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System Builder Marathon, June 2012: $1000 Enthusiast PC

A $1000 PC With Radeon HD 7970 Graphics?

System Builder Marathon, June 2012: The Articles

Here are links to each of the four articles in this quarter’s System Builder Marathon (we’ll update them as each story is published). And remember, these systems are all being given away at the end of the marathon.

To enter the giveaway, please fill out this SurveyGizmo form, and be sure to read the complete rules before entering!

Day 1: The $2000 Performance PC
Day 2: The $1000 Enthusiast PC
Day 3: The $500 Gaming PC
Day 4: Performance And Value, Dissected

Introduction

Although we have a proclivity for Intel's Core i5-2500K in our mid-range System Builder Marathon build, we gave the Core i5-2400 a shot last quarter and put the extra room in our budget to use on an AMD Radeon HD 7970. Unfortunately, our top-rated motherboard had some issues, and our dual-channel memory kit would only run in single-channel mode.

We got a new motherboard into the machine before shipping it off to our lucky contest winner, but we didn't have enough time to run it through our complete benchmark suite first. As a result, we're revisiting the Core i5-2400/Radeon HD 7970 combo this quarter in order to see if the fully-functional configuration offers anything over the problematic arrangement it replaces.

Additionally, we decided to drop out budget this time around, so the mainstream enthusiast PC's limit is down from $1250 to $1000, leaving you that $250 difference for a display or peripherals.

With Nvidia's GeForce GTX 680 perpetually out of stock and the GeForce GTX 670 not yet available when our parts order went in, we thought this would be a good opportunity to gauge how much performance would be compromised if we stripped the SSD, aftermarket cooler, and some memory in an effort to get very powerful hardware into our new budget ceiling.

$1250 Enthusiast System Components
MotherboardGigabyte GA-P67X-UD3-B3 LGA 1155, Intel P67 Express PCH$120
ProcessorIntel Core i5-24003.1 GHz (3.4 GHz Max Turbo Boost), Quad-Core, 6 MB Shared L3 Cache$190
MemoryAMD Performance Edition 4 GB (2 x 2 GB) DDR3-1600 Dual-Channel Desktop Memory Kit$34
GraphicsSapphire Radeon HD 7970 OC  3 GB GDDR5$480
Hard DriveSeagate Barracuda 750 GB 750 GB, 7200 RPM, 32 MB Cache, SATA 3Gb/s$80
OpticalLG GH22NS90B 22x OEMDVD Burner$18
CaseLogisys Optimus II$42
PowerCorsair CX600 V2 600 W ATX12V, EPS12V, 80 PLUS-Certified$70
Total Cost$1034

When we placed our order, prices on all of these components landed us right at $1006. But they've gone up a bit since then ($7 on the case, $1 on the DVD burner, and $20 on the graphics card), landing us at $1034. Overall, we still think this one's still pretty close to an attractive price point.