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System Builder Marathon, December 2010: $1000 PC

Video Cards, Power Supply, And Case

Video Card: Two GeForce GTX 460 1 GB cards in SLI

Since our motherboard supports both SLI and CrossFire, and there’s space in the budget for either configuration, the door is open as to whether or not we’d like a GeForce or Radeon solution in our rig. At the time of writing, the ECS Black Series NBGTX460 (a 1 GB GeForce GTX 460) is the most attractive option.

Read Customer Reviews of ECS's Black Series NBGTX460

While the GeForce GTX 460 1 GB and Radeon HD 6850 are closely matched competitors, the ECS cards include the Arctic Cooling Accelero Twin Turbo Pro GPU cooler. This is a $50 cooler all by itself, so to get one factory-installed on a budget $190 GeForce GTX 460 1 GB is a real treat.

We see what two of these puppies can accomplish in tandem when we get to the benchmarks, and gauge whether that great cooling hardware helps with the overclocks, too.

Power Supply: Corsair CMPSU-650TX

Read Customer Reviews of Corsair's CMPSU-650TX

The Corsair CMPSU-650TX should be able to supply all the juice we need for our Core i3-550 and dual GeForce GTX 460 1 GB setup. With a 52 A, 12 V rail, we’re in good shape for overclocking headroom, and the $85 price tag is just as attractive as the spec sheet.

PC Case: NZXT Gamma

Read Customer Reviews of NZXT's Gamma

Instead of going with familiar fare, we step outside of our comfort zone and use an inexpensive NZXT Gamma case. At a mere $40, it only includes a single 120 mm case fan. But an extra $8 buys us a couple of APEVIA CF12S-BK 120 mm fans to bring airflow up to snuff. The resulting $48 case and fan combo adds up to one of the nicest budget rigs we’ve worked with, as attractive as it is functional.