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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.