System Builder Marathon, June 2010: $1,000 Enthusiast PC

Video Cards, Power Supply, And Case

Video Cards: 2 x Radeon HD 5830 in CrossFire

Choosing a pair of Radeon HD 5830s is our most controversial decision for this build, and we don’t make it lightly. There are a lot of other great options sitting at the same price or cheaper than the $480 we spent on these cards, so let’s spend some time talking about the mechanics of our decision.

Read Customer Reviews of Gigabyte's Radeon HD 5830

Our favorite choice would have been a pair of Radeon HD 5850 cards, but there’s simply no way to fit the $600 price tag into our $1,000 budget. With that off of the table, we considered a single Radeon HD 5870 or a dual Radeon HD 4890 setup. Past experience has shown us that dual Radeon HD 4890 cards will easily best a single Radeon HD 5870, so we leaned toward the CrossFire solution.

Radeon HD 4890s are getting somewhat rare though, and we’ve been there and done that a number of times now. We’d prefer to try something new, so we went ahead and spent an extra $80 on a couple of Radeon HD 5830 cards. This is where the water gets muddy, as the $480 price tag is within spitting distance of the new GeForce GTX 480, although the new Nvidia card was extremely difficult to find and more expensive when we placed our Newegg order.

In the end, our curiosity got the best of us, and we feel that a couple of Radeon HD 5830s have a better shot against the dual Radeon HD 5850s in the $1,500 SBM machine we're up against.

The specific model we chose was the cheapest available at the time of ordering, $240 each—potentially $220 with a $20 mail-in rebate: Gigabyte’s R583UD-1GD.

On a final note, Radeon HD 5830 cards can now be had for as low as $220 online, a much more palpable price point for the Radeon HD 5830.

Power Supply: Corsair CMPSU-650TX

Read Customer Reviews of Corsair's CMPSU-650TX

We’re fans of the Corsair CMPSU-750TX, but we have to admit that the power it offers is probably overkill for all but the most demanding builds. With a smaller budget, we have to cut back where it makes sense, and this means we’ll opt for the 750TX’s little brother, the CMPSU-650TX.

Not to worry, though. Since we have a 52A 12V rail and CrossFire certification, we don’t expect to have any problems. Frankly, the 650TX might even be a little more than we need for the $1,000 machine. But for $90, we can live with the extravagance.

PC Case: Antec Three Hundred

Read Customer Reviews of Antec's Three Hundred

Antec’s budget enthusiast case is ideal for our purposes because it offers what we’re looking for from an enclosure for a very reasonable price. This is precisely what we need with our lower price target, and at $60, we have no complaints.

  • alikum
    When you say SBM: Enthusiast System, I am expecting this to be more than just another gaming rig. You may have your own reason for sticking to a Phenom II x3 720 and HD5830 crossfire but I believe a Phenom II x4 955 and HD5770 crossfire would make more sense or more well-balanced (instead of trying your luck by unlocking cores). In fact, we could also grab a HD5870 and downgrade our mobo a little and that would make a truly well balanced enthusiast system.
  • scrumworks
    Nice CPU choice you morons. My grandma could build a more balanced system.
  • manitoublack
    I'm with one-shot, 6core AMD for $200 can't be beat.
  • one-shot
    It would have been nice to see the PII X6 1055T with a moderate downgrade in GPUs to afford the higher cost of CPU and motherboard. The i7 embarrasses the PII X3.
  • adbat
    I find it surprising that you are always successful in unlocking the 4th core
  • IzzyCraft
    not a fan of the 5830's or the 720 cpu choice is all.

    Would have rather seen a dual 5770's or a 5870 with a i5-750 or a 955

    games more and more are using cpu for doing things. I also tend to use a comp for other things more then games.
  • Tamz_msc
    Bad choice of components especially CPU and GPU
  • Tamz_msc
    A phenom II 955 BE:160$+2 Xfx hd 5770sfor320$+GIGABYTE GA-890GPA-UD3H for 140$=620$ would certainly have been a better choice than your 670$ for CPU+GPU+mobo.
  • Tamz_msc
    Tamz_mscA phenom II 955 BE:160$+2 Xfx hd 5770s for 320$+GIGABYTE GA-890GPA-UD3H for 140$=620$ would certainly have been a better choice than your 670$ for CPU+GPU+mobo.
  • The Lady Slayer
    A Thermaltake V3 instead of the Antec 300 would have saved you $15