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

System Builder Marathon: $1,000 Enthusiast System

System Builder Marathon, June 2010: The Articles

Here are links to each of the four articles in this month’s System Builder Marathon (we’ll update them as each story is published). And remember, these systems are all being given away at the end of the marathon.

To enter the giveaway, please check out this Google form, and be sure to read the complete rules before entering!

Day 1: The $2,000 Performance PC
Day 2: The $1,000 Enthusiast PC
Day 3: The $550 Gaming PC
Day 4: Performance And Value, Dissected


We are always trying to squeeze more value out of our systems. But in some cases, we’ve allowed the budgetary targets of our system builder marathons (SBMs) to rise a little over time and in response to your very valuable feedback. With an eye toward bringing things back down to a reasonable level, we’re lowering the midrange enthusiast system’s budget down to $1,000 (from the previous marathon's $1,500).

There are a few routes we can choose when it comes to putting together an enthusiast-class system at this lower price point, but our main choice inevitably becomes: CPU or graphics muscle? While the previous $1,500 system sported dual Radeon HD 5850 cards in CrossFire and a Core i7 CPU, there’s no way we can squeeze that much power into our lower budget.

We’d like to see what happens when we invest the lion’s share of the budget in either the CPU or graphics subsystem. This time, we plan to do most of our spending on the graphics cards. Next time around, however, we'll switch our budgetary focus to the platform and CPU so that we can measure the difference in results.

With a $500 deficit compared to our last SBM, equal performance is simply not in the cards. But we do hope that overclocking the $1,000 machine will bring us within spitting distance of the $1,500 system’s stock numbers. We’ll have to wait until the benchmarks to see if this is an attainable goal. And it's certainly reasonable to expect the performance per dollar to land in-line with last quarter.

Here are the components we chose at our lowered budgetary target:

Swipe to scroll horizontally
$1,000 Enthusiast System Components
MotherboardMSI 790X-G45 AM3 Chipset: AMD 790X$100
ProcessorPhenom II X3 720 Black Edition 2.8 GHz  3Cores, 6MB L3 Cache (OEM)$90
CPU CoolerCooler Master HyperTX 3$20
MemoryCrucial 4GB (2x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3-1333 Dual-Channel Desktop Memory Kit$112
Graphics2 x Radeon HD 5830 (CrossFireX) 1GB GDDR5-4000 Per Card$480
Hard DrivesWD Caviar Blue 320GB 320GB, 7,200 RPM, 8MB Cache SATA 3.0 Gb/s$48
OpticalLite-On iHas12424x DVD+R, 8x DVD+RW, 48x CD ROM$23
CaseAntec Three Hundred$60
PowerCorsair CMPSU-650TX 650W ATX12V, EPS12V , 80-Plus Certified$90
Row 9 - Cell 0 Total Current Cost$1,023

Yes, we went $23 over. When we placed our order, there was a combo deal that saved us some money in buying the case and the hard drive together. Unfortunately, that deal is no longer in effect. Nevertheless, we'll stand by these choices in the interest of our little experiment...

  • 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