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System Builder Marathon, June 2012: $2000 Performance PC

Gamers: You're Going To Love This One!

The $2600 PC we built last quarter had an actual cost of over $2500, while we're using less than $1800 of this quarter's $2000 budget.

We've already seen that the average performance difference is far less than the price difference, with the new PC actually leading in game performance. That makes this story pretty easy, then. We simply have to put a number on the value advantage that we’ve already predicted.

Comparing one stock config to the other, or one overclock to the other, we see that the new build has approximately 50% more performance per dollar spent. That could have an enormous effect on the outcome of our Day 4 multi-budget value comparison, making this the first time our high-end builder looks forward to comparing his value to that of less-expensive machines.

We also mentioned that the new machine leads last quarter's build in gaming, but have to add that high-resolution gaming is the only place where a $540 graphics card makes sense. How well does the new build compete there?

While the new system’s average gaming performance was only marginally higher, its GeForce GTX 680 makes a bloody mess of the former build’s Radeon HD 7970 when we narrow our focus to our highest test resolution. And the whole machine's lower price welcomes us to the neighborhood of double-the-value in gaming.

That’s a nice place to be for gamers, but we would hate to disenfranchise other high-end users. And so, we’re listening to your voice: should we keep the gaming focus or move back towards higher-cost do-it-all machines?

  • Trialsking
    Very nice build, if only I had $1800 to spare
  • rohitbaran
    Well, is GTX 680 availability good enough now?
  • mayankleoboy1
    i would never buy a green 5400 RPM over a 7200 RPM drive, no matter the cost.
  • Now imagine if two GTX 670 were available!!
  • vakuma5000
    Awesome Build!!

    I have the exact same GTX 680 from ASUS, and I love it. Managed to get 1337Mhz out of the core and 6800 out of the memory. I achieved that with only 115% power limit. If I raise the power limit any higher, i start to loose performance and stability. That is a truly awesome memory oveerclock you got out of it! Congrats!

    Very much looking foreward to the value comparison.
    Would LOVE to see the 1800$ build win the value comparo!
    GO GTX 680!!

    My vote goes towards keeping a gaming focus as opposed to a more "all-in-one" type build.
    Love the System Builder Articles, love Toms!
  • strandiam
    So many great cases to choose from with so many great features....
  • vakuma5000
    Unfortunately GTX 680 availability is still pretty spotty.
    Had to spend 2 days on newegg, refreshing the page every few mins to get the model i wanted.
    However, it IS looking better. They are listing them more often on newegg, and they don't sell-out as quickly as they were a few weeks ago.
    Check newegg daily from 5:30pm to 6:30 pm CST, and you should be able to catch one.
    The GTX 670's are in stock right now.
    Good luck rohitbaran!
  • slicedtoad
    should we keep the gaming focus or move back towards higher-cost do-it-all machines?
    Personally, I'm happy with the gaming focus. Don't know how others feel but gaming performance is more important than productivity benchmarks for me. I compile a lot of code and do some video encoding but I find gaining fps in games is more important than shaving seconds off my work. Besides, productivity follows gaming performance close enough.

    On another note, I dislike value comparisons when things like SSD size and optical drives have made an impact in price. A larger SSD does nothing for a benchmark but is awesome in practice. I'd prefer only comparing the combined price of the gpu, cpu, cooler(s) and mobo in the value chart. That's not a perfect solution but it annoys me that things like high quality PSUs, nice cases, blu-ray burners and large SSDs throw things off so much.
  • Crashman
    strandiamSo many great cases to choose from with so many great features....Perhaps the award-winning NZXT Phantom 410 next time?,3203-5.html
  • sam_fisher
    CrashmanPerhaps the award-winning NZXT Phantom 410 next time? 203-5.html
    My only dislike about this build is the case, for a $2000 PC I would prefer a case that was tidier and larger than the Antec Nine Hundred (especially with the layout of the HDD bays). The NZXT Phantom 410 would be much better for that budget.