System Builder Marathon, Q4 2013: $1600 Enthusiast PC

Bring On The High-End Graphics

System Builder Marathon, Q4 2013: The Articles

Here are links to each of the four 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.

To enter the giveaway, please fill out this SurveyGizmo form, and be sure to read the complete rules before entering!

Day 1: The $800 Gaming PC
Day 2: The $1600 Enthusiast PC
Day 3: The $2400 Performance PC
Day 4: Performance And Value, Dissected


With $300 tacked on to my budget for the last System Builder Marathon of the year, my goal was to go out with a bang by targeting hardcore gaming. And when it comes to stacking the performance deck, gaming means graphics processing, so you shouldn't have any trouble guessing where the extra money is going.

With that said, I did make some other interesting changes. For example, I'm using a faster SSD and a larger hard drive for user data. 

Functionally, the compromises I made to save money don't have any negative impact. I went with a cheaper (but still-effective) heat sink instead of a closed-loop liquid cooler. You can also see the inexpensive (but good-quality) enclosure in the picture above. And I bought a mid-range (but overclockable) motherboard for tuning performance.

This is the complete list of parts purchased from Newegg for today's $1600 Enthusiast build.

Swipe to scroll horizontally
$1600 Enthusiast System Components
MotherboardAsus Z87-PLUS, LGA 1150, Intel Z87 Express$163
ProcessorIntel Core i5-4670K: 3.4 GHz Base Clock Rate, 3.8 GHz Maximum Turbo Boost, 6 MB Shared L3 Cache$240
Heat SinkEnermax ETS-T40-TB Air Cooler$35
Memory8 GB Patriot Viper 3 (2 x 4 GB) DDR3-1866 Model PV38G186C9K$95
Graphics2 x MSI Gaming N770 TF, GeForce GTX 770 2 GB 256-bit GDDR5$660
System DriveSamsung 840 Pro MZ-7PD128PW 2.5" 128 GB SATA 6Gb/s (SSD)$150
Storage DriveSeagate Barracuda 2 TB, 7200 RPM, 64 MB Cache, SATA 6Gb/s$100
OpticalLite-On iHAS124-04 DVD Burner$18
CaseNZXT Gamma Black ATX Mid Tower Computer Case$35
FansApevia 140 mm, Rosewill 120 mm ($7 each)$14
PowerCorsair TX750 V2 750 W ATX12V v2.3 80 PLUS Bronze PSU$90
Total Cost$1600

You can't get any closer to a budget ceiling of $1600 than this. Of course, since I bought the parts, some prices have changed. Today, the same shopping list will run you $20 more. That's fairly insignificant in the grand scheme of things, particularly with both Paul and Thomas getting throttled by price increases on AMD's cards.

  • Crashman
    I just wanted to let you guys know before the $2400 PC pops up, that this renewed focus on gaming is a Don and Paul effort. With $2400 on the line, it's easy to improve the entire machine and try to make a clean sweep of every benchmark :)
  • Onus
    This was a good build, if only for the single data point that was the power usage. At stock, you could get away with a good 650W PSU, but overclocked it's probably not a good idea. There weren't really any surprises anywhere else. The one pic was dark; how was cable management in that case? I used one a while back and reviewed it, and I though that was probably its weakest point.
  • Onus
    If you would like comments and assistance on a personal build, please start your own thread in the New Builds forum. This thread is for discussions about the System Builder Marathon machines. Thanks.
  • -Fran-
    I have to say I'm really surprised for the crappy scaling of the GTX770s. Was it a CPU bound issue or maybe a PCIe bottleneck? Driver issue? Profile issue? haha

    I'm really surprised to say the least.

  • blubbey

    Before commenting about benches, read:

    "Keep this parting thought in mind: we're fully aware that the SBM test suite is showing its age, and we have new benchmark results with more modern games. You're going to see this surface in our Day 4 analysis from Thomas."

    Last page, last paragraph.

    Nice build, hilariously good performance in BF3, In the more modern games, will there be any GPU memory bottlenecks with triple monitor setups? We shall see!
  • lp231
    It seems these sbm have no strict budget limit. Every time these sbm articles, the budget gets higher and higher. A $1,000 enthusiast pc would be more of a real world build, since that is the maximum amount, most people spend these days on their new build.
    What will the budget be for next times enthusiast pc?
    Now it is at $1,600. So next time it will be $2,500 cause getting them 2x GTX 880 in sli is consider as a budget enthusiast pc?!
  • Steve Pound
    Who plays Skyrim on PC and not have a membership at Nexus so the most basic improvements can be made? Leading to: why has this site used the game for 2 years and not done that? Maybe FO4 will be more promising.
  • jtenorj
    If go go with an optical drive in this price range, it should be a dvd burner. It's not that much more expensive, media prices are coming down(better cost per GB and speed than dvd in some cases) and lets you play blu tay movies without using bandwitdh to download or stream hd video. My 2 cents.
  • jtenorj
    Edit: I meant blu ray burner. Also, I don't care for that case(personal preference).
  • mjmjpfaff
    It depends on which resolution you look at. I advise you to go back and look at the higher resolutions where the 770's in SLI can actually show a huge difference over one 770. It almost doubles in FPS over last quarter's build if you look at some 5760x1080 res. graphs.