Less Work, More Play
Most enthusiasts prefer to build things on their own boxes, but the time involved can often be excessive, especially when overclocking and stability tests are (necessary) parts of the plan. If you’d rather spend your leisure time doing anything but banging your head against the desk (and don't mind paying a bit extra for that luxury), a boutique builder might be the best way to get exactly what you’re looking for in a PC. But whom should you choose?
Two leaders in configuration options, iBuyPower and Maingear PC, designed a pair of $4,200 systems specifically to meet high-end performance demands in gaming and general multi-tasking. Comparing these should answer some questions about which company provides the best build quality and/or value.
|Custom-Built PC Specifications|
|System||iBuyPower Paladin||Maingear PC EPHEX|
|CPU||Intel Core i7 965 (3.20 GHz, 8.0 MB Cache) Overclocked to 3.73 GHz (28x 133.3)||Intel Core i7 920 (2.66 GHz, 8.0 MB Cache) Overclocked to 3.80 GHz (19x 200)|
|CPU Cooler||Asetek Low Cost Liquid Cooling (LCLC) 2x 120 mm Dual-Fan Radiator||Maingear Arctic X20 by CoolIT Systems 2x 120 mm Dual-Fan Radiator|
|Motherboard||Asus P6T Deluxe V2 Intel X58/ICH10R Chipset, LGA-1366||Asus P6T Intel X58/ICH10R Chipset, LGA-1366|
|RAM||Corsair 6.0 GB DDR3-1600 CAS 9-9-9-24 (2T)||Kingston 6.0 GB DDR3-1600 CAS 8-8-8-20 (1T)|
|Graphics||2x XFX GeForce GTX 295 1.8 GB SLI 576/1,242MHz GPU/Shader, GDDR3-2484||3x EVGA GeForce GTX 285 1.0 GB, SLI 648/1,476MHz GPU/Shader, GDDR3-2484|
|System Hard Drive||Intel X25-M 80GB SATA 3.0 Gb/s SSD||Intel X25-M 80GB SATA 3.0 Gb/s SSD|
|Storage Hard Drive||Hitachi Deskstar 7K1000.B 1.0 TB 7,200 RPM, 16 MB Cache, SATA 3.0 Gb/s||Western Digital Caviar Black 1.0 TB 7,200 RPM, 32 MB Cache SATA 3.0 Gb/s|
|Sound||Integrated HD Audio||Integrated HD Audio|
|Network||Integrated Gigabit Networking||Integrated Gigabit Networking|
|Power||Corsair CMPSU-1000HX 1,000 W Modular ATX12V 2.2 / EPS12V 2.91, 80-Plus||Silverstone DA1000 1,000 W Modular ATX 12V 2.2 / EPS 12V, Active PFC|
|Optical||LG GH22NP20 22X DVD±R, 8x DVD+RW Panasonic SW-5584 2x BD-RE, 8x BD-R||Lite-On iHAS422-08 22X DVD±R, 8X DVD±RW|
|Removable||12-In-1 Internal Flash Card Reader/Writer||All-In-One USB 2.0 Flash Card Reader/Writer|
|OS||Microsoft Windows Vista Ultimate x64 SP1||Windows Vista Home Premium x64 SP1|
|Games||FarCry 2, Halo 2||None|
|Warranty and Price|
|Warranty Period||3-Year Warranty||14-months (3-year option add $199.99)(Ed.: After this story was published, Maingear changed its warranty period to three years, standard, at no extra cost)|
|Price||$4,368 ($4,209 w/o Keyboard, Mouse, BRD)||$4,205 ($4,405 with 3-year Warranty)|
iBuyPower skewed the price comparison a bit by including a keyboard, mouse, and BRD compared to Maingear system, but none of these will affect benchmark performance. Ignoring those parts puts these systems within $10 of each other, making the head-to-head extremely well-balanced.