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

Hardware Installation

Our collection of how-to articles would make a complete builder’s guide redundant, so today we’ll cover only the highlights of this particular build.

We started with a basic CPU installation and moved on to the more intricate cooler assembly.

Scythe’s Mugen 2 Revision B includes several brackets for use with AMD- and Intel-based motherboards. Threaded inserts screw onto the outer hole positions of its universal LGA brackets, which are then screwed to the base as shown. As the protective sticker says, remember to remove it!

After adding a small amount of thermal paste as shown in our “how to build” guide, it was time to mount this monster to our motherboard. We joked in our previous build that we needed four hands to hold the cooler, motherboard, screwdriver, and non-magnetic screws. But placing the cooler upside down on a bench and carefully positioning the board over it will eventually lead to success. That is, at least for anyone with moderate dexterity.

Our motherboard’s chipset heat sink is close to the same height as our memory, and the fan clips hit both. This will force some of its air to bypass the top of the cooler, rather than the bottom where it would cool additional components. We expect only a miniscule drop in overall cooling performance however, and would rate the fit as a nine out of ten.

Because our graphics coolers have radial fans in the center, we moved the lower intake fan to the side panel. The alignment was perfect, thanks to the design team at Antec.

Remaining components are installed in a traditional manner, though clearance between the graphics card's power connector and hard drive would make cable management more of a challenge if additional drives were added. Spare power cables lay nicely upon the floor of the chassis.

With no side-panel window to reveal our extra cable, placing it on the bottom did not create an unsightly mess.

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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.