System Builder Marathon: The $4,500 Super PC


We’re pleased with the overall quality and performance of our newest extreme-performance PC, but we’d like to remind readers of a few shortcomings.

We regret that we used a PCI Express—rather than a PCI—audio card, given our change in motherboards. The results were still pleasing, but not perfect.

A more significant setback was the inability of our OCZ PC3-12800 Platinum Edition memory to run at anything close to its rated speed and timings. The problem was overheating, caused partly by the use of four modules packed tightly together. We’re far from alone in experiencing this problem, as even professionally-built high-end gaming machines are being sent out with memory at slower BIOS default speeds. A RAM cooling fan might have helped, but the additional fan we’d selected—the Antec Spotcool—isn’t available from NewEgg at this time.

If our budget had been unlimited, one of the first things we would have considered adding would have been a hardware-based RAID controller. We still would have faced the problem of finding a slot for it, since the only open PCI Express slot was partly blocked by the cooling system of our Zalman LQ1000 case.

As a final caveat, we’re going to keep mentioning the defect in Zalman’s LQ1000 case until the company addresses it. Motherboard mounting holes are slightly out of position, and this type of problem is only exacerbated by the high-quality materials that can’t flex enough to compensate.

Our finished system was a pleasure to use. It’s extremely quiet most of the time and extremely fast, and it looks great sitting on a desk. We question why anyone would want to hide such a piece of art under a desk, and the smaller case of this month’s high-end system meant that we didn’t have to.