No Small Sacrifice
System Builder Marathon, May 2009: The Articles
Here are links to each of the four articles in this month’s System Builder Marathon (which we'll update 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.
Following up on the portable desktop theme so often suggested for our System Builder Marathons (SBM), this month’s builds all used space-saving Micro-ATX motherboards. Our $600 PC follows the originally-suggested cube design perfectly, while the taller case of the $2,500 machine stays within 2% of the cube design’s volume by being much narrower. Measuring 25% larger than even the $2,500 PC, our $1,250 system attempts to prove the frivolity of tiny cases by applying ATX tower design to the Micro-ATX format.
The largest case in this month’s comparison has room for additional hardware, but budget constraints meant the extra space would be used for nothing more than a larger CPU cooler. Please note that while the $2,500 system’s price list below is based on the Silverstone SG04-H case (recommended for its portability-enhancing carrying handle), that enclosure being out of stock led us to substitute the SG03 shown above.
|System Builder Marathon Components|
|Component||$600 PC||$1,300 PC||$2,500 PC|
|CPU||Intel Pentium E5200||Intel Core i7 920||Intel Core i7 920|
|CPU Cooler||Intel boxed cooler||Xigmatek Dark Knight S1283||Intel boxed cooler|
|Motherboard||ASRock G41M-LE||DFI LANParty Jr X58-T3H6||DFI LANParty Jr X58-T3H6|
|RAM||G.Skill F2-6400CL4D-4GBHK DDR2-800 4.0 GB (2.0 GB x2)||G.Skill 10666CL7T-6GBPK DDR3-1333 6.0 GB (2 GB x3)||Mushkin 998679 DDR3-1600 6.0 GB (2.0 GB x3)|
|Graphics||XFX GeForce GTX 260-216||2 x BFG GeForce GTX 260 OC||2 x EVGA GeForce GTX 295|
|Hard Drive||Seagate 7200.12 500 GB||WD Caviar Black 640 GB||2 x Western Digital RE3 500 GB|
|Sound||Integrated HD Audio||Integrated HD Audio||Integrated HD Audio|
|Networking||Integrated Gigabit LAN||Integrated Gigabit LAN||Integrated Gigabit LAN|
|Chassis||SilverStone Sugo SG01-BF||SilverStone TJ08-B||SilverStone SG04B-H*|
|Power||OCZ Fatal1ty OCZ550FTY||PC Power & Cooling S75QB||Corsair CMPSU-1000HX|
|Optical||LITE-ON iHAS322-08 DVD±RW||LITE-ON iHAS422-08 DVD±RW||LG GGC-H20LK BD/HD-DVD|
The enormous CPU cooler is sure to give the mid-priced system a huge overclocking lead over its high-priced competitor, while the cheapest system relies on its low-wattage processor to keep overclocked temperatures down. With overclocking a big part of today’s value assessment, will the smaller systems remain competitive?