Video Cards, Power Supply, And Case
Video Cards: 2 x Gigabyte Radeon HD 6850 1 GB in CrossFire
While we’re extremely happy with the performance we squeezed out of our unlocked Radeon HD 6950 the last time around, we’re curious to see how a pair of Radeon HD 6850s in CrossFire compares today.
The Radeon HD 6850 is already fully-enabled; it doesn't have any unused on-die resources that can be unlocked using a firmware update. Fortunately, performance in CrossFire mode is potent.
The only variable holding this duo back is 1 GB of GDDR5 per card. The Radeon HD 6950 in our last SBM had twice as much on-board memory with which to work. And as we've seen from benchmarks past, that'll affect high-resolution gaming alacrity, especially with anti-aliasing enabled.
We chose two Gigabyte GV-R685OC-1GD cards due to their low price and powerful dual-fan aftermarket Windforce cooler. At $340 for the pair, they’re about $65 more than a single Radeon HD 6950 2 GB.
Power Supply: Corsair CMPSU-650TX
With a 52 amp 12 V rail and an excellent reputation, the Corsair 650TX continues to dominate the sub-$100 power supply market. At $89, we simply can’t find a significantly better option to choose.
PC Case: Xclio Nighthawk
As usual, we're trying out a new case in this quarter's System Builder Marathon. This time around we've chosen Xclio's Nighthawk.
The low $55 sticker price includes three 120 mm fans, an LED control panel, and cooler control, all in a simple, elegant design configured to allow exhaust to exit the case from the top, just like other, more expensive models.