Upgrading To First Class…On The Cheap
System Builder Marathon, December 2008: The Articles
Here are links to each of the four articles in this month’s System Builder Marathon (we’ll update them as each story is published).
- Day 1: The $650 Gaming PC
- Day 2: The $1,250 Mid-Range PC
- Day 3: The $2,500 Enthusiast PC
- Day 4: Performance and Value Dissected
Intel’s Core i7 release schedule forced us to omit the high-priced configuration from November’s System Builder Marathon (SBM), but the intermission gave us time to reevaluate our priorities. With a price of over $4,000, our previous elite-performance systems had become too costly for most enthusiast builders, let alone everyday value-seekers. And so we listened to your comments and dialed our highest-end configuration down a couple of notches.
A better-balanced approach was sought for this month’s SBM, with a high-end budget that would appeal to former $5,000 system builders who, given the realities of today’s economy, might have otherwise looked for an excuse to delay discretionary spending. Manufacturers have obliged with reduced-price versions of their highest-end components, while sellers are cutting deeper into profit margins simply to maintain market share. With a little effort, we’re hoping today’s $2,500 system can leave October’s $4,500 PC as a distant memory of money needlessly squandered.
|$2500 High-End System Components|
|CPU||Intel Core i7 920||$285|
|CPU Cooler||Vigor Monsoon III LT||$60|
|Motherboard||EVGA X58 3X SLI (P/N: 132-BL-E758-A)||$300|
|RAM||Super Talent 3GB DDR3-1333 Triple-Channel Kit||$79|
|Graphics||3x EVGA GeForce GTX 260 Core 216 Superclocked Edition (SLI)||$780|
|Hard Drives||3x Samsung Spinpoint F1 HD103UJ 1.0 TB||$300|
|Network||Integrated Gigabit Networking||0|
|Case||Cooler Master Stacker 830 Evolution (Black)||$180|
|Power||Silverstone OP1000 Evolution||$200|
|Optical||LG GGC-H20LK 6X Blu-ray/HD DVD-ROM, 16X DVD±RW||$115|
|Additional Fans||2x Scythe S-FLEX SFF21F 120 mm 1,600 RPM||$31|
|Fan Accessories||2x Rosewill RCW-308 3-pin Fan Extension, 12"||$2|
A quick look at its components reveals that our $2,500 system does away with an "overpriced" liquid cooling system found in previous high-end builds, but when it comes to overclocking, extra cooling is often money well spent. We definitely would have chosen high-value liquid cooling components if any well-priced Core i7 water blocks had been available.
Also notice that our $2,500 component list has already dropped by over 7% in the two weeks it took us to build and test the system. This bonus value could be spent in many ways or saved for use in future upgrades.