Wait, Bigger Isn’t Always Better?
System Builder Marathon, December 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 SurveyGizmo form, and be sure to read the complete rules before entering!
Bigger budgets make room for better hardware. Bigger cases facilitate more cooling. Bigger motherboards allow more cards to be installed.
And yet, somewhere along the way this quarter, that concept went horribly wrong. We ended up with a $1200 PC that underperformed its $1000 predecessor, a $600 PC that went way over budget, and a $2400 full-sized PC that never lived up to the high-expectations set by the microATX build upon which its hardware choices were based.
We're perhaps most sympathetic to the $600 gaming machine's budge woes, since its builder was most vulnerable to recent price surges. Those same price surges also hit the high-capacity drives used in the larger machines, but they weren't as disruptive as an overall percentage of the budgets. Besides, it’s hard to feel sorry for an over-achiever (Ed.: Haters gonna hate?).
|Q4 2011 System Builder Marathon PC Components|
|$2400 Perfomance PC||$1200 Enthusiast PC||$600 Gaming PC|
|Processor||Intel Core i7-2600K 3.4 - 3.8 GHz, 8 MB L3 Cache||AMD FX-6100 3.3 - 3.9 GHz, 8 MB L3 Cache||Intel Core i5-2400 3.1 - 3.4 GHz, 6 MB L3 Cache|
|Motherboard||MSI Z68A-GD55 (G3) LGA 1155, Intel Z68 Express||Biostar TA990FXE Socket AM3+, AMD 990FX||MSI PH61A-P35 LGA-1155, Intel H61 Express|
|Graphics||PNY VCGGTX580XPB-LC-CPU PNY VCGGTX580XPB-LC (SLI)||2 x Gigabyte GV-R695OC-1GD Radeon HD 6950 1 GB||Sapphire 100314-3L Radeon HD 6870 1 GB|
|Memory||Corsair CMZ8GX3M2A1600C8R DDR3-1600 C8, 4 GB x2 (8 GB)||Mushkin Redline 997013 DDR3-1600 C7, 2 GB x2 (4 GB)||Wintec 3AMD31333-4G2K-NHR DDR3-1333 C9, 2 GB x2 (4 GB)|
|System Drive||Crucial M4 CT128M4SSD2 128 GB, SATA 6Gb/s SSD||OCZ OCZSSD2-1VTXPL60G 60 GB, SATA 6Gb/s SSD||Seagate ST3500413AS 500 GB, 7200 RPM HDD|
|Storage Drive||WD Caviar Green WD15EARS 1.5 TB, 7200 RPM HDD||WD Caviar Black WD7501AALS 750 GB, 7200 RPM HDD||Uses System Drive|
|Optical||LG WH12LS38 BD-RE 12x BD-R, 16x DVD±R||Lite-On iHAS124-04 DVD±R/W 24x DVD±R, 48x CD-R||Samsung SH-222AB DVD±R/W 22x DVD±R, 48x CD-R|
|Case||Fractal Design Arc Midi||Rosewill Challenger-U3||Xigmatek Asgard II|
|Power||Mushkin Joule MKNPSJL1000 1000 W, 80 PLUS Gold||Corsair CMPSU-650TXV2 650 W, 80 PLUS Bronze||Antec EarthWatts EA430D 430 W, 80 PLUS Bronze|
|Heat Sink||PNY XLR8 / Asetek Integrated Liquid Cooling||Xigmatek Gaia SD1283||Intel Boxed Cooler|
Concern about the fact that Paul Henningsen’s $600 PC wouldn't overclock at all was quickly squelched by its clean sweep in benchmark performance over the previous System Builder Marathon's overclocked $500 machine.