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System Builder Marathon: Day Two

Introduction

Welcome to the second of three articles in our first System Builder Marathon. Yesterday we built and tested a low-priced system. Today it's a mid-priced unit, and tomorrow we'll do an expensive machine. We chose the components for each system based on cost, which as you might expect and will see, is almost always related to performance. We'll discuss our choice of components for each system, and show you how each system performs on a wide range of benchmarks. A fourth article will present a summary of our experiences with the three systems. Each article has a main author, and today that's Thomas Soderstrom.

The System Builder Marathon truly turned out to be a marathon. Our authors put in long, long hours getting the components together, getting them to operate, and then making them work together, benchmarking the systems, creating performance charts and writing up the results. Special thanks to Shelton Romhanyi, who has slept very little over the last week due to performing and re-doing the tests for this article.

Of course, knowing Tom's Hardware enthusiasts, we're looking forward to a healthy dissection of our choices on the forums. So read the article, and have at it...

Are Better Parts Really Worth The Extra Money?

As technologies fall from high end to budget status, there's a place in the middle where they tend to "stick" for a few months. The tendency of mid-priced components to stay within their markets longer than high-end parts is still no assurance against future demands, however. Rather, the typical builder should find these "useful" for up to three years, as they work their way down into secondary systems. To add more perspective, today's midrange system should provide similar performance to low-end systems produced around 18 months from now.

Our mid-range system uses a SilverStone Temjin TJ02 case.

We used Tom's Hardware's component testing numbers to select most of the parts for this build, with a few parts selected "by committee" - that is, in a collaboration among several contributors. The result is a high-value, mid-priced system that should please the majority of performance enthusiasts.

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Thomas Soderstrom
Thomas Soderstrom is a Senior Staff Editor at Tom's Hardware US. He tests and reviews cases, cooling, memory and motherboards.