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.
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.