What’s Your Idea Of Value?
System Builder Marathon, February 2009: 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).
- Day 1: The $625 Gaming PC
- Day 2: The $1,250 Mid-Range PC
- Day 3: The $5,000 Enthusiast PC
- Day 4: Performance and Value Dissected
The best performance per dollar is usually found in low-cost components that are, unfortunately, often too weak to perform high-end tasks. That is to say, if the most-expensive system has the minimum required performance, the others, even if vastly cheaper but only slightly slower, fail. We certainly didn’t see many failures in our $625 or $1,250 builds, but is the $5,000 system ever really needed? That’s something each buyer must decide based on his or her personal expectations.
The $625 system certainly looks cheap and the $5,000 system certainly looks pricey, but appearances can’t begin to distinguish the vast differences of internal components. Our $1,250 system, for example, looks cheap because our builder picked the best-ventilated low-cost case in an effort to allocate a greater portion of his budget to advanced internal parts.
|System Builder Marathon Components|
|Component||$625 PC||$1,250 PC||$5,000 PC|
|CPU||Intel Pentium E5200||Intel Core 2 Quad Q9550||Intel Core i7 Extreme 965|
|CPU Cooler||Xigmatek HDT-S963||Xigmatek HDT-S1283 ACK-I7751 Retention Bracket||Cooler Master Aquagate Max Swiftech MCR320-QP Radiator 3x Scythe S-FLEX SFF21F Fan Swiftech Apogee GTZ W/B|
|Motherboard||Gigabyte GA-EP45-DS3L||Gigabyte GA-EP45-UD3LR||Asus Rampage II Extreme|
|RAM||G.Skill F2-6400CL4D-4GBHK 4 GB||G.Skill F2-6400CL4D-4GBHK 4 GB||Mushkin 998679 DDR3-1600 6.0 GB|
|Graphics||Sapphire Radeon HD 4870 512 MB||Sapphire Radeon HD 4870 X2||2x MSI GeForce GTX 295|
|System Hard Drives||Samsung HD501LJ 500 GB||WD Caviar Black 640 GB||2x Intel X25-M 80GB SATA SSD SYBA Mobile Rack for 2.5" SATA|
|Added Storage||Seagate Barracuda 7200.11 1.5 TB|
|Sound||Integrated HD Audio||Integrated HD Audio||Asus SupremeFX X-Fi|
|Networking||Integrated Gigabit Networking||Integrated Gigabit Networking||Integrated Gigabit Networking|
|Chassis||Rosewill R222-P-BK||Rosewill RZLS142A-P YE||Cooler Master Cosmos-S RC-1100|
|Power||PC Power&Cooling PPC-S500||Corsair TX650W||Cooler Master RS-850-EMBA|
|Optical||Lite-On 20X DVD±R iHAS120-04||Lite-On 20X DVD±R iHAS120-04||LG Blu-ray Burner GGW-H20LK|
Because today’s article is a value comparison, we’ll carefully consider the successes and failings of each model before comparing performance per dollar.