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System Builder Marathon, June 2011: Alternative $2000 PC

An Unexpected Turn

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

Introduction

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.

  • amk09
    Yea the Haf X is beastly to say the least.
    Reply
  • ChiefTexas_82
    At least it doesn't look like a regular office PC. I thought the LL in the previous $2000 looked too 'professional' for a gaming PC.
    Reply
  • Crashman
    ChiefTexas_82At least it doesn't look like a regular office PC. I thought the LL in the previous $2000 looked too 'professional' for a gaming PC.That's because it wasn't a gaming PC. Were it a gaming PC it would have lacked the 1TB storage drive and BD-R, had a Core i5 rather than Core i7, had 4GB rather than 8GB RAM, and would have put the money saved towards even faster graphics.
    Reply
  • SpadeM
    ChiefTexas_82At least it doesn't look like a regular office PC. I thought the LL in the previous $2000 looked too 'professional' for a gaming PC.
    Well you can always bling a case up if you're so inclined but it's more difficult to un-bling one. All in all a very tame SBM this quarter, do hope u guys do something unnecessary cool next round :). BTW anything new and exciting coming up this week in the articles?
    Reply
  • cmcghee358
    After building a nice rig for the last 2 years or so, I really want my next rig to look really classy. It's the difference between a Honda Civic with Cold Cathode lighting, and an Audi with a massive V8 under the hood. I'm looking forward to moving on to the Audi.

    Also yes, for the love of God, will you people please understand that these aren't gaming PCs? That's why there are so many non-gaming related benchmarks. Please see beyond your own needs.

    The 1st thing I ask a potential customer is "What do you use it for?" If they say "Surfing the internet, and doing Office" I recommend an inexpensive build with Linux as an operating system. If they say gaming I recommend an appropriate build with Windows 7(Just because I hate all the tweaking Wine takes in order to work) But I hope that highlights that EVERYONE has different needs.
    Reply
  • yukijin
    CrashmanThat's because it wasn't a gaming PC. Were it a gaming PC it would have lacked the 1TB storage drive and BD-R, had a Core i5 rather than Core i7, had 4GB rather than 8GB RAM, and would have put the money saved towards even faster graphics.with the money saved from such changes, you can afford TWO GTX 580's!
    Reply
  • compton
    That's the great thing about cases: there's one out there for everyone and every purpose.

    The last case I bought was a Lian Li PC A05NB. It's definitely different, pretty much unique, and looks classy. I tossed a piano black Samsung BD drive with a mirrored tray facade and it's got the understated style that fits in everywhere. I say right on to any case that gets tossed in to an SBM. I bet no one complains about the enclosure when they win the rig.
    Reply
  • sparky2010
    these pc's are great.. but there's one thing missing.. if these are intended to be 'gaming' pc's, then the sound must be upgraded too.. it's not just about the graphics.. putting in a good sound card will increase the quality of the sound, and make games more enjoyable! it reall does make a difference.. so what i'd do in this case is change the 6970's to 6950's (since in crossfire, the difference won't be that great, at least at 1080p) and then get a good sound card, like an Asus Xonar or Sound Blaster X - Fi.. at least, that's what i already did and it's really great!! with a 7.1 sound system, games like Mass Effect become MUCH better... :D
    Reply
  • wrazor
    I was wondering if toms have a 570 GTX 2.5gb evga card review in the making. They are going for 400$ each, so replacing the 2600k here with 2500k would have covered that cost. I am very much interested(and i think many more do too)to see how these 2.5gb cards would fare in sli and stuff. 6970 killers? I think so.
    Reply
  • kovaxo
    That this one is perfect , although i don't like the motherboard , but its a great build still
    Reply