Page 1:System Builder Marathon: $1,000 Enthusiast System
Page 2:CPU, Motherboard, And Cooler
Page 3:Video Cards, Power Supply, And Case
Page 4:Memory, Hard Drive, And Optical Drive
Page 5:Assembly, Overclocking, And Core Unlocking
Page 6:Test System And Benchmarks
Page 7:Benchmark Results: Synthetics
Page 8:Benchmark Results: Media Encoding
Page 9:Benchmark Results: 2D And 3D Graphics
Page 10:Benchmark Results: Productivity
Page 11:Benchmark Results: Crysis And CoD: Modern Warfare 2
Page 12:Benchmark Results: DiRT 2 And S.T.A.K.L.E.R.: Call Of Pripyat
Page 13:Power And Temperature Benchmarks
Video Cards, Power Supply, And Case
Video Cards: 2 x Radeon HD 5830 in CrossFire
Choosing a pair of Radeon HD 5830s is our most controversial decision for this build, and we don’t make it lightly. There are a lot of other great options sitting at the same price or cheaper than the $480 we spent on these cards, so let’s spend some time talking about the mechanics of our decision.
Our favorite choice would have been a pair of Radeon HD 5850 cards, but there’s simply no way to fit the $600 price tag into our $1,000 budget. With that off of the table, we considered a single Radeon HD 5870 or a dual Radeon HD 4890 setup. Past experience has shown us that dual Radeon HD 4890 cards will easily best a single Radeon HD 5870, so we leaned toward the CrossFire solution.
Radeon HD 4890s are getting somewhat rare though, and we’ve been there and done that a number of times now. We’d prefer to try something new, so we went ahead and spent an extra $80 on a couple of Radeon HD 5830 cards. This is where the water gets muddy, as the $480 price tag is within spitting distance of the new GeForce GTX 480, although the new Nvidia card was extremely difficult to find and more expensive when we placed our Newegg order.
In the end, our curiosity got the best of us, and we feel that a couple of Radeon HD 5830s have a better shot against the dual Radeon HD 5850s in the $1,500 SBM machine we're up against.
The specific model we chose was the cheapest available at the time of ordering, $240 each—potentially $220 with a $20 mail-in rebate: Gigabyte’s R583UD-1GD.
On a final note, Radeon HD 5830 cards can now be had for as low as $220 online, a much more palpable price point for the Radeon HD 5830.
Power Supply: Corsair CMPSU-650TX
We’re fans of the Corsair CMPSU-750TX, but we have to admit that the power it offers is probably overkill for all but the most demanding builds. With a smaller budget, we have to cut back where it makes sense, and this means we’ll opt for the 750TX’s little brother, the CMPSU-650TX.
Not to worry, though. Since we have a 52A 12V rail and CrossFire certification, we don’t expect to have any problems. Frankly, the 650TX might even be a little more than we need for the $1,000 machine. But for $90, we can live with the extravagance.
PC Case: Antec Three Hundred
Antec’s budget enthusiast case is ideal for our purposes because it offers what we’re looking for from an enclosure for a very reasonable price. This is precisely what we need with our lower price target, and at $60, we have no complaints.
- System Builder Marathon: $1,000 Enthusiast System
- CPU, Motherboard, And Cooler
- Video Cards, Power Supply, And Case
- Memory, Hard Drive, And Optical Drive
- Assembly, Overclocking, And Core Unlocking
- Test System And Benchmarks
- Benchmark Results: Synthetics
- Benchmark Results: Media Encoding
- Benchmark Results: 2D And 3D Graphics
- Benchmark Results: Productivity
- Benchmark Results: Crysis And CoD: Modern Warfare 2
- Benchmark Results: DiRT 2 And S.T.A.K.L.E.R.: Call Of Pripyat
- Power And Temperature Benchmarks