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

SSD, Hard Drive, And Optical Drive

SSD: Mushkin Chronos Deluxe MKNSSDCR240GB-DX

We probably said enough about Mushkin’s 240 GB Chronos Deluxe drives in various high-end system builds and drive comparisons that further discussion is simply redundant.

Read Customer Reviews of Mushkin's Chronos Deluxe MKNSSDCR240GB-DX (opens in new tab)

The long and short of this description is that we get the high performance SandForce SF-2281 controller and 240 GB of premium synchronous NAND for an easy-to-justify price of $200.

Hard Drive: Seagate ST500DM005 500 GB

A 240 GB SSD might be large enough for some pure gaming machines, but our build is designed with a little more practicality in mind. Rapidly approaching our budget limit and still needing to add an optical drive, we picked our storage drive based on reputation and price.

Read Customer Reviews of Seagate's ST500DM005 500 GB Hard Drive (opens in new tab)

A top consumer pick at Newegg, the drive's main weakness is that it doesn’t offer the high capacity we really wanted. Then again, no terabyte-sized drives would fit into this system’s remaining budget.

Optical Drive: Lite-On iHAS124

My alternative $2000 build made several concessions to its new primary objective; high-resolution gaming performance. The amount of money devoted to procuring and support more graphics performance didn't leave enough money in our budget for a fancy Blu-ray drive, in spite of the joy it'd bring. We'd still need an optical drive, however.

Read Customer Reviews of Lite-On's iHAS124 (opens in new tab)

An older model that we've used in several previous System Builder Marathons, Lite-On’s iHAS124 offers the performance, reputation for dependability, and low price needed to complete our machine. Write speeds up to 24x still give it utility as a backup device, though thumb drives have become the preferred medium for files within a DVD's capacity.

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