System Builder Marathon: TH's $2000 Hand-Picked Build

Processor And CPU Cooling

CPU: Intel Core i7-970

Intel’s cheapest six-core (twelve thread) desktop processor, the Core i7-970 uses the same fundamental architecture as the company's Core i7-980X Extreme. It only lacks the flagship's unlocked multiplier and 133 MHz in stock clock rate, coming in at 3.20 GHz.

Read Customer Reviews of Intel's Core i7-970

We’re hoping to reach the same 4.46 GHz clock at 1.35 V that we previously saw from our Core i7-980X, though that goal might be a little high considering our cooling limitations. We didn’t have enough money left to buy the highest-end air cooling solution, let alone something more extreme like liquid cooling.

Additionally, Intel’s speed-binning might have left our particular processor with less overclocking capability than its upscale sibling.

CPU Cooling: Scythe Mugen 2 Revision B

Read Customer Reviews of Scythe's Mugen 2 Revision B

Listed at Newegg as part number SCMG-2100, the Mugen 2 Revision B is slightly more powerful and quieter at full force than the already-oversized Intel Boxed Cooler that comes with its Gulftown processors.

Compatible with a broader range of CPU interfaces than its previous version, this cooler's performance took second-place in our Big Air Roundup behind a unit that costs twice as much.

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  • mi1ez
    Thomas, we can't enter the comp in the UK, so we don't want to hear about it.
  • CPfreak
    why the f*ck id you choose the i7 970, intel's hexacore CPU's aren't any good for their price right now, if you'd taken a 950 or a 930 you would have been able to buy good RAM, a good mobo, and better cooling, wich would probably have amounted in better performance in real life (not heavily threaded benchmarking tools) because virtually no program makes use of twelve threads.
  • LePhuronn
    ^^ agreed on the performance side of the argument, however the writer's hands are tied to a degree with so many Tom's readers (apparently) requesting 6-core CPUs to be used in the top-end system builds.

    But as I said in the previous $2,000 system article, for that budget you can't have a machine that does both gaming and workstation at the performance level the "top end" is intended to show.

    A $2,000 gaming rig would be awesome, a $2,000 media workstation would be awesome, a $2,000 system that does both will be mediocre at best.
  • LePhuronn
    Although, to follow-up on my own comment, GTX 460 SLI will outperform a single GTX 480 and just one of them used to CUDA-accelerate Adobe CS5's Mercury Engine will send performance through the roof - i7 970 for pure CPU tasks, CUDA acceleration for anything that has it.
  • silverblue
    Has anyone truly sat down and evaluated why the current crop of AMD CPUs fall down at lower resolutions? It doesn't seem to be limited to SLi; Crossfire has the same issues.

    Also, the reviewer hit it on the head - why run a dual GPU setup at such low resolutions in the first place? For some strange reason, even at high resolutions, AMD setups seem to perform slightly better, on average, than most Intel offerings, though that might just be poor memory on my part.
  • another alex
    Much better off dropping one GPU and going with an SSD instead.
  • acer0169
    These spam bots are pretty illiterate, I miss the days of well spelt english spam.