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System Builder Marathon, December 2010: $2000 PC

CPU And Memory

CPU: Intel Core i7-950

Intel’s Core i7-950 was priced only $10 higher than its i7-930, yet it carries a rated speed of 3.06 GHz compared to the cheaper processor’s 2.80 GHz. That sounds like a high-value upgrade to us!

Read Customer Reviews of Intel's Core i7-950

The base multiplier for the i7-950 jumps up to 23x (compared to the i7-930’s 21x multiplier), opening up a few more options when it comes to overclocking. And speaking of overclocking, the process of speed-binning—where a manufacturer determines which CPU runs best at higher speeds—means that we’re more likely to get a “good” overclock from this higher-rated part.

DRAM: Mushkin Essentials 998586

The best overclocking-value memory we’ve tested over the past two years have all used Micron’s D9KPT chips, but we’ve also found that these particular chips work slightly better without heat spreaders. That lead us to use Crucial’s bare modules (at least until the company raised its prices to the point where competing brands were far cheaper). So, imagine our surprise when we found this at Newegg:

Yes, Newegg was carrying the same Micron D9KPT chips, on the same Micron circuit boards, under a different brand, at a 40% lower price. Epic win, right? We placed our order pronto, and a few days later this is what we received:

Read Customer Reviews of Mushkin's 6 GB DDR3-1333 Kit

The part number on the chips corresponds to Hynix commodity-grade memory, parts that are so ordinary that the manufacturer didn’t even bother to put its brand on them. This is certain to put a crimp in our overclocking plans.

Not only are these far lower-grade than the parts we expected from Mushkin, but they’re organized completely differently, with twice the density. That means a module from the current part number 998586 set can’t even be mixed in multichannel mode with a module from the previous 998586 set, even though both carry the same part number. We realize that both versions of this model number are only guaranteed to be stable at the same 1.50 V, DDR3-1333 and lowly 9-9-9-24 timings, but shouldn’t cross-compatibility for modules of the same part number also be guaranteed? For shame Mushkin, for shame…

  • amk09
    The link to enter the giveaway doesn't work!

    I would love to be first to enter :)
    Reply
  • micr0be
    i think im gona get a revo 2 drive ssd to upgrade my current build.... all thanks to santa !!
    Reply
  • Tamz_msc
    Its good to know that choosing the wrong memory can affect performance in such a way.
    Reply
  • fstrthnu
    I'm pretty surprised we didn't see Geforce GTX 570s in this build, I guess they got released too late to make it here.
    Reply
  • fstrthnu
    >> First time in recent memory
    "Cough Cough" Lame Pun
    Reply
  • jerreece
    Wow that Mushkin memory really jacked up this benchmark.
    Reply
  • kkiddu
    Most perfect build ever ? Just read the configs yet, and I think that's a possibility.

    Now don't skin me if the config proves to be a flop in the coming pages. Just read the first page and couldn't resist a comment.
    Reply
  • hemburger
    Why not replace the two ssd's with a single intel 120gb... same price and now on 35nm
    Reply
  • kkiddu
    I think this one can be trimmed to a very good $1500 build as well. Change the CPU to i5 760, remove one of the cards, one of the SSDs, and you'll need lower capacity PSU for that, let's slash $30-$50 there, you get a very good PC for $1500.
    Reply
  • kkiddu
    And oh, cheapen the case as well. There's no free lunch. You gotta sacrifice some silence to gains some frame rates.
    Reply