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System Builder Marathon, Sept. 2010: $2000 Performance PC


Hard Drive: Samsung Spinpoint F3 1 TB

With a Newegg price of only $75, Samsung’s model HD103SJ is amazingly inexpensive for a drive that frequently tops our high-capacity-drive performance comparisons.

Read Customer Reviews of Samsung's Spinpoint F3 1 TB

Other options, such as an array of smaller high-performance drives, would have eaten heavily into the budgets of other components, while only generating marginally better results (at best) in our final value analysis. Even faster SSD drives would have put an even bigger dent in system value, since our benchmarks focus on operational performance rather than launch times.

Optical Drive: Lite-On iHAS124

While we hate to leave modern media capabilities out of any high-end system, big price tags on graphics and memory left us only $85 to spend on an optical drive. Rather than fret over the loss of Blu-ray disc reading in our DVD writer, we looked for the best write-speed for the money.

Read Customer Reviews of Lite-On's iHAS124

Four things that made Lite-On’s iHAS124 stand out were its 24x rated writes (maximum), Lite-On’s reputation for having “real world” performance that more closely corresponds to its ratings, the firm’s reputation for dependability, and a low $19 price.

While we couldn’t find a better brand of drive for less than twice the iHAS124’s price, we might have spent an extra $1 to get LightScribe support in the iHAS224, had it been in stock when our order was placed.

Thomas Soderstrom
Thomas Soderstrom is a Senior Staff Editor at Tom's Hardware US. He tests and reviews cases, cooling, memory and motherboards.
  • IzzyCraft
    Love the case choice everything else is pretty much can't really hate it or love it, but i mean you can't really hate any of the parts when they cost that much as they are all good but some just not right for some jobs.
    I do not care for AMD and SLI just because you'll be using an nvidia chipset and my past experiences with them have been poor.
    I also do not care for 6 cores for games although i mostly use my computer for other things which may like those 6 cores, but i don't find too many uses for 2 480's outside of gaming.

    Hopefully the next one will be one i can't help but agree with, A i5-750/760 with 2 460's in sli :D
  • Tamz_msc
    This month's SBM is forgettable.It confirms that AMD+SLI = BIG fail.
  • Tamz_msc
    A better option( without sacrificing GTX 480 SLI) in my opinion is:
    Core i7 950 (add 100$)
    GIGABYTE GA-X58A-UD3R (add 50$)
    GSkill 6GB RAM(subtract 70$)
  • proofhitter
    Big CPU fail. I love your honesty, good one Tom's! Nice try nevertheless. Keep it up!
  • jrharbort
    The lesson here? AMD hexacores are still the best value on the market, but is still unable to keep up with the i7 in overall performance clock for clock. It's sadly not the best choice in high end systems, but it still wont stop me from recomending it to friends interested in sub-$1000 systems.
  • sassan_88
    I dont like systems Based on AMD's chipset
  • jj463rd
    With Sandybridge and Bulldozer just right around the corner I don't think that it makes any sense to build right now with current (especially CPU + motherboard)components.
  • Crashman
    jj463rdWith Sandybridge and Bulldozer just right around the corner I don't think that it makes any sense to build right now with current (especially CPU + motherboard)components.Maybe not...this system was built a couple months ago.
  • makwy2
    Love the honesty. I think this is just shows that a MUCH cheaper AMD chip ($700 less) is close but not quite in true competition with the top of the line Intel chip. I'll stick to my AMD chips because I am not made of money.

    Again, I love the honesty and straight talk TH brings with these bi-monthly features that give system builders a real idea about performance and cost-effective parts.
  • aaron92
    I really do value the AMD Hex vs Intel, 6 cores is already cutting edge and 12 threads is going beyond a desktop computer for this year atleast.