System Builder Marathon, Q1 2013: $1,600 Alternative PC

Case, SSD, Hard Drive, And Optical Drive

Just Chasing After Some Finer Day…

Case: Fractal Design Define R4

We pick our own components, but those selections are subject to availability, just like they are for you in the real world. That explains why every Tahiti LE-based graphics card in our System Builder Marathon comes from PowerColor, and why I went with the windowed version of the award-winning Fractal Design Define R4.

Read Customer Reviews of Fractal Design's Define R4


Many readers love windows. But my goal was to achieve the optimal balance of quietness and cooling. The window on this chassis eliminates one of the noise-dampening mats we'd normally get in the non-windowed version. Fortunately, quiet fans and optimized vent placement mean that this Fractal Design case is still going to be pleasantly silent.

SSD: Mushkin Chronos Deluxe MKNSSDCR240GB-DX

Read Customer Reviews of Mushkin's 240 GB MKNSSDCR240GB-DX


The 240 GB Chronos Deluxe served as the sole drive in my $1,000 performance-oriented PC. But most folks also need a data drive, too. Our SSD will host the operating system and applications, while documents, music, and movies are stored elsewhere.

Hard Drive: Western Digital WD1002FAEX

Read Customer Reviews of Western Digital's WD1002FAEX Hard Drive


Western Digital’s Caviar Black 1 TB drive was an easy choice for me because it wasn't really mine. We've had a number of readers ask for Western Digital's Black-series drives for holding their user data, and of course we're willing to oblige.

This move became even easier when Western Digital updated its drive configuration from the former 32 MB cache and SATA 3Gb/s interface (FALS) to the current 64 MB, SATA 6Gb/s (FAEX) version.

Optical Drive: Asus DRW-24B1ST

Read Customer Reviews of Asus' DRW-24B1ST


I have low expectations of DVD writers; I only want to believe that on the rare occasion I use mine, it’s going to work. Asus’ DRW-24B1ST gets top ratings from Newegg customers, I’ve never experienced a failed Asus drive, and this unit even gives us the bonus of 24x writes.

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  • mi1ez
    Quote:
    ASRock defaults DDR3-2133 memory to 1.5665 V. Add in the 1% over-voltage we’ve been seeing nearly every board vendor sneak in over the past several product cycles, and we come up to around 1.68 V.


    1.5665 + 1% = 1.582165
  • Steveymoo
    Nice, this is a well balanced build! That's a good bit of troubleshooting you did there as well - I always wondered whether the super heavy CPU coolers would cause any problems, especially when you move the case around. I always worry that the large heatsink could sheer off when I have to transport my computer to a new flat.

    Better be careful y'all!
  • spentshells
    Brutal.......

    get a normal cooler Cm212 or even a CM tx4 and spend that other 50 bucks on some better cards. 7950's should be a minimum for a build of 1600
  • Anonymous
    Could've gone for a 7970 and a 3770k instead. I think most people would prefer to stay away from crossfire in a new build unless they're going for more performance than the best single GPU card. Maybe a board with more USB 3.0 internal headers would've been nice, i'm not a fan of having to plug devices in the back unless they are there to stay(exception being USB audio devices)
  • LePhuronn
    And the moral of this story is don't bother with archaic lumps of metal to cool your CPU. H100 people, simply no other choice.