Skip to main content

System Builder Marathon, March 2012: $2600 Performance PC

Motherboard, Graphics, And Power

Motherboard: Asus P9X79 Pro

Awards make parts selection much easier for Tom’s Hardware builders, since our accolades are given only to parts we’d use in our own machines, and handed out sparingly. Matched in value only by Gigabyte’s X79-UD3, Asus’ award-winning P9X79 Pro provides the superior overclocking and feature set that we really wanted for this $2600 machine.

Read Customer Reviews of Asus' P9X79 Pro

Three-way graphics support and eight memory slots give this build excellent upgradeability, while Bluetooth connectivity and ideal front-panel USB 3.0 connector placement make the P9X79 Pro ideal for our specific needs.

Graphics: MSI R7970-2PMD3GD5/OC

We want nothing but the best for our most expensive build. However, the ultimate configuration would have been more than one Radeon HD 7970. It's too bad that we had to make a compromise on the graphics side in order to fit an expensive processor and motherboard into our budget. At least MSI’s factory overclock takes a little sting out of that wound.

Read Customer Reviews of MSI's R7970-2PMD3GD5/OC

The reason we call this a small compromise is that one Radeon HD 7970 is still fast enough to play all of our games at every test resolution. If you own an Eyefinity-capable array of displays and need even more graphics performance, you'll find that our system supports at least one additional Radeon HD 7970 (or even two if you do a little creative wiring).

Power Supply: Seasonic Platinum-860

We have a great deal of faith in the reliability of Seasonic’s high-end power supplies, having pushed our 760 W 80 PLUS Gold-rated units well beyond 800 W on several occasions. What could be better?

Read Customer Reviews of Seasonic's Platinum-860

With a rating of over 90% efficiency at 100% load, the SS-860XP provides more power than our vaunted 760 W unit, while pulling less power from the wall. It’s even big enough to support three of our chosen graphics cards, though the presence of only four PCIe 12 V power connectors means that three-way CrossFireX could require the use of adapters.

  • llguitargr8
    Just curious, did you guys purchase all these parts and right these articles before the GTX 680 was released? I really thought you guys would have gone with that, and if it wasn't because they weren't available at the time, then what makes the 7970 better in your opinion?
    Reply
  • llguitargr8
    Sorry, *write. It's late.
    Reply
  • g-unit1111
    Not sure if I agree with that choice of cooler but I definitely like the rest of the setup!
    Reply
  • bystander
    llguitargr8Just curious, did you guys purchase all these parts and right these articles before the GTX 680 was released? I really thought you guys would have gone with that, and if it wasn't because they weren't available at the time, then what makes the 7970 better in your opinion?Almost all these build articles are based on purchases that took place 2 months ago. Even if they were to have bought these parts today, it would be hard to purchase a 680, as stock is a major issue.
    Reply
  • mjmjpfaff
    I like it a lot. I am glad you mixed it up and went with the x79 platform.
    Reply
  • esrever
    I like the build except the x79 adds like $500 extra that I see very little benefit from.
    Reply
  • Pezcore27
    Love the build. Do want!
    Reply
  • e56imfg
    Dang I need to win this one!! I'm so happy they balanced the CPU with the GPU this time around.
    Reply
  • hmp_goose
    Good job: Working through the details of the CPU cooler like that is half the fun of this hobby. Great build.
    Reply
  • theuniquegamer
    Good build . But there could be more improvement by replacing a $600 cpu and $320 mother board with a i7 2600k and a $200 z68 mother board . And also replacing the 7970($590) with 2x680 at 2x$500(from the money saved from cpu and motherboard and 7970). It may give better gaming result than this build.
    Reply