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System Builder Marathon, August 2012: $2000 Performance PC

Graphics, Motherboard, And Power Supply

Graphics: EVGA GeForce GTX 670

Our GeForce GTX 670 launch coverage pointed out that you can save $100 and not give up very much performance by snagging the GTX 670 instead of the 680. We've even heard that the GeForce GTX 670, also based on Nvidia's GK104 GPU, is a slightly better overclocker, and that its enhanced scalability is sometimes enough to overcome its missing SMX cluster.

Read Customer Reviews of EVGA's GeForce GTX 670 2 GB (opens in new tab)

We picked EVGA’s baseline model with a three-year warranty for its low price.

Motherboard: ASRock X79 Extreme4

The LGA 2011 interface's 40 PCIe lanes would make three-way SLI easy to achieve with our build, if only we could afford a trio of $400 cards. Unfortunately, that option is out of reach both financially and practically. The benchmark resolutions we use to compare the $500, $1000, and $2000 machines are too low to utilize the extra GPU power.

Still, we know that the lucky winner of this system might want to add cards later, perhaps for a dreamy 3D Surround configuration, or at least a sexy but simple three-way array in Surround mode.

Read Customer Reviews of ASRock's X79 Extreme4 (opens in new tab)

Like most X79-based boards, ASRock’s award-winning X79 Extreme4 has the slot configuration needed to make that three-way option possible. More importantly, the award we gave it was mostly based on the board’s high overclocking stability and low price, two attributes we need in order to get some extra value from our already-packed budget.

Power Supply: Seasonic SS-850HT

We rarely hear anyone argue against the stability of Seasonic’s power supplies, but there’s more to a power supply than its reliability. With the ability to deliver up to 850 W across a pair of 12 V rails, the addition of an 80 PLUS Silver efficiency rating makes this $130 unit the best value we’ve seen in the industry. Already it has served as our backup choice for several high-end machines.

Read Customer Reviews of Seasonic's SS-850HT (opens in new tab)

But there are reasons we don't use it in every high-end build. To begin, several competing models (even some from Seasonic) exceed its efficiency rating. A lack of removable cables also complicates building, potentially making the final build messier than it needs to be. And, even though it has enough capacity to run three GeForce GTX 670s, the presence of only four auxiliary power connectors would force you to use a couple of adapters to support a third card.

Even though we've seen feedback arguing against this model’s feature deficits, its high capacity and low price make it the only choice that suits both the output needs and financial constraints of this build.

Thomas Soderstrom is a Senior Staff Editor at Tom's Hardware US. He tests and reviews cases, cooling, memory and motherboards.
  • Darkerson
    Interesting setup. I would have favored a way beefier single GPU or a nice dual GPU setup, but I mainly only game, and dont do a lot of encoding or whatnot.
  • The contest opens on August 20, 2012 9:00 PM PDT and closes on September 3, 2012 9:00 PM PDT.
    So... i notice now that it opens at August 20, not August 19 when the $500 SBM appeared. I submitted my entry at August 19 10:30 PM. So that means that i haven't entered into the sweepstakes, or did i? I am confused, cause only one entry can be accepted.
  • Nice quality build! Enough said!
  • trumpeter1994
    That has got to be one of the luckiest GTX 670s I've ever seen.
  • sarinaide
    Gigabyte G1 Assassin Z77
    120GB SSD
    500GB HDD
    2xGTX 670
    2x4GB DDR3 1866

    And still probably cheaper with obviously better performance.
  • Crashman
    sarinaidei5-3570k/i7-3770kGigabyte G1 Assassin Z77120GB SSD500GB HDD2xGTX 6702x4GB DDR3 1866And still probably cheaper with obviously better performance.Probably not, unless you're only testing games. But we should probably test that anyway. Does anyone else want to see it?
  • zander1983
    Ditch the BR Writer, get a BR combo drive and save yourself $60
  • Crashman
    zander1983Ditch the BR Writer, get a BR combo drive and save yourself $60Sorry, I don't see any combo drives for $30 so the savings would be much less than $60. Plus, you'd lose BD-RE backup capability, which can be handy.
  • sarinaide
    CrashmanProbably not, unless you're only testing games. But we should probably test that anyway. Does anyone else want to see it?
    It would be very interesting, the IvyBridge chips in productivity numbers hold quite well with the SB-E chips that is the only area which should be a contest.
  • crisan_tiberiu
    16GB ram pointless imo. 2 TB 5400rpm hdd? ...i rather get a 1 TB 7200 rpm hdd. i7 3970k ... i rather get the i7 3770k. From theese i would squeeze in a gtx 680.