Getting Ahead Of The Curve
Here’s a list of the System Builder Marathon (SBM) articles in this five day series.
- Day 1 : The Low-Cost PC
- Day 2 : The Mid-Cost PC
- Day 3 : The High-Cost PC
- Day 4 : All Three SBM PCs Overclocked
- Day 5 : Summary - The Price/Performance Winner
The toughest part about building a system within a $4,000 hardware budget is that there are simply too many good parts to choose from. Many upper-range components typically offer similar performance, yet there isn’t enough money to waste resources on frivolous things such as custom-painted cases and gold-plated heat sinks. Our selections have to stand up in light of this marathon’s Day 5 value comparison, and this also has to be a system that anyone proficient with a screwdriver can replicate.
From the outside, our high-end build certainly looks like a performance player, but looks can be deceiving. In order to determine its true worth, we’re going to treat it just as critically as we would any pre-built system with similar specifications. We’ll also detail the rationale behind each selected component, which should reduce the amount of hate mail we get that always begins with "Why didn’t you choose (a different part)" and ends with an insult to our collective intelligence.
Our build sheet certainly looks much like those of certain boutique builders, but notice that the final cost is in line with a "next model down" pre-built. (Compare Prices on Core 2 Extreme QX9650)
|March 2008 SBM High-End PC Component Cost|
|CPU||Intel Core 2 Extreme QX9650||$1060|
|CPU Cooler||Swiftech H20-120 Compact Cooler KitSwiftech MCR220 2x120mm RadiatorSilverstone RADSUPPORT09Swiftech Chrome 3/8-Inch Fittings, 2-packSwiftech Plastic Hose Clamps, 4-pack2x Swiftech 3/8-Inch Neoprene Tubing Packs2x Scythe S-Flex SFF21E 120mm Fan||1403615562630|
|Motherboard||Asus Striker II Formula||320|
|RAM||Crucial Ballistix DDR2 800 PC2-6400 - 4 GB||100|
|Graphics||2x Gigabyte GeForce 8800GTX - GV-NX88X768H-RH||840|
|Hard Drive||2x Western Digital Caviar WD7500AAKS||300|
|Sound||Asus SupremeFX II Riser Card||0|
|Case||Silverstone Temjin TJ09BW||270|
|Power||Coolermaster RS850-EMBA 850W||200|
|DVD-RW||Toshiba Samsung Storage Technology SH-203B||28|
|Auxiliary Fan||Antec SpotCool Motherboard Cooling Fan||15|
|Floppy Drive||NEC 1.44 MB Floppy Drive||9|
Nobody said we had to spend all of the money, and we simply couldn’t think of any performance additions that wouldn’t have killed this system’s value. If we didn’t already have our own software and peripherals we could even spend the remaining money on a 24" monitor, keyboard, mouse, and operating system. A great deal of this build’s budget is dedicated to the cooling system, but we’re looking forward to the payoff from that in our Day 4 overclocking comparison.
Because this build’s cooling system is so elaborate, a detailed component installation guide accompanies today’s component descriptions and benchmarks. Let’s take a closer look.