Hot Tips For A Cool System–Or Vice Versa?
System Builder Marathon, May 2009: 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 $2,500 Performance PC
- Day 2: The $1,300 Enthusiast PC
- Day 3: The $600 Gaming PC
- Day 4: Performance and Value Dissected
The SBM contest is live! Enter to win one of our three systems right here.
Tom’s Hardware looks to your feedback in article planning. One of the most frequent of many System Builder Marathon (SBM) themes you’ve proposed in our comments section is that of the “gaming cube,” and that's why all three of this month's configurations attempt to maximize the performance potential available with portable enclosures.
Forget the term small form-factor cases (SFF) when thinking of Micro-ATX cubes, since “form factors” are dimensional standards that apply to internal components. SFF originated with the two-slot designs of Shuttle barebones PCs, so the insistence of some manufacturers on using the term to describe much larger and completely incompatible Micro-ATX parts only serves to confuse inexperienced builders.
With portability our first priority, we tried to stuff as many high-end parts as our budget would allow into the most portable Micro-ATX case we could find. Here’s what we came up with:
|$2,500 Portable PC Performance Parts Prices|
|Motherboard||DFI LANParty Jr X58-T3H6 Micro-ATX Intel X58/ICH10R, LGA1366||$220|
|Processor||Intel Core i7-920 Four Cores, 2.66 GHz, 8 MB Cache||$289|
|Memory||Mushkin 998679 6.0 GB DDR3-1600 3x 2.0 GB, CAS 7-8-7-20, 1.65 V||$138|
|Graphics||2 x EVGA GeForce GTX 295 in SLI 1,792 MB GDDR3-2000 Per Card 576 MHz GPU, 1,242 MHz Shader||$1,058|
|Hard Drives||2 x Western Digital RE3 WD50002ABYS (RAID 0) 500 GB, 7200 RPM, 16 MB Cache SATA 3.0 Gb/s||$180|
|Optical||LG GGC-H20LK Blu-ray Disk/HD-DVD ROM 6x BRD, 3x HD-DVD ROM, 16x DVD±R||$100|
|Case||Silverstone SG04B-H Micro-ATX Mini-Tower||$170|
|Power||Corsair CMPSU-1000HX Modular 1,000 W ATX12V 2.2, EPS12V 2.91, 80-Plus Certified||$240|
|Intake Fans||2 x Scythe S-Flex SFF21F 120 mm, 1,600 RPM, 63.7 CFM at 28.0 dBA||$28|
|Exhaust Fan||Silverstone RL-FX121 Cross Flow Blower 3,000 RPM, 14 CFM at 26 dBA||$17|
|Total Cost||$ 2,440|
While we stick to the above price list as our recommended configuration, a serious shortage of GeForce GTX 295 boards forced us to buy the only model in stock at ordering time, resulting in some visually-different but functionally-identical replacement products. We’re fairly certain that the lucky winner of today’s build will be pleased with the overall result.
Ed.: Wait, what was that? The lucky winner? That's right folks. We're going to be giving away this system, plus the two machines to follow tomorrow and the day after. Once the SBM series has run its course this week, look for a contest page to go up on the front page of the site. You'll need to answer one question about each of our configurations and will then be entered into a drawing for one of this month's three SBM builds!