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

Building Our Graphics-Oriented Beast

The Hyper 212 Evo requires the use of a support plate behind the motherboard of any platform except LGA 2011. That support plate fits our LGA 1155 motherboard as shown below. It also has alternative holes for older Intel LGA interfaces, and it flips over to fit most of AMD's sockets.

The nuts in the shot above fit onto standoffs in the below photo. After applying thermal paste, we’re ready to add the cooler.

A folding cross-bracket simply screws onto the standoffs, though the intake fan must first be unclipped in order to access those screws.

The Eleven Hundred’s four-fan hub requires a four-pin drive connector, which would have detracted from the build’s overall clean appearance. The hub also lacks the heat-sensitive fan speed controls built into the motherboard. Unfortunately, the G1.Sniper 3 doesn’t have all the right connectors in all the right places.

The top fan’s cable isn’t long enough to reach the “Sys Fan 2” header. Rather than give up entirely on fan speed control, I attached the low-speed CPU fan to that connector and set it to full-speed in BIOS. The top fan is attached to the CPU fan header, using CPU temperature to control its speed (and noise level). Que sera, sera?

The G1.Sniper 3’s 16-lane slots are spaced two slots apart, and builders who use SLI in this configuration are left with only one place to put the board’s included Wi-Fi/Bluetooth combo card. Upgrading to three-way SLI either blocks that slot or the motherboard’s second front-panel USB 3.0 connector, depending on where the third card is placed. Four-way SLI gives up both features.

The XL-ATX-sized Eleven Hundred leaves enough room for a bottom graphics card plus the included eSATA breakout adapter, though adding the adapter would have ruined the finished build’s clean look. Our tests won’t require eSATA, but the winner of this system might choose to add the adapter plate at a later time.

Designed for three graphics cards with two auxiliary power connectors, this power supply has enough output connectors to add a fourth cable with two PCIe leads, if you choose to go that route. The low power consumption of Intel’s Ivy Bridge-based CPUs, the moderate needs of Nvidia's GeForce GTX 670, the quad-SLI support of Gigabyte’s G1.Sniper 3, and the high output capability of Seasonic’s X-1050 combine to make this upgrade a viable option. You will, however, have to scour the Web for someone selling a fourth power cable.

The finished build looks very clean, though the mid-sized CPU cooler might look a little out of place in such a spacious chassis.

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