System Builder Marathon, March 2012: $1250 Enthusiast PC

Memory, Hard Drive, And Optical Drive

Memory: Mushkin Enhanced Redline 8 GB (2 x 4 GB) DDR3-1600 Memory Kit 

Frankly, I’d be happy with 4 GB of lower-latency memory. But your feedback tells us that you want to see 8 GB in these builds. At $60, this Mushkin Enhanced dual-channel kit boasts 7-9-8-24 timings at a 1600 MT/s data rate. 

Read Customer Reviews of Mushkin's Enhanced Redline 8 GB DDR3-1600 Kit

SSD: Crucial m4 CT064M4SSD2 2.5" 64 GB

Read Customer Reviews of Crucial's 64 GB m4

I’m not a fan of restrictive 32 GB boot drives, but Crucial’s M4 64 GB SSD delivers two times that capacity, along with great value and performance.

As with any SSD, remember to check for firmware updates, as it seems many manufacturers (including Crucial) end up fixing stability issues once the drives are on store shelves. We updated our m4 to version 0309 before running any tests.

Hard Drive: Hitachi Deskstar 7K1000.D 750 GB

Read Customer Reviews of Hitachi Deskstar 7K1000.D 750 GB

Hard disk prices are still much higher than they were last year, and because we’re on a strict budget, we have to make every dollar count.

Now that this system boots from an SSD, we only need a conventional hard disk for  general storage. Hitachi’s $100 Deskstar 7K1000.D offers 750 GB of capacity, it spins at 7200 RPM, and includes a 32 MB cache.

Optical Drive: Samsung TS-H353C OEM

Read Customer Reviews of Samsung TS-H353C

We also chose the cheapest optical drive we could find. This particular example is a real-only device, and not a burner. So, if you need to write your discs, you'll want something else.

Samsung's TS-H353C has been out of stock for a while, so simply look for the least-expensive drive to take its place in your own build.

  • 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.
  • ojas
    typo in the table on the first page, a 6970 isn't for $560! :P
  • 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.
  • 7970 guess you wrote this before the GTX 680 review. No way you'd make that recommendation after.
  • 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.
  • killabanks
    i would say wait for the price to come down
  • 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.
  • ringzero
    This article has so many typos and data errors that I can't make any sense of it.
  • 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.
  • 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.