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System Builder Marathon, August 2012: Alternative $2000 Gaming PC

Breaking Point: Graphics Cards And Case

Graphics: 2 x EVGA GeForce GTX 670 in SLI

This build started as an attempt to fit three GeForce GTX 670s into a $2000 budget. Unfortunately, the tab on $400 graphics cards adds up quickly! Incorporating a third GK104-based board would have necessitated a few more compromises, such as a half-priced motherboard (saving $140), removing the SSD, (saving $200), and scaling down to a cheap $40 case (saving $60).

Read Customer Reviews of EVGA's 02G-P4-2670-KR GeForce GTX 670 (opens in new tab)

Without an SSD, most readers would consider this a failed build. Furthermore, I'd never consider using a flimsy $40 chassis to hold high-end parts. And if those first-world problems were dire enough to dash our three-way dream, the fact that a cheaper LGA 1155-based motherboard wouldn't support a trio of GeForce GTX 670s anyway sealed this build's fate. Instead, it gets two very nice base-model 02G-P4-2670-KRs from EVGA.

With three-way no longer possible, we could have gone back to a less expensive motherboard or power supply. A $200 drop on those two components could have boosted this system's value score by 11%. But your feedback last time around made it clear that you want to see us push the budget as far as possible, but then not go over. Keeping the rest of the system intact gives its lucky winner the chance to upgrade to four-way SLI without needing to replace those two important components.

Case: Antec Eleven Hundred

Barely edged out of its value award by a cheaper contender in our recent round-up, Antec’s Eleven Hundred was still recommended to buyers who need its extra size to support large motherboards or extra graphics cards. The higher price covers the materials needed to maintain the larger structure's sturdiness.

Read Customer Reviews of Antec's Eleven Hundred (opens in new tab)

The Eleven Hundred supports up to two additional side fans, which can be mounted as exhaust for internally-venting graphics cards or intakes for externally-vented cards. The dual-intake front panel likewise ships without fans. We could have stretched the budget enough to add at least one fan there, but the temperature chart we generated in its review indicated that this probably wouldn’t be necessary.

The two slots of space between our graphics cards should be enough to avoid them heating up. However, anyone who wants to take this system to the next level with more graphics muscle will probably want to experiment with additional intake fans.

Thomas Soderstrom is a Senior Staff Editor at Tom's Hardware US. He tests and reviews cases, cooling, memory and motherboards.
  • idroid
    now THAT'S a real 2000$ PC, not the other 2000$
    Reply
  • zander1983
    Now this is a $2000 machine. The 3930k is a nice-to-have, but not a need-to-have. If you need more horse power, swap the 3570k for a 3770k.
    Reply
  • Crashman
    idroidnow THAT'S a real 2000$ PC, not the other 2000$Actually, this one is the fake, as in the experimental PC designed specifically for gaming. The other one was picked by reader recommendations, and that's why it made it into the "main event".

    That is to say, as much as this one costs, it's still pretty much worthless to the majority of high-end users. Basically it's a $1000 PC with a bunch of extras.

    To put it another way, money "wasted" on the other one went towards making it more flexible and practical. Money "wasted" on this one went towards supporting future upgrades to its SLI array. It's nothing more than an expensive toy.
    Reply
  • brucek2
    I enjoyed the article and am glad Tom's ran it. I agree with Crashman though about this being an experimental system: while I may rarely have call to exercise six cores, it is something that would come in handy from time to time. Meanwhile, I will never be gaming at 5760x1080. I'd get more value out of the original system.
    Reply
  • hmp_goose
    Why aren't they in portrait mode?
    Reply
  • dudewitbow
    orz, using blue ares ram and an antec eleven hundred together makes me think back to my wishlist changes I wish I could have gotten instead.(albeit im still deficient on other parts)
    Reply
  • Crashman
    hmp_gooseWhy aren't they in portrait mode?Too narrow. The wide bezels are a major distraction when they're that close together. I think manufacturers should make some 5x4 or at least some 4x3 mid-sized displays specifically for this purpose.dudewitboworz, using blue ares ram and an antec eleven hundred together makes me think back to my wishlist changes I wish I could have gotten instead.(albeit im still deficient on other parts)Ares is cool because it lets you run pretty much any CPU cooler you want, without sacrificing memory frequency or timings.
    Reply
  • EzioAs
    9536498 said:
    Actually, this one is the fake, as in the experimental PC designed specifically for gaming. The other one was picked by reader recommendations, and that's why it made it into the "main event".

    That is to say, as much as this one costs, it's still pretty much worthless to the majority of high-end users. Basically it's a $1000 PC with a bunch of extras.

    To put it another way, money "wasted" on the other one went towards making it more flexible and practical. Money "wasted" on this one went towards supporting future upgrades to its SLI array. It's nothing more than an expensive toy.

    Really? If it were me, I'd pick this one over the original $2000 PC. There are a lot more people gaming at 5760x1080 and 2560x1600 than they used to be so having more GPU performance is much more beneficial. Although that's primarily for the gamers, for other 3D purposes, video editing, etc the 6-cores 3930K and single GPU might be the best choice
    Reply
  • bawchicawawa
    Would have went with crossfire 7970 for that res.
    Reply
  • killabanks
    they are both great machines!! i personally think the sweet spot is somewhere around 1500 if you can get acceptable 5760x1080 performance
    Reply