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System Builder Marathon, Dec. 2011: $2400 Performance PC

Graphics, Case, And Power

Graphics Cards: PNY Liquid Cooled GTX 580s in SLI

We were terribly disappointed by the GPU overclocking capabilities of our previous $2000 build, but should have expected what we found, given then we used cards from a company famous for binning its top cards to sell as more expensive models.

Those cards were purchased for their exceptional warranty, rather than their overclocking headroom. This time, however, we put performance first.

Read Customer Reviews of PNY's Liquid-Cooled GeForce GTX 580s

With proven overclocking capability, PNY’s liquid cooled GeForce GTX 580s came to mind when we were putting together a system specifically designed to highlight overclocked value. Its XLR8 VCGGTX580XPB-LC includes a single-thickness radiator and single fan (Antec H2O 620 equivalent) with a custom GPU-mounted pump, while its VCGGTX580XPB-LC-CPU uses the double-thick two-fan radiator and CPU-mounted water pump found in Antec’s H2O 920. Yes, that's a graphics card that can cool the CPU!

Case: Fractal Design Arc Midi

Pleasing results from our recent MicroATX Gaming Build round-up compelled us to take a closer look at one of the contender's bigger brother, Fractal Design’s Arc Midi.

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Read Customer Reviews of Fractal Design's Arc Midi

Designed to hold a double-120 mm-fan radiator on top, our pair of single-fan radiators fit using alternative placement.

Power: Mushkin Joule 1000 W Gold

We wanted something a little bigger and more-efficient than our previously-chosen SeaSonic 850W Silver unit and found an excellent price in Mushkin’s MKNPSJL1000.

Read Customer Reviews of Mushkin's Joule 1000 W

Though Mushkin’s original Joule power supply earned a somewhat-mixed reputation, support for the later Gold version is nearly unanimous among its reviewers. Distrust for its predecessor might have driven down the price of the improved product, but we have enough faith in the newer 80 PLUS Gold-rated part to treat its low cost as a value bonus.

  • shak2300
    when i first saw "System Builder Marathon, Dec. 2011: $2400 Performance PC" first thing i thought was a x79 build, $2400 just for performance PC using a 2600k CPU i kinda cringe , i cant imagine how much more expensive it would be if u did it with a 3930k, yes i know it not a big different in performance between the two but was just wonder :)
    Reply
  • hmp_goose
    Retire Crysis? Blasphemy!
    Reply
  • Onus
    When I saw how much power this thing sucks down, I was glad to see that it pretty well shows the law of diminishing returns. This does nothing to change my opinion that only where time is money, i.e. for professional use, is this kind of cost justified. Spending this amount of money just to play games is a waste of resources all around, from the money to buy the parts, to the expense of running it. For future high-end builds, please specify the professional and/or his/her software that this machine is being designed to run. Justify the GPU choice by throwing in a GPGPU application that can take advantage whatever was selected. BTW, it does LOOK great; nice case choice.

    Also, as much as I understand the frustration with sacrifices, IMHO that's where the best lessons are.
    Fun to read, yes, but just not practical. Hmmm, I guess that means the downvoting is about to begin...
    Reply
  • Novulux
    The contest opens on December 19, 2011 9:00 PM PDT and closes on January 4, 2012 9:00 PM PDT.

    So, I wait until tomorrow to enter?
    Reply
  • cangelini
    NovuluxSo, I wait until tomorrow to enter?
    No, you're good today. It should start with today's story. I'll see if I can get that changed.
    Reply
  • one-shot
    $2400 and no i7 3930K?
    Reply
  • Crashman
    one-shot$2400 and no i7 3930K?What, and ditch one of the graphics cards for a reduced average-performance score? 3930K didn't show up until after the system was ordered, but I stand with the first argument, there's just not enough performance to be gained using these specific apps.jtt283For future high-end builds, please specify the professional and/or his/her software that this machine is being designed to run. Justify the GPU choice by throwing in a GPGPU application that can take advantage whatever was selected.We try to add professional apps that at least a few thousand of our readers have access to, but I'll ping Chris for more. Basically we try to spend our money boosting our own apps and adding a few more is probably justified. Suggestions? jtt283BTW, it does LOOK great; nice case choice.I was a little disappointed in my examination of the Arc Midi, that it's nowhere near as solid as the Arc Mini. I think it's because it's larger (so the bracing bends are further appart). As nice as the Arc Midi looks, the Antec Three Hundred is far sturdier at a similar size.jtt283Also, as much as I understand the frustration with sacrifices, IMHO that's where the best lessons are.Fun to read, yes, but just not practical. Hmmm, I guess that means the downvoting is about to begin...I almost voted you down for saying that... :P
    Reply
  • love the fractal case!!
    Reply
  • mattmock
    I can't find the storage benchmarks. Am I just overlooking them? I am thinking about getting the Crucial M4 for Christmas. It seems like a good overall value.
    Reply
  • Crashman
    MattMockI can't find the storage benchmarks. Am I just overlooking them? I am thinking about getting the Crucial M4 for Christmas. It seems like a good overall value.They're on the PCMark benchmark page. Tom's Hardware uses those four application-based results to calculate the storage score.
    Reply