Skip to main content

System Builder Marathon, May '09: $2,500 Performance PC

Motherboard, Graphics, And Power

Motherboard: DFI LANParty Jr X58-T3H6

After choosing a small case that would fit “two big graphics cards” and an over-sized power supply, the next task is to find a motherboard that will support those graphics cards and still fit within the confines of the case. Adding Intel’s Core i7 processors to the list of criteria made the choice easy, since Newegg's catalog did not list this board's alternative under "Motherboards->Intel->LGA-1366->Micro-ATX".

Read Customer Reviews of DFI's LANParty Jr X58-T3H6

DFI has a longer history in gaming-oriented Micro-ATX motherboards than any other company we know of, and its LANParty Jr X58-T3H6 is identical in many respects to the firm’s full-sized X58-T3eH6. Two PCI Express (PCIe) 2.0 x16 slots provide nearly twice the bandwidth required to meet the performance needs of most high-end graphics processors, and the LANParty Jr even includes a full compliment of overclocking controls.

However, one thing missing from the LANParty Jr is the IEEE-1394 FireWire controller. While most users never need it, leaving the corresponding front panel connector “dead” wasn’t ideal. Today’s component installation page details an easy workaround.

Graphics: 2 x EVGA GeForce GTX 295 in SLI

We were originally gunning for two standard (black) GeForce GTX 295 graphics units, but they were out of stock at the time of order. So, we went with these Red Edition cards instead.

Read Customer Reviews of EVGA's GeForce GTX 295 Red Edition

EVGA’s Red Edition follows reference specifications down to the use of the stock fan and sink, but with a custom-painted cover and a matching custom-manufactured back plate. While the visual enhancements add no performance, the price does increase by around $50 per card. Because the parts we had originally chosen are still available and are the most common, and because both models use the same clock speeds and cooling hardware, we’re treating these as standard replacements for the parts originally sought. The winner of today’s system might have additional admiration for EVGA’s handiwork, but seeing it properly requires the removal of  several parts from the case.

Power: Corsair CMPSU-1000HX

Corsair’s HX1000W power supply tops a short list of reasonably-priced parts capable of reliably powering two GeForce GTX 295 graphics units.

Read Customer Reviews of Corsair's CMPSU-1000HX

Corsair even provides six individual PCIe cables—two soldered-in and four removable—to support up to three graphics cards.

While single-rail power supplies are often preferred when load splitting is in doubt, choosing the correct cable connectors allows a builder to balance the load between both 12 volt rails. We configured the two six-pin PCIe connections to share power with the CPU, while the two eight-pin PCIe connections share power with remaining system components.

  • IzzyCraft
    What's with the efficiency adage at the end i mean i get why but I'm sure most of us noticed that overclocking gave us more performance but at the price of a higher electric bill, but we'll do it anyways. :)

    Case is nice but i mean with such a high end system seems like a waste so cluttered yet it all fits which makes it pretty cool esp if you put it right on top next to your monitor makes a nice look factor but it's not my style though. ;)
  • cangelini
    I'm sure the rest of the readers will be happy to learn you guys won't be interested in winning it :)
  • doomtomb
    Asus Rampage Gene > DFI Lanparty
  • doomtomb
    Antec Mini P180 would have had better airflow as well. It can fit even a 120mm fan and heatsink for the CPU, you don't have a PSU blocking it and adding heat to the air around the CPU.
  • scook9
    Very interesting as I have a pretty powerful core i7 matx build as well, however, here is what I would have changed if I were you:
    Case: Antec Mini p180 - much more room, especially if you remove bottom hard drive cage, can take ANY graphics then, much better cooling, and allows for REAL cpu cooler.
    Motherboard: Asus Rampage II Gene - I used the DFI model then got the ASUS, its nicer, much nicer. Unless you need a couple specific overclocking things in BIOS, id recommend Asus board hands down, AND it has 2 firewire, one header, and one rear.

    For those that care (probably not many but why not), here is my system:
    Antec Mini p180
    Corsair TX750 PSU (wish I had the $$ for the 1000 watt model used here)
    LG GGC-H20L Combo Blu Ray Drive (same used)
    WD 640GB Caviar Blue - placed in top optical drive slot - working on VR 300GB
    6GB Corsair Dominator DDR3-1600 (saving for the Dominator GT DDR3-2000)
    Dominator AirFlow Fan (triple channel model)
    Intel Core i7 920
    Lapped TRUE
    5x Scythe S-Flex G fans (2 on TRUE, 1 exhaust, 2 intake in place of hard drive cages)
    Thermaltake Extreme Spirit II Northbridge Cooler
    2x EVGA GTX275 SLI (the SC models, even though I purchased stock clocks :))

    This system hauls some serious ass, well staying reasonably cooled - although I will say that the S-Flex G fans have a noticeable hum to them. This system has run for days at 4GHz (50% overclock) with no issues.I "only" game on a 24" screen so the 2x GTX275 suffice for me. Thought about 295's in SLI but did not want to worry about the heat those can make (and the much higher cost).
  • scook9
    of course, I will still try my luck at winning theirs too......
  • curnel_D
    Lol, I love the firewire solution. :P I do that kind of thing all the time.

    I'm actually really impressed with this machine for it's size. I've used that silverstone exaust fan in quite a few machines, and despite it's totally uninspiring performance, it can really be a life-saver.

    Though if I won this machine, I'd totally throw it in a HAF, and ebay that case away. :P:D
  • Proximon
    I really appreciate the unusual board choice and would really like to hear some further impressions, as in an actual review ;)
    The case looks very nice, but then Silverstone always does.
    A bit surprised at the PSU selection given the cards, but impressed that it survived so well.
    Couldn't a higher RPM low profile heatsink have been found? Scythe Shuriken for instance?

  • Sihastru
    While I'm not loving the case design, I am loving it's layout. Too bad you had to use the box cooler... Perhaps a Lian Li PC-A05B would have been a better choice? It needs the optional PCI cooler assembly to keep the slots area cool, but it will do the job, while not limiting you to a mini-ATX board. It will also allow almost any aftermarket CPU Cooler (including some WC setups).

    Another small gripe... wouldn't the 640GB Blacks be just a little faster then the 500GB RE3's? They might not get the full 5 yrs warranty, and the 24/7 validation seems more like a marketing term.
  • Sihastru
    Don't get me wrong, I do get the vibe... don't use big-ass cases for gaming rigs anymore. It is true that bigger isn't always what you need, and it shouldn't be what you'd want.

    Overall nice setup.