System Builder Marathon: High-Cost System


The hardware in this month’s System Builder Marathon is, in many ways, far more advanced than anything before it, but two places where we couldn’t find a significant improvement were the hard drives and graphics cards. New graphics technology begged us to wait for availability, yet we won’t get a chance to try it until our next SBM.

Even though the new processor is ready to astonish us in our SBM Day 4 overclocking comparison, we can’t possibly overstress the value of a high-end case and cooling configuration for turning a run-of-the-mill performance system into a dream machine. To be quite honest, the liquid-cooled case of our previous high-end machine would have been more valuable as scrap metal - it is in no way comparable to the quality of Silverstone’s Temjin TJ09, and the functionality of our custom-selected Swiftech liquid cooling kit.

The Temjin TJ09 is one of the quietest cases we’ve used, with Silverstone going so far as to use thicker plastic for the side window and a noise baffle for the intake fan. Swiftech’s liquid cooling kit fits it perfectly, requiring no drilling or other modifications, and everything tucks neatly inside the case for easy transport and a clean appearance. And while this editor doesn’t normally consider placement of the power supply at the bottom of a case a good idea for air-cooled processors, this step was a completely necessary part of the design process in order to ensure that large radiators like ours would fit into the top panel.

(Compare Prices on Temjin TJ09 Tower)

Another point worth considering is chipset cooling. The method required to bleed the air from our liquid cooling system would have made the use of a chipset water block difficult, but add-in fans from Asus simply haven’t satisfied us. The Antec SpotCool does the job nicely, and sets an example that Asus might be smart to consider in future products.

Tomorrow we’ll see how our three System Builder Marathon configurations compare on a performance basis, while Thursday will bring our overclocking shootout, and on Friday we’ll compare the value that each system has to offer. We might even have a few surprises along the way, so we hope you’ll look forward to these articles...

Here’s a list of the System Builder Marathon (SBM) articles in this five day series.

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  • TDL
    Thanks for the great article - I'm having fun building this - I do have 3 questions though - the fan duct assembly fan has 3 wire sets, 1 has the 3wire motherboard connector, the second taps into a regular power lead. The third is a single wire - the case documentation does not describe that one - what is that little single lead for? Also the motherboard sound card has some connectors on it - I assume one is for the case headphone/mic lead? Third, should teflon tape be used in the dual radiator threads if not how tight is tight enough for the O-rings? Thanks great article!
  • Dax3000
    Hi Thanks For The Great Article - I Am Also Building A System With A Few Modifications I Loved Asus Boards But Can Never Seem To Overclock Them At All So I Am Going With A EVGA 780i FTW when they come out, THat Processor IS Sweet But No Way CAn I JUstify PAying $1060 or more here in canada for 1 Pc Component when i already own three computers, I was thinking maybe a Q6850 when they come out, i have changed the middle fan in my case already and i am just waiting on my 120 rad to get here as i already have the other parts from another computer i built that i couldn't use so that saved me a few dollars:) and i can't find that power supply anywhere so i am gonna do with a X3 1000 watt from ultra i hope it's good enough. and since i am not a really good overclocker no point in risking a high end system by messing around with 2 expensive graphics cards will 2 9800GTX+ work for me ? and omost importantly after my system is finished and filled how do i top it up if it needs more water do i have to take the top rad down to fill it everytime or can i just add water in to the same rad. thanks alot of your help and keep up the great work.
  • DaveCharleson
    I've been installing and have three questions. First, there seems to be no pump in this system - have I just missed something?

    Second, the twin fan radiator seems to draw the air from inside the case up through the radiator and then out the top of the case. Wouldn't you want to draw cooler air from the outside past the radiator?

    Third, I don't see any connection to the video card although the 880GTX card is built for water cooling. Wouldn't you want to include this in the loop?

    This is my first build with water cooling so sorry if the questions belie this.
  • jimwalk
    The Arctic Silver instructions for applying to Intel Quad Core CPU W/Heatspreader are at