System Builder Marathon, June 2012: $1000 Enthusiast PC

A $1000 PC With Radeon HD 7970 Graphics?

System Builder Marathon, June 2012: The Articles

Here are links to each of the four articles in this quarter’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 fill out this SurveyGizmo form, and be sure to read the complete rules before entering!

Day 1: The $2000 Performance PC
Day 2: The $1000 Enthusiast PC
Day 3: The $500 Gaming PC
Day 4: Performance And Value, Dissected


Although we have a proclivity for Intel's Core i5-2500K in our mid-range System Builder Marathon build, we gave the Core i5-2400 a shot last quarter and put the extra room in our budget to use on an AMD Radeon HD 7970. Unfortunately, our top-rated motherboard had some issues, and our dual-channel memory kit would only run in single-channel mode.

We got a new motherboard into the machine before shipping it off to our lucky contest winner, but we didn't have enough time to run it through our complete benchmark suite first. As a result, we're revisiting the Core i5-2400/Radeon HD 7970 combo this quarter in order to see if the fully-functional configuration offers anything over the problematic arrangement it replaces.

Additionally, we decided to drop out budget this time around, so the mainstream enthusiast PC's limit is down from $1250 to $1000, leaving you that $250 difference for a display or peripherals.

With Nvidia's GeForce GTX 680 perpetually out of stock and the GeForce GTX 670 not yet available when our parts order went in, we thought this would be a good opportunity to gauge how much performance would be compromised if we stripped the SSD, aftermarket cooler, and some memory in an effort to get very powerful hardware into our new budget ceiling.

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$1250 Enthusiast System Components
MotherboardGigabyte GA-P67X-UD3-B3 LGA 1155, Intel P67 Express PCH$120
ProcessorIntel Core i5-24003.1 GHz (3.4 GHz Max Turbo Boost), Quad-Core, 6 MB Shared L3 Cache$190
MemoryAMD Performance Edition 4 GB (2 x 2 GB) DDR3-1600 Dual-Channel Desktop Memory Kit$34
GraphicsSapphire Radeon HD 7970 OC  3 GB GDDR5$480
Hard DriveSeagate Barracuda 750 GB 750 GB, 7200 RPM, 32 MB Cache, SATA 3Gb/s$80
OpticalLG GH22NS90B 22x OEMDVD Burner$18
CaseLogisys Optimus II$42
PowerCorsair CX600 V2 600 W ATX12V, EPS12V, 80 PLUS-Certified$70
Row 8 - Cell 0 Total Cost$1034

When we placed our order, prices on all of these components landed us right at $1006. But they've gone up a bit since then ($7 on the case, $1 on the DVD burner, and $20 on the graphics card), landing us at $1034. Overall, we still think this one's still pretty close to an attractive price point.

  • esrever
    This PC is awesome.
  • ddan49
    I personally think they went a little TOO overboard on the GPU. Sure, it'll tear through games... but at 4GB of RAM, a non-overclockable i5 CPU, and a P67 motherboard... well... meh...
  • pistolpete31
    Should have waited for the 670
  • ddan49
    We have two very similar systems here, and the new one has to make due with 4 GB less RAM, no SSD, and no aftermarket CPU cooler.

    May want to put "do" in there, instead ;)
  • mayankleoboy1
    i'd put an SSD in any system i build. Its so much better than a HDD.

  • mayankleoboy1
    not criticizing, but this build looks like a half-hearted attempt.
    Basically the whole article tests the improvements of a single channel over a dual channel RAM.
  • mousseng
    I realize the SBM is sponsored by Newegg, so that means they're only able to get what they can from Newegg?

    Because if not, I would posit that the i5-2380p is a better CPU choice than the i5-2400:
    1) You've not got a huge need for the IGP, what with the 7970 (I could see it could still have use, but I don't think it would be that helpful)
    2) From what I've read on Newegg's page for the 2380p (which they no longer sell), the 2380p is a great overclocker (up to 4.5Ghz according to one reviewer)
    3) It costs the same as the 2400, with the same stock clocks

    Apart from that, I think it's a pretty solid build. A little too much corner-cutting compared to what I would've chosen, but I'd probably put together something rather standard and boring.
  • ojas
    Why not use the HAF 912? Wouldn't have had a problem with the 7970.
  • pistolpete31
    mayankleoboy1not criticizing, but this build looks like a half-hearted attempt. Basically the whole article tests the improvements of a single channel over a dual channel RAM.
    Yeah I totally agree, I would have loved to see a 3570k and a gtx 670 because those two seem like the popular choice right now. Who sets this budget anyways? "We didn't wan't to go over" umm is there like a slow painful death if you go over the budget or what? Set the budget higher then. Hope the next round of these is better.
  • koshadows
    I'm not quite sure how I should respond to both of the system builders comment section from this week. Gtx 670 wasn't available, we know. Stop beating this dead horse. Its just like last quarter's waterfall of "why no 680????"

    As of right now at the time of this post, the sapphire 7970 o/c on newegg is at $480. So i can only assume whatever price hike has been dealt with?

    Good job on making a computer perform about the same for $250 less! I'm sure if I was to build a computer right now this would give quite a bit of breathing room. Not everyone has quarter of a grand to throw around.

    Downside is it does feel like you guys ran outta ideas on new combinations. I think I'd be kind of interested in either a SLI config 560 ti or 7850s. But the 7850 would've pushed it past budget I think. I'd still vote on the SSD though!