System Builder Marathon, March 2011: $2000 Bonus Build

Value Conclusion

Though today’s system did not provide the advanced performance we sought in the majority of tests, it did very well where it was expected to. That is, its high-resolution gaming capabilities were noticeably improved. Small losses in a few other benchmarks offset its lower cost, ending in a value match between systems.

Yet, high-resolution gaming was the only place we really wanted the extra performance. Comparing price only to 2560x1600 gaming performance gives us a different value perspective.

Choosing a cheaper motherboard and more expensive graphics cards allowed us to find targeted gains in high-end gaming, but there were some sacrifices. For example, the previous motherboard supported four-way CrossFire (three-way with our case limitations), while the new board would be limited to two-way CrossFire. The new motherboard’s memory overclocking capability was also slightly inferior, leading to small performance losses in various other tests.

While we were completely satisfied with our original $2000 PC and only mildly disappointed with the Hand-Picked Build, we still would like to recommend the latter, especially for our gaming audience. Though it might have been a tough choice in light of today’s test results, the fact that some components of our original build are popular, and hard to keep stocked, made this one an easy pick.

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  • jckpalmer
    I originally joined Toms Hardware Shed to post on the forum, looking for someone to help me with the new i7 technology and find a perfect system.

    I posted in the Forum, I didn't get any replies. I think now I see why this was.

    Everything I need is here! This is a great article / guide, it's informative and precise, it answers my questions on a technical level I "just about" understand. Your component choice and explanation to why your using each choice is also very insightful and useful!

    One of the area's I'm now trying to explore which is quite new to me is SDD's. I notice in this set up your using a SATA Drive and 2 x SDD's.

    (I haven't read last months post yet, which I will now) If my query isn't addressed there, can you please tell me;

    What are your reasons behind having 2 x SSD drives rather than 1 larger drive i.e. a 96GB or 128GB Drive from Kingston which would cost around the same money as you've spent.


    Why have you not suggested alternatives like a Hybrid Drive (SSD/SATA) like the "Seagate 250GB Momentus XT 2.5" Hybrid HDD/SSD - SATA-II 7200rpm 32MB Cache - OEM" which I've researched and noticed exceptional speeds (VERY close to SSD Speeds) yet are much cheaper.

    Anyway, thank you for the post, your site has been my bible these last few days and I'm rekindling my love for this stuff! Each post leads me wanting to read the next!

    I look forward to your answer eagerly, kind regards, John
  • jckpalmer
    P.S. Can you direct me to recent "Sandy Bridge" Silent PC build or suggest way's I can almost silence a build like this?

    My CPU heatsink and Memory are already installed it doesn't matter, I'm using the stock HeatSink at present so in an ideal world if there's no post's you can direct me to, can I ask;

    What would be a good way to silence this build...How can I reduce the noise?

    Would it be:

    Hard Drives
    CPU Fan
    Chassis Fans

    making the most noise in this build at this point?

    I'm asking this as my next purchase "ASAP" is going to be Case, I wanted something a little sexier than the case you've chosen but something also "very quiet"...

    So am I wasting my time looking, should I be instead thinking of water cooling, a Zalman Solution or another area of the build like the PSU?

    I'd like to mention that I understand I'll need to pay more to achieve this, I am willing to add more funds but would still like to be realistic and economical.

    Many Thanks!!