Because We Can...
System Builder Marathon, February 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).
- Day 1: The $625 Gaming PC
- Day 2: The $1,250 Mid-Range PC
- Day 3: The $5,000 Enthusiast PC
- Day 4: Performance and Value Dissected
The only people who can truly understand the logic behind spending a month’s pay on a computer are those who have actually used such a system. Everyone else seems to think such behavior is silly. Up-and-coming enthusiasts aspire to acquire this level of performance and capability in a gaming machine without spending as much, while ordinary performance fanatics pretend not to care. Then again, stereotypes concerning “overcompensation” were invented out of envy and are projected by those who are afraid to admit that they too would love to own such a machine.
Last month we scaled back our highest-end system to $2,500, opening the configuration to a far larger market that typifies the budget of high-end do-it-yourselfers. But while the $2,500 market is dear to us and certainly worth revisiting, a number of readers wanted to see what kind of dream system we could build if given twice the budget. Rather than choose the entire configuration ourselves, we used your recommendations as guidelines to narrow our choice of parts.
|$5,000 Extreme Performance System Components|
|CPU||Intel Core i7 Extreme 965||$1,010|
|CPU Cooler||Cooler Master Aquagate Max||$230|
|Radiator Upgrade||Swiftech MCR320-QP Quiet Power||$50|
|Fan Upgrade||3x Scythe S-FLEX SFF21F 120 mm 1,600 RPM||$47|
|Water Block Upgrade||Swiftech Apogee GTZ with LGA-1366 Bracket||$75|
|Motherboard||Asus Rampage II Extreme||$400|
|RAM||Mushkin 998679 DDR3-1600 6.0 GB Kit||$205|
|Graphics||2x MSI N295GTX-M2D1792 GeForce GTX 295||$1,000|
|System Hard Drives||2x Intel X25-M 80GB SATA Solid State Disk||$800|
|2.5" Hard Drive Adapter||SYBA Mobile Rack for 2.5" SATA (2 drives)||$36|
|Storage Hard Drive||Seagate Barracuda 7200.11 1.5 TB SATA 3.0 Gb/s||$130|
|Sound||Asus SupremeFX X-Fi Audio Riser Card||0|
|Network||Integrated Gigabit Networking||0|
|Case||Cooler Master Cosmos-S RC-1100||$200|
|Power||Cooler Master Real Power Pro RS-850-EMBA||$180|
|Optical||LG Blu-ray Burner/HD DVD-ROM GGW-H20LK||$200|
Several readers requested a switch to solid-state disk (SSD) drives, so we included them. Other suggestions, such as a hardware RAID controller card, were swiftly dismissed after the drives we chose consumed the budget. The budget eased when prices dropped after our order was placed, but that’s par for the course in the component market. We even bought a sound card, only to have it priced out of our configuration before we started testing, with later price drops occurring only after the tests were complete.
We have a few more surprises to discuss, so feel free to follow along as we detail the assembly, tuning, and testing of today’s super-high-end system.