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System Builder Marathon, Q4 2012: $2,000 Performance PC

Case, Cooling, And Power

With much of our budget blown on performance-oriented parts, we're left to split $280 among the system’s case, cooling, and power supply. Overclocking headroom was a big concern, so we started with our favorite $50 cooler and a high-value, high-quality power supply. That left only $85 for the case.

Case: Cooler Master Storm Enforcer

An $85 case budget didn’t mean we had to be cheap, though. Nor did it force us to choose between build quality and cooling. Indeed, we already found a case priced at exactly $85 that surpasses the minimum level of quality and cooling required to make this system a true high-end build.

Read Customer Reviews of Cooler Master's Storm Enforcer

Although we would have preferred an unassuming black box for our highest-priced build, we simply couldn’t argue against the value of Cooler Master’s gaming-themed Storm Enforcer.

Cooling Surprise: Cooler Master Hyper 212 Evo

We selected a top-performing $50 CPU cooler for a build sheet that totaled $2,000, only to watch Newegg deactivate its listing before we could buy it. That's probably for the best if you wouldn't have been able to follow our lead a month later, anyway.

Nevertheless, we contacted the manufacturer to find out when Newegg might be getting more supply, only to discover that Scythe USA would no longer be selling CPU coolers. International customers like Newegg might be able to get theirs from Scythe Taiwan, but not in time to make our deadline.

Read Customer Reviews of Cooler Master's Hyper 212 Evo

Receiving a modest evaluation in Big Air: 14 LGA 2011-Compatible Coolers For Core i7-3000, Reviewed, Cooler Master’s Hyper 212 Evo was the next-best sub-$50 cooler Newegg had available. Using it trimmed $15 from our tally.

Power Supply: Corsair HX750

The reason many enthusiasts recommend oversized power supplies is that many cheaper units can't deliver their full rated output stably or efficiently. But why would anyone want a mediocre power supply? Corsair’s HX750 continuously shows itself capable of reliably supplying its rated capacity, even after several generations of improvements.

Read Customer Reviews of Corsair's HX750 Power Supply

Those improvements have primarily focused on efficiency, and the unit now comes with an 80 PLUS Gold rating that compelled us to choose it over similarly-capable, less-efficient competitors.

  • Novuake
    Yeah, should have gone for an ASRock board at the same price point...
  • Crashman
    NovuakeYeah, should have gone for an ASRock board at the same price point...Maybe, maybe not, motherboard market has changed a little since the parts were bought and I've since seen some D5-series Gigabyte boards (with their better PWM) drop to $ least temporarily.
  • mayankleoboy1
    Too much of cheap CPU coolers
  • For the next SBM build, use the "SAMSUNG 8GB (2 x 4GB) DDR3 1600 (PC3 12800) MV-3V4G3D/US". People are posting low timings with very high frequencies. Plus it is low profile (half the size of every other non-heatsink memory modules on the market) and operates at 1.35v (overvolt it to 1.65v without worry).
  • kj3639
    After building that awful piledriver rig you go ahead and do something like this... and totally REDEEM YOURSELVES!!!

    -Good Job
  • herooftimex
    Suggested changes:

    Core i5 3570k - savings of $120
    2x - MSI N670 PE 2GD5/OC - $800 (gtx 670 OC'd to 1019 core clock)

    Rosewill FORTRESS-750 - $140 (80 plus platinum + 7 year limited warranty)
    LIAN LI PC-7B plus II - $100 (gamer cases look tacky, less is more)
    I think Toms needs a new article: "The Dream Build" with gaming in mind.
  • Darkerson
    kj3639After building that awful piledriver rig you go ahead and do something like this... and totally REDEEM YOURSELVES!!!-Good JobThey really had nothing to redeem themselves about. They went with something a little different, just to try it out. Id rather they go off the beaten path so we can get a better idea of how these builds would turn out without having to buy and build them ourselves.
    Also, if they didnt try something different, they would almost always be cookie-cutter builds until the next big thing came out. No thanks!
    At any rate, this is a really nice build. Have to say, though, I would be happy to win any of these.
  • C12Friedman
    My first thought, I kept going back to it also, was the motherboard, why? I kept going 2nd page, 1st page, 2nd page, back to first page, confusion reigned in my head. Took me a while to get past the second page. But since it was addressed at the end of the article, I guess it's known.
  • One think to consider are both Q3 and Q4 systems future proof. It's important for games and serious task to be able to extend life of your PC and Q4 in this category is certainly penny wise but pound foolish.