Skip to main content

System Builder Marathon: $1,250 Enthusiast PC

Motherboard, Cooler, And Memory

Motherboard : DFI LANPARTY DK X38-T2R

While it was tempting to grab a bargain-bin motherboard in the interest of saving some money, we decided it wasn’t worth the risk. The System Builder Marathon has a large overclocking component and we didn’t want to take the chance of messing around with something that might disappoint us in the final analysis. Besides, a $1,250 machine deserves a board with a solid reputation.

Read Customer Reviews of DFI’s LanParty X38-T2R

We chose DFI’s offering once again because of its established overclocking ability paired with the great X38 chipset, as well as a reasonable price. At $175, this might not be the cheapest board, but considering that it offers solid features coupled with well-known overclocking prowess, it’s certainly not a bad deal. You can definitely spend a lot more for the same strengths that the X38-T2R offers.

Cooler : Xigmatek HDT-S1283 and ACK-I7751 Retention Bracket

Read Customer Reviews of Xigmatek’s HDT-S1283

With all of the critical feedback about our decision to water cool the $1,500 System Builder Marathon machine last month, we looked for the best-performing CPU air cooler we could find that didn’t break the bank. We ended up choosing Xigmatek’s reasonably-priced HDT-S1283.

The HDT-S1283’s name might not roll off the tongue, but it offers the thermal and acoustic performance of much more expensive CPU coolers for a mere $35—including the 120 mm fan ! We opted to pay the extra $7 more for the ACK-I7751 retention bracket, yielding a bit more peace of mind. Now we don’t have to worry about the large HDT-S1283 over-stressing the motherboard with its considerable weight.

Memory : 4 GB PNY XLR8 PC2-6400

Read Customer Reviews of PNY’s 4GB XLR8 DDR2-800 Memory Kit

For only $60, PNY offers 4 GB of its XLR8 memory. With low 4-4-4-12 timings, this is great stuff for the price. In fact, it’s the cheapest CAS 4 memory we could find.

Our choice of 4 GB should be ample for this system and two sticks of the stuff will let us run the board in dual-channel mode to increase memory bandwidth.

    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
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • marraco
    It look like you never waited crysis to load.

    ... and the power is far overkilling. It could be saved money on it
  • 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.
  • derek_c
    I would definitely like to see a Core i7 configuration next time.
  • 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%
  • 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).
  • 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.