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

System Builder Marathon, December 2010: 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). And remember, these systems are all being given away at the end of the marathon.

To enter the giveaway, please check out this Google form, and be sure to read the complete rules before entering!

Day 1: The $2,000 Performance PC
Day 2: The $1,000 Enthusiast PC
Day 3: The $500 Gaming PC
Day 4: Performance And Value, Dissected

Editor's Note: The purpose of the System Builder Marathon is extracting maximum value from enthusiast components at a variety of price points. We come together at the end of the series to see whose build exemplified our goal.

This time around, like last time, Newegg gave us an opportunity to pick the parts we as editors wanted to see--after the fact. Our follow-up build adds a *lot* of value to the first $2000 build, and we're much happier recommending the components in this story.


This is the second System Builder Marathon where we’ve had a chance to address the shortcomings of a previous build, and the second time we’ve chosen to focus on the $2000 PC for those improvements. After all, we were incredibly impressed with the performance profile of the original, yet still saw some incredible opportunities for betterment.

Minor misgivings over things like the price of the case aside (it was a very nice case), the real issue was that we tried to get more value for our dollar by purchasing highly-overclockable D9KPT-based memory in a budget kit, only to find that the manufacturer had changed suppliers.

This time, we’d start with memory of guaranteed quality. But the increased price for memory would force us to scale back our case budget. We’d also ditch the overkill cooling fan for something that didn’t require management software to retain OSHA-compliant noise levels, and address the improvements AMD recently made to the enthusiast graphics market with a product released after our original system had been ordered.

$2000 Performance PC Components
 Alternative $2000 PCOriginal $2000 PC
MotherboardGigabyte X58A-UD3R: LGA 1366, Intel X58 Express, ICH10R
ProcessorIntel Core i7-950: 3.06 GHz, Quad-Core, Eight-threads
MemoryKingston KHX1600C7D3K3/6GX:
DDR3-1600 CAS 7, 6 GB
Mushkin 998586:
DDR3-1333 CAS 9, 6 GB
Graphics2 x Gigabyte GV-R687D5-1GD-B
1 GB Radeon HD 6870
2 x EVGA 012-P3-1470-AR
1.28 GB GeForce GTX 470
System Drive2 x A-Data S599 64 GB: SATA 3Gb/s MLC SSD
Storage DriveSamsung F3 HD103SJ: 1 TB, 7200 RPM HDD
OpticalLite-On iHBS212 BD-RE:
12x BD-R, 2x BD-RE, 16x DVD±R
Lite-On iHBS112 BD-RE:
12x BD-R, 2x BD-RE, 16x DVD±R
CaseCorsair Graphite Series 600TSilverStone Fortress FT02B
PowerSeasonic SS-850HT:
850 W, 80 PLUS Silver
SilverStone ST85F-P:
850 W, Modular, 80 PLUS Silver
Heat SinkProlimatech Megahalems Rev.B
CPU FanCooler Master R4-BMBS-20PK-R0 2000 RPM, 120 mmDelta AFC1212D-PWM 3400 RPM, 120 mm
Total Price$1920 $2000

Can this build provide better performance, lower cost, and more efficiency than the original? Let’s have a closer look.

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  • LePhuronn
    4.05GHz on 1.4V? Really? I know silicon varies between chips, but every D0 i7 I've seen hits 3.8GHz-4GHz on 1.32V maximum (1.35V if you're unlucky).

    Surely dial it back a bit/lot before you dissolve the chip?
  • rayt160
    im running a i7 930 at 4.2g with a voltage of 1.248 and is 100% stable.. ,should keep going for a while i hope...