System Builder Marathon, December 2008: 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).
- Day 1: The $650 Gaming PC
- Day 2: The $1,250 Mid-Range PC
- Day 3: The $2,500 Enthusiast PC
- Day 4: Performance and Value Dissected
Intel’s Core i7 release schedule forced us to omit the high-priced configuration from November’s System Builder Marathon (SBM), but the intermission gave us time to reevaluate our priorities. With a price of over $4,000, our previous elite-performance systems had become too costly for most enthusiast builders, let alone everyday value-seekers. And so we listened to your comments and dialed our highest-end configuration down a couple of notches.
A better-balanced approach was sought for this month’s SBM, with a high-end budget that would appeal to former $5,000 system builders who, given the realities of today’s economy, might have otherwise looked for an excuse to delay discretionary spending. Manufacturers have obliged with reduced-price versions of their highest-end components, while sellers are cutting deeper into profit margins simply to maintain market share. With a little effort, we’re hoping today’s $2,500 system can leave October’s $4,500 PC as a distant memory of money needlessly squandered.
$2500 High-End System Components
Intel Core i7 920
Vigor Monsoon III LT
EVGA X58 3X SLI (P/N: 132-BL-E758-A)
Super Talent 3GB DDR3-1333 Triple-Channel Kit
3x EVGA GeForce GTX 260 Core 216 Superclocked Edition (SLI)
3x Samsung Spinpoint F1 HD103UJ 1.0 TB
Integrated Gigabit Networking
Cooler Master Stacker 830 Evolution (Black)
Silverstone OP1000 Evolution
LG GGC-H20LK 6X Blu-Ray/HD DVD-ROM, 16X DVD±RW
2x Scythe S-FLEX SFF21F 120 mm 1,600 RPM
2x Rosewill RCW-308 3-pin Fan Extension, 12"
A quick look at its components reveals that our $2,500 system does away with an "overpriced" liquid cooling system found in previous high-end builds, but when it comes to overclocking, extra cooling is often money well spent. We definitely would have chosen high-value liquid cooling components if any well-priced Core i7 water blocks had been available.
Also notice that our $2,500 component list has already dropped by a total of 10% in the two weeks it took us to build and test the system. This bonus value could be spent in many ways or saved for use in future upgrades.
- Upgrading To First Class…On The Cheap
- CPU, CPU Cooler, And RAM
- Motherboard, Graphics, And Hard Drives
- Case, Power, And Optical Drive
- Accessories And Assembly
- Test Settings
- Benchmark Results: First-Person Shooters
- Benchmark Results: Real-Time Strategy
- Benchmark Results: Audio/Video Encoding
- Benchmark Results: Productivity
- Benchmark Results: Synthetics
- Power Consumption