System Builder Marathon: Performance & Value

System Builder Marathon, December 2008: The Articles

Here are links to each of the four articles in this month’s System Builder Marathon (we’ll update them as each story is published).


Even when economic times are good, there are buyers who prefer to save money whenever possible, such as those who drive an old wreck even when they can afford a new car or who eat Ramen Noodles when they have the money for sirloin steak and fresh vegetables. One could argue that anyone willing to accept reduced performance as a penalty for reduced cost shouldn’t even bother with a new PC. Yet there seems to be a threshold of how much a frugal performance enthusiast is willing to sacrifice in order to save a few dollars. For them, our $625 Gaming PC might be the ticket for cheap thrills.

At the other side of the equation, some buyers are willing to spend themselves silly, snatching up the latest and greatest of everything, especially when some manner of performance is in the equation. For them, a $5,000 PC is no big deal--and anything less than that isn't worth the silicon used to manufacture it.

In the middle are buyers who, after carefully considering their own requirements, are willing to spend only as much as needed to achieve a certain performance plateau. The $1,250 budget of our mid-priced system should appeal to the majority of experienced users, while our $2,500 high-end machine should be within reach of middle-income buyers who want to take gaming and storage to a higher level.

We already know that nearly any properly-selected $625 system is going to be a good value, but its performance level won’t suite everyone. Let’s take a closer look at the scope of those differences.

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  • Anonymous
    Yeah, I'm always quite interested to see an "Elite-enthusiast" build. There's no way I could ever afford to buy one, but it's good to see what the very best performance possible is.

    You should try to get the highest possible 3D Mark or something, and then write articles about how you set about doing it. It'd keep me coming back to see how the project's unfolding :)
  • goozaymunanos
    the lower end is the most important, imo.

    that catches the most people. esp in these times..?

    i'd say even try a cheaper pc than the 650 one!


    p.s. stuff and nonsense:
  • Matthew
    Nice reviews. I hope next month you do something with the new AMD Phenom 2's if there out and maybe the quad core 2 series for us mid range price people that want a quad core without the expense of a i7 ;)
  • HyperDawn
    Good review. With the coming of the Phenom II I think it would be very interesting to see how AMD and Intel compare on at least the value and mid systems, perhaps have a 5-6 system lineup with offerings from both? :)