System Builder Marathon, March 2011: $1000 Enthusiast PC


The overclocked Core i5-750/GeForce GTX 470 combo performs similarly to the bone-stock Core i5-2500K and Radeon HD 6950. When overclocked, the new system ups the ante considerably in the application and gaming disciplines. We suspect the gaming difference would be even wider if these systems were using identical graphics cards. And all the while, the newer Sandy Bridge-based system achieves its command performance with less power draw.

I’m not sure there’s much more to say here, except to reiterate that the Core i5-2500K sets a new standard when it comes to midrange processors. I was a big fan of the Core i5-700-series chips, but the Sandy Bridge-based Core i5s are even more impressive. Given sub $250 models that are this powerful, there are very few people who would see a tangible benefit from a high-end Core i7 anymore. Yes, Intel flubbed the P67 and H67 Express chipsets right out of the gate, but the fix was worth the short wait, we think.

Similarly, the Radeon HD 6950 sets a new standard for $300 graphics cards, and is ludicrously easy to modify into a pseudo-Radeon HD 6970. It’s quite possible that AMD was in a hurry to ramp up supply, and future models may end up being hardware-locked to the card's specification. But if you have one of these cards, there’s very little at risk if you decide to try flashing the firmware yourself. The card's backup BIOS, accessible through a simple switch, helps keep you protected from outright failure. Obviously, flashing a card is something that you do at your own risk regardless of the BIOS switch, but it’s nice to have some measure of protection.

Aside from this, all that remains to be seen is how this $1000 enthusiast system compares to the $500 budget system and $2000 high-end system. As always, keep your eyes open for the upcoming comparison article at the end of the System Builder Marathon series, and don't forget to enter to win all three of these configurations!

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  • mi1ez
    What an ugly case!
  • 23hp
    yeah, imagine the look on the wifes face if you brought that thing home...