System Builder Marathon, March 2012: $2600 Performance PC

Motherboard, Graphics, And Power

Motherboard: Asus P9X79 Pro

Awards make parts selection much easier for Tom’s Hardware builders, since our accolades are given only to parts we’d use in our own machines, and handed out sparingly. Matched in value only by Gigabyte’s X79-UD3, Asus’ award-winning P9X79 Pro provides the superior overclocking and feature set that we really wanted for this $2600 machine.

Read Customer Reviews of Asus' P9X79 Pro

Three-way graphics support and eight memory slots give this build excellent upgradeability, while Bluetooth connectivity and ideal front-panel USB 3.0 connector placement make the P9X79 Pro ideal for our specific needs.

Graphics: MSI R7970-2PMD3GD5/OC

We want nothing but the best for our most expensive build. However, the ultimate configuration would have been more than one Radeon HD 7970. It's too bad that we had to make a compromise on the graphics side in order to fit an expensive processor and motherboard into our budget. At least MSI’s factory overclock takes a little sting out of that wound.

Read Customer Reviews of MSI's R7970-2PMD3GD5/OC

The reason we call this a small compromise is that one Radeon HD 7970 is still fast enough to play all of our games at every test resolution. If you own an Eyefinity-capable array of displays and need even more graphics performance, you'll find that our system supports at least one additional Radeon HD 7970 (or even two if you do a little creative wiring).

Power Supply: Seasonic Platinum-860

We have a great deal of faith in the reliability of Seasonic’s high-end power supplies, having pushed our 760 W 80 PLUS Gold-rated units well beyond 800 W on several occasions. What could be better?

Read Customer Reviews of Seasonic's Platinum-860

With a rating of over 90% efficiency at 100% load, the SS-860XP provides more power than our vaunted 760 W unit, while pulling less power from the wall. It’s even big enough to support three of our chosen graphics cards, though the presence of only four PCIe 12 V power connectors means that three-way CrossFireX could require the use of adapters.

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  • Steveymoo
    Thomas: Y U NO USE 2 GPU?

    But srsly, I don't get this set up... Why not scrap the expensive (and kinda pointless for gaming) 3930k, and spend the extra cash on a dual GPU set up?
  • LePhuronn
    SteveymooWhy not scrap the expensive (and kinda pointless for gaming) 3930k, and spend the extra cash on a dual GPU set up?

    Because, as clearly stated in the introduction, this isn't a gaming rig - only 30% of the system's overall score is gaming.