System Builder Marathon, Q3 2013: $1300 Enthusiast PC

Full-Sized ATX For Enthusiasts: Bigger Can Be Better

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.

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

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 $1300 to build my mid-range enthusiast-oriented system, but I also had to create a capable configuration in a mini-ITX form factor. Since smaller components tend to be more expensive than their standard-sized counterparts, our dollars didn't go as far as they could have. This time around, we're expecting more in an ATX mid-tower chassis.

You're also going to see us go with a larger and more expensive 120 GB SSD, though there's still a conventional disk drive in there for user data. We think the investment is a good one; 128 GB is about right for your operating system and applications, even if it isn't going to score me any bonus points when Thomas tallies up performance at the end of our series.

In the three months since our previous System Builder Marathon, Intel introduced its Haswell architecture, while Nvidia added a number of GeForce GTX 700-series graphics cards. So, the previous build's Core i5-3570K and GeForce GTX 680 are going up against the new Core i5-4670K and GeForce GTX 770 today. In fact, here's the complete list of components you'll find in the third quarter's $1300 enthusiast-oriented machine:

Swipe to scroll horizontally
$1300 Enthusiast System Components
MotherboardGigabyte Z87X-OC, LGA 1150, Intel Z87 Express$200
ProcessorIntel Core i5-4670K: 3.4 GHz Base Clock Rate, 3.8 GHz Maximum Turbo Boost, 6 MB Shared L3 Cache$240
Heat SinkCorsair H50 Liquid Cooling System$55
MemoryCorsair Vengeance 8 GB (2 x 4 GB) DDR3-1866 Model CMZ8GX3M2A1600C9R$70
GraphicsGigabyte GeForce GTX 770 2 GB 256-bit GDDR5$400
System DriveSamsung 840 MZ-7TD120BW 2.5" 120 GB SATA 6Gb/s (SSD)$100
Storage DriveWD Blue WD10EZEX 1 TB, 7200 RPM, 64 MB Cache, SATA 6Gb/s$70
OpticalSamsung SH-224DB/RSBS DVD Burner$22
CaseAntec GX 700 ATX Mid Tower Computer Case$55
PowerCorsair 650TX 650 W ATX12V v2.3 80 PLUS Bronze Modular PSU$90
Total Cost$1302

Good news! This capable collection of components lands very close to the $1300 I was allotted (I'll toss in the extra $2 if I really need to). And prices haven't changed all that much since we placed our order for these parts a month ago.

  • rolli59
    Keep them coming.
  • chaospower
    I think this just shows that you don't really need more than a GTX 760 if you play on the most popular resolution of 1080p. Look how small the benefits of an Haswell are, compared to the 650$ build (HALF THE PRICE!) in games that mainly rely on GPU power.
    Overclocking haswell is a waste of money considering the amount of money you need to invest in a good MB and a good cooling, only to reach a rather tame 4.3ghz OC...
    Just buy the cheapest I5 you can buy and pair it with a GTX 760, if you play on 1080p, I doubt you'll be disappointed.
  • DelightfulDucklings
    The more I look at these the sadder I am about the overpriced parts I have to pay for in New Zealand :( Nevertheless, another good article, keep it up
  • silverblue
    "64 GB of cache"

    I'd have that hard drive for $70 if it was true. :P
  • bemused_fred
    11591176 said:
    "64 GB of cache"

    I'd have that hard drive for $70 if it was true. :P

    I thought it was only....32 on the blue models. :p
  • cmartin011
    Can't wait to see a new amd gpu in these builds got me all giddy inside!
  • Larry Bob
    This is a complete waste of money. You spend way more on the 4670K than you would on a 3570K, and a really expensive motherboard, then you pair it with a crappy CLC where even a 212 Evo or Respire T40 would do better. You then WAY overpay on the graphics card when a 7970 offers exactly the same performance (according to Tom's research) for $60+ less.
  • persuse
    the vengence ram Worst chip in all the model and brands !
    Team Vulcan 8GB (2 x 4GB)DDR3 2400 best P/p memory with same price better choice.
    and corsair H50 not is better whan aircooler.
    the Phanteks PH-TC12DX or V6GT with same price range the beat performance.

    for ssd i,m recomend Kingston HyperX 3K 120G with same price and beter speed.
  • Novuake
    Good choice in PSU. Odd choice in motherboard. Does not provide THAT much for 200$.
    But most importantly, HORRIBLE choice in cooling. But ok...
    This is old tech... We nee some new stuff! Can't wait to see amds new cards, and nvidias response. Also Intel supposedly has an eight core haswell-e coming:)