System Builder Marathon, March 2011: $2000 Bonus Build

System Builder Marathon, March 2011: The Articles

Here are links to each of the five 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 $2,000 Performance PC
Day 2: The $1,000 Enthusiast PC
Day 3: The $500 Gaming PC
Day 4: Performance And Value, Dissected
Day 5: Tom's Hand-Picked SuperCombo


So satisfied were we in our initial System Builder Marathon machines that it was difficult to find a “replacement” for this month’s hand-picked build. Yet careful consideration for Intel’s P67 re-launch and AMD’s Radeon HD 6970 price drop forced us to consider alternatives anyway. The Radeon HD 6970 offers both higher clock speeds and a greater number of shaders for improved game performance compared to the original $2000 build’s Radeon HD 6950s, and best value pricing came from MSI.

Yet, even at the reduced price, the graphics upgrade would still force us to economize on some other part of the PC. We still liked the rest of our original build too much to sacrifice any of it, so motherboard manufacturers made the decision for us. MSI’s P67A-GD65 (B3) was the only CrossFire-capable LGA 1155 motherboard at Newegg by the second week of this month, and this part would save us $90 compared to the NF200-equipped model it replaced.

Graphics lane width would drop from x16 to x8 mode for each of our cards, but that couldn’t hurt much could it? The rest of our machine appeared the same, after all.

$2000 PC Components
 "Hand Picked" BuildOriginal $2000 PC
MotherboardMSI P67A-GD65 (B3): LGA 1155, Intel P67 ExpressAsus P8P67 WS Revolution: LGA 1155, Intel P67 Express
Graphics2 x MSI R6970-2PM2D2GD5: Radeon HD 6970 2 GB, CrossFire2 x XFX HD-695A-CNFC: Radeon HD 6950 2 GB, CrossFire
ProcessorIntel Core i7-2600K: 3.4 GHz-3.8 GHz, 8 MB Shared L3 Cache
MemoryG.Skill F3-12800CL8D-8GBXM: DDR3-1600 C8, 4 GB x 2 (8 GB)
System Drive2 x A-Data S599 64 GB, SATA 3Gb/s SSD
Storage DriveSamsung F3 HD103SJ 1 TB, 7200 RPM HDD
OpticalLite-On iHBS212 BD-RE: 12x BD-R, 24x DVD±R, 48x CD-R
CaseAntec Three Hundred Illusion
PowerSeasonic SS-850HT: 850 W, ATX12V v2.31, 80 PLUS Silver
Heat SinkScythe Mugen 2 Rev. B (SCMG-2100)
  $1,959  $1,975
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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!!