Who Built The Best PC This Quarter?
System Builder Marathon, September 2011: The Articles
Here are links to each of the four articles in this month’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.
To enter the giveaway, please fill out this Google form, and be sure to read the complete rules before entering!
Day 1: The $2000 Performance PC
Day 2: The $1000 Enthusiast PC
Day 3: The $500 Gaming PC
Day 4: Performance And Value, Dissected
Every three months, our top builders face off in a competition that usually looks a lot like the one that preceded it. This quarter was different, though.
While the builders collaborated on many of the hardware decisions that went into past System Builder Marathons, all three went autonomous this time around. The end result was machines that looked a lot different from their predecessors in more ways than we'd expect.
Sure, they look similar. But as many mothers tell us, "it's what's on the inside that counts.” Both the $2000 and $1000 PCs shifted toward Nvidia graphics from the long-favored AMD parts, while the $500 machine re-adopts an AMD processor after exploring what it'd be like to center on an unoverclockable Intel part.
|Q3 2011 System Builder Marathon Components|
|Row 0 - Cell 0||$2000 Performance PC||$1000 Enthusiast PC||$500 Gaming PC|
|Motherboard||Gigabyte GA-Z68XP-UD3: LGA 1155 Intel Z68 Express||EVGA P67 Micro SLI LGA 1155, Intel P67 chipset||ASRock M3A770DE Socket AM3, AMD 770|
|Graphics||2 x EVGA 015-P3-1580-AR: GeForce GTX 580 SLI||2 x EVGA 01G-P3-1370-TR: GeForce GTX 460 1 GB SLI||Sapphire 100314-3L: Radeon HD 6870 1 GB|
|Processor||Intel Core i7-2600K: 3.4-3.8 GHz, 8 MB L3 Cache||Intel Core i5-2500K: 3.3-3.7 GHz, 6 MB L3 Cache||AMD Phenom II X4 955 BE: 3.2 GHz, 6 MB L3 Cache|
|Memory||G.Skill F3-14900CL9D-8GBXL: DDR3-1866 C9, 4 GB x2 (8 GB)||Mushkin Redline 997013: DDR3-1600 C7, 2 GB x2 (4 GB)||Crucial CT2KIT25664BA1339: DDR3-1333 C9, 2 x 2 GB (4 GB)|
|System Drive||Adata S511 120 GB, SATA 6Gb/s SSD||OCZ Vertex 30 GB, SATA 3Gb/s SSD||Seagate Barracuda ST500DM002 500 GB HDD|
|Storage Drive||Western Digital Caviar Green WD20EARS 2 TB, 7200 RPM HDD||Western Digital Caviar Black WD7502AAEX 750 GB, 7200 RPM HDD||Single Drive (above)|
|Optical||Lite-On iHAS224-06: 24x DVD±R 8x DVD+RW 6x DVD-RW||Sony AD-7260S-0B: 24x DVD±R 8x DVD+RW 6x DVD-RW||Samsung SH-222AB: 22x DVD±R 8x DVD+RW 6x DVD-RW|
|Case||Antec Three Hundred Illusion||Raidmax Atlas-295WB||NZXT Gamma GAMA-001BK|
|Power||Seasonic SS-850HT: 850 W, ATX12V v2.31, 80 PLUS Silver||Corsair CX600 V2: 600 W ATX12V v2.3, 80 PLUS||Antec EarthWatts EA430D: 430 W, ATX12V 2.3, 80 PLUS Bronze|
|CPU Cooler||Cooler Master Hyper 212 Plus RR-B10-212P-G1||Cooler Master Hyper TX3||AMD boxed heatsink/fan|
Another big change was the $1000 machine’s addition of an SSD, which is far smaller than the benchmark set it’s meant to represent. And yet, Don still used it to run all of the benchmarks. We’ll figure out a way to account for that small issue in our final value results.
Oh: Wait …
Also, as a result, more emphasis should be placed on the storage sub system. I know these are gaming configurations, but I'd give up my GPU in a nanosecond if it meant I could keep my SSDs. Fortunately, I don't have to choose, but I would if I had too, and I'm not alone out there. Budget systems don't feel so budget-y with even a modest SSD.
Yeah, good luck fitting an SSD into a $500 gaming build.
there have been 64GB Vertex Crucial drives on sale for < 79$. Which isn't bad.
That's why I think the $500 system should be closer to $600, maybe like $550. 30GB Agility drives were going for $40 yesterday at the Egg, so its not like you have to spend $300 to get a tangible benefit. That one addition would have contributed a significant performance benefit and the budget category used to be $650 anyway.
maybe also include windows boot time.