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System Builder Marathon, Sept. 2011: System Value Compared

System Builder Marathon, Sept. 2011: System Value Compared
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System Builder Marathon, September 2011: The Articles

Here are links to each of the four articles in this month’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 Google 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

Every three months, our top builders face off in a competition that usually looks a lot like the one that preceded it. This quarter was different, though.

While the builders collaborated on many of the hardware decisions that went into past System Builder Marathons, all three went autonomous this time around. The end result was machines that looked a lot different from their predecessors in more ways than we'd expect.

Sure, they look similar. But as many mothers tell us, "it's what's on the inside that counts.” Both the $2000 and $1000 PCs shifted toward Nvidia graphics from the long-favored AMD parts, while the $500 machine re-adopts an AMD processor after exploring what it'd be like to center on an unoverclockable Intel part. 

Q3 2011 System Builder Marathon Components
 $2000 Performance PC$1000 Enthusiast PC$500 Gaming PC
MotherboardGigabyte GA-Z68XP-UD3: LGA 1155 Intel Z68 ExpressEVGA P67 Micro SLI
LGA 1155, Intel P67 chipset
ASRock M3A770DE
Socket AM3, AMD 770
Graphics2 x EVGA 015-P3-1580-AR: GeForce GTX 580 SLI2 x EVGA 01G-P3-1370-TR: GeForce GTX 460 1 GB SLISapphire 100314-3L: Radeon HD 6870 1 GB
ProcessorIntel Core i7-2600K: 3.4-3.8 GHz, 8 MB L3 CacheIntel Core i5-2500K: 3.3-3.7 GHz, 6 MB L3 CacheAMD Phenom II X4 955 BE: 3.2 GHz, 6 MB L3 Cache
MemoryG.Skill F3-14900CL9D-8GBXL: DDR3-1866 C9, 4 GB x2 (8 GB)Mushkin Redline 997013: DDR3-1600 C7, 2 GB x2 (4 GB)Crucial CT2KIT25664BA1339: DDR3-1333 C9, 2 x 2 GB (4 GB)
System DriveAdata S511 120 GB, SATA 6Gb/s SSDOCZ Vertex 30 GB, SATA 3Gb/s SSDSeagate Barracuda ST500DM002 500 GB HDD
Storage DriveWestern Digital Caviar Green WD20EARS 2 TB, 7200 RPM HDDWestern Digital Caviar Black WD7502AAEX 750 GB, 7200 RPM HDDSingle Drive (above)
OpticalLite-On iHAS224-06: 24x DVD±R 8x DVD+RW 6x DVD-RWSony AD-7260S-0B: 24x DVD±R 8x DVD+RW 6x DVD-RWSamsung SH-222AB: 22x DVD±R 8x DVD+RW 6x DVD-RW
CaseAntec Three Hundred IllusionRaidmax Atlas-295WBNZXT Gamma GAMA-001BK
PowerSeasonic SS-850HT: 850 W, ATX12V v2.31, 80 PLUS SilverCorsair CX600 V2: 600 W ATX12V v2.3, 80 PLUSAntec EarthWatts EA430D: 430 W, ATX12V 2.3, 80 PLUS Bronze
CPU CoolerCooler Master Hyper 212 Plus RR-B10-212P-G1Cooler Master Hyper TX3AMD boxed heatsink/fan
Total Cost$2016 $1032 $519


Another big change was the $1000 machine’s addition of an SSD, which is far smaller than the benchmark set it’s meant to represent. And yet, Don still used it to run all of the benchmarks. We’ll figure out a way to account for that small issue in our final value results.

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