System Builder Marathon, June 2011: Alternative $2000 PC

System Builder Marathon, June 2011: The Articles

Here are links to each of the five 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.

To enter the giveaway, please fill out this Google form, and be sure to read the complete rules before entering!

Day 1: The $2000 Performance PC
Day 2: The $1000 Enthusiast PC
Day 3: The $500 Gaming PC
Day 4: Performance And Value, Dissected
Day 5: Tom's Hand-Picked SuperCombo


Our most recent System Builder Marathons have included a fourth PC. The first three are generally the product of reader feedback from one quarter to the next. We came up with the Day 5 SuperCombo to give one builder (Ed.: It has always been Thomas' $2000 build, so far) the opportunity to hand-pick the parts he'd want in his own machine.

This time, we didn't plan on following through. When asked what I'd improve on the original $2000 build, I told Chris that I wouldn't change anything; for the first time in a while, there would be no fourth machine. But after the feedback started coming in from Day 1, we couldn't help but place a rush order to Newegg for the parts for another machine with a couple of superficial tweaks based on the feedback.

And after all, we were still itching for one more opportunity to give away hardware to our readers. If you haven't yet entered this quarter's giveaway, look up at the top of the page and be sure you do.

Aside from our inability to ship prizes internationally (thank the IRS for that), the second-most frequent complaint we read was more of a division between readers of various aesthetic tastes. While some liked the $2000 PC’s simple and clean appearance, others thought its case was overpriced for such a plain black box. The most recommended replacement part was Cooler Master’s HAF X.

Case performance comes down to two things: cooling and noise. An exceptionally cool-running case could help overclocking, and thereby allow improved system performance. Yet, variability in the manufacturing of other components could have an even larger impact on temperatures and overclocking, so for today’s article we retained the exact motherboard, CPU, memory, and CPU cooler from our original build. The winner of the fourth machine will get all of the same parts, though.

$2000 PC Components
MotherboardASRock Z68 Extreme4: LGA 1155, Intel Z68 Express $190
Graphics2 x MSI R6970-2PM2D2GD5: Radeon HD 6970 2 GB, CrossFire $680
ProcessorIntel Core i7-2600K: 3.4GHz-3.8GHz, 8 MB  Shared L3 Cache $315
MemoryG.Skill F3-12800CL8D-8GBXM: DDR3-1600 C8, 4 GB x2 (8 GB) $75
System Drive2 x A-Data S599 64GB, SATA 3Gb/s SSD $240
Storage DriveSamsung F3 HD103SJ 1 TB, 7200 RPM HDD $55
OpticalLG WH12LS30 BD-RE: 12x BD-R, 16x DVD±R $95
CaseCooler Master HAF X RC-942-KKN1 $190
PowerSeasonic SS-850HT: 850 W, ATX12V v2.31, 80 PLUS Silver $125
Heat SinkXigmatek Gaia SD1283 $30
  Total Cost  $1,995

Note that we also updated the optical drive, due to the original build’s drive being discontinued. A reduction in memory price makes the case primary in total system cost difference.