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System Builder Marathon, March 2012: $1250 Enthusiast PC

Giving It Up For More Gaming Performance

System Builder Marathon, March 2012: The Articles

Here are links to each of the five articles in this quarter’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, including the Bonus Customer Choice PC, which we picked out using the highest-rated components in Newegg's feedback system.

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

Day 1: The $650 Gaming PC
Day 2: The $1250 Enthusiast PC
Day 3: The $2600 Performance PC
Day 4: Performance And Value, Dissected
Day 5: Bonus Newegg Customer Choice PC


Up until now, we've used Intel’s Core i5-2500K in our mid-range enthusiast builds without ever having been disappointed. We gave AMD’s lower-priced FX-6100 a chance last time around, but that build wasn’t very successful. Despite its impressive graphics subsystem (a powerful pair of Radeon HD 6950 cards in CrossFire), it just couldn't compete.

I suppose we could crawl back to the Core i5-2500K, begging for forgiveness. It's the safe bet, after all. But we're tired of making it, and we're never going to learn anything new if we go down that road again.

No. This time we’ll try something a little different, and we’ll give up some of the processor and platform budget to make room for a shiny new Radeon HD 7970. We think the result has the potential to be a very capable gaming machine.

$1250 Enthusiast System Components
MotherboardASRock P67 Pro3 SE LGA 1155, Intel P67 Express PCH$95
ProcessorIntel Core i5-24003.1 GHz (3.4 GHz Max Turbo Boost), Quad-Core, 6 MB Shared L3 Cache$190
CPU CoolerCooler Master Hyper TX3$20
MemoryMushkin Enhanced Redline 8 GB (2 x 4 GB) 240-Pin DDR3-1600 Kit Dual-Channel Desktop Memory Kit$60
GraphicsPowerColor Radeon HD 7970  3 GB GDDR5$560
Hard DriveCrucial m4 64 GB SATA III SSD 64 GB, SATA 6 Gb/s$95
Hard DriveHitachi Deskstar 750 GB 750 GB, 7200 RPM, 32 MB Cache SATA 3Gb/s$100
OpticalSamsung TS-H353C OEMDVD Burner$13
CaseApevia X-Trooper Junior$40
PowerCorsair TX650 V2 650 W ATX12V, EPS12V, 80 PLUS-Certified$90
Total Cost$1263

Prices haven't changed much between the time we ordered our parts and now, although Crucial’s m4 SSD did go up by $5. The original cost of this box ducked in just over our $1250 budget. Now we're slightly north of $1260.