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System Builder Marathon, June 2012: $2000 Performance PC

System, Storage, And Optical Drives

System Drive: Mushkin Chronos Deluxe MX 120 GB SSD

Though many of our system drives are stuffed with several hundred gigabytes of data, moving non-system files to a storage drive gets most of us below 120 GB. Even our benchmark configuration weighs in at just over 80 GB, and that includes several gigabytes of test files adding to the load of applications.

Thus, Mushkin’s Chronos Deluxe MX appeared the perfect compromise between price-per-performance and minimum practical capacity.

Read Customer Reviews of Mushkin's Chronos Deluxe MX 120 GB

The MX reportedly uses slower (and less costly) NAND flash chips with the same high-speed SandForce controller as its DX sibling to achieve its stunningly-low $1/GB price with minimal performance loss.

Storage Drive: Seagate Barracuda Green 2 TB

Adding a second drive to store media files and other assorted personal data allows users to select a much smaller and less expensive SSD as a system drive. The result is an unparalleled combination of program responsiveness and storage capacity, though files stored on the mechanical drive can only be fetched at the drive's transfer limit.

Read Customer Reviews of Seagate's Barracuda Green 2 TB

Last year’s interruption of mechanical drive production had a long-lasting impact on availability, especially for higher-capacity units. Now that 2 TB drives are once again affordable, we were able to increase the capacity of our high-end build. Seagate's Barracuda Green drives cost less, consume less energy, and are usually quieter than their high-performance counterparts.

Optical Drive: Lite-On iHAS124

Our former builds were made to perform nearly any high-level at-home task exceptionally well, including ripping Blu-ray disks and making huge BD-R-based backups. Shifting this build’s focus towards exceptional gaming performance, we were able to drop that somewhat-expensive piece of hardware.

Read Customer Reviews of Lite-On's iHAS124

Lite-On’s iHAS124 provides 24x DVD burning capability and not much else. In fact, the version we bought didn’t even include software, though the software built into Windows 7 provides some flexibility.

  • 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.