System Builder Marathon, March 2010: The Articles
Here are links to each of the four 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 check out this Google form, and be sure to read the complete rules before entering!
In this installment of the System Builder Marathon (SBM) series, our mid-priced PC is more than just a solid machine built from great components. Instead, it's also an experiment to see exactly what benefits Intel's Core i7-920 offers when compared to the cheaper Core i5-750.
We used the Core i5-750 in our last SBM, and this is an excellent opportunity to show the difference between the two. With the price of some Core i7-capable X58-based motherboards dropping, the real-world difference in price between a home computer based on either of these CPUs is probably in the $150 range. Since we'll use the same type of Radeon HD 5850 graphics cards in CrossFire that we did in our previous SBM, this new build gives us a really good idea of what the extra cash invested in the X58 platform and Core i7-920 provides in the way of performance.
Here are the components we chose:
|$1,500 Enthusiast System Components|
|Motherboard||ASRock X58 Extreme LGA 1366 Chipset: Intel X58 Express||$160|
|Processor||Intel Core i7-920 2.66 GHz 4 Cores, 8MB L3 Cache||$289|
|CPU Cooler||Rosewill Fort 120 LGA 1366||$40|
|Memory||Crucial 6GB (3x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3-1333 Triple-Channel Desktop Memory Kit||$165|
|Graphics||2 x Radeon HD 5850 (CrossFireX) 1GB GDDR5-4000 Per Card Radeon HD 5870 GPU at 725 MHz||$640|
|Hard Drives||WD Caviar Black 750GB 750GB, 7,200 RPM, 32MB Cache SATA 3.0 Gb/s||$80|
|Optical||Samsung SH-S2232C22x DVD+R, 8x DVD+RW, 16x DVD ROM, 48x CD ROM||$20|
|Case||Cooler Master CM 690||$80|
|Power||Corsair CMPSU-750TX 750W ATX12V, EPS12V , 80-Plus Certified||$110|
|Total Current Cost||$1,582|
We call this the $1,500 build because that's what we paid when we ordered it, but prices have changed quickly in the past couple of months. The PowerColor Radeon HD 5850 graphics cards we selected have increased in price to $320 each, but only a short while ago these cards could be had for $290. This accounts for the lion's share of the price increase and is an unfortunate side effect of what happens when a company has a virtual monopoly in the high-end graphics card space. If Nvidia provides some competition with its next-gen parts in the near future, we might see some healthy competition on the price front, which can only be a good thing for the consumer.
Regardless, the point is that even though the new system's price is almost $250 higher than the Core i5 system we tested in November, the price of building that same Core i5 system today would be much closer. Is the Core i7-920 CPU worth the price spread when compared to the i5-750? That's what we'll try to answer with this comparison. Now, let's examine our specific component selections.