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System Builder Marathon, May '09: $1,300 Enthusiast PC

Motherboard, CPU Cooler, And Memory

Motherboard: DFI LANParty Jr X58-T3H6

The Core i7 CPU limits us to the Intel X58 chipset, and the Micro-ATX form factor further restricts our choices.

Read Customer Reviews of DFI's LANParty Jr X58-T3H6

In the end, only one X58 Micro-ATX motherboard stood out as an obvious selection: DFI’s LANParty Jr X58-T3H6. Since we wanted the option of putting two graphics cards in the system, the LANParty Jr. was a great choice, offering both CrossFire as well as SLI compatibility. DFI motherboards aren’t disappointing overclockers either, which is a plus. So, although it’s not a low-cost choice at $220, the LANParty Jr. is a good fit and will likely live up to its name in this portable LAN-party sized system.

CPU Cooler: Xigmatek Dark Knight S1283

Read Customer Reviews of Xigmatek's Dark Knight S1283

We’ve been fans of Xigmatek’s coolers recently because they deliver good performance paired with a low price. The Dark Knight S1283 is no exception, providing excellent, quiet cooling to the LGA 1366 socket at a very reasonable $40 price point. As a bonus, this cooler comes with a retention bracket that takes some stress off of the motherboard.

Memory: 3 x 2 GB of G.Skill DDR3-1333 Triple-Channel Kit 10666CL7T 6GBPK

Read Customer Reviews of G.Skill's 6 GB DDR3-1333 Triple Channel Kit

We’ll use the 64-bit version of Vista as our operating system, which means we can use more than 3 GB of RAM without wasting it, and this is a good fit with the Core i7 processor and its triple-channel memory controller. G.Skill offers a cost-effective 6 GB triple-channel kit rated at 1,333 MHz with solid 7-8-8-19 timings. For $90, it’s an easy choice for our $1,300 system.

  • jtnstnt
    It looks like you guys have a fetish for silverstone sff cases, and small motherboards. You guys probably like other small things...
    Reply
  • one-shot
    Was the peak power draw measured from the wall? If so, do you know the efficiency of the PSU to determine the approximate power draw from the components at a given level of output? Overall, great article. I hope my 650Watt PSU with 3 X 19A 12V rails can handle another GTX 260 Core 216.
    Reply
  • serifus
    if you wanted to go SFF it would be nice to see one done in an LIAN-LI PC-A05NB. at least you still get the full atx boards in those.
    Reply
  • SpadeM
    This system is no slouch and cuts through our new gaming benchmarks like a hot knife through butter.
    I wonder how exactly does the selection of components go. I mean it seems that there's some attention given to the forums to be politically correct, but that's kind of it. For $1300 a Phenom 2 + micro AM3 board + 2x4890 in crossfire is a much better solution so .. why not choose the better option?
    Reply
  • capttylor34
    That system looks quite crowded on the inside, and that Dark Knight is big for a regular sized system, I'm actually kind of impressed you managed to fit it in a Micro ATX at all. I suppose as long as it runs stable, theres really no problem. Still think the articles should be titled "Micro System Build-off" just to let people know off the bat what they're about to read.
    Reply
  • IzzyCraft
    No space at all between those 2 cards. poor cards have no choice but to overheat.
    Reply
  • IzzyCraft
    SpadeMI wonder how exactly does the selection of components go. I mean it seems that there's some attention given to the forums to be politically correct, but that's kind of it. For $1300 a Phenom 2 + micro AM3 board + 2x4890 in crossfire is a much better solution so .. why not choose the better option?
    Reply
  • armistitiu
    I'm tired of seeing I7 920 in every damn "recommended" PC. I'm not saying go AMD but please just try to vary them a bit it's getting stupid. Also try building your own benchmarks or at least change them once in a while.
    Btw i\m getting tired of people picking up I7 and saying "because i do heavy CPU tasks" (not necessarily IzzyCraft ) and in fact all they need is a browser,OpenOffice and WoW minimized in the taskbar.
    The article is well done no doubts but try using other brands also. It\s starting to sound biased.

    Reply
  • ohim
    This article would be great if you could do : what you can buy for 1300 Intel parts and what you can by for 1300 AMD parts ... and put the 2 PCs to compeat to eachother :P it would be a more interesting article than just buy a pc and ... show what ?
    Reply
  • nerrawg
    Nice slick system this - looks like 2 x 260's is pretty good value at 1920 x 1200 for those that want to max out the settings in the most demanding games. Was wondering however if there is a good technical explanation for the power consumption results because they seem pretty strange?
    Reply