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System Builder Marathon: $1,250 Mid-Range PC

Motherboard, Cooler, And Memory

Motherboard: Gigabyte GA-EP45-UD3LR

Since the Core 2 Quad is a bit more expensive than the E8500, we needed to consider cheaper motherboard options to stay in the fight. This isn't such a bad thing, as Intel's P45 chipset has proven to be both fast, flexible, inexpensive, and a good overclocker.

Read Customer Reviews of Gigabyte's GA-EP45-UD3LR

We chose Gigabyte's GA-EP45-UD3LR because it is a no-frills motherboard that offers more-than-adequate performance, reliability, and BIOS options. While there isn't a huge list of extras, what the board does offer is solid basics like reliable long-life capacitors and a good amount of tweakable BIOS options for the overclocker. We're giving up CrossFire compatibility, but with awesome cards like the 4870 X2 and GTX 295, the GA-EP45-UD3LR will be able to hold its own in the gaming arena.

Cooler : Xigmatek HDT-S1283 and ACK-I7751 Retention Bracket

Read Customer Reviews of Xigmatek HDT-S1283

Xigmatek’s reasonably-priced HDT-S1283 served us very well in our E8500 overclocking experience. It has more work to do when cooling a quad-core processor like the Q9550, but it's relatively inexpensive and comes with its own cooling fan unlike some of its competitors. With the budget so close this time around, every little bit counts, so we're sticking with the HDT-S1283. Of course, we will once again pay a little extra for the ACK-I7751 retention bracket to help keep the large cooler in place.

Memory: 4 GB G.SKILL HK DDR2-800

Read Customer Reviews of G.Skill's 4 GB HK DDR2-800 Kit

You have to love DDR2 memory prices lately–G.Skill offers 4 GB of its HK memory in a dual-channel kit for only $50. This is not cheap stuff as the 4-4-4-12 timings will attest to.

Since we're sticking with 32-bit Vista to keep things on a level playing field when comparing our latest build to the previous months' systems, 4 GB should be more than enough.

  • johnyeah
    I just checked, I was wondering if the HD 4850 x2 (2x1gb) was a better choice at only $240? That would cut the cost by an additional.
    Reply
  • xx12amanxx
    Phenom 2 940 is 40$ dollars cheaper overclock's to 3.7-3.9 on air runs cooler and performs the same. Not sure why you went with an equal performing lower overclocking higher power using and almost 40$ more expensive cpu.
    Reply
  • Tindytim
    You're $96 under budget, but you couldn't splurge on a better case?

    Unless you made a Typo on one of those prices, they all add up to the 1154 total. So why are you so under budget?
    Reply
  • Crashman
    xx12amanxxPhenom 2 940 is 40$ dollars cheaper overclock's to 3.7-3.9 on air runs cooler and performs the same. Not sure why you went with an equal performing lower overclocking higher power using and almost 40$ more expensive cpu.
    Can't use a processor that doesn't exist. They weren't on the market when the parts were ordered...what, you thought these articles were produced overnight?

    TindytimYou're $96 under budget, but you couldn't splurge on a better case?Unless you made a Typo on one of those prices, they all add up to the 1154 total. So why are you so under budget?
    Prices dropped after the parts were ordered: The same thing happens to EVERY builder, the system loses value almost as soon as you can click the "buy" icon.
    Reply
  • Tindytim
    CrashmanPrices dropped after the parts were ordered: The same thing happens to EVERY builder, the system loses value almost as soon as you can click the "buy" icon.Wait, wait, wait.

    You mention that in the $625 article, but those were the prices at purchase. Why the inconsistency?
    Reply
  • Crashman
    TindytimWait, wait, wait.You mention that in the $625 article, but those were the prices at purchase. Why the inconsistency?
    Ask the author of the other article? I only know that the more expensive a part is, the more money you loose when the price drops.
    Reply
  • maxwellsmart_80
    *SIGH* Yet ANOHTER "Intel System Build Marathon" machine...just kidding - I understand what you are saying about the Phenom II 940 not being available at the time of component purchase - It would be nice to see some AMD in next months articles though!

    P.S. - you were under budget, why not go w/ the Antec Three Hundred Case - it's 1000% nicer than the Rosewill Piece 'o Junk you picked, and would have cooled your Overclock a lot better IMHO...just a thought - it's a killer case for the money - have you ever used it in a system build?
    Reply
  • yellowfever
    This is my first time commenting on any article at Tom's after reading everyday for 6+ years, but seeing the UD3LR motherboard pick instead of the equally priced UD3R ($2 more after rebate) or UD3P($12 more after rebate) is ridiculous for a computer hardware website. Both boards would let you do 24/7 clocks of 4+ at decent voltages on air for an E0 stepping Q9550. Gigabyte isn't going to iron out bios wrinkles on their cheapest UD3, don't forget even the UD3R was easilly beaten in stability against the UD3P until two to three months ago when better bioses started popping up. Maybe it's late, but some strange hardware gets picked on this site to save $12.
    Reply
  • SlyNine
    I would have thought your OC would have been more limited by the 4pin CPU Power on the motherboard
    Reply
  • _horse
    Im diggin' the build here, regardless of newer hardware being available later, and prices dropping after purchase.

    Suggestion: Why not split these articles up into two forms? Why not submit an "initial/at time of order" article and have that listed first to let people argue, then do all the benchmarking and submit a followup article later, attached to the initial article?

    People can still bicker over price range and stuff before the benchmarks even come out, that way you know what/when the article is being based off of.

    I know, Im the new guy and Im probably spitting in to the wind here, but...

    :)

    -Horse
    Reply