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Bonus: We Build And Test A Budget Gamer's Special

System Builder Marathon: Day 4
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Though not strictly one of our test systems, we thought it would be very, very interesting to see what happens when we put a top-of-the-line Geforce 8800 GTX in our low cost system. Here's why:

One of the hotly debated topics on our forums is whether or not the 8800 GTX is meaningfully bottlenecked by a low-end CPU. The System Builder Marathon offered us the perfect opportunity to put this argument to the test.

So we pitted the mid-range system - a well balanced machine with solid components and an 8800 GTS - against our low-cost system in gaming-only benchmarks. The difference is we'll be trading out the 7600 GT in our low-cost system for a Geforce 8800 GTX! We'll also be using the midrange system's power supply, as the low-cost PC's power supply doesn't have enough PCIe power cables to support the 8800.

We've called the resulting low-cost system with a better PSU and 8800 GTX the 'Budget Gamer's Special'. Here's a list of components and costs vs. the mid-range system:

Budget Gamer's Special Component Costs CPU Athlon X2 3800+ AM2 £60 / €90 CPU Cooler AMD Boxed Cooler 0 Motherboard MSI K9N4 Ultra-F £40 / €60 RAM Wintec AMPO PC2-6400 1GB £50 / €60 Graphics GeForce 8800 GTX £400 / €520 Hard Drive Samsung HD160JJ - P80SD £45 / €50 Sound Onboard Audio 0 Case Coolermaster Centurion 5 £40 / €70 Power AeroCool ZERODBA-S620 £90 / €100 DVD-RW Sony NEC Optiarc Black AD-7170S-0B 18X SATA £20 / €35 Total Price £745 / €985

Mid-Priced PC Component Costs CPU Core 2 Duo E6600 £150 / €200 CPU Cooler Cooler Master Hyper TX £20 / €40 Motherboard MSI P965 Platinum £85 / €125 RAM Patriot eXtreme Performance PDC22G6400LLK £100 / €150 Graphics EVGA GeForce 8800GTS PN: 320-P2-N811-AR £200 / €300 Hard Drive Western Digital Caviar RE2 WD5000YS £100 / €150 Sound Onboard Audio 0 Case SILVERSTONE TEMJIN SST-TJ02SW £73 / €115 Power AeroCool ZERODBA-S620 £90 / €100 DVD-RW Sony NEC Optiarc Black AD-7170S-0B 18X SATA £20 / €35 Total Price £838 / €1,215

At this point, it's hard not to notice that the 8800 GTX's price has put a huge burden on the low-cost PC's price, bringing it much, much closer to the cost of the mid-range system. This lessens the impact of the results, but it'll still be interesting to see what happens.

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