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System Builder Marathon: $1,250 Enthusiast PC

Conclusion

What did we learn from this $1,250 Enthusiast build? First of all, the next time we use an E8500 in an overclocking machine, it’s probably worth spending a few extra bucks on liquid cooling. I suspect the E8500 we have could have gone a lot higher. The impressive part is that this was an off-the-shelf NewEgg part, not a cherry-picked review sample from Intel. There is good reason why the Penryn CPUs have such a great overclocking rep.

We also learned that it’s probably worth the money to invest in a powerful graphics card if gaming is part of your master plan. While two Radeon 4830s would have done an admirable job for half the price of the 4870 X2, we think $1,250 is a reasonable amount to spend on a gaming machine, and if you’re going to spend the scratch, the 4870 X2 is a worthwhile component.

Of course, as always, in the days to come we’ll see how the value of the $1,250 system compares to the budget and high-end systems—I suspect the Radeon HD 4870 X2 will give it a powerful edge when it comes to gaming, but we’ll see.

In next month’s marathon, we are considering building an i7 Nehalem-based system in the $1,250 range to compare to this month’s enthusiast system. In order to do so, we’ll probably downgrade the video card to a single-GPU Radeon 4870 card instead of the X2. Feel free to leave a comment below and let us know what you think our next build should be.

  • WINTERLORD
    yea for that kind of money i would definatly be buying a entry lvl core i7 920 setup with ddr3 1333, 3gb memory. for gaming, maybe go with a 4870, but in my opinion a geforce 260 or 280 would be better, because it's powerfull with games and you can use CUDA. cuda is really taking off tmperg has a video encoding software withat uses the graphics card, and it gives you a +400% to rendering video and such. such as bluray- and DVD encoding
    Reply
  • theblade
    Nice build, good performer for the price, looking forward for the next article.
    It would be great to see an article in which several options of cooling would be compared to see which one gives a better overclock using the 8500 or 8600, including air and water cooling, this chips are awesome to do some OC.
    Reply
  • craig hallworth
    I'd be interested to see the GTX 260 (216) in SLI on the mid range build as the price for two is a bit more but still comparable with the 4870x2 and, from what I've read, should be more powerful than the radeon card.

    I don't know that you can consider the i7 a mid range platform when you have to spend ~350-400 bucks on the montherboard alone. I'd certainly use the i7 for the high end build though.

    Thank you for your efforts.
    Reply
  • gallesol
    There are some of us who who receive a great deal of disconfort thinking of Intel as the only microprocessor manufacturer around. If for no other reason than to maintain some competition in this critical industry, please include an AMD based system.
    Reply
  • marraco
    ...
    It look like you never waited crysis to load.

    ... and the power is far overkilling. It could be saved money on it
    Reply
  • Rifte
    Would of liked to see a direct comparison to the $625 build in all but the gaming benches. Is the more expensive mobo, ram, cpu combo worth it?
    Put the 4850 in the $1250 system then do some game benches or put the 4870x2 in the $625 system.
    Reply
  • derek_c
    I would definitely like to see a Core i7 configuration next time.
    Reply
  • Rifte
    $276 vs $467 for a 5-8% increase in performance?

    direct comparison

    $1250 $625 %dif
    Itunes 00:49 00:52 +6.1%
    lame 01:30 01:36 +6.6%
    TMPGE 04:46 05:04 +6.2%
    Xvid 02:26 02:52 +17.8%
    Mainconcept 03:04 03:17 +7.1%
    Photoshop 01:12 01:15 +4.2%
    3d Studio 00:45 00:49 +8.8%
    Average +8.1%
    Price diff for cpu,ram,mobo +69%
    Reply
  • 3lvis
    For the next build I would like to see an i7 920, a gigabyte extreme x58 board, 6GB of Gskill DDR3 1333 PC 10666 with cas 7, a pair of 4870x2's water cooled and 2,3,and 4 64GB Gskill SSD's in raid 0. As the price of SSD's comes down, my interest in how a bunch of them in Raid 0 perform goes up(inversely proportionally).
    Reply
  • radguy
    I think I would have picked up a cheaper p45 board and used the extra cash to pick up a couple of fans to help with the cooling issues. Otherwise pretty nice gaming build. I don't know if Enthusiast is the name I would use with 530 bucks going to graphics but thats me. Appreciate the info. Nice to kinda be able to compare the E2180 E5200 E8500 and Q6600 all at stock and oc'ed. Core i7 would be nice to add to the list as well as phenom in your upcoming builds.
    Reply