System Builder Marathon, Dec. 2009: $1,300 Enthusiast PC

System Builder Marathon: $1,300 Enthusiast System

System Builder Marathon, December 2009: 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 check out this Google form, and be sure to read the complete rules before entering!

Day 1: The $2,500 Performance PC
Day 2: The $1,300 Enthusiast PC
Day 3: The $700 Gaming PC
Day 4: Performance And Value, Dissected

Folks expecting something extraordinary, like the AMD beast with four Radeon HD 4850s that was in our previous $1,250 system, might be disappointed at first. Our new $1,300 Intel system is fairly mainstream in comparison. But don't let that fool you because this machine packs a heck of a punch, which we'll see in the benchmarks.

First, let's look at the components:

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$1,300 Enthusiast System Components
MotherboardGigabyte P55-UD4P LGA 1156 Chipset: Intel P55 Express$170
ProcessorIntel Core i5-750 2.66 GHz 4 Cores, 8.0MB L3 Cache$200
Memory2 x A-Data 2.0GB DDR3-1333 Dual-Channel Kit 2 x 2.0GB (4.0GB Total), CAS 8-8-8-24$92
Graphics2 x Radeon HD 5850 (CrossFireX) 1.0GB GDDR5-4000 Per Card Radeon HD 5870 GPU at 725 MHz$620
Hard DrivesWD Caviar Black 640GB 640GB, 7,200 RPM, 32MB Cache SATA 3.0 Gb/s$75
OpticalSamsung SH-S2232C22x DVD+R, 8x DVD+RW, 16x DVD ROM, 48x CD ROM$27
CaseNZXT M59$60
PowerCorsair CMPSU-750HX 750W ATX12V, EPS12V , 80-Plus Certified$110
Row 8 - Cell 0 Total Current Cost$1,354

Although the previous AMD build featured four graphics cards instead of two, and we didn't have the budget for an aftermarket CPU cooler, we've still broken through our $1,300 target limit by $54--or $24 with $30 worth of mail-in rebates. This is not something we're proud of, but something we'll have to live with given the current climate of gradually-rising prices.

  • Crashman
    Great build Don! The only thing I'd change is to use the RAM from the $2500 system! It's too bad you didn't have enough money left over to buy a big cooler.
  • noob2222
    Very smoothe build, pretty limited with the 5850s with the pricing once past that, but this thing handles it well, esp since the cpu was lucky enough to stay fast while undervolted.

    Not all cpus are the same, this one compared to the $2500 build definatly shows it. Takes a bit of luck sometimes or bad luck.
  • Tridec
    Just a thought, but why not use an I7 920 CPU, with an asrock x58 Extreme motherboard? I see a lot of people bought their I7 920 CPU for 199 dollars and the motherboard costs 170 dollars.
    Pair that up with OCZ 1333 platinum 7-7-7-24 memory, that can easily be overclocked to 1600 7-7-7-24 and you'll have a powerful system with 36 PCI-e lanes and loads of CPU overclocking room thanks to asrock's great motherboard.
  • SpadeM
    Good article, and yes the quadfire setup was sweet back then!! I just have a question/suggestion to make, and if you find worthy of a replay I'd much appreciate it.

    Since you are willing to experiment with different setups, and since we see the problem with the Phenom in the application suite, why not try something more exotic like pairing a nvidia based card with the crossfire cards to act like a PPU / video transcoding accelerator (TMPEng supports CUDA at least to act as a filter). I don't know if this makes sense in a marathon build, but I'd like to see something like this benchmarked.
  • alchemy69
    Those delta T over ambient figures worry me. We don't all live in Fairbanks, AK.
  • shubham1401
    This is an excellent build.
    With an aftermarket cooler this build will be flawless.

    Power Draw,Performance all were nice.

    The case looks nice too.
  • burnley14
    I'm not especially interested in the gaming results per se, but this build certainly solidifies my choice to go with an Intel processor over AMD based on productivity benchmarks.
  • optional22
    Aside from the video cards, this is essentially the same build as the $2,500 build recently posted performance-wise. What is the point?
  • kick_pixels
    Good system over all… an extra hard drive for backup is essential and the wiring needs some tiding up.

  • cangelini
    More specifically, these guys are trying different things each time we do a round of SBMs--sometimes the results are great, and sometimes they're not as good. The point is that we're putting the machines together and reporting on the results so that you can decide if you want to do the same or not. And hopefully, when we come across a result that doesn't look so hot, we'll call out where our mistake was in building the box.

    Just think how boring these would be if every quarter we did a Core i7-920-based machine at $2,500, a Core i5-750 machine at $1,500, and a Phenom II-based box at $700! =)