Setting the High Mark?
This System Builder Marathon marks the first time in the series that we’ve felt significantly restricted by a $4,000 budget. Though lots of top parts can be had for less, it’s the combination that got us. It’s certainly a shame that, for example, our budget forced us to forgo any of the new “lower-cost” Blu-Ray optical drives. Keeping our focus on total system performance will pay off in the benchmarks, in spite of the fact that we feel just a little let down in the area of features.
Carrying over many of the components from our March System Builder Marathon allowed us to also carry over the finished photo, though the lighted audio module seen above has been replaced with a sound card. As we consider our updates, we’ll also detail why some of our previous choices simply couldn’t be improved upon.
|CPU||Intel Core 2 Extreme QX9650||1050|
|CPU Cooler||Swiftech H20-120 Compact Cooler Kit||140|
|Swiftech MCR220 2x120mm Radiator||36|
|Swiftech Chrome 3/8-Inch Fittings, 2-pack||5|
|Swiftech Plastic Hose Clamps, 4-pack||6|
|2x Swiftech 3/8-Inch Neoprene Tubing Packs||26|
|2x Scythe S-Flex SFF21E 120mm Fan||30|
|Motherboard||Asus Striker II Extreme||450|
|RAM||Patriot Extreme Performance DDR3-1333 - 4GB||315|
|Graphics||2x Gigabyte GeForce 9800 GX2 GV-NX98X1GHI-B||1040|
|Hard Drive||Samsung Spinpoint F1 HD753LJ (750GB) x2||240|
|Sound||ASUS Xonar DX 7.1||90|
|Case||Silverstone Temjin TJ09BW||250|
|Power||Coolermaster RS850-EMBA 850W||180|
|DVD-RW||Toshiba Samsung Storage Technology SH-203B||30|
|Auxiliary Fan||Antec SpotCool Motherboard Cooling Fan||15|
|Floppy Drive||NEC 1.44MB Floppy Drive||9|
While the system we built in March was several hundred dollars under budget, this month’s highest-end configuration is dangerously close to our budget limit. We added a sound card this time, but the substitution of higher-cost parts remains by far the largest contributor to our overall expense. The big question is whether or not the new configuration will outperform the former system by a similar amount, so lets take a closer look at the components.