There's Always Room For More
System Builder Marathon, Q3 2013: The Articles
Here are links to each of the five articles in this quarter’s System Builder Marathon (we’ll update them as each story is published). And remember, these systems are all being given away at the end of the marathon.
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Day 1: The $650 Gaming PC
Day 2: The $1300 Enthusiast PC
Day 3: The $2550 Performance PC
Day 4: Performance And Value, Dissected
Day 5: The $350 Bonus Entry-Level PC
Last quarter I was given a huge $2600 budget, from which I was allowed to pack the greatest amount of performance into the least amount of space. I didn’t find the mini-ITX theme we all sang to particularly confining though, because I picked one of the largest two-slot cases on the market. As a result of my enclosure and some carefully-planned cooling, I was even able to push that compact system with a massive overclock.
This month we’re back to full ATX, which means I don't need to plan out the cooling system as carefully. Instead, the large increase in case size and available components forces me to calm down a bit in order to stay within budget. Truth be told, I had a hard time spending all of my funding last time around. But given my plan this time around, it's going to be equally difficult to not go way over the top.
My plan? Oh, I want to one-up the previous build in as many ways as I can afford to. I still have as much as $2600 if I need it, but I'm going to try to stay as close to the previous machine's $2451 price as possible. Perturbed by the notion of paying more to get fewer features on a smaller mini-ITX motherboard, I'm going big on the platform, its interface, the memory subsystem, and even the graphics configuration fed by those devices.
|Q3 2013 $2550 Performance PC Components|
|Processor||Intel Core i7-3930K: 3.2-3.8 GHz, Six-Core, 12 MB Shared L3 Cache||$570|
|Graphics||3 x EVGA 04G-P4-2766-KR GeForce GTX 760 4 GB in SLI||$900|
|Motherboard||ASRock X79 Extreme6: LGA 2011, Intel X79 Express||$220|
|Memory||Mushkin Enhanced 993988S: DDR3-1600 C9, 16 GB (4 x 4 GB)||$125|
|System Drive||Mushkin MKNSSDCR240GB-DX: 240 GB, SATA 6Gb/s SSD||$175|
|Storage Drive||WD WD30EZRX: 3 TB, SATA 6Gb/s HDD||$129|
|Optical||Pioneer BDR-2208: 15x BD-R, 16x DVD±R||$81|
|Case||Lian Li PC-9NA Aluminum ATX Mid-Tower||$109|
|Power||Corsair HX850: 850 W Modular, ATX12V v2.3, 80 PLUS Gold||$150|
|CPU Cooler||Noctua NH-D14 SE2011||$85|
Though the original build sheet totaled just under $2500, that order was delayed by a few weeks. Some temporary discounts went away, and while others took their place, the overall price remains higher than I preferred. I still stayed within the $2600 limit however, so I'm the only one among the builder team who's disappointed by the extra expense. I was, after all, trying to get this build to match its predecessor's price.
On the other hand, Paul's single GPU was OK with 2GB. I figured we'd need a jump to 4GB with 3-way on his GPU, but 3GB on the 7970 probably would have been enough. Also, a total difference of $60 still would have fit within the budget limit, so, maybe Ivy-Bridge E and Radeons for the next build?
In order to prove what you're saying, I would have needed to search for worse-performing overpriced parts. You'll see on Day 4 that this build has the best performance of the three. So this build actually doesn't prove anything, except maybe that six core processors boost six-core benchmarks and that more graphics power gives you better frame rates at 5760x1080 (etc). But we didn't actually need any proof for those things, did we?
Tom, the future builds need to have better budget tiers. The doubling of the funds in each tier is fine in certain cases but it doesn't provide real insight into hardware choices. Having the tiers with a fixed figure increase such as a $250-400 increase in budget per tier would make more sense. Also, I would love to see the comeback of the $500 budget builds.
Lastly, what happen to the idea of themes each quarter?