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

Power Supply, Optical Drive, And Video Cards

Power Supply: PC Power and Cooling S75QB Silencer 750 Quad

With a power-hungry Core i7 as well as dual graphics cards, we wanted a power-supply unit (PSU) with a little "oomph."

Read Customer Reviews of PC Power & Cooling's S75QB Silencer

Enter PC Power and Cooling’s S75QB Silencer 750 Quad. It is SLI- and CrossFire-certified, has 750 W of continuous power available, is 80+ certified, and offers an impressive 60 amps of juice on a single 12V rail. At $120 after an instant rebate, it was an easy choice for our build.

Optical Drive: Lite-On iHAS422 DVD±R DVD Burner SATA

Read Customer Reviews of Lite-On's iHAS422 Burner

There are so many reasonably-priced optical drives out there, but we wanted to choose something with more than basic functionality for our $1,300 machine. Lite-On’s iHAS422 is a great optical drive with some unique features. Among them are SmartErase, which Lite-on claims will completely remove existing data from a disk with no chance that it might be recovered, and LightScribe, which allows the user to burn images and labels directly to special LightScribe-compatible DVDs.

With the iHAS422 practically the same price as its barebones competition, there’s little reason not to opt for this fully-featured drive.

Video Card: 2 x BFG GeForce GTX 260 OC in SLI

Read Customer Reviews of BFG's GeForce GTX 260 OC

Here is the heart and soul of our $1,300 Micro-ATX LAN box: not one, but two GeForce GTX 260 cards, which are factory overclocked to 590 MHz on the GPU core. This should give us enough power to approach GeForce GTX 295 performance for about $200 less.

The downside, of course, is that these cards will use a lot of power and generate a lot of heat. But we’re building a LAN-sized PC here, and that means gaming is the primary goal. This is a no-compromise choice that will pay off in frames per second, although it remains to be seen how these cards will handle the heat in the portable Micro-ATX case.

  • 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