System Builder Marathon, March 2011: $2000 Performance PC

CPU And CPU Cooler

CPU: Intel Core i7-2600K

Intel’s new Sandy Bridge processors have three big advantages over any of its previous quad-core chips.

First, higher instructions-per-cycle throughput allows them to perform more work at any given frequency. Second, a more mature 32 nm manufacturing process allow these to clock to higher frequencies. And if that double-shift of performance isn’t enough to excite enthusiasts, these processors are able to take advantage of both, while consuming less power and producing less heat.

Read Customer Reviews of Intel's Core i7-2600K

Intel’s i7-2600K is the only version to support both unlocked Turbo Boost multipliers and Hyper-Threading, at least until future models are released. The unlocked multiplier is an overclocking requirement, since the platform supporting this CPU lacks significant base clock-altering capability.

CPU Cooling: Scythe Mugen 2 Revision B

With enough power to efficiently cool highly-overclocked previous-generation processors, Scythe’s monster-sized Mugen 2 Revision B is surely overkill for today’s more-efficient models. Yet there’s no-such-thing as too-much-cooling, and the price for this item has remained a constant value at $40.

Read Customer Reviews of Scythe's Mugen 2 Revision B

Sold by Newegg as Scythe’s part number SCMG-2100, the Mugen 2 Revision B isn’t perfect. First, the cooler is extremely difficult to install, as it requires access to both sides of the motherboard simultaneously. Second, its extreme size places its fan over the motherboard’s DIMM slots.

Excellent performance and low noise offset those shortcomings, but we still had to use parts-on-hand to verify that it would physically fit over our moderately-tall memory sinks before committing to this purchase.

Thomas Soderstrom
Thomas Soderstrom is a Senior Staff Editor at Tom's Hardware US. He tests and reviews cases, cooling, memory and motherboards.
  • wribbs
    Was wondering when the SBM would return. Now if I just had an extra $2K. Now lets see how the lower price models hold up.

    Sure is a good time to be building a new PC.
  • duk3
    I'd love to win one of these.
    Especially this one
  • dragonsqrrl
    Wow, nice system this time around. Excellent performance and efficiency, although I personally would've chosen a nicer case for a $2000 system. I know you guys have your reasons, and for the purposes of a purely price/performance oriented build it makes sense to skimp on the aesthetic qualities of a case, but for me personally, it's still nice to see a high-end case complement some high-end hardware.
  • toxxel
    Nice system for 2k, wondering what the other systems will offer for their respective tier.
  • sparky2010
    since the 6990 is out, wouldn't getting that one card be a legitimate choice too? isn't it also at around $600?
  • illuminatuz
    oh wow!!! you know what if you can really think you can make a performance pc.. i mean same performance.. but lesser cost..
    i am not saying OC and AMD thing.. same hardware..
  • dertechie
    That system looks familiar. Very familiar. Almost. . . have you been spying on me?

    I built a system exactly like that, except with an 2500K, P8P67 Pro, single 6950 2GB, single SSD, DVD rather than BD, H50 and a cheaper PSU. Tears through Metro 2033 maxed at 1920x1200 like butter. When prices on 6950s fall some more I'll add a card and see if they can handle Eyefinity.
  • illuminatuz
    and its possible.. just take a nice gtx 560ti rather two amd sli and take 8 gig ram.. since anything above 8 gig will give diminishing returns and 500 gb hdd is more than enough i think.. buy a cheaper case, (punch holes to make it cooler :P) thats it.. same cpu same mobo and everything else same. you can also opt for cheaper 1155 mobo. i think gigabyte's got some.. or asus maybe.. no need for some two pcie and crap.. you can take a higher gpu.. say like gtx 580 or 6990.. well sli will give value if you are going for long term.. and you can install server's power.. they are cheap and of higher quality (thats what i heard from my pc vendor). i think there better be another marathon where there are the best pc at lowest cost.. that would make more sense rather giving budget.. so that people can know what they can make with the money they got.. since not all have exactly 1000$ or 2000$ there are people from other countries as well following so keep up the good work fellas ^_^/~~
  • tapher

    Props on the build, dawgs. Daddy likes!

    Breath is bated for the bevy of builds to come!
  • andy5174
    Contest is limited to residents of the USA

    not again.....