System Builder Marathon, March 2011: $2000 Performance PC

Motherboard And Graphics

Motherboard: Asus P8P67 WS Revolution

The problem with Intel’s current processors is that they're limited to one of several mainstream chipsets. The chipset actually looks fairly lame, even by Intel’s previous standards, supporting only a single PCIe x16 graphics card or two in x8 mode. Nvidia’s NF200 PCIe Bridge is the solution for those seeking full bandwidth in SLI and CrossFire modes, and Asus produces a very nice product that includes it.

Read Customer Reviews of Asus's P8P67 WS Revolution

The P8P67 WS Revolution takes advantage of the NF200’s “Broadcast” function to supply two graphics cards with identical data in x16 mode or four cards in x8 mode. Two sets of switches allow the P8P67 WS Revolution to adapt from dual x16 to quad x8 pathways automatically whenever a card is inserted into a black slot.

Nvidia’s graphics drivers artificially limit single-NF200 motherboards to three-way SLI, but we find sweet irony in the fact that the same part enables its competitor’s four-way CrossFireX configurations.

Graphics: 2 x XFX Radeon HD 6950 2 GB

XFX offers a one-time-transferable lifetime warranty, and its cards were priced identically to competing models at the time of our purchase.

Read Customer Reviews of XFX's Radeon HD 6950 2 GB

Magic happens when two Radeon HD 6950s are paired, as superior multi-GPU scaling allows these to overtake the “more powerful GeForce GTX 570 when both products are configured in pairs.

Yet, perhaps the best news for owners of Radeon HD 6950 CrossFire solutions is that these cards cost $50 and consume 60 W less per card than their rivals, making them a superior choice for both value and energy efficiency. And if two of these aren’t enough for some users, twin CrossFire bridge connectors allow today’s system to be upgraded to three-way or four-way CrossFireX.

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.....