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System Builder Marathon, March 2011: $2000 Bonus Build

Value Conclusion

Though today’s system did not provide the advanced performance we sought in the majority of tests, it did very well where it was expected to. That is, its high-resolution gaming capabilities were noticeably improved. Small losses in a few other benchmarks offset its lower cost, ending in a value match between systems.

Yet, high-resolution gaming was the only place we really wanted the extra performance. Comparing price only to 2560x1600 gaming performance gives us a different value perspective.

Choosing a cheaper motherboard and more expensive graphics cards allowed us to find targeted gains in high-end gaming, but there were some sacrifices. For example, the previous motherboard supported four-way CrossFire (three-way with our case limitations), while the new board would be limited to two-way CrossFire. The new motherboard’s memory overclocking capability was also slightly inferior, leading to small performance losses in various other tests.

While we were completely satisfied with our original $2000 PC and only mildly disappointed with the Hand-Picked Build, we still would like to recommend the latter, especially for our gaming audience. Though it might have been a tough choice in light of today’s test results, the fact that some components of our original build are popular, and hard to keep stocked, made this one an easy pick.

Thomas Soderstrom
Thomas Soderstrom is a Senior Staff Editor at Tom's Hardware US. He tests and reviews cases, cooling, memory and motherboards.
  • sandmanwn
    More opportunities to win a free giveaway!
    Reply
  • sabot00
    Yay! 1 more chance to win!
    Reply
  • hayest
    Great build! Can't wait to see what is in store for next quarter!
    Reply
  • Great SBM series. What about an AMD quad core vs. an AMD triple core (unlocked 4th core) vs. Core i3 value comparison?
    Reply
  • compton
    Now this is pretty interesting. I wouldn't have suspected that the memory bandwidth reduction in the alternate build would have been as big of deal as it is. I think both builds are fantastic, but the NF200-equiped Asus board was one I myself was trying to obtain. It has been deactivated on the Egg, and the winner of the original $2000 build will be extra lucky indeed. Hopefully, it's me.
    Reply
  • Crashman
    comptonNow this is pretty interesting. I wouldn't have suspected that the memory bandwidth reduction in the alternate build would have been as big of deal as it is. I think both builds are fantastic, but the NF200-equiped Asus board was one I myself was trying to obtain. It has been deactivated on the Egg, and the winner of the original $2000 build will be extra lucky indeed. Hopefully, it's me.It was deactivated, but has since been reactivated:
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16813131714
    Now when you win the second PC, there will be no need for sadness: You can upgrade it with the motherboard from the first!
    Reply
  • wolfram23
    I'd love to see more info on 16x/16x vs 8x/8x. I just looked at the last time you guys reviewed it, but it was only with a GTX480. Being one of many with a P55 8x/8x mobo, I really need to know what my best upgrade path would be... single top end card at 16x? Or CF/SLI again? Is the resolution going to be the deciding factor? Seems like high res sees less of a PCIe bottleneck at 8x, but maybe it's just due to framerates being lower? Need info! lol.
    Reply
  • Crashman
    Wolfram23I'd love to see more info on 16x/16x vs 8x/8x. I just looked at the last time you guys reviewed it, but it was only with a GTX480.Look for something in a week or two. And you're right to NOT bother with the GTX480 stuff, Nvidia cards need less bandwidth than AMD cards.
    Reply
  • compton
    It was deactivated, but has since been reactivated:
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Prod 6813131714
    Now when you win the second PC, there will be no need for sadness: You can upgrade it with the motherboard from the first!

    This is why the SBM is the best thing going. A few other sites do similar articles, but Tom's is far and away the champion. Another well respected site doesn't even build the systems, but Tom's builds three (or four!) and gives 'em away like sweet delicious candy. Every build has its's own quirks, issues, and performance wins (losses too) that can't always be understood until the gear arrives and goes together. If system building was entirely predictable, no one would build their own. It's just more fun this way.
    Reply
  • qwertymac93
    antec 300 again... im really not liking that case. you have any experience with the haf 912? it seems like a very nice case.

    Anyway, i never understood why intel went with just 16 lanes on SB yet all the mobo makers market their ultra high end cross fire boards. :pt1cable:
    Thing I'm wondering is, if intel switched to 24 lanes, could the graphics cards work at 12x each for 2 way, and 8x for 3 way? i know a full 32 lanes is unlikely, that's why I'm asking.
    Reply