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

Hard Drive And Case

Hard Drive: Western Digital Caviar Black 640 GB 32 MB Cache

A single drive is more cost-effective than a RAID setup, and a striped RAID array won’t offer a perceptible performance increase for the typical user. Of course, a redundant array is appealing for data protection, but it wouldn’t easily fit within our $1,300 price ceiling.

Read Customer Reviews of Western Digital's 640 GB Caviar Black

We opted for the Western Digital 640 GB with 32 MB of cache. Now at $75, this drive is a good choice with decent speed and a good amount of space, allowing us to stay within budget.

Case: SilverStone TJ08-B Micro-ATX Mid Tower Case

Read Customer Reviews of SilverStone's TJ08-B

At first, we had chosen the Antec Mini P180 as our case of choice, as it was on sale for under $100. Admittedly, it would have been cheating a little compared to the other Micro-ATX systems in the marathon because it’s quite large for a Micro-ATX enclosure, approaching the size of Antec’s Three-Hundred full-sized case.

Instead, we ended up going with SilverStone’s TJ08, which is an excellent (and small) Micro-ATX chassis that should still offer enough room for our $1,300 high-performance SLI system, while keeping it portable. SilverStone has a great reputation for building high-quality cases, and the included 120 mm intake and exhaust fans will be appreciated when the small case is tasked with dissipating the heat that the high-performance components create.

  • 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