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System Builder Marathon: $1,250 Mid-Range PC

Power Supply, Optical Drive, And Video Card

Power Supply: Corsair 650TX

Corsair’s TX650 is garnering a strong reputation for efficiency and the ability to deliver more power under load, and we’re going to put that reputation to the test with the Core i7 CPU and 4850 X2 video card when we overclock.

Read Customer Reviews of Corsair's 650TX

Features of this PSU include 52 amps on a single, powerful 12 V rail, an honest 80 PLUS certified efficiency rating, and an active PFC. For $100, this is a good, reliable power supply for this month’s enthusiast PC.

Optical Drive: LG 20X DVD±R DVD Burner SATA Model GH20NS15


Read Customer Reviews of LG's GH20NS15

This month we’re trying LG’s OEM SATA optical drive. For about $23, the GH20NS15 has a decent 20x DVD reading speed that we appreciate in a budget OEM drive.

Video Card: Sapphire Radeon HD 4850 X2

Read Customer Reviews of Sapphire’s Radeon HD 4850 X2 2 GB

With the knowledge that we were going up against last month’s Radeon HD 4870 X2, we needed to find something cheaper that would keep us in the same gaming league as AMD’s flagship card. We came upon the perfect substitute with Sapphire’s Radeon HD 4850 X2.

The specifications of AMD’s X2 cards are functionally identical, with two RV770 GPUs and 2 GB of video memory. The 4850 X2’s core and memory clock speeds are lower of course, but we’re looking at this from the perspective that the 4850 X2 should overclock higher. And the $200 we saved by choosing the 4850 X2 instead of its more expensive sibling went a long way in making the cost of the two systems comparable.

On a side note, the Sapphire card included some nifty bonus software with the card such as a full version of 3DMark Vantage and PowerDVD 7.

  • Hellcatm
    Personally I'd get a cheaper processor and motherboard and go with a Gforce 280 video card. You can get a $180 processor and a $145 motherboard and the 280 card has PhysX built in which is really nice.
  • enewmen
    I will hope to see how a high-clocked q9550/q9650 E0 will compare with a i7 920. The Motherboard and RAM will be cheaper. So, you can also get more RAM and faster RAM with the q9550 than the i7 920 with the same cash. Or the high-bandwidth/ lower total memory DDR3 tri-channel might actually do better?
    I don't think a i7 920 /w 3 gigs RAM will work as quickly as a q9550 @ 4.0Ghz with a 470mhz fsb and 4+ gigs RAM -even with quad-core supported apps.
    Anyway, I think the outcome will be hard to predict.
  • one-shot
    I think the Q9550/i7 920 comparison would be very informative. I have been considering purchasing a Q9950 in the near future. Let's see it happen.
  • chriscusano
    I agree with I'd agree with trying to run a comparison with the Q9550. Throwing in an nvidia card would also prove interesting.
  • pcgamer12
    Very good article. I just want to say that the Crucial 3GB triple-channel DDR3 1066 kit costs only $73.99; its price surprised me. Go Crucial! I'm definitely looking into a Crucial memory kit for my next upgrade or build, which might or might not be Core i7, depending how the price wars progress between nVidia and ATI (saying AMD still feels wierd to me when referring to video cards). I noticed how the budget had to "settle" for a 4850 X2 when they Core 2 Duo build had money for a 4870 X2. Hopefully, prices will go down faster, and soon.
  • Pei-chen
    Page 2 - E8500 has 6MB L2 cache, not 4MB.
  • Yes, please try the next system with the Q9550! I would love to see how this processor compares again the new kid on the block. Of course this is the processor I have and also want to see what you get out of it. It would be nice if you chose another Gigabyte board as well to get a more apples to apples comparison with this month's build.
  • Huttfuzz
    Yes we want to see Q9550 against Core i7 920. Both overclocked at the same speed. Let's say 3.8 or something like that.
  • JeanLuc
    Good article, well done. At first I was a bit worried for the Core i7 was going to get humiliated against the higher clocked E8500 but you summary shows just how much progress has been made with developing software that can take advantage of multiple cores.

    The Supreme Commander: Forged Alliance benchmark was surprising out of all the games you tested I expected that game to be the one which showed off what quad cores can do for games. Perhaps you could add in GTA IV into your future benchmarks as that games seems to love quad cores?

    The temps were a little worrying but the Intel Stock cooler isn’t designed with overclocking in mind and you can pretty much guarantee a decent 3rd party cooler will slash those temps by a third.

    One last thing it might be an idea to compare your very first mid range build to your current mid range build, it would give the readers an idea as to how much more bang for buck we get now days.
  • kelfen
    well 4850x2 there is only two in newegg 2gb and 1gb which not sure if ATI rly supported as far as drivers compared to its bigger brother