System Builder Marathon, Sept. '09: $2,500 Performance PC

AMD Still Has Game

System Builder Marathon, September 2009: The Articles

Here are links to each of the four articles in this month’s System Builder Marathon (we’ll update them as each story is published). And remember, these systems are all being given away at the end of the marathon. After some delay (sorry folks), the contest is ready to be entered. Please visit the entry page, here.

Day 1: The $650 Gaming PC
Day 2: The $1,250 Enthusiast PC
Day 3: The $2,500 Performance PC
Day 4: Performance and Value Dissected


One thing sorely lacking from our System Builder Marathon (SBM) articles has been AMD, and that's not because we don’t like the green team. Putting most of our focus into overall system performance caused us to overlook some of the excellent value AMD offers almost exclusively in the gaming market. Thus, we’ve added a couple of titles for our game benchmark tests where AMD really shines.

But AMD’s competitive prices don’t extend only to gaming processors and graphics, as the company also has a thriving chipset business. You certainly won’t find a northbridge with 42 PCI Express (PCIe) lanes from Intel, and otherwise similarly-equipped X58 motherboards come with an approximate $100 price premium.

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$2,500 Portable Performance PC Component Prices
MotherboardMSI 790FX-GD70 Socket AM3Chipset: AMD 790FX/SB750$168
ProcessorAMD Phenom II X4 955Four Cores, 3.2 GHz, 8MB Cache$200
Graphics3 x MSI R4890-T2D1G OC (CrossFireX)1GB GDDR5-3996 Per CardRadeon HD 4890 GPU at 880 MHz$600
DRAM8GB Crucial DDR3-1333 CAS 92 x P/N CT2KIT25664BA1339 Kit$142
OS/Program Drives2 x Intel X25-M SSDSA2MH080G1 (RAID 0) 80GB per drive, MLC, 160GB total$460
Storage Hard Drives2 x WD Caviar Black WD1001FALS (RAID 1) 1TB, 7,200 RPM, 32MB Cache SATA 3.0 Gb/s$190
OpticalLG GGW-H20L BD-RE / HD-DVD ROM 6x BD-R, 2x BD-RE, 16x DVD±R$180
CaseNZXT Panzerbox ATX Mid-Tower$120
PowerCorsair CMPSU-1000HX Modular 1,000W ATX12V 2.2, EPS12V 2.91, 80-Plus Certified$240
CPU CoolerSwiftech H20-220 2 x 120mm Liquid-Cooling Kit$140
Component CoolingAntec 0761345-75018-9 "SpotCool" LED Fan$15
SSD TraySNT SNT-SATA2221B Hot-Swappable Backplane$22
Bay AdapterVantec MRK-250FD 3.5" to 5.25" adapter$13
Total Cost$2,490

We were even able to put the money saved on the motherboard (as well as a few other areas) into storage, adding two 80GB Intel X25-M solid-state disk (SSD) drives for super-fast load times and upgrading the optical unit from a Blu-ray reader to a BD-RE writer, all in an effort to satisfy a multitude of reader requests. Let’s take a closer look at how it all went together.

Thomas Soderstrom
Thomas Soderstrom is a Senior Staff Editor at Tom's Hardware US. He tests and reviews cases, cooling, memory and motherboards.
  • burnley14
    Just thinking about winning this system in the giveaway gets me excited.
  • jj463rd
    Me too this is an awesome build.
  • DjEaZy
    ... do the video compression using ATi Streem...
  • The Quality of video on ATI streem is shit on sticks and doesn't even support high profile.

    The last build was a bit too odd for me but this one seems like a very nice chose of parts and on a larger screen set up makes a lot of sense the loss of i7 for AMD only build was a bit sad but the addition of those great SSD kind of makes up for me along with the nice chose of case and cooling. That case looks like it is very nice to work on.
  • dirtmountain
    The Corsair CMPSU-850HX is rated Silver, not Gold. Nice build, good results, great work.
  • @Dirtman

    Check your sources because you have it wrong

    CMPSU-850HX ATX12V 850 90.38% Gold
  • one-shot
    Please don't call RAID 1 a backup solution.
  • dirtmountain

    Newegg says differently. I did check sources.
  • dirtmountain
    So does Jonnyguru
    I guess you just can't believe everything you find on a brands site.
    now that is one slick gaming machine! could'nt imagine them frames rates on a big monitor. love the insides water cooling 3 radeon 4890's with room for a 4th. great pictures by the way lots of eye candy. you can tell alot of work went into tis kmonster. great article.