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System Builder Marathon: TH's $2000 Hand-Picked Build

Motherboard And Graphics

Motherboard: Gigabyte GA-X58A-UD3R

We knew we were going to use two graphics cards, so the first thing we looked for was a super-stable board with two PCIe x16 slots that were at least three spaces apart. Unfortunately, we couldn’t find any within our budget. Giving up our three-slot spacing desires, Gigabyte’s X58A-UD3R was the default choice.

Read Customer Reviews of Gigabyte's X58A-UD3R

The X58A-UD3R became our top choice because it’s the only full-sized $200 model that we’ve successfully overclocked to high settings, and it even won our Recommended Buy award.

All of its competitors either failed to reach high settings or blew sparks from the voltage regulator within hours of reaching similarly-high clock rates. Though we could view this fact as an indicator of Gigabyte’s superior quality, what we’re really buying is a $240 motherboard with a steeply-discounted price. Several competitors at that higher price point are just as capable, but why would we want to pay more for a similar product?

Graphics: Two GeForce GTX 460s in SLI

Notice we didn’t specify brand and model. That’s because, unless you get this particular SKU in a combo deal, the pair will push your purchase over our $2000 budget.

Read Customer Reviews of EVGA's GeForce GTX 460

Newegg addressed our out-of-stock selection by choosing EVGA’s model 01G-P3-1372-TR, based on customer feedback. While we certainly value the feedback of actual owners, this particular model’s higher price and shorter two-year warranty reflect EVGA’s assessment of factory-overclocking.

We planned on overclocking manually (rather than relying on a higher factory setting), and EVGA offers a lifetime-warranty without overclocking restrictions in a different model at the same price. Meanwhile, other manufacturers offer three-year warranties on factory-overclocked cards for $20 less.

One issue our specific configuration could face is the effect of internally-venting cards on case temperature and, in return, CPU overclocking. Axial-fan coolers that vent internally tend to be quieter than radial-fan coolers that vent externally. But our case was specifically chosen for its low noise and adequate CPU airflow when using externally-vented graphics cards. On the other hand, non-overclockers need not worry about a few degrees of increased case temperature; we're just giving you full disclosure here.

Thomas Soderstrom is a Senior Staff Editor at Tom's Hardware US. He tests and reviews cases, cooling, memory and motherboards.
  • Randomacts
    Yay more giveaways!
  • tacoslave
    should have just gone with a i7 920 and stuck a 5970 which would have been cheaper
  • duk3
    I agree, however, this SBM was about 6-core performance.
    With an i7-930, a better heatsink, 2 470s and maybe an extra fan or 2 for the case is in reach.
  • Crashman
    duk3I agree, however, this SBM was about 6-core performance.With an i7-930, a better heatsink, 2 470s and maybe an extra fan or 2 for the case is in reach.yes, the i7-930 and a couple 470's would be normal in the SBM $2000 PC.
  • cojj
    how do I enter for the giveaway?
  • Crashman
    cojjhow do I enter for the giveaway?Click the link in the announcement?
  • IzzyCraft
    I guess these were more performance driven choices. I still will miss the case, i'd gladly trade a 920/930 for the SilverStone Raven
  • Crashman
    IzzyCraftI guess these were more performance driven choices. I still will miss the case, i'd gladly trade a 920/930 for the SilverStone RavenQuality-wise, the Three Hundred is probably the best case you can get for under $80, but there should have been one more fan in the system given the internally-vented graphics cards the system ended up with. On the other hand, a lot of builders would be more than happy to "settle for" 4GHz at 1.30V, and the CPU will certainly live longer at the lower voltage.
  • brisingamen
    i prefer the six core gtx 480 sli rig.
  • pinkfloydminnesota
    A 970 and a drop to 460s? Are you kidding me? How much is newegg dropping in ad revenue for you to help them dump this overpriced stock?