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System Builder Marathon, August 2012: $2000 Performance PC

Assembling Our $2000 Performance PC

Scythe made minor changes to the installation kit of its Mugen 3 Rev. B compared to what we've seen from previous models. Brackets that appear similar to those used on the Mugen 2 now use their outer holes to mate to the base. The design allows support pieces to be mounted on either side, specifically benefiting AMD motherboards. Intel's square bolt pattern makes the change unnecessary.

Though Scythe’s installation kit still screws on from the rear when it's used with most processor interfaces, anyone with an LGA 2011-based gets special screws that attach from above. We credit Intel for making the job easier for Scythe, since LGA 2011 has its own support plate with integrated threads.

The NZXT Phantom 410’s hard drive trays use rubber-covered pins to secure 3.5” drives and screws to secure 2.5” drives. We don’t mind that 2.5” drives lack noise dampening grommets, since the 2.5” drives preferred by most enthusiasts are flash-based and not mechanical. Yet, it looks like NZXT’s designers got a little confused:

The SATA connectors face in opposite directions for 2.5” and 3.5” drives. Spinning the 3.5” disk around prevents it from aligning properly with the holes, while spinning the 2.5” SSD around causes its ports to be blocked by a cross brace. Oops!

The NZXT Phantom 410 has enough space behind its motherboard tray to store all of the spare cables from our power supply, which isn't modular. The result is an extraordinarily well-organized system, apart from the SSD cables being on the wrong side.

In a recent round-up of 15 mid-range gaming enclosures, the Phantom 410 demonstrated the lowest average CPU temperature, even though its stock cooling system actually favors graphics. In an effort to shift that balance back towards the CPU without breaking our budget, we moved its intake fan from the bottom to the middle of the front panel.

Nobody wants their expensive machine to look cheap. A gunmetal grey finish contributes to the high-end appearance of our $2000 PC.

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.