radeon HD 6950s in CrossFire from last quarter's System Builder Marathon beat the Radeon HD 7970 at every combination of resolutions and settings, except 1280x1600 at Ultra details."

    I desperately want a monitor at that resolution.
    Reply