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System Builder Marathon: The $4,500 Super PC

Motherboard And Processor

Asus P5E3-Premium WiFi-AP@N Edition

Read Customer Reviews of Asus’ P5E3 Premium WiFi-AP

Choosing the right motherboard isn’t always difficult, but it’s certainly an important step in your build process. Knowing that this month’s $4,500 PC would support high-end AMD graphics in a CrossFireX configuration, starting with Intel’s X48 Express chipset was a forgone conclusion. Two PCI Express 2.0 x16 slots provide the best bandwidth for high-performance graphics cards.

Narrowing our selection was as simple as looking at available memory modules. Though the DDR3 standard supports up to 16 GB per slot, it’s hard to find modules larger than 2 GB in retail channels. Our 8 GB target memory capacity would require four modules, a configuration that heavily favored the Asus P5E3-Premium in our second X48 Motherboard Comparison.

The P5E3 Premium WiFi-AP@N Edition is packed with features worthy of this $4,500 PC, including an on-board 802.11 Draft-N wireless interface, dual-Gigabit networking, and external SATA (eSATA). Even in the face of Intel’s X58 platform, it remains a compelling choice.

Intel Core 2 Quad Q9650

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Read Customer Reviews of Intel’s Core 2 Quad Q9650

We’re certain that many readers will question the rationale for placing a $550 processor in a $4,500 machine, and we’ve got a good one. The Core 2 Quad Q9650 has the same standard 3.00 GHz clock speed as our previously chosen QX9650 and costs half as much as Intel’s top QX9770, yet it still provides us with Intel’s recent E0 stepping for superior overclocking capability. Why would we take a chance on the QX9770 which, at twice the price, might come with the older C0 stepping ?

We believe the Q9650 is the best choice for an overclocked system, at least until Intel releases its next-generation platform. That the Q9650 also saves us money compared to Intel’s top-rated part is a budgetary bonus that we can apply to other system components.

  • cjdavis7
    So, how many times can they drop NewEgg's name in one article?
  • Duncan NZ
    I'd drop Neweggs name lots if they gave me a $4500 system
  • cangelini
    cjdavis7So, how many times can they drop NewEgg's name in one article?
    The reason we partnered up with NewEgg on this was to have access to a much wider range of hardware then we'd otherwise have. My hope is that this is an asset to our readers and does not interfere editorially.
  • cangelini
    Duncan NZI'd drop Neweggs name lots if they gave me a $4500 system
    Just to clarify, all of the hardware goes straight back to NewEgg once the story is done. The arrangement simply gives us access to the hardware, straight from e-tail, to build, benchmark, and write about. It's good for us because we're saved the effort of finding manufacturers who want to send out their hardware and we think it's good for our readers because we can construct the systems we'd *really* build on these budgets. =)
  • master9716
    4500 . Why would anyone spend 800 on a case? I dont really see a point to the article but oh well . New egg does have the best prices out there but mwave does beat it sometimes.
  • cangelini
    master97164500 . Why would anyone spend 800 on a case? I dont really see a point to the article but oh well . New egg does have the best prices out there but mwave does beat it sometimes.
    Why would anyone spend $500 on a video card or $1,000 on a processor? ;-)

    This is why we do three stories with a trio of price targets--something for everyone!
  • neiroatopelcc
    Anyone more concerned with looks and styling than just function would spend more than a few bucks on a case.
    ie. Anyone who'd pick an alfa romeo or a lexus over an ordinary honda accord would want a more expensive case.
  • neiroatopelcc
    We should also note that the on-board Intel controller is capable of excellent RAID 5 performancePerhaps I'm mistaken, but I am not thrilled by the intel raid controller. Perhaps the ich10 is better than the ich9 in this regard, but I only scored about 90mb/sec max read speed in raid5 (5x500gb) on my p35. That's the same speed as my 3x 35gb raptors in raid 0 on my secondary system, so it's okay. But still. A single new spinpoint is faster than the raid 5, so I'm quite sure my ich9r controller is requiring too many resources to work properly fast. Or it's my oc that causes it to slow down somehow. Dunno yet.
    Anyway, my experience with intel software raid running raid5 isn't that it's speedy.

    ps. wouldn't it have made sense to save a few bucks on storage (2x1,5tb or something) and added memory cooling blocks to go with the water cooled chassis?
  • randomizer
    Memory doesn't get hot enough to justify losing 2TB of storage just so you can add some fancy cooling blocks to it. 4TB does sound pretty sweet, but I don't know how I'd fill up 500GB let alone 8x that. E-peen I guess.
  • neiroatopelcc
    "2.) The Cooler Master CMPSU-1000HX power supply has ferrite rings on the flat, removable PCI Express power cables that prevented them from being run between cards. We had to use the soldered-on "round" cables for the top card."

    it's still a corsair psu according to the picture. (page 6)

    @ randomizer : If you'd replace the 4 drives with 2 bigger ones you'd only lose 1tb of storage, and half your theoretical read/write speed (and slightly improve your seek time). Anyway, if memory is running hot I would definetly want some cooling for it. My first choice would be to throw away the sound card and see if 90 bucks was enough for a decent cooler (onboard sound is excellent really), but since toms is rather happy about the sound, I think storage is the best place to compromise.

    Anyway, my point is - add a cooler to the modules! actually ocz already have models out there with watercooling built in - since they picked ocz they could've gotten those if newegg had em.